Bringing up kids is hard enough - don't let it push you into debt too

Starting and raising a family isn't cheap. Recent research from Child Poverty Action Group tells us how expensive it is to raise a child these days - apparently £143,000 until the age of 18, which is the equivalent of £150 per week.

That's a national average figure which takes into account people on very high and very low incomes, but it does give you an idea of how much parenting can set you back - a fact that any parents reading this won't need telling!

In fact, the basic cost of raising a child is growing faster than the Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation. When you add wage and child benefit freezes to the equation, it's understandable why so many parents are finding things tougher financially than a few years ago.

Families might feel even more stretched financially at this time of year, with extra expenses for the start of the new term, new uniforms, stationery, and perhaps a credit card bill from a busy summer holiday.

Insolvency specialists Freeman Jones have warned parents not to let parenthood push them into debt problems, and highlighted the importance of managing a budget and setting aside money every month for the essentials.

A spokesperson for Freeman Jones commented: "A carefully planned budget is the best place to start. Taking a close look at everything you earn, how it's spent, what debts and savings you have: this could really help you to work out where you stand with your finances and how much you can realistically afford to spend on your monthly outgoings - not to mention where you could cut back on non-essential spending on the kids.

"Planning ahead now could help you to take some pressure off your finances in the future too. If you can afford to put some money aside every month now, it could go a long way to covering future costs for your kids, e.g. college/university fees or helping them out with a deposit for their first flat/home.

"In terms of reducing the costs of bringing up kids now, being a bit more economical with your spending could go a long way. When it comes to things such as school uniform, recycling hand-me-downs and making repairs could help you to avoid the expense of buying brand new.

"If you find that you're seriously struggling to afford the cost of raising your kids, it could be a sign that you have a more serious underlying problem with your finances. If you're in this position, you should get some professional advice sooner rather than later, so you can deal with the problem."

By Lucy Bower.

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