top of page

Which life stages are children at their ‘costliest’ for parents?

Which life stages are children at their ‘costliest’ for parents? (Alamy/PA)

From kitting out growing tots to the hefty costs of teenage years, navigating ‘pinchpoint years’ can strain family finances. By Vicky Shaw.


Raising a family is expensive – and as many parents know, there are particular ‘pinchpoint’ years when the costs are particularly high.

During the pre-school years, childcare costs may eat up huge chunks of parents’ pay. And the teenage years – when kids may start to take up new, expensive hobbies and need money for socialising and gadgets – can also put family budgets under additional strain.

These pinchpoint years soon add up. NatWest Premier estimates that, overall, the cost of raising a child can breach £200,000 over the first 21 years of their life.

In a survey, NatWest Premier found nearly a quarter (23%) of parents expect their children to be at their costliest age between four and six, while a similar proportion (24%) worry about the costs of their child’s higher education.

Furthermore, more than half (52%) of parents admit they wish they had been better prepared for the cost of raising a child.

The findings from NatWest Premier’s survey (NatWest Premier/PA)

Mother-of-three Vicky Borman, 43, knows only too well how the bills can mount up. “Expensive children are probably my specialist subject,” she says.

Borman, who runs an Airbnb in St Neots, Cambridgeshire, says raising her three sons has become steadily pricier as they enter their teenage years, thanks to a refusal to share designer clothes and the need to buy adult-sized shoes.

“You have a new baby and they are very expensive, and you buy everything, but actually I’ve found it has got worse since then,” says Borman, who stayed at home when the children were younger, looking after her sons who are now aged between 10 and 17.

Her husband Jamie, a plasterer, made the bulk of the money then, but she soon found that costs increased and Borman took on an Airbnb to help make their funds stretch.

Vicky Borman says expensive children are probably her specialist subject (Vicky Borman/NatWest Premier/PA)

“When they were little, they were happy with hand-me-downs,” she says of shopping for her sons. “They shared the same cot and the Moses basket, but now we’ve reached the teen years there is no sharing anything. I buy them designer clothes, but when one grows out of it, the next one won’t wear it – they have to have a new top.

“Then there are the shoes. My oldest is nearly 6ft – twice the size of me – and I have to buy adult shoes.” Mobile phones and driving lessons are also among the expenses adding to their parental costs.

Pharmacy worker Remi Hawkes, 26, who lives on the Isle of Wight and has an 18-month-old son, is also finding costs a balancing act.

“It’s a juggle. You narrow down your options. I am taking more hours at work so I can afford for him to go to nursery. But then, it means that I’m spending less time with him,” says Hawkes. “There are so many everyday expenses, like food and clothes. They grow so quickly, so I’m always buying clothes for the changing season.

“The winter is going to be a challenge. Already, I’m getting an email saying, ‘Your bills going up by this much’ and I’m going to have to work more hours. I’m going to have to cut back on other things.”

Despite rising living costs, Hawkes is keen to ensure she is still able to plan for her son’s future.

“He’s got a savings account,” she says. “I’ve been putting £10 a week into that account. It’s one he can’t touch until he’s 18. So that is something.”

Both Borman and Hawkes say they’re keen that their children understand the value of money.

Saving for future costs if you can can help navigate ‘pinchpoint years’ (Alamy/PA)

So, what could help make coping with the pinchpoint years a little easier?

While not always possible for everyone, planning ahead can be very helpful. Laura Newman, head of private client advice and investment at NatWest Premier, suggests considering cash savings accounts for shorter-term needs and investment accounts for the longer term.

“Think ahead for key milestones,” says Newman. “Earmark money that you might want for essential and also special occasions in your child’s life.

“Putting away £50 a month into a stocks and shares Isa offers potentially greater growth, where you have five years and longer to save,” she adds. “This will build up over time, meaning that you have a pot of money already invested available in the future, be that for planned future costs, such as education, or for any ‘treats’ such as driving lessons for your child’s 17th birthday.”

Newman says stocks and shares Isas are a tax-efficient way to save for the future. However, there are multiple options for savings accounts, so always ensure you research what is the best option for you and your family.

“A Junior Isa will help build up a nest egg for your child, but bear in mind the money becomes theirs when they turn 18, so it is important that accompanying this investment is a good conversation (on) the best use for the funds,” says Newman.


bottom of page