Rose | Edited by Dan
Updated 12 Aug 2016
The cost of raising a child to 21 is estimated at £230,000 – a wail-inducing sum. Yet there are loads of tips 'n' tricks to save.
The cost of raising a child to 21 is estimated at over £200,000 – a wail-inducing sum. Yet whether you're starting a family or in the midst of one, there are loads of tips 'n' tricks to save.
Family MoneySaving Checklist
Don't leave life insurance until it's too late
In the UK, one child in 29 loses a parent before they've finished full-time education. It's a sobering fact, so life insurance is well worth considering if you've got kids.
If you die, what'd happen to your kids?
If you've assets such as savings or a house, and others you'd like to look after, consider making a will. It's easy to put this off, but it's well worth tackling as soon as possible, both for your kids and for your peace of mind.
Get the family in free to TV show recordings
If your family often ends up staying in watching Saturday night TV, why not take 'em to see it being recorded?
You could be due £1,000s in child tax credits
Having kids soon adds up, from new shoes to school trips and more. Tax credits can massively help offset this. They can be worth £1,000s a year.
Family fun for nowt at free museums
If you're looking to educate and entertain the kids at the same time, the Free Museums and Galleries guide is crammed with UK venues that don't charge a penny.
Childcare vouchers can save £1,000s a year
If you have to fork out for childcare, using special vouchers saves many parents £1,000s a year in tax.
DON'T Google EHICs – go here to get 'em free
Whether planning a kids-friendly holiday in Corfu or a couples' trip to Alicante, make sure all the family have up-to-date European Health Insurance Cards (EHICs) to get FREE family medical care on Euro holidays.
Save over £300 on family fuel bills by switching
With kids' baths, games consoles, TVs and lights left on, extra heating and more, even small families can face huge fuel bills, leaving many worrying about how to save money. That's why switching to a cheap tariff to save £300+ a year to break the energy loyalty habit is so important.
Switching isn't a big faff. It's the same electricity, same gas, same safety. Only service, billing and price changes.
Our unique Cheap Energy Club is designed to keep you permanently on the cheapest tariff - fighting the fact most cheap deals only last one or two years before their rates rise. It does this by...
- Finding you the cheapest deal. If you're already on it, great. If not, it'll help you switch. You usually get £30 cashback on top for a dual fuel switch or £15 cashback for switching just gas or electricity.
- Then constantly monitoring your tariff. Each month, without you doing anything, we do a background comparison to check yours is still cheapest.
- Alerts you when it's time to switch (again). If you can save by switching either because your rate's changed, or others have, we'll tell you.
Can you take kids on term-time holidays without being fined?
The cost of going away rockets during school holidays, so it's no wonder many are tempted to go during term time. Each year 10,000s are fined £60 for doing so, yet now the High Court's ruled in favour of a dad who refused to pay.
For the latest on what you can and can't do, plus whether you can reclaim fines already paid, see our School Holiday Fines guide.
Do a proper family budget
With family bills, holidays and day-to-day living costs, looking after a family can really stretch your finances. So it's crucial to make sure you're budgeting correctly. First, use the free Budget Planner tool to work out exactly where your cash is going.
Don't chuck best-befores away needlessly
"Yuck" is a word kids say a lot. So teach 'em early that there's usually nowt wrong with eating food after its best-before date.
100,000s miss out on £1,000s for childcare
Childcare costs can be hefty, yet 100,000s of working parents are missing out on £1,000s of easy cash to help. It's a common misconception that tax credits are for the unemployed.
Use free kids' sports schemes in school hols
Keeping fidgety kids entertained during the school holidays can be exhausting (particularly if they've discovered the golden phrase: "I'm booored!").
Do a 10-min child benefits check-up
A treasure trove of extra cash is available to help families with kids in tow, yet many wrongly assume they aren't eligible. To quickly check, use the Benefits Check Up. Just enter your details to see how much you may be entitled to.
There are masses of benefits available to help families and those on lower incomes and the tool will help check your eligibility for all the main benefits, including council tax and housing benefit, income support and many, many more.
Snaffle cut-price zoo tix with 2for1 deals
Whether you're off to the zoo for education, fun or just the cute factor (the penguins are Martin's favourite!) don't just pay full price on the day.
Your kids CAN afford to go to uni
Don't think the student fees shake-up means uni isn't affordable. Some students won't need to repay at all, others will pay far less than the fees and some will pay back more.
Bag top kids' prezzies for under a fiver
Birthdays and Christmases can be eye-wateringly expensive if you've got kids to buy for. But there's masses of tried-and-tested treats that'll keep them grinning for next to nothing.
Give pocket money as pay to teach cash skills
We're not talking Justin Bieber-sized amounts of income, but pocket money can teach kids to manage their own cash.
Free kids' prescriptions, dental check-ups...
It isn't all bad news when it comes to the cost of family healthcare. Young people can get free prescriptions, dental and optical check-ups across the UK.
Nab cheap kids' clothing in online outlets
Kids have an uncanny ability to grow out of togs they've only just been bought. To help find kids' clothing for less, outlet shops are a handy way to hunt out bargains. These are stores operated by big brands to sell last season's goods at clearance rates – and now many are available online.
Earn up to 4% tax free on kids' savings
It's possible for kids to earn up to 4% in the top savings accounts – but many have cash in accounts that pay dismally. This doesn't just deprive them of interest, but also the chance to learn your money can work for you.
It's a common myth that kids don't pay tax. This isn't true, as they're taxed in exactly the same way as adults.
Yet most children don’t have jobs or earnt income. And for the 2016/17 tax year, if they've no income they can earn up to £17,000 from savings without paying tax on it. Find more, and a full list of best buys in the Children's Savings guide:
Don't just buy theme park tix at the gate
Family theme park tickets can be hair-raisingly expensive if you just pack the kids into the car and pay full price on the day. Even a single adult ticket to Alton Towers is £52 at the gate.
£100s available in unclaimed home grants
Keeping your kids toasty and safe at home needn't mean shelling out more on gas and electricity bills. A mass of funding's available to help increase your family home's value, warmth and economy.
There are several companies offering free loft and cavity wall insulation, and free boilers too. Find full info and how to apply in the Free Insulation and Boilers guide.
There are wads more freebies on offer, especially for those on low incomes. To speedily uncover these crocks of gold, see the Home and Energy Grant Grabbing guide.
Grab a railcard for 1/3 off family train travel
Whether it's to visit relatives, go shopping or just for a family day out, if your family often travel by train a railcard can be a good investment. It costs £30, but gets you a third off most standard rail fares across Britain for a year.
Beware paying kids' uni fees upfront
The thought of £9,000-a-year tuition fees has sent chills down many parents' spines but trying to stop your kids from borrowing could waste money.
Specialist young driver cover can cost less
Once the kids reach that age and start itching to get out on the road, finding affordable car insurance for them can be a nightmare. Even the average cost for a 17-22 year-old is already at £1,241/yr. . But it's possible to massively cut this.
Use a shopbot to instantly compare prices
If you often shell out for family entertainment, here's a handy trick to quickly compare prices for family games, DVDs, books and more.
Don't assume junior ISAs are best
Junior ISAs are tax-free savings accounts that six million under-18s can save or invest in per tax year. In 2016/17 the limit is £4,080 (£4,128 from April 2017). They're tax-free until their 18th birthday, when they convert into normal cash ISAs to build a nest egg for adult life.
Downshift your grocery shop & save £1,000+
With TV ads encouraging kids to demand pricey brands, the cost of a family food shop quickly adds up. But many can easily save over £1,000 a year by doing the 'downshift challenge' (no earplugs necessary).
Single parents can get free support
Raising kids on your own can be especially tough. To help, charity Gingerbread offers useful free resources, with factsheets on what to do when a relationship ends, how to enforce child maintenance payments and finding legal help.