Debunking the ‘Cost of a child’ report

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This week the yearly research (Cost of a Child) carried out for insurance company LV by the Centre of Economic and Business Research hit the headlines. The takeaway from the findings was that the cost to raise a child from birth to 21 was measured as £231,843, an increase of more than £2,500.

First thing you have to ask yourself about this report is – why are LV (a for profit company) investing time and money in to this if there isn’t a measureable gain to show to their shareholders? The answer I believe to this question, is partly that it is good publicity for LV and secondly because they provide a range of insurances, which people could be, more willing to buy based on the figures produced in this report. Both the publicity and a possible surge of people buying insurances wouldn’t happen without some big numbers, hence where we get £231,843 and why on the LV website they are saying this is more than the price of an average house, when no comparison was needed.

On the LV report on their website (https://www.lv.com/life-cover/cost-of-a-child/the-facts) they have listed percentages of vague, generic areas next to some cute graphic to depict that area. They have called it the facts yet it is filled with opinions.

The small print

One of the interesting things about the report is the small print at the bottom, as unlike how the press is reporting that the research came from the Centre of Economic and Business Research, there was another body involved:

Additional research was conducted by Opinium Research from 22 to 27 January 2016. The total sample size was 1,000 UK adults with children under the age of 18 and was conducted online. Results have been weighted to nationally representative criteria.

This additional research has been heavily used by LV and it means that out of the 8 key facts they list on their review of the report, 5 are opinion based and nowhere near representative of the UK as a whole.

Opinions

Out of the 8 opinions they chose to highlight as ‘key facts’ the last one floored the whole research for me as they listed – 49% of people didn’t have a plan in place for a sudden loss of income. When a quick look at the LV website shows they sell Income Protection insurance. This shows me that this document isn’t to help us; it is to encourage us to take out insurance, as having no plan in place for a loss of income has nothing to do with the cost of raising a child.

So if we go back to the start and take the number they are banding about of £231,843 that means they reckon on average a child costs £11,000 a year to raise (I am raising a child with no pay increase of a penny a year let alone £11,000). For the first year of our daughter’s life our actual costs are going to run around the £1,000 mark, far short of that yearly average.

Breaking it down

Looking closely at the numbers here are some breakdowns and numbers that amused me:

Education: £74,430 – Cost of schooling is taken out in our taxes so not a cost that we see and there is no guarantee every child will go to University. When they go to University there are things like loans, grants and working. If as a parent you want to contribute you can start up savings accounts now with good levels of interest and pay in a slow, constant and manageable way.

Childcare and Babysitting: £70,466 – For us this will cost us nothing and I know for lot of people it will too. This is one of the many reasons why I think having a parent at home instead of working, works during the pre-school years. As parents we sacrifice, we don’t both go out with out our baby. We will go out individually or take her with us; it’s not that difficult.

Clothing: £10,942 – So far for our daughter we have paid the grand total of £4 on clothes. The rest of her clothes have been hand-me-downs from friends or gifts. At her age she doesn’t care what she is dressed in or if it is new or if it is the most fashionable thing. Yes I daresay as she gets older and builds her own style that clothes will become more expensive, but nowhere near this £10,942 number bounded about.

I could go on and on but will stop there. I just wanted to show how the actual cost of raising a child can be so cheap. Research like this really annoys me, as it is why people buy in to the lie that raising a child is expensive. Before I knew of this report I wrote about the lie the media pumps out about the cost of children here:

https://adamsibley.wordpress.com/2016/01/22/why-have-so-many-people-bought-into-the-lie/

If you want to have children, have children you will find a way of making it affordable if you truly want to.

Letter to my daughter

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Last year I became a father, which was the greatest moment in life. My wife and I were gifted with the most important job we will ever have, the chance to positively impact the life of someone who we think is so special. Our baby girl has unlimited potential, it is now our task to make sure she has the best life ever and that she is ready for anything that comes her way. We want her life to be full of possibility, opportunity, happiness and fulfillment.

Dear Lucy,

I am so proud to be your dad; nothing you could ever do would stop me from loving you, believing in you and thinking the world of you. Along with your mum I want to be your biggest fan, I want to be the one that teaches you right from wrong and that gives you the building blocks to achieve great things in life.

I want to so much for you. I want you to be dedicated and to be passionate about the things you care about and want to achieve. It is those that are dedicated and passionate that achieve great things in this world and I hope I can inspire you to be both of these things.

I want to give you the space to find your own dreams and then do anything I can to make them come true. I don’t want to live my life through you; I want to live my life with you. I can’t wait to find out about the things you are in to and enjoy doing. I will never laugh at anything you are in to or any dream you have regardless of how different or big it is.

I want you to know that you can talk to me about anything; I want you to know that I will never judge or condemn you. I will always listen and advise when I can. I won’t get angry or hurt when you don’t follow my advice as I think it is important sometimes for you to have your own opinion, to try and fail, to learn and to sometimes know more than I do.

The one hope I have for you is confidence. I want you to have confidence to be your own person, to not be led by the crowd, to have your own identity and to know who you are. I want the highest self-esteem and self worth for you. You are precious and worth more than anything else ever invented.

More than anything I want to do life with you, the ups and the downs. I want you to know you are beautiful inside and out. I want you to not let anyone bring you down and to put you off pursuing your dreams. Don’t lead the life others are leading or the life they want you to lead, keep hold of your dreams and passions – don’t give them up for anyone.

You’ve changed our world and I know you will change this world for others. I can’t wait to watch you develop in to the amazing adult I know you will be.

Love

Your Dad

TV and Parenting

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In the UK this week the BBC have cause outrage with parents by extending the broadcasting hours of it’s children’s channel CBBC to 9pm. Parents, teachers and doctors have all had their say on the matter with many remarking about how it could damage children’s health and education.

I think the outrage is so interesting in the modern era of video on demand, streaming, Youtube, DVR etc. etc. etc. It is no so easy for parents and children to watch children’s TV at any hour of the day. I don’t think this helps children or parents but it is like Pandora’s Box has already been opened on this front.

Standards

I think if it had been anyone else but the BBC doing this, it wouldn’t be news. People seem to hold BBC to different and higher standards to anyone else. The BBC have fought back to the criticism by saying that people have the off button if they do not want to watch the extended broadcasting of the channel which I wholeheartedly agree with.

The problem with the BBC is that CBBC, CBeebies and all it’s programming has such a following and popularity that children everywhere adore their programming to the point of obsession. So the BBC are a victim of their own success in many ways which isn’t the worst place to be.

Making the right choices

The reason why this subject is so important to me is because I am a new parent and work in the TV industry. I want to make all the right choices for my child and I know everyday you have to make so many decisions and that there is so much pressure to make the right decisions.

I have no right to tell any parent what to do or how to parent but I think it is important that parents keep control and don’t look to others to make their life easier. Troubles and challenges are always going to be around each and everyone of us and how young people interact with media is a big one.

I see so many children with tablets in their hands unsupervised these days. The young generation seem to have control and seem to be exposed to so much media these days which I don’t think is healthy. I am not going to be one of these parents that doesn’t allow their children to watch any TV but I want to be a parent that uses it in the right way and to be involved in their engagement with TV.

Media is powerful but no one is more powerful than a parent.

The Baby Business

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When you are having a baby the one thing the world wants you to buy in to is how expensive it is. The marketplace wants you to feel the need to spend hundreds of pounds on travel systems, changing stations, toys, clothes, cribs etc. etc. They want this to feel normal. For some this feeling puts them off having children, but I don’t think it would stop many that truly wanted to have a baby.

I however, want the world to stop buying in to this atmosphere, which is driven by the major companies. I would love to live in a world where buying second hand, accepting hand me downs and doing things on a budget were seen as the norm. It is the baby industry, which has driven us as a society to be working parents, with families seeing no other alternative than for both parents to be working just so they can afford all the things they think they need.

Investments

As a parent I want all my investments in my child and family to be about love and not money. My wife and I feel strongly about one of us being a stay at home mum or dad for our child until they have reached school age. We believe this is more important for her development than anything we can buy for hundreds of pounds. We know we have bills to pay, so one of us will always work but we still value time over any financial reward of being away from the house and being away from our child.

Yes we get pram envy when we see people pushing the latest and fanciest ones in the street, yes we see toys and clothes that we would love to buy for our child but what of these things is our child going to remember? I would rather invest money in her long term future like university than things she will only use for such a small portion of her life and have no recollection of when she is older, except for when she looks back at photos.

Shop around

My wife and I make sure our daughter has everything she needs and that we want her to have, we just make sure we get things for the best price. We shop around, look for deals, buy second hand and see what we can pick up for free. Just because you can afford something brand new doesn’t always mean it is a good investment and just because you can’t afford something brand new doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have it.

My wife and I proudly only use cloth nappies on our child because not only are they a great money saver, they are better for her skin and much more beautiful than disposable nappies. Yes they may be more work but that it isn’t a factor in our decision making process, as we just want to do what is best for our child. Best for your child isn’t always buying everything and buying it brand new and this is what I want the world to understand.

Ideas

Last weekend my wife and I made a sensory space for our daughter using ideas we found on the Internet, a box, tin foil and Christmas tree lights. It didn’t cost us anything to make yet our daughter loved it and I think it will aid her development. In this internet age it is easier than ever to get deals and ideas, so there is no excuse to be lazy and just buy the first thing you see.

My advice for this week would be if you have children is to enjoy them, want the best for them but don’t get stressed and worried about affording things as everyone with a bit of effort can get the best for their child.

Whilst I was away

Regular readers of my blog will have noticed that I haven’t posted for a while. I am glad to tell you that this has all been because of this bundle of joy came in to our lives two weeks ago:

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To say that we are over the moon with our amazing, beautiful girl is an under statement.

A lot of opportunities have probably passed me by in life but it is amazing to think that her potential is unlimited and the possibilities for what she can do with her life are endless. I am so excited to be part of her life and go on the journey with her, as she learns and discovers this world and her place in it.

I think being a parent or raising a child is one of the most incredible things you can do and I can’t wait to raise this little one. I know I will get things wrong and she will get things wrong, but I know I’m always going to try my hardest for this little one in every aspect of her life.

If you are ever feeling sad I think being around a baby or looking after a baby can get you out of any bad or sad mood. Being able to experience the world again through the eyes of a child is a wonderful thing.

I know our girl is going to bring our family so much happiness, I just hope I can bring her as much happiness as she will bring me to be her parent. One of the proudest things I will ever be is her dad.

Regardless of whether you have your own children or not, lets all go out and be parents. Lets care for others and go out every day to try and make a positive impact on the lives of others, as I think these are some of the most important traits of being a parent.

Blogs will return to normal from now I hope, but I just couldn’t start blogging again without sharing the news of one of the most incredible things to happen to me.