Peer pressure: the £6bn hidden cost of raising children?

Girls textingAs the school holidays come to a close, parents up and down the country are making sure they’ve bought enough stationery, school uniforms and so on ahead of another year of education for their children. 

But as well as the essentials, there’s often a hidden cost. New research* (from Sainsbury’s Bank) has found that almost half (48%) of parents feel they need to spend money on items for their children based on peer pressure, such as the latest smartphones, the trendiest clothes or the biggest parties.

This can add £865 to the average annual family household outgoings – making nearly £6 billion in total across the UK.

What are the main ‘peer pressure’ costs?
Not surprisingly, the desire to have the latest technology like phones or tablets tops the list (44%), with fashionable clothing (43%) and school trips/excursions (42%) next up.

Other things that children may urge their parents for are memberships and clubs (football, scouts and so on – 30%) and having expensive birthday parties (27%).

And it isn’t always just children nagging parents for goodies, often it’s the parents choosing to splash out. Just over one in three parents (36%) spend £143 on private tuition for their kids – a total of £233 per month. 

Some tips for parents faced with peer pressure costs

  1. Explaining the difference between ‘want’ and need’ may take time to get through but can help in the long run.
  2. Try to explain that we can’t always have everything we want – so choosing between, say, the latest smartphone OR the trendiest shoes (but not both) can give a lesson in how much we can afford at any one time.
  3. If you find you are spending more on credit than you had planned, try to keep on top of it by staying within your credit limits and making your repayments on time. Checking your credit report can help you stay on top of your finances.

More budgeting tips for stressed parents HERE

At what age do children really understand the value of money?
Experian research** found that 65% of parents of 5-9 years olds are confident their child has a good appreciation of the value of money, while 69% think their child has a good appreciation of the difference between a necessity and a luxury.

However, by the time those children get to the 15-18 age bracket – a time when they are mostly spending money themselves and in many cases earning it – 20% of parents are not confident their child has a good appreciation of the value of money.

And University of Cambridge research, commissioned by the Money Advice Service, shows that by the age of seven children have developed their attitudes and values towards money – and these are likely to stay with them for life.

Indeed, children are likely to get their first mobile phone by the age of eight and begin online shopping by the age of 10.  So we can see it’s increasingly important to help children better understand the value of money at the earliest opportunity.

Jangle is a great new and free app from Experian for children aged 7-11, that teaches children money skills in a fun and easy way while helping them save for the things they want.  You can find out more about Jangle here, and you can download the Jangle app for iPad here.

*Sainsbury’s Bank commissioned Opinium Research to survey 2,016 nationally representative UK adults aged 18+ between 27th to 31st May 2016. Opinium Research is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.
**Research was carried by ComRes who interviewed 1,533 British parents of children aged between 5-18 online between the 19th and 23rd of January 2016. 

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