Parents spend £29,000 on raising teenagers

Parents of teenagers are often shocked by the amount being shelled out on their offspring when they come to take stock of their finances in the cold light of day.
Teenagers can be adept at using the guilt trip to get what they want, research reveals. Photograph: PATeenagers can be adept at using the guilt trip to get what they want, research reveals. Photograph: PA
Teenagers can be adept at using the guilt trip to get what they want, research reveals. Photograph: PA

Financial pressures have changed quite a bit since parents themselves were teens – with gadgets like mobile phones, tablets and laptops now part of the routine expenses for many households.

Research from Aviva suggests parents typically spend nearly £29,000 raising a teenager.

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Excluding household costs such as food and energy bills, parents typically put the average cost of raising a son or daughter from the age of 13 to 19 at £28,767.

While parents say they spend just over £4,100 a year on raising a teenager on average, the mean cost rises to £4,800 for a 16-year-old.

So what makes the bill so high?

Aviva took into account birthdays and special occasions, holidays and gap years, food and drink outside of the regular supermarket shop, clothing and pocket money.

Technology plays a major part in ramping up the cost. More than half (53 per cent) of parents spend on technology for their teenagers, such as mobile phones and laptops, forking out £225 per year on average.

It’s clear many parents also feel under pressure to open their wallet. Almost half (45 per cent) of the parents feel pressured by their children to spend more on them, the research found.

Nearly one in four (24 per cent) of parents surveyed had fallen out with their child for refusing to buy them something and 17 per cent felt they had been “guilt tripped” into making purchases for their teenager.

Even if your offspring are planning to fly the nest in 2017, parents should not necessarily expect they can draw a line under their financial commitments.

Aviva found another £15,406 is needed by parents on average to help each child between the ages of 20 and 25 – a time when many young people may “boomerang” back into the family home after leaving university.

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Meanwhile, research from the think-tank the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) suggests younger generations are going to be increasingly reliant on the “bank of mum and dad” – even after their parents have died.

The IFS found that, in general, younger generations are more likely to receive an inheritance than older generations were. But it warned that today’s young adults will find it harder to create their own wealth than previous generations, as some struggle to get on the housing ladder.

So how can parents create better relationships with teenagers where money is involved? Here are some tips from Louise Colley, customer propositions director at Aviva.

Talk to your teen about managing their finances and make sure they know the basics of budgeting, particularly at key milestones such as moving away from home for university or college, Colley suggests.

Encourage them to put money aside each month and take responsibility for managing their own money.

Be open about the family’s finances, particularly as teens get older.

And plan ahead. If your teen is intending to go to university, make sure they understand how much money they will receive and how to make this last.

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