Raising children can be expensive – here’s how you can help out

Being a grandparent can bring huge amounts of joy, but lending a hand as your grandchildren grow up can also have an impact on your finances. Find out what these implications could be, so you can stay on top of your money and focus on your family.

Spending time with younger generations can be great fun, and hugely rewarding. But being a grandparent can also raise questions about your finances, whether you’re treating younger children or working out how you can support with childcare.

We commissioned an exclusive YouGov survey to find out what the impact of being a grandparent could be on your finances1. The survey questioned grandparents over the age of 50, and to keep things simple, asked them to think about spending on their eldest grandchild.2

Help with childcare

Families often struggle to balance the demands of work with the cost of childcare – and grandparents can be a crucial part of the solution. Amongst other findings, our survey revealed that a number of grandparents have reduced their working hours, planned to reduce them, or stopped working completely to help with childcare.

  • Two-fifths of grandparents over the age of 50 – five million – provide regular childcare for their grandchildren3
  • One in ten look after their grandchildren at least once a day3
  • Our survey found that more than one in 10 grandparents aged 50-59 have reduced their working hours or given up work completely to provide childcare in the last 12 months, or plan to in the future
  • In total, 4% of those surveyed had reduced their working hours or given up work entirely to provide childcare in the last year, or planned to in the future, equivalent to 475,400 grandparents in the UK if our survey results were applied to all grandparents over 50.

Childcare can be one of the biggest costs for parents of younger children, so whether it’s picking up the kids after school or looking after toddlers when they aren’t at nursery, it’s increasingly common for grandparents to lend a hand.

“While most families will be open to discuss the options, make sure you’re completely comfortable with any childcare arrangements,” suggests Simon Hewett-Avison, Assistant Director of Services at Independent Age.

If you’re still working but you’d like to provide childcare, you could consider asking your employer about flexible working, which all employees are legally entitled to, including grandparents.

Moving to be nearer to grandchildren

Being far from grandchildren might feel like you’re missing out, but moving to be nearer family members isn’t a decision to be taken lightly.

  • Our survey found that more than one in ten grandparents aged 60-64 have moved, or plan to move, nearer to their children or grandchildren 
  • In total, 5% of grandparents had made the same move in the last 12 months, or plan to in the future, which is the equivalent of 594,250 grandparents if our survey results were applied to all grandparents 
  • Moving can incur significant costs. The estimated average cost of moving in the UK is around £8,885, although this can vary dramatically depending on where you live, according to Comparemymove.com4
  • Just over a fifth of grandparents would maintain or have maintained an extra spare room for their grandchild.

“There are lots of things to think about before you decide to move, including things like the accessibility of shops and public transport in the new area,” suggests Simon Hewett-Avison.

“Whether or not you will be more isolated if you’re leaving a good network of friends; how expensive the new area is, including bills and running costs.”

That said, being closer to your grandchildren means you could potentially play a bigger role not just in their lives, but in the lives of your own children, and you might have the opportunity to spend more quality time together as a family.

Not to mention the many ways they can benefit your life, too. Whether it’s helping you to navigate comparison sites or keeping you informed about the latest trends, children have their own life lessons and wisdom to share.

If you’re thinking about moving and you’re still paying a mortgage, find out about your options, and see our exclusive rates and deals for home movers.

Find out about taking your mortgage with you when you move

Presents and other help for the children

From colourful new books to the latest computer games, it’s hard to resist spoiling grandchildren, whatever their age.

  • Almost a fifth of grandparents had spent money on a holiday, 29% had spent money on days out and 37% had spent money on clothing in the last year
  • More than half had spent up to £250 on their first grandchild in the last year, while more than one in 20 grandparents had spent £1,500 or more
  • Just over one in ten grandparents with a grandchild aged between 11 and 17 had paid for their entertainment subscriptions, such as music or games in the last 12 months
  • Just over one in seven of grandparents with a grandchild aged between six and ten had paid for sports or activities in the last 12 months
  • Just over one in five grandparents have secretly bought presents for their grandchildren, and over one in 10 have bought them clothes without the parents knowing
  • 5% of grandparents helped their adult children with their household bills in the last year, suggesting almost 600,000 grandparents in total could be supporting their family in this way
  • 1% of grandparents have paid a grandchild’s mobile phone bills without their parents knowing, suggesting 118,850 grandparents in total could be secretly supporting their grandchildren in this way.

It’s not surprising that our survey found that two-thirds of grandparents spent money on presents for their grandchildren, from toys to books. However, grandparents are also supporting with other costs, including household bills.

“Today’s working parents face many challenges which weren’t encountered to the same degree by older generations,” says Patrick Connelly, from Chase de Vere, an independent financial adviser. “This includes university fees and greater job insecurity, while the prospect of buying a house may seem like a distant dream for many younger families.”

Against this backdrop, it isn’t surprising that many grandparents want to help their adult children financially to give their grandchildren a head-start in life, he says.

Whatever your age, it can be tricky to keep on top of your finances. Read our tips for you or your adult children about managing outgoings. Explore our money management tips.

If you’re worried about your finances or the finances of your adult children, there is help available. Read our practical advice help you address concerns about money.

If you’re thinking of treating your younger relatives, remember that as a Barclays current account customer, you can get cashback on your shopping at participating retailers, including Lego and WH Smith, when using our Barclays app or online banking. Find out more.

Investing in their future

Giving your grandchild some pocket money or a lump sum can make a real difference to their financial future.

  • Our survey found that 24% of grandparents have given a grandchild a lump sum of money in the last 12 months, or are planning to in the future
  • One in four grandparents with a grandchild between 11 and 17 have supported them with the costs of school or university, or plan to in the future
  • Almost one in 10 grandparents with a grandchild over the age of 23 had given them money towards a deposit for their first home in the last 12 months.

You may also like

Giving your loved ones financial gifts

Expert tips for passing on your money

Want to give the younger generation a boost? Discover our expert tips on the most efficient ways of giving financial support without negatively impacting your own finances.

Talking about younger generations

Real stories about giving a helping hand

Family members talk about the help they have provided for their children and grandchildren, and implications for their own finances.

Classroom calculations

Supporting younger generations from school to Uni

From student text books to new uniforms, supporting a child at school or university can add up. We’ve highlighted some of the most common fees and expenses, and suggested ways you could help with the costs.