Tots, Tweens and Teens – the Real Cost of Raising Kids

Large Group of Children


Helping children live their ‘tween-age dream’ comes at a hefty price for Australian parents, according to Suncorp Bank research which revealed 9 to 11 year olds have surpassed teenagers as the most costly age group to raise.

The Suncorp Bank Cost of Kids Report found the average Australian parent spends more than $297,600 raising a child to the age of 17, of which the ‘tween’ years (9 to 11 years) have the biggest impact on a household budget ($1,630 per month). Teenagers aged 15 to 17 are substantially cheaper at $1,290 per month while infants and toddlers are the least expensive. (See table)

Suncorp Bank Regional Manager, Monique Reynolds, said the report found the cost of raising a child increased year-on-year until the age of 11, which provided a valuable insight for family budgets.

“The research reveals tweens have emerged as the most expensive age group, which may come as a surprise to many parents as we tend to assume infants and teenagers require the largest financial investment,” Ms Reynolds said.

Food ($324 per month), education ($195 per month), social activities ($150 per month) and technology ($59 per month), are among the biggest expenses for parents of tweens. Despite these costs, the research found more than a third of tween parents didn’t budget accordingly for these items.

“While some of this spending growth can be attributed to the higher household income of parents of this age group, it could also be a reflection of the increased need for tweens to be digitally connected and socially active,” Ms Reynolds said.

“Interestingly, more than 60 per cent of parents confirmed their ‘tween’ had a personal digital device, with nearly the same percentage of parents revealing they limited the amount of time their children spend online.”

On average, food, housing costs and education are the biggest monthly expenses for parents of children of all ages ($262, $160 and $142 respectively). Despite these costs, more than 50 per cent of parents revealed they frequently exceeded their monthly allocation for food.

“While this figure is high, it is unsurprising given the increased focus on health and nutrition,” Ms Reynolds said.

The report also dispelled a common assumption that the average expenditure per child decreased with the number of children per household.

“Contrary to common perceptions, it appears the first born is no longer the most expensive with the average expenditure per child actually increasing as the family expanded,” Ms Reynolds said.

“The average cost for a single child household was $1,118 per child, a two child household was $1,494 per child and a three plus child household was $1,787 per child.”

The report found on average Australian parents spend up to 27 per cent of their household income on their child per month, which Ms Reynolds said reinforced the importance of having a savings plan and budget in place.

“As your child grows and their behaviour and needs change, so will your spending, budgeting and savings patterns. There are lots of great ways to save, from high-interest savings accounts, to term deposits. People can talk to their bank about the best way to get the most out of their savings,” Ms Reynolds said.

Toddlers, tweens and teens: which age group costs Aussie parents the most?

The Cost of Kids Report is the latest in Suncorp Bank’s Cost of Living Series. The series is designed to highlight how much Australians spend on everyday expenses and promote the benefits of budgeting.

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Tips to be a financially fit family 

  • Create a realistic budget and stick to it: We want the best for our children, and we are all guilty of an impulse buy. However, with more than 40 per cent of parents claiming they ‘often’ or ‘always’ overspend on food, clothing, entertainment and social activities it is important to be mindful of spending and prioritise needs vs wants. This can also be an important lesson for kids to learn.
  • Teach kids early: We learn a lot about good money management when we are young. Our parent’s attitude towards money, savings and budgets can have a huge influence on our own spending habits later in life.
  • Understand the different life stages: As the report highlights, there are significant variances in expenditure for children as they get older and it’s only natural you’ll want different solutions for the different stages. Talk to your bank about the best way to get the most from your savings.

For the full report, click here.


Jason Thomson is a Cairns based Mortgage Adviser and Finance Broker with clients all around Australia. 130+ Client Reviews featured on his website proves that Jason is a trusted industry professional. Using his wealth of experience in financial services, he thrives on delivering superior service. Jason is very approachable and is always looking for new clients to help in the often confusing world of finance and property.




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