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Planning Retirement Online

Grandparents do make a difference - 17

December 2010



Each month we bring you this special column on grandparenting written by our expert contributor Jeanne Davis.  

This month she asks How much do you spend on your grandchildren?

If you have a subject you would like covered by Jeanne, please email us at: 



I doubt there are many of us who would keep a daily tab on how many pounds and pence we spend on our grandchildren; and in a recent Yours magazine survey into the cost of having a grandchild in 2010, the respondents said time, love and attention are still the greatest gifts they can give their childrens’ children.

But for many other tangibles, grandparents are happy to spend, on average, one fifth of their income on supporting their families. With Britain’s tough economic climate, grandparent’s contributions are higher and more crucial than ever.

Beginning with the pram (£165) and cot (£100) the survey revealed that without even taking into account the cost of childminding (86 percent ‘wouldn’t dream’ of charging for an average of 14 hours a week) the average grandparent spends close to £50,000 during the first 18 years of a grandchild’s life, or approximately £2500 a year. This is an average. Some spend more, some spend less. Some give help with the big bills: one fifth have contributed towards the home the grandchildren live in, paying deposits and helping out with mortgage payments.

More than one in ten grandparents have downsized their homes to release funds for the family or released equity from family homes.

After paying for early year’s essentials such as pushchairs and car seats, school shoes and uniforms, birthday parties and bikes, granny and grandpa will go on to buy the teenagers their trainers and gadgets. Often they will pay mobile phone bills, music, dancing and swimming lessons and pay for school trips. They will deposit an average £300 a year into the grandchild’s bank account. Birthday gifts spread out over an average of four grandchildren could total £1290.

Do you resent it? Even though seven out of ten grandparents admit to giving more financial aid than their own parents gave them, only 20 percent thought they were expected to contribute too much. Overall 64 percent feel appreciated for everything they contribute and nine out of ten feel the amount of time and money they give so willingly encourages the grandchildren to respect their role in the family.

“It’s good to share their hobbies and encourage them,” says Joyce B. “It builds a closer relationship and helps them to progress”. She supports their interests. Last year, she paid for a £50 six-week golf course for her eleven year old granddaughter, along with occasional £20 golf lessons. She also paid £70 for her to attend Children’s University.

Happy to sacrifice? Four out of ten grandparents say they’ve gone without a holiday to spend more cash on grandchildren. More than a quarter have decided not to buy a newer car to help out and 35 percent have put off redecorating their own homes. The same number has foregone hair and beauty treatments.

Are all grandchildren treated the same? Soaring divorce rates mean grandparents increasingly find themselves in the same position as Coronation Street’s Deirdre Barlow – with a biological grandchild and step-grandchild. Three–quarters of the survey’s respondents say they treat them exactly the same.

Eight out of ten say they spend equally on all their grandchildren. But of the 19 percent that don’t, the majority admit to giving the most to the grandchildren they see the most. 28 percent say they give more to their daughter’s children, and 26 percent give more to their first grandchild.

Are you unintentionally favouring one grandchild more than the others? You may want to take a look at the article I wrote on favouritism in the January 2010 issue of laterlife.



Previous articles in the series:


1. Grandparents do make a difference
2. When Grandparents are on duty
3. To Discipline or not
4. The long Distance Grandparent
5. When the parents separate
6. Second time around
7. Who baby-sits?
8. Favouring one grandchild more than the others
9. Should Grandparents who provide child care receive financial assistance
10. A feast for mind and body for you and the grandchildren at half term
11. Jealous grandparents
12. When you agree to help with childcare
13. Parents would like grandparents to live closer
14. Grandparents and teen grandchildren
15. Saga of Skype
16. And so do Great Aunts and Uncles!



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