Money woes prevent couples from starting a family


The economic downturn is forcing many to delay things they can't afford. For many British couples, that includes having children.

Many of Britain's couples are so financially stretched that they feel unable to start a family, a new study has revealed. Research by Skipton Building Society indicates that while many childless couples would like to have a baby, they are delaying their plans until the economy and their personal finances take a turn for the better. These findings suggest that the recession has impacted upon Britons beyond the obvious day-to-day financial issues. couple-money

Four in 10 "unable to have a baby"
The building society carried out a survey of 2,412 childless couples. Findings revealed that 901 of those couples have put off having children for an average of two years and three months so far. Overall, two-fifths of the couples surveyed have altered their plans because they simply do not think they can afford a baby at the moment.

A spokeswoman for Skipton Building Society said in a statement that the credit crunch has had a "devastating" effect on family structures.

"The past four years have seen a rise in the cost of living and, in contrast, people are earning less than ever before, compounded with fears over job security," she said. "This is compared to previous generations who enjoyed fantastic pensions, better benefits and jobs for life."

Financial security takes priority
Couples seem more determined than ever to give their children the best start in life. When asked about their life priorities, 47% of respondents said they were saving to buy a house in order to bring up their children, while 22% wanted to make sure they had a secure income before trying for a baby. A similar proportion want to get married before starting a family, while one in five said they wanted a particular amount of money in their bank accounts before taking the plunge. Paying off credit cards and other forms of debt also featured among the top reasons for postponing parenthood.

Decision could have far-reaching implications
Tracy Fletcher, head of corporate communications at Skipton, warned that couples who postpone parenthood for a number of years could feel the effects when they reach retirement. This is because, rather than relaxing and enjoying their retirement years, many will still be supporting children.

"The impacts of the global financial crisis over the past four years really are far-reaching, and it appears to be affecting traditional family structures as well as people's personal financial aspirations," Fletcher said.

However, it's not "all doom and gloom," according to Fletcher.

"Careful forward planning and budgeting, as well as a dose of well-chosen expert advice, can make life goals such as starting a family more attainable in the shorter term," Fletcher said.

See related: Can credit card debt make you sick?, Many Brits lack emergency funds. Here's how to build yours


Published: 17 May 2012