Family matters a thing of the past as financial concerns take over
Four in 10 couples have shelved plans to start a family - because they can't afford it, according to new research.
A study of 2,412 childless couples shows that 901 have been delaying having children for two years and three months so far. And many fear that realistically they will have to wait for another two years before they feel they have achieved sufficient financial stability.
Of these people, two thirds are devastated that their plans have been ruined by the fact they don't have enough money.
But 47 per cent are still saving up to buy a house in which to raise their children, while 22 per cent are looking for job security before going ahead. The rising costs of utilities, petrol prices and food have also been quoted as key reasons why couples are postponing plans to start a family.
A spokeswoman for Skipton Building Society, which carried out the study, said: "The credit crunch has had a devastating effect on traditional family structures, as people can no longer have children as and when they want them.
"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.
"This is compared to previous generations who enjoyed fantastic pensions, better benefits and jobs for life.
"It is now more difficult than ever to deliver on traditional social expectations such as the 2.4 children family."
Other reasons which best describe why couples aren't starting a family immediately include the desire to get married first (22 per cent) and the need to feel more self-sufficient (14 per cent). A fifth of respondents say they would like to have a certain amount of money in the bank before they commit to raising children - with many believing they need at least £4,867.
Understandably, 47 per cent of those people polled are worried about being an ‘older parent' - key concerns being that it might not be easy to conceive, and they might not be able to keep up with their children. A further 22 per cent are worried that other people might judge them for leaving parenthood so late, while 27 per cent foresee working long into retirement so that they can support the children as they grow up.
Tracy continued: "The knock-on effect of having children later in life is that people aren't able to relax and enjoy the retirement years because they are still committed to raising their children.
"The likelihood is that this is an added reason why many people of this generation won't be able to retire as early as they'd like because they'll still be forking out hundreds of pounds on child care, education, house deposits and other handouts.
"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.
"However, it's not all doom and gloom and 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. This is something we're more than happy to help with at Skipton, with our friendly, customer-focused teams."
In addition, Skipton Building Society also polled 1,758 parents, and found a whopping 70 per cent had planned to expand their existing brood, but have changed their plans for financial reasons. Indeed, the average parent surveyed already had two children, and would have liked two more.
But 32 per cent simply wouldn't be able to afford childcare for another child, while 30 per cent don't have enough money to go on maternity leave.
Six in 10 parents are currently saving in the hope they can one day try for another baby, but the same percentage fear the credit crunch has completely ruined their chances of having any more children.
Reasons why couples are postponing parenthood:
1. Want to buy a house first
2. Can't afford to go on maternity leave
3. Want more savings in the bank
4. The cost of utilities has gone up
5. Petrol prices have risen
6. Can't afford childcare
7. Job insecurity
8. Want to get married first
9. Soaring food prices
10. Mortgage payments have gone up
11. The need to feel more self sufficient
12. Want to have a more established career
13. Haven't yet moved out of parents' house
14. Don't have a car
15. Don't have a job
16. Recently made redundant
17. Still relying on parents for handouts
18. Need to pay off debts first
19. Need bigger accommodation
20. Currently retraining / still in education