Tap into the power of granny savings

I've always considered my daughter Rebecca's relationship with her husband Jim her own business.

The last thing I'd ever want to be is an interfering mother to Rebecca, or worse, a bossy mother-in-law to Jim. So when my friends (nosily) used to ask me, "When are you going to be a grandmother?" I always gave them the same haughtily, disapproving answer: "That is not my decision, and none of my concern," obviously implying it was none of their business either.

Not any more. Ever since Rebecca rang me with the news that she's expecting a baby in July - my very first grandchild - I've been boringly garrulous on the subject.

I've discussed favourite names over dinner with friends. Personally, I have always thought Coracle is a lovely name, though it does mean 'a small round boat made of animal skin', so perhaps my daughter was right to turn it down. I've even shown friends the sonogram of the tiny little blob, asking them to admire my grandchild's charming, albeit rather blurry, profile.

I've planned to keep the due date free, of course, just in case I can be useful. And I've tried to remember the advice from friends I found helpful 30 years ago, such as "it's your baby, do it your way," and "who needs sleep anyway?"

Financial strife

But while I'm sure my help and advice will come in handy, some things they just have to plan for, such as finances. Just how much money is going to be needed once the bundle of joy arrives?

Estimates can terrify new parents, especially when you factor in things that crop up over the years, from money for school trips all the way through to your child's first car and even their first mortgage. Because, let's face it, these days mum and dad never lose their position as the lender of last resort when money is tight.

According to the Cost of Raising a Child report by insurance company LV=, a baby's first year alone is going to cost parents more than £10,000. The report goes into great detail about the expense of looking after a child until they are 21. It comes to a total of £218,024!

I'm so glad nobody told me that when I was pregnant, and I'm certainly not going to pass on the news to Rebecca and Jim. But for you, I'll break down the figures.

Educating the baby, LV= claims, will cost Rebecca and Jim £71,780. Pocket money will cost them £4,337. Food will use up £18,667. Holidays will eat up £15,532. And childcare and babysitting will cost a whacking £62,099. Well, as for the latter, that's OK. As far as I'm concerned, the best way to cut down the cost of babysitting is to rely on Granny (Lord, is that really what I'm going to be called?).

I'll be delighted if I am called upon for babysitting duties, while the new mum and dad are having a night off at the cinema. Holidays? What about staying with Granny?

My sister has been a grandmother for a couple of years now, and her lovely granddaughter is a very welcome guest. And maybe that will give me an excuse to go back to Disneyland, and the pantomime, and all the other treats I've been missing since my own children have become adults.

So instead of frightening soon-to-be parents with figures, perhaps we should point out the granny-savings that can lighten the load? In any case, I'm thrilled at the prospect of doing my bit. And I still think Coracle would be a lovely name.

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