We’ve all heard it: raising children is expensive. But does it really have to be?
More women are challenging this perception by finding weekly savings that help them better manage the family finances and protect their own financial security.
“Kids don’t actually have to be expensive,” said Natasha Janssens, finance expert and author of Wonder Woman’s Guide to Money, adding that many of us need to shift our thinking and resist social pressure to spend and keep up with the Jones’.
“A lot of the costs of having children can be affected by social pressure such as the need to upsize your home and car, have a nice baby shower, go on a babymoon and create the perfect nursery,” she says.
“In actual fact kids don’t need nearly as much ‘stuff’ especially when they are younger.”
According to comparison website finder.com.au, the more children you have, the less expensive it can be if economies of scale are used in relation to unwanted or outgrown toys and clothing.
For a middle-income family, the weekly cost of having 1 child is $263 per week, says Finder.com.au.
Note this figure is much higher than the estimated 140 to $170 a week for a low income family to raise one child, according to the Australian Institute of Family studies.
But when the number of children in the family increases to two, Finder.com.au says the cost drops to $220 per child per week and at three children the cost drops further to $184 per week.
South Coast mum of four children Tanyika Fraser says since taking a career break to have children, her thinking about money and time has changed.
“For me, the key to saving money with kids is smart shopping and also making sure the kids are in bed by 7pm at night so that I have time to cook ahead, and do my work as a business strategist,” said Fraser.
“I also avoid turning on all lights in the house at night, as a dimly light home assists with helping the kids to wind down for bed and it’s an added benefit that it helps to lower our electricity usage.”
Based on the research and interviews undertaken for this article, here are ten everyday tips to help parents lower the cost of raising children:
Breastfeed rather than buy formula. Where possible – because it’s not always possible - breastfeeding is highly recommended health-wise for babies and it’s free.
Borrow rather than buy. Consider toy and book libraries.
Make the most of economies of scale. Consider clothes that can be, or have been handed down, particularly as play clothes for children. Kids grow so fast that some items are hardly worn so don’t turn your nose up at this one!
Resist the urge to keep up with the Jones’s. Social media and mass marketing has arguably made this worse, so resist the urge to spend to please others and focus on your own financial reward.
Go public over private – this goes for hospitals, schooling and playgroups but always do your homework first as the quality may also depend on the local area!
Set a budget and shop for groceries fortnightly rather than several times a week.
Bake at home. Children are chronic snackers so consider baking muffins, cakes and slices instead of going out and buying them. Doing so may also add to fuel costs.
Purchase enough staple products in your grocery shop to help lengthen the time between shops such as self-raising flour, eggs and milk. Things you can make a lot of snacks out of.
Avoid buying pre-packaged fruit and vegetables. It is always usually more expensive than picking and packing your own fruit.
Avoid shopping with children. Understand that kids of varying ages have different needs and wants and the cost of raising them does go up with age. Shopping with children can often result in buying a lot of toys or food that perhaps you all don’t really need.
Janssens also suggests taking advantage of the second hand market by hiring a capsule from Kidsafe, making the most of public schooling and having a public hospital birth rather than private, can all help to significantly cut costs.
“I also had two high risk pregnancies in the public hospital system and could not fault the care we received,” Janssens said.
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