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Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Posted by Bel
From Spiral Garden
A multitude of articles have been written recently about the massive costs involved in raising children. Estimates range between approximately $120000 and $600000 to raise one child to adulthood. As the mother of a larger family, that is not good news for me! When thinking about a lot of the expenses used in these calculations, though, I gratefully realised that our lifestyle allows us quality at a lesser price.
Money’s well-researched article on the costs parents are facing included a list from University of Queensland’s Dr Paul Henman. He divided the costs into 10 groups, listed below in descending order:
* clothing and footwear
* household goods and services
* personal care
How does a family save money on those criteria?
* When choosing location, try to balance commuting and price
* If possible, with work and family commitments taken into consideration, a small town will generally offer better value for money housing
* Everyone doesn’t need their own room, take a tip from other cultures where sharing and multi-use rooms are the norm
* do the sums, is it cheaper to stay home while the children are little, at least part of the time?
* are you aware of all subsidies and refunds available to you for childcare?
* have you looked into all options for childcare?
* Grow your own
* Buy in bulk
* Cook from scratch
* Meal plan
* Save ‘treats’ for special occasions
* Don’t eat empty calories – price food items per kilo and learn where your money is better spent (eg: 1kg of potato crisps cost about $20, whereas a loaf of wholewheat bread costs only around $4 per kilogram – try to get some nutrition and value for your money).
* teach good habits from a young age – eg: shorter showers, switching appliances off at the wall
* try to heat/cool fewer rooms by sharing spaces
* discuss energy use as a family, so everyone is responsible – it’s about treading lightly as well as the cost
Clothing and Footwear –
* for as long as possible try to use recycled clothing and handmade or altered items
* buy quality, make it last
Household Goods & Services – (includes education)
* wait – don’t rush out to get what you think you ‘need’
* look at all your options – consider secondhand goods, buy quality appliances to last, think about homeschooling (often described as the ultimate private education)
* don’t skimp on really important things, fun matters so make it quality fun!
* find cheap and free things to do as a family to strike a balance
Personal Care –
* looking good and feeling good are important, but needn’t cost a lot
* go for quality over quantity and learn some DIY beauty tricks – have a pamper session with friends or family
* stay away from products laden with chemicals – they’re not necessarily any more effective than cheap and natural alternatives, but they’re certainly more likely to cause problems for the person using them, or the planet
* maintain your vehicle so it lasts longer
* combine trips to save time and fuel
* prevention is better and cheaper than cure – eat well, look after your teeth, exercise and live a balanced life
* don’t skimp on health care, if everything else you have vanished into thin air, your health would be all you have left - it’s all that really matters in the long term
* Australia is extremely lucky to have a lot of free healthcare for children - from clinics for babies and children, to bulk-billed (ie: free) medical treatment by most GPs, quality care in many public hospitals, ambulance transport in our state, and free dental care for school-aged children, including a new program for teenagers
Those are just a few hints from our family. Do you have any tips to share for saving money in any of the categories above? Do you think the estimates are accurate?
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