Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Expensive Children?

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:

* housing
* childcare
* food
* energy
* clothing and footwear
* household goods and services
* leisure
* personal care
* transport
* health

How does a family save money on those criteria?

Housing –
* 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

Childcare –
* 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?

Food –
* 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).

Energy –
* 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)

Leisure –
* 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

Transport –
*car pool
* maintain your vehicle so it lasts longer
* combine trips to save time and fuel

Health –
* 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?

Related Posts by Bel
Menu Planning for Many
Babysitting Clubs
Real Nappies (diapers)