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The price of parenting in 2014

Tags Kids and Money Money Management
Category Budgeting

The real cost of being a mum

In 2013, it was widely reported that the costs of raising a child had grown enormously over the past five years, and I doubt whether many mothers would dispute that.

The National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) released a report that looked at the cost of raising children in Australia across all income groups. It suggested that the highest cost in dollar terms was from high-income families, but for lower-income families the percentage of income required was much greater. The biggest increase in costs from the previous report was found in middle-income families.

What is the real cost?

The report indicated that the cost to raise two children for a typical middle-income family had risen over 50 per cent from when the study had been done in 2007. And it had almost doubled from the 2004 report. While some days it might seem that your child costs every cent of these projected figures, the reality is that you can, and possibly do, raise your child on much less.

the cost to raise two children for a typical middle-income family had risen over 50 per cent

But the real cost for you is very much dependent on how much you earn versus what you decide to spend. The latter can include such things as where you want your children educated and what sort of holidays you can afford. It all comes down to priorities and affordability.

How much money does it cost to raise a child, on average?

Let me ask you this: what is average? Or what is normal? We’re all individuals with diverse sets of values, so it makes sense that our priorities will be different as well. And for some, what is average is not the same as for others.

If you look at the NATSEM research, you’ll notice a number of categories really stand out between the low, middle and high-income families. These represent the discretionary spend categories (in other words the non-essential “nice to haves”).

However when it comes to the last two categories – “services and operations” and “fuel and power” – there’s not much of a discrepancy between the costs of these items for each type of family. This could be attributed to the essential nature of the items and the general belief that most families will endeavour to contain these costs when compared to the optional items referred to earlier.

 it’s the discretionary spending that blows the budget

I would go so far as to say that the basic everyday costs are the same for everybody and it’s the discretionary spending that blows the budget. In other words, we generally don’t have a choice about the costs for utilities and services but we can be very selective about how we educate and dress up our children.

Nine-month saving plan to alleviate money stress

If you’re planning to have your first baby, here are some things you can do to get your finances on track before the happy day:

  • Discuss your objectives for your children with your partner before baby arrives. It’s too hard to argue about schooling and family holidays once your family is complete.
  • As soon as you know a baby is coming, start to live on one wage. Put the other aside and don’t spend it. (Also consider reducing your mortgage and any debts, if you have one.)
  • Put the additional income into a savings account and start a savings plan.
  • Establish a workable budget.
  • Consider starting an education fund to alleviate school costs.

Regardless of the cost of raising a child today, the one thing that is not different is that every mother in every corner of the world wants only the best for her child.

About the author: Carmel McCartin founded the Budget Bitch company in 2007 after working as a mortgage broker where she saw that the reason people continued to borrow more money, was because they didn’t know how to budget. She is the author of four books, including a world first: 1001 Budget Tips.