It’s common knowledge that having children is expensive. There isn’t a lot you can do about that fact itself. Fortunately, there is a lot you can do to plan financially for parenthood. Here is a guide to help.
Most pregnancies go reasonably smoothly. Do, however, be prepared for complications to disrupt your income. These do not have to be serious. They just have to be draining enough to reduce the mother’s ability to work. Also, keep in mind that the father could also become ill or injured. Make sure that you are suitably protected against this possibility.
Also, beware of loading up on baby products. It might seem like a good idea to get as much as you can in advance. In reality, however, you’ll probably only know what you really need once your baby has arrived. Buy what you need to get you through the first two-four weeks. Then buy astutely. Wherever possible, buy pre-loved and/or in bulk.
The pre-school years
In the pre-school years, the single, biggest cost for most parents is childcare. In fact, it’s so expensive that it can become uneconomical for both parents to work full time. Some government assistance is available. Realistically, however, parents should think carefully about relying on it. In blunt terms, government assistance can be taken away again.
Similarly, it’s risky to depend on family and friends for regular childcare. Informal childcare is often a great way for parents to get some time to themselves. It can, however, be abruptly cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances. For example, older relatives may have issues with their own health that stop them from helping out as much as they’d like to.
The key to getting through these years financially is to look carefully at your options well in advance. For example, if one parent wants to go back to work purely to keep their career on track, then it might be better for them to take some time out to study flexibly. That way they could still progress in their field (or another) without the pain of childcare costs.
If parents need, or want, more income, then there are plenty of options outside full-time, or even part-time employment. Many of these benefit from some preparation. For example, if one parent wants to run a business from home, then it makes sense to start it as a side-hustle before the baby arrives.
The primary school years
Once a child goes to school, the costs of childcare drop considerably. What’s more, they keep on dropping. With that said, the costs of keeping a child entertained can go up. The primary school years tend to be the most expensive years for feeding and clothing children. Again, however, planning ahead can do a lot to make this more manageable.
Cooking from scratch is a lot more affordable than using convenience foods. If you’re not a confident cook, then learn while your child is young. In particular, learning how to meal-prep and batch-cook often saves money as well as time. If you want some spontaneity, learn to stock your kitchen with foods you can use to prepare multiple different meals.
Likewise, it’s also useful to learn at least basic sewing. That means you can minimise the number of times you have to buy new clothes before they’re outgrown. It can also allow you to buy more preloved clothes and adjust them to fit your child if necessary.
High school to adulthood
The best way to minimise your costs from high school to adulthood is to start pushing responsibility onto your child. At the younger end of their high school years, they can do housework for rewards. As they age, they can be encouraged to earn their own income and taught to use it responsibly. That will benefit them as much as you.
If you would like to talk to us about financial management, please get in touch