Having children is one of the milestones in life that many couples look forward to. With the fulfilment that comes with family life, many couples are keen to start a family as soon as possible – but what is the financial impact of having children?
The cost of raising a family today
In times gone by, it wasn’t unusual for families to have three or more children. Previous generations lived a simple life compared to modern people, and the cost of living in South Africa was lower compared to incomes – in other words, having a large family was more affordable in the past.
Fast forward to the present, and the situation seems to have changed. The cost of having children, from groceries and baby food to clothing, toys, school fees and saving for their tertiary education can be very high. This doesn’t mean that couples shouldn’t have children, but careful financial planning is needed before the decision is made.
Once the cost of food, clothing, toys, medical expenses, and children’s activities are added up, you may need to budget R10 000 a month or more for each child you’re planning to have. Even if you are a frugal person, you will probably struggle to support a child on less than this amount each month, especially if you consider the cost of school and university fees – you’ll need to be saving for these expenses from the time your son or daughter is born.
Budgeting for a new family member
Before you take the decision to have a child, try this simple experiment. Next time you go shopping for anything, be it groceries, clothing, or lifestyle expenses, pretend you have a child already and see how much more you would be spending at the grocery store, the pharmacy, and the clothing store – to name just a few places – if you had an extra family member to support.
The cost of having a baby can be especially high, with doctor’s visits, nappies, baby food, formula, and other essential but expensive products adding to the monthly bill. Before you have a child, make sure you can afford these expenses without stretching your budget too much or going into debt.
Before your child is born, you’ll need to cut down on your spending habits to prepare for family life. By getting used to a simpler life where you spend more on your family and less on yourself, you’ll ease your way into parenthood financially, and have a good surplus on hand when your child is born.