Whether you’re a mum and dad working on a rural angus beef farm in Bathurst, NSW or a couple in inner-city Melbourne living the corporate life, the decision to have children is a big one. It affects not only your life, but your daily and monthly routine for the indefinite future.
It affected my life, and I enjoy writing about these types of things from the perspective of a past, present and future parent. I made the decision to have children, and it’s been a great experience, but there are things I wish I knew beforehand.
Having children is a magical experience, but it comes with unexpected obligations, feelings and situations. One of the surprising aspects of parenthood revolves around finances. Mums and dads understand that having a child or children will transform their budget, but at the same time, many of these same people don’t recognize the complexity and depth of the expenses.
Below are some costs that often fly under the radar when raising a child in Australia is considered. If you’re an expecting parent, these ideas could be something to explore further as you head into the amazing journey. As with most situations in life, it’s a much easier transition into becoming a parent if you’re financially stable. From there, you can better focus your attention on important things like nurturing.
If you and your spouse (or de-facto partner) both have full-time employment, child care will probably be inevitable. Whether you need it all the time is another question, but you’re bound to call the local centre or provider at some point if you don’t have an immediate family member constantly in the area.
Why it’s a surprising finance: Many parents plunge into parenthood with the “We can figure it out when the time comes!” attitude. This is fine and you should be excited, but you also should consider that childcare is a main expense that often gets overlooked. Situations like the ones that require full-time nannies can and will cost a major chunk of your salary, especially if the care is consistent and quality.
Advice: Explore your options well before child care is necessary. Understanding the level of necessity it is for your particular circumstances can make a world of difference financially. Additionally, like anything else, the more calculated research you do will produce better results when you settle on a provider.
Upsizing and transforming the home
Altering your home to accommodate a child or even switching house to have more space can be one of the most expensive ventures you’ll ever experience as a parent. This is important to understand early on so that you can be proactive and plan ahead.
Why it’s a surprising finance: Adding an extra room to your house so that it’s legally zoned for a family addition can cost in the general range of $30,000-$80,000. It’s significant. Again, a child can’t sleep in your room or the hallway outside of it indefinitely, and this an example of where parents enjoy the moment (or not if it’s night time) and don’t focus on the future years. In addition, simple changes like child-proofing your home for safety can be burdensome and expensive.
Advice: There’s not a whole lot you can do to magically transform your home in order to better accommodate a new family member. However, thinking about this situation before it happens can help you if you’re already in the midst (or considering) of making a change to your living situation.
Insurance and health cover
While Australians have national health coverage through medicare, it’s still important to consider that you’re child or children may have certain health issues that go beyond basic coverage. These types of circumstances require additional, and often expensive, coverage options. Similarly, your life cover policies and other insurance plans will need to be altered to include an additional family member.
Why it’s a surprising finance: Insurance and health cover are extremely critical to parenting, as there are bound to be certain issues that arise that you simply aren’t able to control. Hopefully not, but it’s best to be realistic. Finances associated with insurance are surprising because even the slightest change to a policy can inflate monthly or yearly fees.
Advice: It’s always better to be safe than sorry as a parent, particularly with insurance. The good news is that you can do so without wrecking your finances. It just takes patience and an understanding of what’s coming and what options you have.
Being a parent is a role that’s nearly impossible to describe because it’s unique to each and every person. However, finances are naturally a part of it, and it’s wise to understand where the biggest strains on your budget will come from before they show up. These are some (but not all) of them to consider. From there, you’ll be able to kick back on the veranda with a bit more ease.
This article was written by Georgia Banks. She writes about family finances and life planning.