by Bessie Hassan | Money Expert at finder.com.au
Kids are expensive – whether you’re signing them up for swimming lessons or rushing to the shops to buy new clothes because they’ve grown at a shocking rate since last winter – handing over hard earned cash is a daily occurrence.
And the more children you have, the tougher it is on your wallet. The most recent research on the cost of raising kids in Australia by AMP and The University of Canberra, found the average family with two kids will spend $458 a week on their children.
Of course, the little darlings are totally worth it, but if you can save money while still giving them everything they need it’s a win/win. As a mother-of-two, I know how quickly the expenses of raising children can add up.
In fact, a significant portion of our family budget is spent on everything from childcare to soccer lessons and doctor’s visits. A recent finder.com.au study found that Australian households fork out $592 on average during the school holiday period and 40% of parents feel ‘burdened’ by holiday costs.
Keeping your kids happy, healthy and entertained doesn’t have to cost a fortune
So here are my top money-saving hacks for young families so you can keep them happy and healthy, without damaging your hip pocket.
- Reduce the cost of childcare: Childcare is one of biggest expenses for many families with young children, so finding budget-friendly options will have a huge impact on the finances. Look at other ways to reduce the cost of childcare. For example, if you work part-time, get together with a friend who also needs child care to share days. Each working parent will have both sets of children on their days off, or otherwise share the cost of a nanny.
- Join a swapping club. Get together with other parents and exchange kids’ clothes, books and toys. Kids grow out of their own stuff quickly, but another child’s toys or clothes will be as good as new.
- Low-cost activities: Local councils and community groups offer plenty of free kids activities – from sporting events to art classes. Especially before they are school age, give the expensive clubs a miss and immerse in the variety of classes on offer in your local area that don’t cost a thing.
- Live in catchment of your desired public school: Private school fees are an enormous outlay and the fees continue to climb, and this is just one major expense we need to manage (not to mention other ongoing debts that need to be serviced). Some might consider it a fairly ‘extreme’ strategy of moving house solely to be in a specific school’s catchment area, but in reality it’s a wise financial move. Encouragingly, some of the most highly regarded government schools across the country are in suburbs where the median house price is still affordable. The earlier you can start planning for your kids’ education the better, as you will give yourself enough time to compare catchment areas and their costs of living side by side.
- Reduce school holiday costs: Parents are putting themselves under enormous financial strain to ensure their kids having an action-packed holiday, and mothers are feeling the pressure the most with 42% feeling the pinch compared to 38% of fathers. With beach trips, eating out and visits to the cinema burning a hole in the hip pocket, try and shift focus from costly activities to catching up with family and friends during this period.
- Be smart with your savings. Park your hard-earned cash into a high-interest savings account and meet the conditions to earn the maximum variable rate. This can help you build a buffer for any unexpected costs that may arise, such as school excursions or medical bills.
Keeping your kids happy, healthy and entertained doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Think of ways that you can cut down on expenses and you won’t look back.
Remember, kids can have as much fun playing backyard cricket with the family or baking cookies as they would at a theme park!
Bessie Hassan is the Money Expert at finder.com.au, Australia’s most visited comparison website.