I’m pretty sure I’ve cost my parents every single cent of the million it is estimated it costs to have a child. I’m not proud of it, but I am realistic. I got music lessons, school uniforms and lots of presents at Christmas. I was certainly not a cheap child.
But that doesn’t mean I have lost all hope of raising children (eventually) that cost the earth. I’m not saying that Christmas will be a one day cessation of back-breaking child labour, but there are a couple of pointers I have found in my researchers (Nine MSN Money and … to be exact) that I thought I would share with y’all, whether you have children, are expecting or haven’t thought about it yet.
Food shopping is not a family exercise
I was a master at this one. The sad eyes, the trembling lip and the finger, outstretched, pointing at a chocolate bar or strawberry milk or whatever. It’s not that I really wanted it, and I would have existed quite happily without it, but now I had seen it, I needed it.
Avoid this situation at all costs, because those mid-supermarket screaming matches are unpleasant for every one involved. Grocery lists are your saviour, so go at a time when you can stick to it. This means you can audit the health level of the food entering your home as well.
No name brands
There is an odd trajectory- when your child is young, brand names mean nothing to them. Then they go through this horrible decade or two decades where brand names are all that matter, and then come out the other end distinctly uncaring once more.
I like Alison Tait’s suggestion of making them pay the difference. If you were happy to spend $30 on jeans, and they can’t live without a pair that costs $100, don’t front up the extra money. Let them save and cover the costs- that way you are not costing yourself a bucket, and you’re teaching them a good lesson in financial goals and denial at the same time.
Check out the freebies
My parents took my younger brothers and I to Europe when we were kids (you see now how easily I have cost a million dollars). Obviously we were expensive baggage, but not in an entertainment sense. People working at art galleries, train stations, the occasional petrol station (a long story) would trip over themselves to give us free tickets. Maybe it was the blue eyes and pathetic expressions, but it works in Australia too. There are tones of free things organised for kids throughout the year- capitalize on them.
Yes Yes Yes No
I can’t say no, it’s a gift I plan to acquire before having children. If you have children, saying no is important. Money is not infinite, and the sooner they grasp that thought, the happier their lifelong finances will be. In the Tait article, she mentions how children can sometimes think that cash is simply dispensed by an ATM, with no thought as to how you earn it.
I’m not suggesting I’ll be giving personal finance advice to my toddler in between Sesame Street and Play School. But an awareness of the value of money, and the work ethic required to earn it, would be two lessons I would hope to teach my kids quick smart.