The cost of raising a child is a topic well visited. Estimates show that raising a child until they are aged 20 in Singapore costs around S$360,000. Raising a child until the age of 18 in the USA costs around US$233,610 (excluding college fees).
Are children REALLY this expensive?
By putting a price tag on a child, it does get daunting. I feel that many of these estimates do reflect current trends but do not properly reflect more economical options that are available to parents. Let's bust some myths here!
1. It is expensive to feed children
Cook for them instead! There are countless books, blogs and articles on social media that share amazing hacks that can make cooking the cheaper, faster and better option!
2. Baby formula is really expensive
There are cheaper baby formula alternatives that are just as nutritious. Singaporeans can take a short trip across to Malaysia and get branded formula at about half the price!
Most importantly, your child DOESN'T need formula once they turn ONE! Paediatricians support the idea of drinking fresh milk from 1 year old.
3. Childcare is expensive
Childcare IS expensive but doesn't have to be! If you are paying more than 50% of your salary to put your kids at child care, it may be wiser to work from home while caring for them yourself. Family help for half a day can help lower the costs. As with most services, don't just go for the brand because branded centres charge more for the same thing.
4. Tuition, enrichment classes are expensive
Firstly, give your children a break. There is no need to pack their schedule with all sorts of classes. Tuition may help your child improve their grades for the subjects they require most help with. If parents were to take on responsibility to monitor the child's work and help them with work daily, there won't be a need to hire a tutor for every school subject to conduct tuition classes 7 days a week.
If you want to enrich your child, Pinterest provides a huge repository of ideas! You don't need to send your toddler for a sensory class or reading class when you CAN do it yourself. There are so many amazing ideas that you can easily pick up and prepare activities for your child.
5. Expensive toys
Give your children more experiences and not more things. Take them to the public libraries and read more! It is free of charge and it has immense effect on your child's literacy which will affect how much tuition they need! Read about it here. Visit nature parks, playgrounds and have picnics, treks and play sports! These experiences won't cause problems like the expensive iPads and tablets...(Read about screen addiction here)
The really expensive things are:
-University (College) tuition fees
-Medical bills (even insurance has co payment)
The real cost of parenting is...PERSONAL SACRIFICE.
We feel that at the end of the day, parents do struggle with providing financially for their children but that can be mitigated by good spending habits, busting the myths above and finding new ways to spend less. There is readily available information that is shared across the internet.
Being a parent means we have to learn and unlearn together with our children. It costs us large amounts of time and effort. Taking the initiative to Invest love and time unceasingly from the day our children are born is no easy feat. Parenting entails moments of rage, tears, screaming but also immense joy and pride.
The day you have a child, you realise you have to watch what you eat, what you say and what you do. Setting good example is not easy! Being a role-model is costly. This is especially difficult in my opinion because it costs us our pride. A few days back, my son was pretending to type away on his grandfather's computer while his grandma called him to the dining table for dinner. He said "give me a moment, let me send an email and take that call first. It is important, I have to finish my work". It gave Debra and I a shock. He obviously learnt that from us! We needed to reflect.
Sacrificing personal time is real. This is real cost of being a parent means that you WILL have a lot less time for yourself. There will be many moments when you are tired but you have to read to your child, put them to bed, cook for them, play with them and deal with lots of poop and pee.
These are the REAL costs of parenting that few people discuss.
What are your thoughts?
Vincent & Debra Kwan, Founders of Hiro & Jack and stay-at-home parents with the odd life.