Having children is a life-changing and joyous experience for most parents, but it also comes with added expenses that can push the budgets of even the savviest savers.
A 2018 government study shows that parents at a bare minimum can still expect to spend around $140–$170 a week to raise a child. However, it's not unusual for this figure to be far higher for most parents and guardians.
There are a few different answers to that. We looked at a couple of studies and found the estimates ranged from $159,120 to $548,500 over 18 years.
A 2018 research by the Australian Institute of Family Studies shows that it costs low-paid families $340 a week to raise 2 children, a 6-year-old girl and a 10-year-old boy, which is roughly $170 per child. That's $8,840 every year or $159,120 for 18 years per child.
For unemployed families, the cost of raising 2 children of the same ages was $280 a week or roughly $140 per child. That's $7,280 every year or $131,040 for 18 years. Again, per child.
However, a 2013 report by the University of Canberra came up with completely different figures.
The earlier study created profiles for 3 different families: lower income, middle income and higher income. It found that the cost of raising 2 children would likely range from $474,000 to $1,097,000 over the course of their childhood.
For 1 child, that's an estimate of $13,166 to $30,472 every year or $237,000 to $548,500 over 18 years.
In late 2021, Suncorp Bank revealed the costs of raising a child in Australia in its Cost of Kids report. The research surveyed a representative sample of Australians and targeted parents.
The report found that the cost of raising a child increased by more than 10% in the past five years. Communication devices and technology are the single biggest expenses since the previous report in 2016. Parents now spend 186% more on keeping their children connected each month, with a cost of $106 per child spent on computers, gaming consoles and mobile phones.
|Communications, connectivity and technology||$37||$106|
|Entertainment, leisure and social activities||$43||$133|
|Furnishings and equipment||$23||$118|
|Personal care products and services||$73||$96|
|Savings and contingencies||$39||$318|
If you understand the cost of raising a child, you can make important decisions in advance. You can start saving, create a support network, develop a budget and find affordable housing.
Anne Hollonds is the director of the Australian Institute of Family Studies. She said the cost of raising a child has long been of interest to potential parents, adding:
"Families are interested because the cost of raising children affects their wellbeing and the decisions they make about managing the burden of care."
Understanding the potential cost of having kids also allows you to put an appropriate financial safety net in place. For example, life insurance or income protection insurance, which guarantee a wage if you become too sick or injured to work.
Insurance can give your family an important safety net in case anything goes wrong. If you die or become too sick to work, life insurance and income protection mean the difference between falling behind on the mortgage or having enough money to pay for the best healthcare. Here's a summary of how they can help:
- Life insurance pays a lump sum if you're diagnosed with a terminal illness or if you die. The money can be used for whatever your loved ones like, whether that's paying off the mortgage, covering school fees or just keeping on top of everyday expenses.
- Income protection insurance replaces up to 75% of your regular wage if you ever become too sick or injured to work. Again, you can use it for whatever you like but it means you can focus on getting better rather than worrying about paying the bills.
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Data from Care for Kids show that the average cost of childcare in Australia is $119.40 a day, before subsidies. That's easily going to be the most expensive outgoing for lots of parents.
However, the price can vary significantly depending on where you are. In Sydney city centre, the average daily price jumped to $171.13 while Melbourne was $152.23 and Brisbane was $137.98. The costs in Perth are $151.50 and $119.25 in Adelaide.
Head further out and childcare becomes less expensive. New South Wales' Blacktown reported an average daily price of $101.89 while Victoria's Dandenong was $106.45 and Queensland's LoganBunderberg was $92.15
To put the cost of childcare into perspective, an average-earning Australian couple with 2 young children is likely to spend around 20% of their income on full-time childcare costs based on data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Thankfully, government benefits are available. Check the Australian government's Family Assistance Guide to see which ones apply to you.
Figures taken on 23 June 2022 from Care For Kids child care cost calculator.
Data from the Futurity Investment Group shows that parents can expect to spend an average of $83,869 to send a child starting school in 2022 to a metropolitan state school.
Of course, that price balloons if they decide to send their child to a private school. In that case, they can expect to spend a whopping $349,404 on their child's education.
Costs vary considerably depending on which state your child goes to school in as well. Brisbane takes the crown for Australia's most expensive Catholic education, while Sydney is in the lead for the highest Government and Independent education. Perth is the nation's most affordable city for an Independent education.
|NSW (regional and remote)||$59,683||$117,476||$137,268|
|QLD (regional and remote)||$78,503||$121,648||$164,142|
|SA (regional and remote)||$71,478||$106,821||$142,357|
|VIC (regional and remote)||$59,162||$108,182||$213,232|
|WA (regional and remote)||$74,645||$110,054||$154,213|
Source: The Futurity Investment Group Planning for Education Index
It's easy to spend more than the government's estimated figure on raising your child especially if you don't fall into the unemployed or low-paid category.
In 2019, women's media platform Mamamia asked 11 families to analyse their weekly spending per child. The figures ranged from a frugal $152 all the way to an eye-watering $863.
You also have to take into account the economic impact of taking time off work – either for parental leave, to raise your children for a few years or even just turning down overtime hours.
A 2014 report by the Australian Human Rights Commission found that 49% of the mothers and 27% of the fathers reported experiencing discrimination in the workplace during pregnancy, parental leave or on return to work.
The same report found that 18% of mothers felt they were either dismissed, made redundant or moved elsewhere due to their pregnancy, parental leave or family responsibilities or breastfeeding requirements.
Of course, money isn't the only thing you'll have to part with if you decide to have children. Social engagements, spare time and even career ambitions can all be impacted.
Finder surveyed over 1,000 parents in 2021 and found that one big impact on parents is how much time they spend driving their children around. Parents spend 3.5 hours per week on average driving their kids to school and other activities.
You might also have to make some changes to your career once you have kids. 29% of survey respondents switched to part-time eployment after giving birth.
We also spoke with 3 mums who shared their personal sacrifices as they became parents.
"We have chosen to put lavish family holidays on hold and enjoy trips in our caravan with friends so that we can pay for private school education at $100 a day per child."
- Leisa Papa, founder of Little Kids Business
"Having dependants to care for has made us look far into the future and be responsible with our spending. We travel less, dine out less frequently and even find more joy in finding bargains from Kmart than shopping in the branded outlets."
- Natalie Chan, CEO of Motherpedia
"With kids, then time for your partner and time for work/business, you find that it is very hard to have alone time. Something that was once so easy is a mammoth effort of organising and a payoff between do I work, spend time with somebody else or give myself time for me?"
- Raeleen Kaesehagen, CEO and founder of Mudputty
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