Being a parent does not come with a handbook, and neither does managing the financial aspects of this new life stage…

Sonto Lemeko of Standard Bank Financial Consultancy, believes that new parents need to have a long term view when it comes to finances for their babies. “There’s going to be a lot of sacrifices made in order for you to have a healthy baby as well as keeping their future secure,” says Lemeko.

“Research suggests that raising a child can cost anything around R90 000 a year. The primary costs to be considered include food, clothing, education, transport , child minder or after care facility and extracurricular activities. Entertainment, recreational activities, gadgets and toys need to be factored in as well.”

If you’re considering having a child, start saving early

“Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have plenty of time to save,” warns Lemeko. “The important thing is to start, no matter how small it is.”

There are a lot of ‘unexpected’ costs that come with children. We all know nappies are expensive, but when you’re analysing your finances, try to figure out what else you’ll be paying for.

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‘Unexpected’ costs could include:

  • Childcare
  • Filling the nursery with the necessary furniture
  • Costs of keeping the house warm and a live-in nanny may increase the utility bill
  • Modern and convenient nursing supplies come at a cost
  • Babies grow fast – sometimes too fast for their clothes
  • Some parents find themselves at the doctor more often than they would expect during pregnancy and after the baby is born, which may deplete funds available on medical insurance.
  • Once the baby arrives, expect to pay more on your medical insurance premium.

While it’s not pleasant to think about, Lemeko also advises planning for “the worst”. Like death or disability of a parent. “While nobody wants to think about it, imagine the peace of mind that accompanies knowing that your children will be taken care of regardless of whether you are around or physically able to work.”

How to cope with an unplanned pregnancy

Surprise!

If the baby is a ‘surprise’, there are some things that parents can do to stabilise their finances for the imminent arrival says Lemeko:

  • Review the current budget and cut down on unnecessary expenses.
  • You have few months to pay off some short-term debt and save before the baby is born
  • Set aside a fixed amount onto a dedicated savings account to be used during pregnancy period and maternity leave.
  • Make provision for out-of-pocket prenatal care expenses, maternity clothing, baby-related expenses and hiring a nanny.

Factor in the cost of education when you’re planning for children

“The cost of education continues to outpace inflation,” warns Lemeko. “Parents need to consider very carefully the costs and benefits of the various options.”

  • Private vs public schooling, primary and high school, studying local vs studying abroad.
  • For nursery school expect to pay fees around R1500 to R4500 a month depending on the area you live.
  • School fees vary greatly from school to school. Public schools can range between non-fee paying schools in low-income areas to between R20 000 up to over R30 000 a year for tuition only in a middle class area.
  • The estimated costs of three years university degree in South Africa can add up to R350 000 including tuition, books, accommodation, computer or tablet, internet and cell phone.

With the rise of technological advancement there are Apps that can provide costs estimations as well. “There are great investment vehicle options out there such as tax-free investments, unit trust and endowments,” says Lemeko. “Speak to your financial planner about a suitable solution for our child’s education based on your goals.”

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