Can you really afford to have a baby?

If you are thinking of starting or growing your family, be prepared for what the financial costs will be. Education, transport, clothing and medical care are some of the big costs you need to be prepared for. We take a look at how they might add up.

Raising a child can cost as much as R90 000 a year

In 2017, financial planner Sydney Sekese estimated it could cost as much as R90 000 a year to raise a child. This works out to around R247 a day. How much you spend will depend on how much you have, but the numbers show that raising a child is an expensive business. Are you ready for these increased costs?

Housing, food and clothing

If they can afford it, parents often look for a bigger home as they start a family or their family expands, with more rooms and a garden or yard. Utility charges such as electricity and water increase as your family grows and will increase even more if you move to a bigger house.

Even if your children share a room, there are items such as cots, beds, toys, storage units and other furniture to consider, and these will need to be updated and upgraded as children grow. The actual cost will depend on your budget.

Food is a significant monthly cost that will increase with children. Babies and younger children may have special nutritional needs like formula or baby cereal, and older children and teens eat a lot – often, more than adults! Your food costs may well double or even triple, depending on how old your children are.

Because children are growing, clothing needs to be purchased frequently. Clothing is an area where you can save costs by buying on sale or second hand, or swapping items with other parents, but you’ll likely need a few new items each season, especially when your child is in their first 12 years. You will also need to pay for school uniforms, which can cost over R1 000 for the year, depending on the school.

Education

School fees in South Africa range from zero at no-fee schools to over R150 000 a year at private schools. Even at public schools’ education could cost around R2 000 – R5 000 a month. And then there are extras (see box below). Laptops and data are increasingly essential, as we’ve seen with our kids learning digitally during lockdown, and this can add to the monthly education bill. All in all, education will take a large portion of your budget. Ideally, you should also start saving early for your child’s university education.

Transport

Children need to get to school and back, and transport after hours to visit friends or go on outings.

If you drive your child, there will be extra petrol costs involved. Alternatively, you will have to pay a lifting service, bus or taxi. The amount will vary according to distance and mode of transport, but for example if a R15 trip is needed each day for your child, you would need to budget for an extra R300 a month for transport.

Childcare

Until they are older teenagers, children need supervision, either during the day while you’re at work, or after school. Creches and schools offer aftercare and holiday care at an additional cost of anything from R80 a day to R1 500 – R4 000 a month. If you employ a nanny, the minimum wage is R15.57 an hour, which means the minimum cost for childcare five days a week is around R2 000 a month.

Healthcare

All children need general healthcare as they grow, and in some cases emergency care and care for illnesses. Government offers free healthcare to children under six years, and there are minimal charges at state facilities.

You can add your child as a beneficiary on your medical aid, hospital plan or primary health care policy. The cost varies widely, for example, the monthly contribution for an additional child member ranges from R150 to R200 a month on a primary health care policy (an affordable option, which usually covers some GP visits, dentistry and medication), and R410 to +R1 000 on a medical aid or hospital plan, depending on what your chosen plan covers.

Top tip
Read our blogs on the cheapest hospital plans and on affordable ways  to cover your family’s health costs.

The costs are worth it – but be prepared

You can see how quickly the costs of raising a child add up. With housing, food, clothes, school and transport you can spend R4 000 a month and more. Nothing can really prepare you for raising a child, it’s a journey that can change direction every day. But you can be prepared for some of the costs and start saving as early as possible!

Don't forget the extra items in your budget!

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