Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Raise a Little Hell

The other day I came across an article in The Toronto Star about The Fraser Institute's study that claimed that the minimal costs of raising children in Canada is highly exaggerated and is in fact only $3000-$4500 a year.  After I finished cleaning the gore off of my computer screen, because my head had exploded in a rage induced, "Are you effen kidding me?" moment, I dug further.

The study does not include child care, I'm guessing that the over 30% of our after tax income going to daycare is discretionary to my "middle class bias".  The study does not include shelter because it assumes that you already have shelter, which I suppose makes sense, but becomes crowded when you try to cram a family of eight into a studio apartment. 

My son's "room" according to the Fraser Institute

In fact, did you know that, "It has never been easier, financially, to raise children in Canada."  Is this because there is a magical Pegasus* who takes care of Canadian children every day by providing rainbows and fairy dust as sustenance and shelter while we're at work?   He also poops educational toys and story books, cooks, cleans and smells like lavendar.  Somehow this mythical Pegasus seems more realistic to me. 

Don't get me wrong, I understand the differences between needs and wants and that some families are able to balance it all on a shoe string budget and I applaud those who can make it work.  In Josh Brandon's Blog, There is an Alternative Policy Fix, he says, "Children raised on a bare minimum will have fewer educational opportunities and are more likely to be trapped in lifelong cycles of poverty. The goal of social policy should be to provide a basis for raising the opportunities for such families, not to entrench existing poverty as an ideal."

This study glosses over some harsh realities of parenthood making it seem a lot easier and cheaper than it really is.  This study assumes that one parent will stay at home with their children, as daycare is not a factor, however there are other costs and particular years of raising a child that are more expensive than others.  Financial common sense guru Gail Vaz Oxlade mentions in a blog post on parenting on a budget that, based on a 2004 study, Canadian's spent an average of over $10,000 on baby in the first year.   Canadian Living's estimate trumps Gail's (likely due to the 10 years of inflation) saying on average it costs $12,825 per year, any year, to raise your child.  I'm assuming that most of these numbers do in fact factor the realities of shelter and perhaps even some child care. 

Here are just a few tidbits on the cost of raising children from my research and experience (not including the tens of thousands of dollars we spend on daycare each year):

We use four to five 4L bags of milk a week for the kids (okay we drink tea with milk too): TOTAL $995 a year**

This past year we purchased the following shoes for Jack: 2 pairs of used $8 Robeez shoes for daycare sized 12-24 months, 1 pair of sized 3 running shoes $16 (one of which he promptly lost when he kicked it out of his stroller on the way to daycare), 1 pair of sized 3 replacement shoes $16, 1 pair of sized 4 fake converse lace up shoes, used, $7 (which looked cool but got worn 3 times), 1 pair of sized 4 running shoes $4 that didn't fit properly and made him cry from Value Village, 1 pair of $20 replacement Walmart shoes that didn't make him cry, 1 pair of sized 4 winter boots from Winners $30, 1 pair of sized 5 spring shoes from Walmart $20, 1 pair of sized 6 fall shoes for $20: TOTAL $149 on shoes for Jack ALONE!***

If you don't own a washer and dryer and decide to go with cloth diapers, you can expect to pay $624 a year to wash your diapers (including soap).  This cost does not include the diapers themselves or washing any of your children's other clothes. 

Registration for swimming lessons is around $100 for one set of lessons.  Somehow preventing your child from drowning doesn't register as a middle class luxury in my book.  This cost does not include swimsuits.

Point beaten to death.....Excuse me, I have to run to the store and buy some milk.

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*I call him Bitey.
**That does not include the more expensive milk we end up running out to the convenience store for at 10:30 at night.
***This is nearly 30% of the clothes budget that The Fraser Institute mentions, on shoes!

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