Balancing children with finance

By Jenny Louwrens, Financial Framework

As a mother of ‘nearly 1’, or 2, or sometimes even more little people, what could we possibly have in common?

Every day we juggle, we balance and even the best of us often drop the odd ball at times. Today I’m here to help to provide an insight on some of my fun times, struggles and lessons learnt (the hard way) as a working mother. Rest assured, this balancing act will work for you.

What qualifies me to say this? Well, I’m a 35-year-old fulltime working, re-married, mum of 3 kids between the ages of 2 to 10. A couple of boys and one girl.

I’ll admit I’ve been pretty ‘successful’ in my own right, but it’s been hard word. Exhausting too! But oh so worth it.

It’s 2017 and times have changed. Daddy is no longer expected to work from dawn to dusk whilst mum brings up the kids. There’s not the expectation to have dad’s pipe, slippers and freshly bathed children waiting for his return each evening.

Dads are frequently more hands on; cooking, cleaning and doing school runs. Women are often the breadwinner, but every family is different and there is no ‘right’ way.

A taste of finance

There’s certainly one thing I know a ton about: money. One of the biggest stressors to a family’s wellbeing is money.

“I’ve got too much money” said no one, ever!

While most of us aren’t millionaires, what would it mean to your family life if you had no worries about the next big bill because you’ve already taken care of it? How would that change the dynamics of your house hold?

Right now you may not feel the stress of money. Whether you do or don’t, it’s something that can be avoided and it’s actually pretty simple science, but it’s one that takes practice, and a dash of discipline to get right.

Mums are more likely to return to work than in days gone by; and not always through choice. We have careers to return to, we may be a single parent, or we share the breadwinning with our husbands so they too can enjoy their babies – I can safely say I’ve been in all 3 of those boats and can hand on heart say none are easy.

So, here’s some of my list on how to maximize time, deal with the grown-up stuff, reduce your to-do’s and concentrate on the fun things… like your babies.

Spewed there, cleaned that

Get a financial plan and set some fun family goals…At its simplest, this means looking at your financial goals, planning debt repayment and creating a REAL workable budget., then figure out how much money you can afford to save.

Regardless of your income, start an emergency fund and I would suggest getting some life and income insurance right away.

Centrelink and daycare

You will be caught off guard by the sheer cost of daycare. My 2.5-year-old costs $535 per week! Yes there’s a rebate but it’s currently capped at $7,500 per year. Good news is this changes for the better come 1 July 2018.

Plan for this shock and work out costs over a year and put extra aside. You’ll save heaps at the beginning of the financial year and offset costs later so no nasty surprises.

Bonus tip: We pay daycare on a fly buys credit card and transfer money weekly. We use our points at Christmas. The boys (and husband) loved the free Playstation last Christmas and I loved my new doona set and iron.

Kids’ schooling

Kindy and school is years away but with school uniform often starting at $25 per shirt and $20 for shorts each and every year - can you afford not to save?

Did you know, if your Miss-2 attends a Catholic/Church school the approximate cost is $341,374, rising to a staggering $505,093 for private school! (1)

Join a mothers group

Becoming a mum is like joining a club where nobody can tell you exactly what happens when you join. Thankfully that club is good, plus there’s lots around.

Don’t worry if you aren’t the most ‘fashionable’ mother. Seriously it’s just not going to happen after 3 hours sleep, with a grouchy kid who just isn’t hungry. You might be wearing 2 odd socks whilst being blissfully unaware of the half-chewed biscuit or dirty baby wipe stuck to your back. Yup, it happens to us all. Your bundle of joy always loves you.

Make technology work for you

Check out Coles, Woolworths, Aussie Farmers Direct or GroceryRun online. Some have free delivery offers or some even have drive through collections so all you’ve done is got in the car to drive little one around to get her to sleep.

Reconnect with your partner

You’re not always going to feel romantic—or even like your hubby/wife, but sometimes you just need to act like you do! Snuggle, hold hands and give them an extra kiss or two. It will remind both of you of why you connected in the first place.

Your family is your team. Teach your other children to help around the house, they’re not perfect helpers but they will be soon. Kids love to feel part of a bigger plan, besides its fun putting washing in the machine and playing match the socks.

Get physical

My mum told me that a baby crying is a hell of a lot louder inside than out. Eh? I had no idea what she meant until I had a child with painful silent reflux, I lived in New Zealand, mum was in England I was at my wits end, with no milk and had run out of coffee.

So… throw on your joggers, get some fresh air, and pound those pavements. I guarantee you will feel refreshed and you may even pass a shop for that elusive litre of milk.

To infinity and beyond

Being a new mum certainly is a shock to the system, physically, emotionally and mentally. You are busy, tired, sometimes feeling incredibly alone; for me that was around 3am. You can’t be everything to everyone all the time – you are still you! Create and maintain your headspace, remember there is no such thing as super-mum! Take 10 and paint your toes, read a book, have a bath with some candles and a cuppa/glass of wine…

I hear you laugh but seriously, this is the ride of your life whether you are a couple or a single parent or grandparent, enjoy the rollercoaster and rest assured you are not on this ride alone!

Note: The views and advice expressed on this blog post are those of the author and are not representative of the Pregnancy Babies & Children's Expo.

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