How to Figure Out the Cost of Raising a Family

How to Figure Out the Cost of Raising a Family

A psychologist friend once told me that the way we parent our kids has changed so dramatically, we’ve prolonged childhood till age 29. That’s right, developmentally, you’re basically a teenager until you turn 30. (Suddenly your 20’s are making a whole lot more sense, aren’t they?)

RBC released a study earlier this year reflecting that most Canadian parents are still supporting their 30 something children as they launch into “real” adulthood, which includes payments on rent, and monthly cell phone bills. Staggeringly, one-third of those parents are delaying their own retirement plans as a result of the financial help they provide to their fully adult children.

Whoa. Whoa, whoa, whoa.

You read a lot about the cost of raising kids – and you assume that means raising “kids.” But seldom do we stop and think about how long that financial commitment lasts, and to what degree we are planning for.

Raising young kids doesn’t have to cost that much, really: babies can be breastfed, toddlers want to be wherever you are, and young kids have lots of imaginary play and stimulation to keep them busy and engaged after school and on weekends.

Teenagers come with the eventual cost of post-secondary education, and a superlative grocery bill that nobody sees coming, and the 20’s can be marked – often – with first marriage or first home purchase. But nobody said there would be financial help or expectations beyond those years.

Extending financial help beyond the 20’s and into the 30’s has some pretty meta implications: it means that a third of us, reading (or writing) this in our 30’s, are being supported to some degree by our own parents, while raising our own kids and while planning for our own retirement. And this is where it starts to get interesting.

Have you ever stopped to think about the cost of retirement? If you’re under 40, probably not, because it seems like forever away, and frankly – other than the vision board of Bali beach bungalows – a little boring. I work closely with a financial coach and a financial planner who guide me to plan for my own retirement in the future. One of the planning exercises we’ve done is to calculate my “financial independent number (FIN),” ergo: how much wealth I need to build now to retire with the income I intend to have.

That number is $4,000,000. Yup, four millie. That means to live the kind of life I want to live past 65, I need to acquire four million dollars in the next 27 years. NBD.

Another exercise has been to calculate how much life insurance I need to protect not only that wealth and lifestyle, but the life and future I am building for my girlies. For years I thought life insurance was a total scam…until I got a breast cancer diagnosis, and realized in one fell swoop that it’s not only not a scam, but an incredibly savvy way of protecting the lifestyle you’ve worked so hard to create.

Why am I telling you all this? Great question.

In the personal development world and culture – especially the highly meme-able one we tend to dwell in – we talk a lot about asking for what you want, how to get it, how to create your dream life, what that would look and feel like…but seldom do we punctuate it with any additional phases and stages of life: how do you call in what you want in a long term financially stable way that you not only create your own freedom-based business and life now, but leave a sparkling legacy for your children to pick up where you left off?

We seldom talk about the staggering reality that 53% of Canadian parents have no life insurance, 59% have no RESP / financial education plan for their kids, and carry close to $23,000 in consumer debt – on average.

When I stack this up against my long term vision of my life, my family, my 2020 vision board featuring Kevin the apricot mini golden doodle, suddenly “calling in what I want” gets a lot clearer – I want a ton of stability, financial education and context, to help me make continually informed decisions for the next 50 years of my life.

Information is power; fast forwarding through the feelings of “ick – I just don’t like this stuff” and getting crystal f***ing clear that there are parts of life you need to prepare for, even if it makes you uncomfortable, will short cut you directly to the hella empowering driver’s seat of your own, and very adult, life.

Start by scoping out this Child Affordability Calculator, and taking 3 minutes to get a handle on where you are financially now, versus where your future self wants you to be. And with any luck, when you do, I’ll see you at my beach bungalow in Bali – sooner than we think.

This was written as sponsored content for my friends at Planswell – and is close to my heart; information is power.

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