Unless you’ve been under a rock this week (or constantly out at a fancy cafe eating expensive brunches) you’re probably aware of demographer Bernard Salt’s suggestion to Australian millennials that they should all stop whinging about housing affordability and save their pennies by not wasting them on $22 a week brunches.
All this hand-wringing got us thinking about how today’s smashed avocado-eating millennials are tomorrow’s parents – and parents waste plenty of money every week on their children. Money they could be putting towards buying a house. So here’s some financial advice from the trenches.
Having kids at all massively reduces your borrowing power of course. Every additional child lowers the amount of money a lender will give you, and that’s before you even factor in that someone has to look after that child, so it will either be you (reducing your earning power) or someone you pay (reducing your income). But if you’re reading this, I’m going to assume that ship has already sailed, and you need some practical ways – just like Bernard provided for the greedy brunchers of Australia – to keep some cash in your hip pocket. Here are some of the things parents just throw cash at constantly.
This one’s a killer, and I’m surprised that really only the hippies among us (who don’t tend to be into property ownership anyway) have cottoned on to it. If you go through a box of disposables every week, that’s $30 that you are literally throwing in the bin. What’s the alternative? Well, it isn’t modern cloth nappies, setting you back close to $1000 to get set up, plus washing detergent, water and energy. Try letting the kids roam free-range bare-bottomed around the backyard instead. It costs nothing, and my grandma always said that “a bit of fresh air is good for their bots”.
Maybe your child cares enough about your financial future to be a thumb sucker, but mine never did. Not only did they need a dummy everywhere they went, my son even needed to hold one in each hand while going to sleep. Once you factor in all the dummies that get chucked over the side of the cot or thrown from the pram, that really starts to add up. Don’t even get me started about the financially irresponsible among us who go in for fancy-pants orthodontic dummies, or those cute ones with moustaches on them. Do you think dummies grow on trees? No wonder you can’t afford a house.
Sure, you think it’s a way to keep your child quiet for 15 minutes in a cafe so you can feel briefly normal and not lose your mind, but at $2 a pop, giving up a weekly babycino could save you AS MUCH AS $104 a year. Or to put it another way, to save a $20K deposit (which might be enough for the mortgage on a studio apartment in Broken Hill) you and your greedy child only need to give up that weekly babycino for 192 years. It could be as little as 96 years if you have two children and don’t let either of them quaff babycinos.
How much is this setting you back? Probably not an insignificant amount. Even better, if you get pregnant again and again, you won’t have to spend money on sanitary products either, because – no periods! Think of how much cash you could save.
You’ve got arms, right? Use them and stop being soft.
Just this week, Scotland made news by adopting Finland’s longstanding baby box program. People are always saying how much they want to live a minimalist and Scandinavian lifestyle – here’s your opportunity! If it’s good enough for the Finns, it’s good enough for you – and you don’t even need to wait for our government to adopt the program here. All you need is a cardboard box. You can get it from your local greengrocer, which will be a nice way to stay in touch with them since you won’t be buying fruit and veg anymore (see below).
Making nutritious meals for toddlers
Come on. I know you’ve thought about this one already. How much money (and energy!) are you wasting every day attempting to meet the nutritional needs of a tiny dictator who only wants to eat yellow food? You probably tip half of it in the bin at least half the time. Encouraging small children to eat expensive veggies is a job for baby boomers with plenty of free time and massive disposable incomes – grandparents! You need to save that money – and you might just save your sanity too.
So there it is, folks. Seven ways that you could own a home sooner. How will you be lowering parental expectations and embracing fiscal responsibility?