Thursday, August 29, 2013

Column - Wanna Raise a Kid, Cheap?

Welcome to the Ayn Rand Daycare, owned & operated by the Fraser Institute

Calgary Sun 

August 25, 2013

The Fraser Institute published a report this week that says the cost of raising children in Canada has been grossly exaggerated by parents, child welfare advocates and governments.

According to the author – who previously wrote a report that said poverty is not really a problem in this country – parents here only need to spend around $3,000 to $4,500 a year to raise a child. In fact, “it has never been easier, financially, to raise children in Canada.”

If you are an actual Canadian parent like me, that is when your morning coffee shoots out your nose.

Most studies and estimates place the annual cost of raising children at between $10,000 and $15,000 a year. According to the new Fraser Institute Report parents don’t necessarily need to spend money on things like a bigger house or apartment, so it’s not fair to count that towards child costs.

That is the point when you wonder if anyone at the Fraser Institute has actually met any children.

But it got me thinking. Are there ways to economize to get your annual child care costs down to the conservative think tank’s target of about four grand a year?

Here are some thoughts:

Encourage your kids to be atheists. That way you won’t have to spend a dime on Christmas presents. If you don’t teach them to read a calendar or let them have any friends, you can also get away with never having to buy a birthday present or throw a party.

Three words: Free range children. Let’s face it – feeding your kid nutritious food that he’ll eat is a major expense. Big bucks can be saved by letting kids scrounge for their own food in the neighbourhood. Encourages libertarian self-reliance too.

Home dentistry will also help keep your annual cost of child rearing under four grand. Last year my son had one perfect check up and one cavity. The cost? About $600. Of course if you cut out professional dental costs altogether you can save additional money on groceries since your kid won’t have any teeth to chew with.

Don’t waste money on orthodontics either. A severe overbite can come in useful later in life opening beer bottles or peeling oranges.

Make your own toys. In the olden days parents made rocking horses and soapbox racers out of spare lumber and scrounged parts for their kids. You can save a lot of money by carving your own Xbox console out of a block of wood and programming blockbuster video games in your spare time.

Encourage your children’s feet not to grow. I don’t know how much money I’ve thrown away on getting my son shoes that fit. Children are just being willful when they grown two sizes in a year and insist on shoes that don’t cause blisters.

The same with clothes. Instead of buying new clothes, just let them wear your old ones. Nothing helps a kid’s self-esteem more than wearing your old suit to school or a tee shirt from the ’80s that says “Where’s The Beef?”

Instead of costly summer camp, just drop your kids off in the woods for a month with a compass and pocket knife.

Tell your kids to not need any additional help with their school work. Parents waste hundreds if not thousands of dollars on tutors, just so their children can do things like read or write. Everyone knows struggling with a learning disability builds character, and not understanding something like basic math won’t be a problem later in life.

Maybe it will even lead to a job at the Fraser Institute.

© Stephen Lautens 2013