Having kids is a financial strain


Costly affair: Marziana spends close to RM1,500 monthly on her two children.

THE price of an S-Class Mercedes-Benz and a semi-detached house. That’s what urban parents can expect to pay to raise a child from primary school to university, say financial planners.

The high cost would just cover sending a child through school and university.

Personal financial management coach Yap Ming Hui estimated the cost of upbringing to be as much as the combined price of a luxury car and landed property in the Klang Valley.

“Easily, RM1.5mil,” he said, adding that tertiary education in a local university cost between RM30,000 and RM150,000, depending on whether it was a private or a public university.

Noting a growing demand for private and international schools in urban areas, he said education, especially for a degree abroad, would make the biggest dent in a family’s finances.

He said in urban areas, it would cost parents of a child in primary or secondary school about RM1,000 monthly, excluding extras like smartphones, data package charges, activities like music lessons, transportation and tuition fees.

“Previously, one tuition teacher would cover all subjects but today, teachers specialise and parents pay more.

“So, if you are planning to have three or four kids, you better think twice,” he said, adding that with higher living costs, it would cost much more than RM100,000 to raise a child from birth to the age of 18 today.

Financial coach Carol Yip cautioned parents against treating their kids as “insurance” for their old age.

“The more children you have, the less savings you will have left for your old age,” she said, advising parents to learn more about their children before investing.

“Before you spend all your money on their education in an international school or overseas, understand the child’s characteristic and needs first.

“A smart child will shine even in a normal school.”

Marziana Mohamed Alias, 33, a mother-of-two, spends close to RM1,500 monthly on her children, both of whom have health and education insurance.

“These are necessities. It’s so expensive when children get sick, even if it’s just a fever.”

The working mother still breastfeeds but also gives her daughter milk formula.

“Imagine how much more I would have to spend if I relied entirely on formula,” she said, adding that daycare took the biggest chunk out of her expenditure.

*Estimates based on how much middle-income families spend on necessities and perks. Expenditure includes the cost of food, tuition, transportation, clothing, extra-curricular activities, pocket money, health, insurance and education.

Things were much cheaper five years ago when her son was born.

She then paid RM290 in nursery fees but now the same nursery wants RM400 for her two-year-old daughter.

“It’s too much. I’m paying RM300 to a baby sitter instead.”

Her son’s pre-school fees cost RM500, and it is not even one of the branded chains.

She said she also had to set aside RM400 to buy new clothes every six months.

K. Anbalagan, 52, said the financial strain was even greater if the child had special needs.

His six-year-old autistic son needs RM1,800 monthly for his milk, vitamins and classes.

“He still wears diapers and will soon need speech therapy as well,” he said.

Rumah KIDS assistant coordinator P. Salvee said the “barest monthly minimum” to raise a child was RM500.

The home which houses 40 abused, orphaned and neglected children aged between six and 18 in the Klang Valley, spends an average of RM800 on each child.

Most of the home’s residents are children of single mothers who are too poor to raise them, she said.

The mothers are allowed to visit and even take their kids back when they are financially stable.

“Parents who leave their kids here have the love but not the means to care for their children. It’s heartbreaking.

“Food, schoolbus fees and tuition are not cheap. And, tuition is a necessity nowadays,” she said, adding that the home even paid for the children’s tuition.

Salvee said the Government should provide financial assistance beyond one-off yearly handouts if it wanted to encourage parents to have more children.

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