When I see little kids in Singapore, I don’t really imagine carefree little ruffians climbing trees and building forts out of blankets. I see bespectacled miniature beings attending tuition sessions, practising the piano as a strict teacher ruthlessly barks instructions and waiting tearfully for their parents to pick them up from childcare. What’s the difference between these two contrasting scenarios? The second costs a hell of a lot more money than the first.
Raising children in Singapore is expensive. Even if you’ve pledged to forgo the kiasu parenting approach and dispense with tuition sessions and the like, expenses such as medical costs and childcare may be unavoidable, the latter being the case especially if both you and your spouse can’t afford to quit your jobs.
Whether you believe your kids should be treated like royalty and are willing to roll out the red carpet for them no matter what the cost, or are of the opinion that children are hardy enough to survive whatever life throws at them, here’s news that will make any cash-strapped Singaporean parent-to-be sit up and take notice.
While Singaporeans usually delay having children for fear of not having enough money, having kids earlier rather than later might actually save you money in the long run. So long as you plan responsibly and take care not to get into consumer debt, you just might find yourself retiring earlier than your friends who waited longer to procreate. Here’s how.
1. The income you forgo to stay home with the kids will be lower
You’re probably earning a lot less now than you will be 5 to 10 years down the road, so if you’re certain one of you would like to stop working for a while to look after the kids, doing so earlier rather than later will limit the amount of income forgone.
In addition, when you’re in your mid twenties, your career is still very much a work in progress, and taking a break to have children may propel you in directions you never expected. For instance, Gina, who had two children before the age of 27 and was a stay at home mum for a few years, unexpectedly decided to explore her passion for yoga and eventually became a yoga teacher.
On the other hand, those who have kids in their mid 30s are usually already established in their careers, and taking a year or two off can seem like an even bigger sacrifice. For Yvette, a 37 year old lawyer, this was precisely the case, and she decided not to take a year off to look after her two children as it would have cost her more than $100,000 in forgone salary.
2. You’ll have more time to plan for retirement
Have a child when you’re 35 and by the time your kid has graduated from university, you’ll be pushing 60. If you’ve had to incur any unexpected expenses in the course of parenthood, such as having to pay for an overseas education or surprise medical expenses, you’ll have to either push back your retirement or downgrade rapidly to meet the deadline.
On the other hand, have a child at 25 and you’ll probably be in your late forties when they graduate from university, when your salary is at its peak. If you’ve realised you need an extra push before you’re ready to retire, you still have ample time to take on more work and really race to the finish line.
3. You’ll be more motivated to find creative, frugal ways to parent
As a young parent in your mid-twenties to early-thirties, sourcing for thrift shop clothes for your child, organising playdates and babysitting sessions with fellow parents and DIYing decorations for the kid’s nursery actually sound fun. In fact, being a frugal young parent is not without a certain hipsterish cachet.
When you’re in your late thirties and mid forties, however, you’ll be much further along in your career, and many of your peers with kids will have passed the difficult toddler years. The temptation to just pay to have your kids entertained, clothed and looked after will be strong, especially when you know doing so can buy you a few more hours of sleep at night.
Of course, lots of parents will say, why not, if I can afford it? Well, you might be able to afford it now, but that money’s coming right out of your retirement fund.
4. It might be easier to conceive
Granted, not everyone has this problem, and I know many people who accidentally found themselves pregnant with kid number x in their late thirties or forties.
But if you’re adamant about your desire for a child and unwilling to leave things to fate, waiting till you’re older might mean you’ll have to spend more money on procedures such as in-vitro fertilisation. As the risk of complications increases with age, you might also find yourself paying more in terms of other medical costs.
What are your views on the right age to have kids? Let us know in the comments!
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