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Parents Spend More On Childcare Than Anything Else

Today's modern parent is left with little to save when childcare is paid for.  When they add up the costs of childcare over the months and years they see why its been hard to come out of the first five years with a balanced budget.  
This article asks you to imagine all the things you could buy with what you have spent on early childhood education/childcare - "then imagine the realisation that you've spent that much". 


Ottawa, July 2012 - Imagine all the things you could buy with $C90,000. Then imagine the realization that you’ve spent that much on daycare.

Meet Joe Henry, father of six-year-old twins Kaitlyn and Jarrett in Milton, Ontario, who was stunned when he did the final tally of his bills for four years of daycare.

New parents face expenses for nursery furniture, car seats, strollers and the like, but these add up to a fraction of the recurring cost of childcare once both parents are back to work.

Basic daycare costs now range from $C600 a month per child to as much as $C2000.

Add in supplemental childcare expenses during summer closures, and many mortgage-strapped householders feel there is no way they can come out of these “daycare poor” years with a balanced budget, let alone contribute to long-term savings plans.

“Daycare was a huge hit for us – by far the thing we were spending the most on,” said Mr. Henry.

Statistics Canada reported in March that couples with children carry one-half of all household debt. On average, they owed $C144,600 per household – 26 per cent higher than the overall household average of $A114,400.

In an effort to weather these expensive years and mitigate the debt load, some parents are thinking outside the box, or leaning on family to help.

Mr. Henry and his wife Marilyn got creative. When Jarrett and Kaitlyn were old enough to attend part-time kindergarten classes, they sent them on opposite days so they could share one daycare spot. “This way we cut our expenses in half,” he said.

During that time, however, Mr. Henry did not put any money toward Registered Education Savings Plans. “The fact that we didn’t invest in any long-term savings was really weighing on my mind, especially since I work in the education sector myself,” said Mr. Henry, manager for student access at Humber College. “I know the value of post-secondary education and it was a tough call, but we had to deal with the immediate.”

Colleen Simpson, a Toronto mom of a 17-month-old son, said she misses the weekly date nights she and her husband used to go on before Sam came along.

“We’re spending so much on daycare already, and then if we went out weekly and had to hire a babysitter … that turns into quite an expense,” she said. “Before, $C75 was something I wouldn’t have given much thought about. Now, I’ll question if I need that dress or if we need to have drinks at the fancy place.”

Leaving her job as a publicist at HarperCollins just wasn’t an option for Ms. Simpson, who says she didn’t want to risk her career by taking an extended break to stay at home. She also said she believes daycare is the right choice for her child.

Halifax dad Sean Williams also believes in the positives of daycare, even though the annual cost of $C18,000 for his two daughters is tough to manage. “I’m not sure if my kids would get the same attention or expertise in home care as they would with early childhood experts, or learn counting and alphabets,” he said. “You get what you pay for.”

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