Friday, 6 July 2012

Daycare Poor

A recent article by Tamara Baluja in the Globe and Mail addresses how the high costs of child care are leaving many families "daycare poor".  It's the equivalent of being house poor, where you own a home but don't have money for much else.  With monthly child care costs as high as $2000, many families don't have a lot of money left over for 'extras', let alone long-term saving.

I wouldn't consider us to be daycare poor.  We haven't had to remortgage our home like one family I recently heard interviewed.  We are still managing to contribute to our retirement savings through our company plans. And I certainly don't feel as though we are struggling to get by.

But the cost of child care has definitely impacted us in a number of ways:

Line of credit.  I hate our line of credit.  We originally got it years ago, before children, in order to finance our car.  We're supposed to be paying it off, but instead it sits there like an emergency fund that we regrettably dip into far too often.   Mostly to cover our primary bank account when it inevitably drops into the red, or to cover credit card balances when cash flow issues arise from time to time.  I fear that our line of credit will never go away.

Child care choice.  A nanny may have been more affordable option, but it is not my first choice.   Especially with 3 preschoolers, I think that it is too much to expect quality care from a single woman, who is experienced, but untrained in early childhood education and child development.  I believe that the social development of my children would be better achieved in a structured environment with trained experts, and so, I echo the words of Halifax dad Sean Williams, interviewed in the Globe and Mail article, who:
"believes in the positives of daycare, even though the annual cost of $18,000 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.” "
Sofa. We have two absolutely terrible sofas in our house.  One on the main floor living room, and one in the basement playroom/living room.  The first was gifted to us when Nana passed away.  It has since been ripped and torn by the cat, made dirty by a dog who (isn't supposed to) sleeps on it, and stained by markers and juice.  It's covered up by a sofa cover, but I'm sure it's not fooling anyone.  

The basement sofa is a cheap, terribly uncomfortable davenport that is now also filthy.  It's been peed on, puked on and suffered many juice and yogurt spills.  Although it's been cleaned, it still looks worn and I can never totally forget about the things it's been exposed to.  And it's terribly uncomfortable.  I mentioned that, right?

However, we just can't seem to justify the purchase of a new sofa. (We've talked about, but decided against, trying to buy one second hand.  We're too worried about bed bugs, and besides, what things might that sofa have been exposed to that I just don't know about?)

Backyard landscaping.  I dream of patio stones in my garden.  And a privacy fence, at least where the trees aren't big enough to limit my sight of my neighbour's yard.  Instead, we have wood chips.   They look nice enough, but they bring a lot of dirt into the house, and weeds and mushrooms sometimes sprout up.  And instead of a serene garden escape (at least when my children aren't outside playing), we see the weeds and garbage strewn across our neighbours yard and often listen to the yapping of their Jack Russell terriers who bark at us whenever we move.

Vacations.  Aside from a fantastic annual ski holiday with my in-laws, who mostly pay for the trip, and wonderful trips to my parents' cottage, we don't foresee a family vacation for several more years.  Which is OK, I think.  Family vacations with young children generally require a vacation after the vacation, don't they?

Some of these financial impacts are significant.  Others are pretty trivial.  But it does make us think about what we could be doing with an extra $24,000 each year.  What would you spend your money on if you didn't have to pay for child care?

1 comment:

  1. I thought of something else: the big dent on the side of our van. It's been there almost a year now, I think. Getting it fixed became less of a priority once my embarrassment over scraping the side of the van against a yellow warning pole in the parking lot faded. That happened about the same time I was given a quote for getting the dent fixed and the sliding rear door replaced...