BECAUSE parenting is an undertaking that requires material and financial resources, it becomes necessary that those who want to have families have resources to sustain their households. Thus we’ll do well to talk about the economics of parenthood. The economics of parenting, loosely puthere and for now, will mean the resources that parents or/and guardians need to raise children until they leave home and lead a life of their own.It will also mean ways and means to find such resources. Suffice to say that guardianship is also parenting. In fact, anyone who looks after children is a parent. It is said that ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’
Let’s take for our discourse today, raising a child from birth till they complete college or university. I don’t know of any one family that has kept all the receipts or a book of accounts from the time their baby was born to the day they leave home. But for certain the amounts are huge. For example, the cost of a modest kindergarten or nursery school in urban areas of the country may be in excess of K 500.00 per term (2021 estimates). From primary to secondary school may also demand anything over K 1000 per term. Even with free education, parents still have to buy books and uniforms for their children to remain in school.
Tertiary and university education is another charge that parents have to bear. All thesecosts may varydepending on what type of school or studies the child wants to pursue. And this does not include medical care, clothing, ration or any other sundry expenses. Altogether, these costs when put together from year one to the day of graduation would translate into hundreds of thousands of kwacha.In a nutshell, raising children is not cheap.
There was a time when education was essentially free and our parents used their meagre earnings to buy uniforms and books to see us complete school. Not any more. Government may talk about free education, but if you want your child to have quality education, money will certainly be needed.
So if raising children is not that cheap, what ought we to do? First and foremost, for anyone to think of having a family one needs to be in employment or running a sustainable business. The average take home pay for an ordinary Zambian worker today is anything between K 2000.00 and K5, 000 (and I’m being very generous here). This tells you that raising a child and sending him to college is not an easy undertaking for those in these salary brackets.But don’t despair; there is a God in heaven who feeds birds of the air and clothes the lilies of the valley. There are some marketeers who have educated their children and some office orderlies who have managed to have children attain higher education. But this God in heaven expects you and me to be prudent with the little that we have. In whatever you do the first priority is to children’s welfare and their future.
The following are some of the valuable tipsthat can help us to navigate through the harsh economic challenges and still give the best to our children.
1. Be focused.
Know what you want and aim to achieve it by any means.Do what it takes to achieve what you want. A young family with time on their hands can invest in their future by improving on their education qualifications. If you’re focused enough you can rise in your career ladder and somehow have enough monies for your family.
2. Be resourceful: Money is never enough and resources will always be scarce, but be industrious and have extra sources of income. Rearing chickens for sale or having a backyard garden is helpful for any family. Today buying and selling of essential commodities is one way of getting out of the financial rut. Do anything with your hands.
3. Learn to live within your means: Differentiate between wants and needs. A lot of things we have in our homes may not be necessary. A pay TV with full bouquet tied to the fluctuation of the dollar is one expense we may not need. Even a car can be a financial drain if it starts to eat into family needs.Many people spend lots of money to buy internet bundles every day and be on social media to spread rumors. The saving from this can go a long way in meeting the basic needs of the family.
4. Don’t compare: Lead your own life. Don’t crave to buy what your neighbor has bought simply to feel accepted by your peers and those around you.
So we can safely say that while parenting requires financial resources that usually comes from formal employment, there’s a lot we can do at personal levels to have enough resources to raise a family and meet all the needs and obligation that goes with parenting.
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