Balancing the books and babies: the role of financial stability in family planning

Stian De Witt
18 September 2023
5 min read

Family planning goes much deeper than deciding whether it’s time to start a family or welcome a new sibling into the world. Each new addition to your family will have a lasting impact on your finances. With every new life stage your family members enter, you will also be faced with a new set of financial responsibilities – some manageable, others not so much. As a result, family planning requires financial planning, weaving the two together as important components in achieving financial well-being. We explore the critical relationship between family planning and financial stability.

The concept of family planning and its significance in contemporary society

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines family planning as “…allowing individuals and couples to plan for and manage their desired number of children, and the spacing between and timing of each birth.” However, in modern-day society, with all the socio-economic challenges we face, family planning needs to include a financial aspect as well. Whether you are considering having your first or second child, or your children are starting school or preparing for university, the concept of family planning should include comprehensive financial planning. To give your family the best future, you need to make informed decisions, decisions that have been thoughtfully considered within the context of your day-to-day and long-term financial planning.

The financial aspect of family planning

Every milestone in a child’s life will present you with a new set of needs and responsibilities. These needs and responsibilities can be financial, as well as physical and emotional. Some financial needs will increase with inflation over time, while others will increase according to the milestones reached. These needs and responsibilities include:

  • Housing: you may need a bigger home to accommodate a growing family.
  • Day-to-day expenses: as children grow, they will need a bigger plate of food, more toiletries, and maybe some pocket money or an entertainment allowance.
  • Clothing: school uniforms, sports clothing and equipment are ongoing costs that you will need to budget for.
  • Education: schooling costs increase with every grade. Higher education is also a cost that needs to be planned for.
  • Aftercare: will you need a nanny to take care of your children while you work?
  • Fuel costs: this increases as you need to drive or transport children to school and sporting events.
  • Healthcare: do you have a medical scheme that covers your family’s needs?

If you haven’t adequately considered your finances as part of your family planning, you could end up sending your children to an average school that doesn’t offer as many opportunities for children to discover or grow their talents. If one of your family members gets diagnosed with a medical condition that requires costly treatment, not having adequate medical cover could leave them unable to work and make a real success of their life. Helping your teenager get a loan to study at university or college can put a major strain on their mental well-being as they enter the workforce carrying a heavy debt burden. To plan well, and to plan ahead is the best way to secure your family’s mental and financial well-being.

The importance of financial stability

Financial stability in the context of a family unit looks at your household’s income, savings, investments and assets versus your debts. Achieving financial stability is important because it provides peace of mind and security. It is also important because it will help you get through life’s challenges like losing a job or the death of a contributing family member.

DebtBusters’ annual Money Stress Tracker (2022), a study of how financial stress impacts South Africans, found that 70% of respondents were experiencing financial stress, of these respondents:

  • 94% felt that it was impacting their home life
  • 77% felt it was impacting their work life
  • 76% said it was impacting their health

Providing a secure environment for your family to thrive in starts with both parents being financially, mentally and physically healthy. When financial pressures affect parents, it filters down to the children. Research has shown that they are more likely to experience mental health issues. They feel anxiety and guilt because they can’t help their parents, and they lose self-confidence because they can’t afford certain things that their peers can afford. It also affects the atmosphere in the home – a place where they should feel safe and secure.

Budgeting and planning for parenthood

The first step to planning for parenthood is to assess your financial health. Take time to put a comprehensive budget together for your current lifestyle, and another one for your future lifestyle, for when your new family member arrives. Added to this, you need to set short-term and long-term financial goals. Here are some important questions to consider:

  • Do you have enough space in your house for a bigger family?
  • What kind of schooling and higher education do you want for your children?
  • Will your medical scheme adequately cover the pregnancy, birth and health of your new child?
  • Do you have gap cover for unforeseen health issues?
  • Will your life and disability cover be sufficient for your family if something happens to you?
  • Do you have emergency savings and will it be enough to cover a bigger family?

It is important to have a solid understanding of your financial position before you decide to grow your family. If you take time to really think about your long- and short-term financial goals and follow your plan to achieve them in a realistic period of time, you’ll be able to grow your family in a stable environment. Doing so will safeguard your family’s financial future and protect their overall well-being.

Family planning and career goals: a balancing act

Most of us want to progress in our careers so that we can provide more for our families. However, maintaining a work-life balance and pursuing both family and professional aspirations is no easy feat. What you need is a balanced approach. There are many strategies you can use to fine-tune your balance. These five tips can help you get started:

  • Accept the fact that you won’t always get it right: there will be times when you will have to give your career or your family extra attention. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Accept the fact that life is not always a smooth ride, and do the best that you can when you hit a bump in the road.
  • Delegate: ask your colleagues, parents or other family members to step in when you need help. You can also step in for your colleagues when they need support.
  • Communicate: tell your family why you are working late, explain the importance of the project you are working on and then make and keep plans to catch up on missed time. It is also important to communicate family responsibilities with your work colleagues so they understand your circumstances.
  • Draw a line: keep work life and home life separate. Professionally and at home, it is better to give 100% of your attention to your responsibilities.
  • Discuss flexibility with your employer: having flexible work arrangements can give you more time with your work and family when you need it most. For example, attend your son’s soccer match and work from home that day – the time you would have spent in the traffic can be dedicated to making up for the lost work time.

Keep your long-term financial planning intact

Planning for your retirement is just as important as planning for your immediate and short-term financial needs. If you don’t plan for retirement, you may face turning to your children for financial assistance at a time when they are trying to raise a family of their own. This is a common and unfortunate phenomenon that we see regularly as financial planners. The burden of raising a family and caring for elderly parents is a heavy one for anyone to carry. The earlier you start planning for retirement, the easier it will be to secure a good income when your retirement arrives. Added to this, you need to have a will in place, and make sure your estate planning is on track. Getting professional advice from a certified financial planner can make a big difference in securing your and your family's financial future.

It is important to consider family planning decisions carefully, taking into account the financial implications they can have on your household. Effective family planning can contribute to financial well-being and make sure you achieve a balanced and secure future for your family. Family planning and financial stability are interconnected components of a successful and fulfilling family life. By making informed decisions, budgeting wisely, and planning for the long term, individuals and couples can create a strong financial foundation that not only supports their family's growth and aspirations but elevates it.

T&Cs apply. NMG Consultants and Actuaries (Pty) LTD is an authorised financial services provider FSP 12968


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