Up to 1 million euros The first child is the most expensive – and three other facts about family finances

Can we even afford a child? When couples think about starting a family, the question of finances comes up at some point. Because that children are not only wonderful and unique, but also expensive, that’s something you’ve heard somewhere before.

How much does a child really cost?

This question is not so easy to answer. The amount that parents shell out for a child through the ages of 18 and into adulthood is made up of a variety of factors.

Not only the circumstances in which one lives are decisive, but also the position of the child in the sibling order or how parents divide up the parental roles and how much income they forego because of the child.

What are the direct and indirect costs for a child?

The decision to start a family inevitably affects a couple’s finances. But how much money a child actually costs is difficult to say.

According to the Association of Swiss Cantonal Banks, a child in the first 18 years of life costs around 330,000 francs – that’s the equivalent of 335,000 euros. However, this amount only summarizes the direct costs, i.e. food, diapers, clothing.

However, this amount does not include expenses for third-party care and so-called indirect costs. Indirect costs include, for example, the reduction in workload and the resulting reduction in pension provision. Even missed career opportunities were among the indirect financial consequences of starting a family. One thing is certain: the indirect costs make up a significant proportion of the actual costs of a child.

The first child costs the most

The first child costs a family the most money. Strollers, changing tables, bicycles, clothes…everything has to be bought new.

Successor children can partially take over these things. According to Swissinfo, a successor sibling can save up to 40 percent compared to a firstborn.

If one compares the direct costs of food, clothing, housing, health and leisure, one finds that children cost the least in the first four years of life and that the total costs decrease with the number of children.

What does it actually cost that much?

The Zurich Youth Welfare Office also provides detailed information on individual items of expenditure. These, of course, vary greatly from community to community, especially with regard to housing and childcare.

The “Families 2021” survey by the Swiss Federal Statistical Office offers a general overview. Here it is recorded that couple households with children spend an average of CHF 838 (EUR 851) per month on food. A quarter of this amount is spent by families on meat.

Families pay significantly more for transport and communication. Telecommunications, fuel and public transport cost the average family more than 1,300 francs (1,321 euros) a month.

The amount families have to shell out for leisure and personal spending varies greatly with the number of children. A couple with one child spends an average of 638 francs (648 euros) per month on this. Families with three or more children have to reckon with more than (1,727 euros) francs per month.

Is there also potential for savings?

If you know what costs how much, this also results in potential savings. Many families have savings potential, especially when it comes to the most costly point, personal consumer spending.

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