Having a child can be expensive. While child-raising costs have gone up by 50% since 2007, our household incomes have only risen by about 25%. If a child is born in 2018, and was to be schooled in the public system, it still would cost around $66,320 per child for their primary and secondary education. If you prefer a private education, then that would cost you around $240,679 per child.
Education aside, there are of course the general living costs we have to budget for like food, housing, clothing, and recreation, most often this can be on a single income. No doubt it helps to be financially prepared for raising a child as it is our prime responsibility to ensure that a child is supported financially, protected and cared for.
It helps to understand the types of financial assistance the Australian Government provides families and which ones relate to you. Standard benefits include childcare, paid parental leave, childcare rebate but often enough they can be confusing to know which is right for you.
Have you ever wished there was someone who could make all this easy to understand? Well, Lisa Levison, a qualified accountant and a mother of two, launched Your Family Budget to do just that.
In her pursuit to help parents, she has designed a workbook that allows you to apply your individual circumstances, guides you how to use the system to get what you’re entitled to and produce the best results possible.
1. Can you tell us a little about Your Family Budget and Why you started?
Your Family Budget started as a conversation around my kitchen table. A pregnant friend of mine was complaining about how many times she had been into Centrelink to sort out her Paid Parental Leave. I talked through the process with her and gave her some simple advice to navigate the process and told her a few things that she didn’t know.
I’m in a lot of ‘mums’ Facebook groups and I realised after a while that I was answering a lot of the questions relating to Paid Parental Leave and Childcare Payments and tried to think of a way that I could offload all the information in my head onto others that need it. I started writing it down and six months later I had my eBook finished.
While I describe it as an instruction manual that tells you how to apply, I also want parents to fully understand the laws behind it and how they are affected by them. I’m particularly interested in telling parents about all the little tricks and fine print that no one else tells you about.
2. What are the most common questions you are asked of parents?
For Paid Parental Leave the most common questions are from those who are self-employed and what they can do – or more importantly, what they are not allowed to do, to ensure they correctly receive their payments.
For Childcare it is always what the difference is between the Childcare Benefit and the Childcare Rebate – thankfully they will both disappear on 2 July to be replaced by one Subsidy.
3. Paid Parental Leave, Dad and Partner Pay, Childcare Benefit, Childcare Rebate and the upcoming Childcare Subsidy all sound so confusing, how did you become to be an expert in this field?
It started with my own experience. I have two children and went through these processes with them. I am an accountant, so the numbers part came easily to me, but once I decided that I wanted to write about the processes in detail, that was when I went and read the legislation and all the other information available for parents and started writing it up in a way to help others understand it.
I read so many complaints about how hard it is to understand, what is required and how to get it all done. I was in the same position a few years ago and I wanted someone to just tell me what I needed to do and how to do it, so I didn’t have to waste time figuring it out myself.
4. What is your opinion on the rapid rise in living costs vs stagnant incomes in Australia?
How long have you got? I always use childcare as a perfect example. The daily rate I paid in 2017 was about 60% more than the amount I paid 2011 when I first started using childcare. And the amount I was paid in 2011 did not get me anywhere near the annual Childcare Rebate Cap of $7,500. Last year I hit the Cap after nine months and paid full price for 3 months. Where is this increase in fees going as it definitely not to the staff? Most parent’s incomes would not have gone up 60% during that time to match either.
5. If I was a genie and could grant you three wishes, what would you wish for? (and why?…)
a. Surely a magical fairy that cleans and cooks for my family would be up there first?
b. Sleep, sleep and more sleep! Oh, how I miss those Sunday morning lie-ins.
c. More family holidays!
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