When my daughter was born, I knew the costs would add up quickly. Heck, even before she was born, I spent a fair amount to get things ready. It should be no surprise that the cost of raising a child in Canada is expensive! It’s generally estimated that raising a child will cost you $10,000 – $15,000 a year until the age of 18 in Canada.
While that number certainly felt accurate while my daughter was in daycare, now that she’s in school, I find I’m not spending that much. The important thing to understand is that you don’t need to spend a set amount on your children to be good parents. If you can provide them with a safe and loving home, you’re doing great.
The idea behind this post is to give you a general idea of what kind of expenses to expect as a new parent. Admittedly, a lot of these points are slanted towards new parents. I’ve also included a few government programs that will give you income and grants for being a parent. Consider the following when thinking about the cost of raising a child in Canada.
Maternity employment insurance
Maternity leave in Canada covers you up to 15 weeks. After that, you can take standard parental leave up to an additional 40 weeks or 69 weeks for extended parental leave. During this time your employer must save your position and if you’re lucky they’ll offer some kind of top up, but if not, maternity employment insurance will help you get by. Employment insurance is meant to replace 55% of your weekly earnings up to a maximum of $573 a week.
Those taking extended leave only get an income replacement of 33% up to a maximum of $343 a week. You’ll hit the cap if your salary is $51,300 or more. To make matters worse, the income is taxable. Note that parents in Canada can now take up to 18 months of maternity leave, the payouts just get spread out over that period.
Most couples choose to take the leave one after the other but you could take it at the same time if you wanted. Whoever has the better top up benefits should take more time off, but try telling that to the woman who just carried and delivered a baby.
Once you have dependents, life insurance is an absolute must. Our children depend on our income to get by so have a policy in place that will leave them with enough money to get by until they become self-dependent adults.
If you’re young and healthy, term life insurance is affordable at roughly $30-40 a month. Generally speaking, the amount you want to get enough to cover the costs of your funeral, the balance of your mortgage, and the cost of a post-secondary education. Getting life insurance these days is easy as you can do it all online via companies such as PolicyMe. You’ll still get access to licensed advisors, there’s just no need to mee face-to-face since they walk you through the policies.
Since I’m being all morbid, don’t forget to get your will done. Many people still prefer to go to a lawyer to get their wills done, but they can charge a fair amount. DIY wills kits aren’t bad, but I think there’s a better solution now in Willful. With Willful, you can create a legally binding will online. You only pay for it once and you get unlimited updates for free. Willful makes creating a will quick, easy, and inexpensive. Click my Willful affiliate link and use promo code MONEYWEHAVE15 to get $15 off your will.
Registered Education Savings Plan
Setting up an RESP isn’t mandatory, but I would consider it a cost of raising a child in Canada. You can get $500 free every year through the Canadian Education Savings Grant. The grant gives you a 20% match on the first $2,500 you save every year until your child turns 17 with a lifetime maximum benefit of $7,200 per child. Contributions aren’t tax-deductible but any gains would be taxable under your child when withdrawn. Since your child typically won’t have much income at that time, the gains are usually tax-free.
Lower-income families could potentially get a higher match and they can access up to $2,000 to help kick-start their child’s RESP through the Canada Learning Bond. The money is completely free; no fees and no additional contributions are required.
If the idea of setting up an RESP and investing is freaking you out, consider using a robo advisor such as Justwealth. Robo advisors have low fees and automates their investment strategy. All you really need to do is set up and an account and then choose the year where your child will graduate from high school. The robo advisor will then invest and balance your RESP with that target date in mind. When you sign up for Justwealth through my referral link, you’ll get a $50 bonus.
Where you live will determine your daycare costs. Licensed daycare in major cities can cost up to $2,000 a month. Unlicensed home care is a cheaper solution and is worth checking out. Regardless of which route you decide on, there are limited spots so put your child’s name on a waiting list as soon as they are born (if not earlier).
With the cost of child care so high, it might even make sense for one parent to stay home for an extended period. MoneySense has a great article on how to find and pay for child care. My wife and I personally checked out close to a dozen daycares before we settled on one that made the most sense for us. We were fortunate that our first choice had availability when we needed it.
Canadian Child Benefit
The cost of raising a child in Canada is offset by the Canadian Child Benefit which provides up to $6,639 per year ($553.25 per month) for each eligible child under the age of six, and up to $5,602 per year ($466.83 per month) for each eligible child aged 6 to 17. This benefit was created with lower income families in mind. If you’re in a household that earns a higher income, there’s a possibility that you won’t qualify for the Canadian Child Benefit. Some people find that to be unfair as they may still have to pay for childcare and other expenses, but I don’t mind the current system. Use the child and family benefits calculator to see what you’re entitled to.
Having a baby is a serious decision and one that should be made with our finances in mind. Most parents will divert all their savings towards their children, but it’s foolish to ignore your own retirement savings in the process.