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Created on 12.12.2018

This is how much a child really costs in Switzerland

The more children parents have, the greater their responsibilities. Though the majority of parents are fortunate enough to grow into their new role of responsibility very quickly, budgeting itself needs to start early so there are no nasty surprises for the family finances. We will show you how much money you should budget for your children each month, and how you can get to grips with family budgeting.

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Having children is priceless, as you know, yet very few people know how much children actually cost. Or at least not exactly how much, right? To find out, we have gone out and asked people on the street to estimate the costs, and to tell us whether they know how much a child costs during pregnancy alone and during the very first month in their young lives.

To make sure you never underestimate these expenses for your child, it is a good idea to start working on a household budget early on. In addition to the tips in our article “How to set up budgets in PostFinance e-cockpit”, you should keep an eye on the following household budget items as a mother or father.

This is the easiest way to budget the following costs. For your first child, you should be budgeting at least these costs each month while your baby is in its infancy:

  • Food such as baby food, teas, milk supplements: CHF 60 to CHF 150
  • Nappies and baby care products: CHF 50 to CHF 100
  • Baby clothes: approx. CHF 50
  • Other household costs such as detergents: approx. CHF 40
  • Health and accident insurance: CHF 80
  • Other healthcare expenses: CHF 20

So please set yourselves a budget!

If you use these empirical figures from The link will open in a new window the Swiss Budget Advice Association (in German), you already come to CHF 300 to CHF 400 per child per month all in all. Toys, baby essentials, pram, breast pump and so on also need to be factored in, and the costs of these vary greatly. Here you should budget how much you are willing to spend on these things, which will be at least CHF 200. Things like leisure time, holidays, trips, birthdays, children’s courses, pocket money and the like should also be included in your monthly budget, and on average will come to between CHF 50 and CHF 150. And remember: this still does not include childcare fees, which work out at about CHF 130 each day until your child is ready to start nursery school. Depending on the canton, the town and the number of days your child spends there, this could cost up to CHF 2,600 per month for each child. 

Savings tip

Additional help with childcare from family and friends or a The link will open in a new window subsidised daycare place can also do your financial situation some good. You can even save money on baby essentials: it may be well worth comparing prices and special offers for disposable items like nappies. Second-hand websites for baby things and general shopping websites are often a cheaper option than specialist pram shops or baby stores.

Don’t forget the indirect costs

So far, we have only looked at “direct costs”. “Indirect costs”, however, are costs that are often underestimated and ignored, for instance a bigger, more expensive flat combined with moving costs and any additional furniture. Even the decision to extend maternity leave, which is really short in Switzerland (in German), in the form of unpaid leave can prove expensive, and can quickly tear a hole in your budget. A lot of parents reduce their working hours or quit their jobs altogether to have more time to provide their children with the care they need. You should first think seriously about such steps, though. After all, this may result in enormous indirect costs in the long term, especially for women. Why? Because of the income lost, lower payments into AHV (old-age and surviving dependants insurance) and into your pension fund, as well as missed career opportunities. These costs put off a lot of people who want to have children. However, if you budget well, money should not be an issue when it comes to family planning.

What is the total cost of having children then?

As you can see, you have to deal with quite a few financial challenges early on. In a The link will open in a new window study conducted some time ago, the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) calculated how much children in Switzerland really cost. The figure is CHF 819 per month in direct costs for the first child alone.

The good news for family budgeting is that the average direct costs decrease with each additional child (with the second child, the cost is just CHF 655), and the childcare costs associated with sending children to nursery school/school, which are particularly high in Switzerland, generally decrease. Even if expenses for leisure activities such as piano lessons increase the older the child gets, indirect costs may well decrease as the years go by. In fact, mothers will often look for paid work again or increase their hours, which is a great relief for their budget.

Save money for your children’s future, too

Benefits such as child allowances (roughly CHF 200 a month), tax relief and other family offers do help the financial situation, but it is a good idea to save money elsewhere as well. And that’s precisely where the problem lies for many. This is at least what the The link will open in a new window Swiss Federal Statistics Office (in German) shows: Families on a low or medium income in particular can only set aside a little bit of money for their children, even if this is essential for education, if their child falls sick, unforeseen circumstances or for other family purchases such as a car.

Fortunately, though, it is still possible to save money for the future of your children even if you are on a low income. However, in light of ongoing fees and poor interest rates, this money should not simply be deposited in a savings account as past generations have done. It is a much better idea today to secure future income with a funds saving plan. With just CHF 100 per month, money can be set aside for the children’s future.

Summary

Yes, children do cost money. Nearly CHF 1,000 a month, and even several hundreds of thousands of francs until they leave home. But for parents, having children is the most wonderful thing imaginable, and it is something that cannot be measured in money. To make sure that having children does not turn into a question of money, you should scout out potential support even before your child is born, and you should start planning your finances and your future expenditure by setting up a family budget. 

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