During this cost of living crisis one of the expenses some households are choosing to forego is sending their little ones to childcare facilities.
New Zealand is one of the most expensive places in the world for childcare, which is proving a barrier to entry for some Kiwi mums in the midst of this national economic crisis.
Anna Catley, a mother of three, told One News she was counting up the cost of going back to the office.
“I found that if I were working a full week and getting $170, that would pay for, like, for just my petrol to get to work. It’s just not worth it,” she said.
“I think it’s a really relatable problem. We’ve all got this same problem that the cost of living is so expensive these days, and you need to go back to work to pay and live.”
The Government is anticipated to tackle childcare payments in next month’s budget, but for many women, that is just a bandage on a problem that continues to be ignored.
Subsidising childcare costs, while useful, fails to address the main issue, that is, extending financial literacy and capability programmes for New Zealanders so that they can better manage their own finances during this cost of living crisis.
Women especially are seeking financial mentorship to attain financial independence and security for themselves, so as not to be reliant on Government handouts and subsidies.
On average, women’s financial literacy is significantly lower than men. Women experience pay inequity in the labour market, and tend to be the family members taking time out of the workforce to care for children or older relatives, arriving at retirement with less.
With the cost of living such a touchpoint for households, where childcare costs are a major factor in delaying women’s return to the workforce, financial capability has never been so vital and in need.
Women have been disproportionately impacted financially by this cost of living crisis. They are impacted too by divorce and domestic abuse, and they bore the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic with higher rates of job loss than men.
More than 80 percent of New Zealand women rate their level of financial wellbeing as moderate, low or very low, and more than 70 percent feel that financial wellbeing influences their overall wellbeing, the Financial Services Council reports.
At NSBS, 60 percent of our clients are female. By focusing on women’s financial capability needs we are able to support their security and empowerment, so that more Kiwi mums are not having to weigh up staying out of the workforce to avoid exorbitant childcare payments.
NSBS has many female mentors for clients who may feel more comfortable with one, and we are willing to adapt mentor session times and schedules around a client’s family commitments and work hours, with Zoom-call mentoring a popular option. Here’s some top tips from one female mentor on how to avoid the paycheck to paycheck mentality.
- Take a good look at how you are spending your money
Use the past to predict the future by going through the last three months of your bank accounts and spending to better understand your outgoings and your emotional money behaviour. For example, do you really need Friday night takeaways every week? Look for regular patterns, make cuts and omissions, and formulate your new spending plan.
- Start with small spending cuts that are simple and achievable
To break patterns, look at your daily spending behaviour. Even if you’re just forgoing a daily $5 coffee at your local cafe, it all adds up and you’ll be surprised how, with a little bit of budgeting, you can quickly make small wins to your bank account balance. It can get you started and add up to something significant over time.
- The spending you forgo should be directed towards your savings goals
If you ditch the daily coffee, don’t replace it with another unnecessary expenditure. Keep your savings goal in mind and don’t digress. Whether you’re saving towards the deposit on a new house, or a holiday to Oz, or a wedding and honeymoon, remember those small expenditures you used to make will now add up to significant savings in the long run. And you’ll be proud of yourself when you see just how much you saved.
- Build your emergency fund. Don’t rely on credit when the unexpected happens
Living paycheck to paycheck is especially difficult when something unexpected happens. How will your budget cope if the washing machine suddenly breaks down? Or the car needs new tires? Or you forget to allocate money for your kid’s school camp? Building your safety net is important, especially if you have an unpredictable income, or work contracting hours. Where possible, find alternative avenues to make some cash, such as selling some stuff on TradeMe. Do not rely on credit when you need money unexpectedly. The interest rates are crippling, and you will find yourself deeper in debt than before.
- Make food go further
Try to stockpile on some household items, like rice, pasta and tins or frozen bags of food products. Look for specials and try to buy in bulk. That way you only need to top up every other week . If you’re caught short, you have it there and don’t have to stress.
- Have a system that works for you
For some people, a separate account for monthly bills works well so that they can keep an eye on utility outgoings and separate them from other expenditures. Budgeting means setting goals and savings, so having separate accounts for short, medium or long term allows money to flow in the right areas according to your money plan.
- Use a financial mentor for support and guidance
Money, debt and stretched financial household expenditure can have such a stigma attached to it, but it needn’t. Don’t be embarrassed to seek help or advice. And don’t be ashamed to tell your friends or family members you can’t socialise this week because this is your “skint week” and you are saving towards a holiday. Put you and your whānau first.