Cultural Lessons on the Cost of Child Rearing

moneycoinsHeeled sneakers are all the rage with hip moms in France right now.

While I will happily pass on the Sneakletto craze; I’m not opposed to employing practical techniques parents in Paris and other parts of the world have mastered in order save cash while raising young children.

Less is more:  Surveys show the average American household spends $200 per child for birthday parties and gifts.  That means forking over nearly $1,000 per year if you have three or four kids.  Compare that to most French parents who typically celebrate their children’s birthdays with a simple home-cooked meal.  In Japan, mountains of presents are a rare sight at birthday parties for kids.  The Japanese keep celebrations for children low-key with the birthday boy or girl getting a single gift rather than one for each year they’ve been alive, as is customary in many American families.

Borrow rather than buy:  Informal polls reveal that the majority of parents in New Zealand dismiss the notion that new is better.  In fact, many moms and dads living on the island country opt to borrow playthings for their children from toy libraries rather than buy new at local stores.  Membership to the libraries costs $100 and gets you a full year of access to trendy and traditional toys, DVDs, games and books.  Kids are allowed to play with the items, and then exchange them for different ones as frequently as they desire.

One family, one meal:  In places like Italy, Spain and China, stores are not filled with special children’s food items.  Translation:  At mealtime kids eat the same food as their parents.  This is not routine in America, where many parents spend a ton of time and money preparing a separate meal of chicken nuggets, pizza or PB&J for their kids while they chow down on pork chops and cilantro lime pasta.  Think of the cash you could pocket if your entire family feasted on the same menu items at mealtime.

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.