Why does budget advice not account for childcare?

  • 1
  • Question
  • Updated 2 weeks ago
  • (Edited)
Any budget advice I've ever read (50/30/20 or more complex ones) NEVER seems to account for daycare / childcare costs. These exist, for any family with children, from the time you go back to work (at 12 months, if you're lucky and get a full year parental leave) and don't end until they're 12 years old or so! That's a long time!

See this sample budget below. It's similar to common advice I see in articles, books, etc.

  • Savings 10% to 15%
  • Housing (rent or mortgage) 20% to 35%
  • Utilities (gas, electric, water, trash, telephone) 4% to 7%
  • Food (at home and away) 15% to 30%
  • Family necessities (laundry, toiletries, hair care) 2% to 4%
  • Medical (insurance, prescriptions, bills) 2% to 8%
  • Clothing 3% to 10%
  • Transportation (car payment, gas, insurance, repairs, or bus fare) 6% to 30%
  • Entertainment 2% to 6%
Which of these would childcare fall under? "Family necessities" at 2-4%? HA!! Try more like 10% for most families I know, myself included. It also bumps my "necessities" way past 50% of my after-tax pay. I'm currently at 80% necessities / 18% want / 2% savings. I don't have a smartphone, I don't have cable, and my partner pays for the heat and electricity.

If I didn't work, I wouldn't have an income. If I have an income, it means I need childcare so I can go to work. Why is it that budgeting seems to only be geared to those who don't have children?

Photo of Ashley Nunn-Smith

Ashley Nunn-Smith

  • 1 Post
  • 0 Reply Likes

Posted 3 weeks ago

  • 1
Photo of Karisa Russell

Karisa Russell, Official Rep

  • 1720 Posts
  • 223 Reply Likes
Hi Ashley,

Thanks for posting and voicing your concerns! I'm sorry to hear you feel excluded and that your needs are not represented in the advice you see out there.

We definitely want to be inclusive so that anyone using Goodbudget or reading any of our Help articles can find solutions that fit their needs. It's true in our How to Make a Budget article, which I think is different from the one you're referring to above, we don't specifically call out childcare. I think the article tried to be general and non-comprehensive so any person with any budgeting background could use it as a starting off point to build a budget that's better suited for their needs.

For me specifically, I've tried following the 50/30/20 framework too, and found it impractical because I live in a high cost of living city -- my "Needs" are way more than 50% of my budget. So I've had to make lots of adjustments, like you.

It's mostly helped me realize that there's no one-size fits all when it come to budgeting. With so many folks out there with a wide array of budgeting needs, it's impossible to create Help content that offers advice that will fit every single one. But your comments do challenge us to think more about how we can make sure everyone feels included.

Hope this makes sense! Thanks again.