Bringing up children in Nigeria, as with any country of the world, is a full-time job. You need to prepare in advance before contemplating starting a family, because once they start growing, there will never be any opportunity to plan adequately for them. The rate at which children are being left to roam the streets, begging for daily bread or hawking has become a huge cause for concern, because they form a part of the vulnerable population.
According to a 2014 UNICEF report, children under 15 years of age account for about 45% of Nigeria’s population. This figure translates to 84,000,000 children under that age bracket. 40% of children under the age of 6-11 do not attend any primary school, with the Northern states in Nigeria being among the worst hit.
It is estimated that about 4.7 million children of primary school age are not enrolled in schools and have been abandoned to fend for themselves on the streets.
The above statistics are a stark reality that should act as a caution to any couple planning to start a family. There are obviously certain financial indicators that must be ticked before the decision to raise children can be approved and implemented.
You must have a stable career
The need to have a stable career before raising kids cannot be overemphasized. If your present job is not able to take care of you and your partner, it is not wise to even think of having kids.
The minimum wage in Nigeria is presently fixed at N18, 000 and when other monthly allowances are added, the average monthly take-home of a Nigerian worker amounts to between N50, 000 and N60, 000. This no doubt cannot take care of raising kids amidst other basic expenses. Therefore, think first about getting improved stable wages before going ahead to have children.
It is foolish for some newly employed staff to contemplate starting families. Female staff in some Nigerian banks, for example, are required to sign caveats on raising kids when they are newly employed. With at least a year upwards before employment confirmation, they must think carefully before conceiving, because they could veer off their career paths due to the disruptive nature of attending antenatal sessions and going on maternity leave.
Have enough disposable income
A disposable income is basically the amount left unattached to any planned expense after all essential expenses like taxes, shelter and clothing have been taken care of. Disposable incomes usually form less than 20% of monthly income and they vary periodically depending on exigencies and flexible expenditures occurring monthly.
If your disposable income cannot cater for the basic needs of a child like healthcare, feeding and clothing, then it is not worth contemplating raising a family.
Have emergency funds available
Emergency funds or savings are like the cushion one falls back on, when an unplanned event occurs. As a mum, I have had numerous experiences where emergency funds rescued me when my kids fell ill suddenly.
The amount set aside for emergency funds depends on the number of kids one has. Per kid, it is ideal to keep a minimum of N10, 000 as an emergency fund. If this cannot be possible, then discard the thought of raising kids.
Contribute to your retirement account
The new pension act stipulates compulsory deduction from workers monthly salary in a contributory pension scheme. The employer contributes about 8% of total package, while the worker contributes about 10%.
These retirement funds, usually called RSA funds, are usually accessible when one retires from paid employment and can be useful for those whose retirement periods coincide with when the kids are in universities.
Be in a position to save for university
It is important to start saving for your children’s education right from when they are born. Anyone who is planning to start a family must be able to open children’s educational accounts for their kids. These accounts are good sources of funding for university tuition, when the kids grow up.
It is important that one should be able to calculate the basic requirement for opening such educational accounts and if possible, drop a mandate for monthly deductions from your salary account to the educational accounts to keep them active.
In summary, it is essential that the total cost involved in raising children is considered, before giving birth.
For starters, the average monthly cost for taking care of a child less than 2 years of age, is on average about N10, 000 and this excludes emergency medical care for the child. This translates to around N20,000 plus monthly. This is the minimum average required, as location may also play a role in this regard.
Couples living in Abuja may end up requiring more funds to cater for the upkeep of their children compared to couples living in Benue state, because of the standard of living and the basic cost of food items in both states.
These should be factored into the decision making process, before a final agreement is reached between both partners on their desires to raise children.