I’ve long had frustration with how our capitalist system works. Especially since having kids. Things get damn expensive.
This post kind of focuses of the children/family angle, but will hopefully show how our society is driven to spend and we increasingly feel tied down because of what we feel we need to commit to.
Perhaps turn away from the following figures if you plan to have kids and want to maintain both parents working. 🙂
So if the ‘mother’ plans to go back to work full time then kids have to have full time care. In the UK families are not as close to each other as other countries, so there is a natural reliance on child care. This usually comes in the form of a nursery or childminder.
A quick search on Brighton Nurseries will show a common price of £40 per day per child at a nursery. Some are a bit less, others easily go up to £50 per day.
So if you have one child and work full time then that’s 5 days per week for 52 weeks per year. Yes there will be holidays in between, but to keep your childs place often you are pressurised into paying for their attendance even if they are not there. For calculation purposes and to show I am not trying to be excessive we could calculate this to be based on 48 weeks per year.
So, £200 per week (£40 per day) x 48 weeks = £9600.
£9600 is after tax. So ‘the mother’ would have to earn around £12,000 per year before they can start paying themselves.
Of course it’s worse if you have two children under the age of 5. It could be double that figure (£24,000). Our government does support working families financially with child care, but this is only when the child turns 3 - not quite quick enough - (especially when they encourage mothers to get back to work within a year).
So if you did have 2 kids (like I do) £24,000 is a lot of money to find every year - just to cover the costs of childcare. Even if it was a few thousand less, it’s still a lot of money! Many parents obviously opt out, or choose to work part time. Putting their career on hold and then feeling like they can’t (or don’t want to) get back on the ladder once their kids start school full time.
It’s also very stressful. Getting kids ready early in the morning. Picking them up when they are tired. The sadness of not spending as much time as you would like with them…it just doesn’t feel right, not to me anyways.
The bigger point is that whilst this example is very much a reflection of my experience and situation - the pressure to keep working and make money is huge.
- If you commute a fair chunk of your wages will go on travel.
- If you don’t commute you probably get paid less or you can achieve the same salary by living in a prime area (and therefore probably having a bigger mortgage to pay).
- If you work you probably spend a lot more on eating out at lunch time (unless you are very organised!)
- If you work full time and have a family you probably don’t spend nearly as much quality time with them as you would like. And many have the need for a second family car. And of course child care costs!
- etc, etc, etc
I could go on, but the point is that it is very expensive to be a ‘full time worker’.
If you didn’t have to work ‘as much’ many of the costs could be significantly reduced. It’s easy to save a bit of money here and there. The extra time could be used to do those things that you really want to or should do. I’d be very surprised if people’s lives overall would not improve.
There is a report recommending a 21 hour working week by the New Economic Foundation.
I know that I’m not the only one who feels our modern, western, capitalist society needs to change to be more human, social and community focused.