We all know having kids can be expensive. But if you financially prepare in advance, having a baby doesn’t need to be as expensive or stressful as you might think. Here are my top tips on how to financially prepare for a new baby:
TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR FINANCES
The first place to start to financially prepare for a new baby is with a spending overhaul. Start a money diary to track your spending and see where can make cutbacks. Do you have an unused gym membership? Are you over-paying for your phone contract? Take some time to go through your income and outgoings and give yourself a money makeover. Check how much maternity pay you’re entitled to and use this to work out a budget. Factor in new regular purchases such as nappies, milk and baby food. See if there are any areas you could make cutbacks and save some cash.
Do you have credit cards or loans? Will you be able to pay these on a lower income? If you can, try to pay as much debt off as possible before the baby arrives. The last thing you’ll want to do afterwards is worry about your finances.
CHECK YOUR BENEFITS ENTITLEMENT
If you’re on a low income you may be entitled to benefits. You can check your eligibility online, and if you do qualify, you may also be entitled to a Sure Start Maternity Grant of £500. If you are applying for benefits, do it as soon as possible as some can take weeks or even months to set up.
SAVE FOR MATERNITY LEAVE
One for the best ways to financially prepare for a baby is to start a savings account. When I discovered I was pregnant, I set up a Direct Debit to my savings account. I was paid weekly at the time so I saved £20 of my wages each week. I didn’t really miss the £20, but by the time I went on maternity leave I had almost £500. It made me feel a lot more secure knowing we had some cash saved in case of emergencies. You could save all the spare change you have at the end of the day or set your own penny challenge.
JOIN BABY CLUBS
Baby clubs are a great way to get free products and discounts. Most of the big supermarkets and kid’s shops have one. They regularly send money off vouchers, discounts and details of sales and promotions. You can join them while you’re pregnant and receive freebies and discounts to use on baby essentials.
ONLY BUY THINGS YOU NEED
When you’re expecting, it’s easy to get carried away and buy loads of adorable baby clothes and toys. A lot of us fill our houses with things we’ll never use before the baby is even born! Write a list of all the things you think you need. Then go through it again and see if you can cut out any non essentials (nappy bin springs to mind). More often than not friends and family will buy you more baby clothes and toys than you could ever use anyway!
If you’re happy to buy second hand, Facebook, eBay and nearly new sales are all fab for bargains. Even if you want brand new things, there are still ways to save. Make sure you shop around for the best price, always use a cashback site like Quidco or TopCashback when shopping online, check for online voucher codes and make use of your Baby Club discounts. I picked the travel system I wanted pretty early on in my pregnancy. Then I kept my eye on it for 4 months until it went on sale at Mothercare. I used a £10 off voucher from their baby club, and got cashback from Quidco – I ended up saving a massive £261! Follow my Facebook page to keep up to date with the latest bargains and discounts.
DECIDE WHERE YOU’LL LIVE
Do you have enough space in your home for a new baby? If you’re going to move it’s worth doing before the baby comes along. We all know moving can be stressful and must be more tricky with a newborn in tow. But more importantly, having a new baby could actually decrease the amount you can borrow on a new mortgage.
PAY OFF DEBT
If you’ve got existing debt, see if you can pay some (or all of it) off before the baby is born. If you can’t, make sure you’re getting the best interest rate possible.
A lot of people use 0% interest credit cards and switch to a new one when the interest free period ends. If you do this, just be aware that you may struggle if you decide not to return to work. As a stay at home Mum, you may find it difficult to apply for credit without a steady income. If you’re really organised, you could try making some extra cash before the baby comes along to pay your debt off.
MAKE A WILL (OR UPDATE IT)
One of the most important things you can do to financially prepare for children is to make a will. It’s something a lot of people put off because they just don’t want to think about it, or think it’s too morbid. But if the worst was to happen, wouldn’t you want to know your child was taken care of? Wills aren’t just about what happens to your assets – they can also explain who should take care of your child if you’re not around anymore.