5 min read

Baby on board: Top money tips when you’re expecting

If you’ve got a baby on the way, there’s probably a million and one things on your to-do list, including getting your finances in order.

Mother with baby working at her desk

That’s because a new baby can be expensive. The Money Advice Service estimates a baby could cost as much as £7,200 in their first year, excluding childcare.

To help you keep costs down, here are a few tips to cope with a reduced income on maternity or paternity leave, and get into good financial habits before your baby arrives.

Shopping

You may have a long shopping list of baby items, especially if you’re a first-time parent, but babies don’t actually need as much stuff as you might think. There are a few essential items:

  • A cot or crib for baby to sleep in with a flat firm mattress and sheet
  • An age-appropriate car seat
  • A baby carrier or pram
  • Nappies
  • Babygrows
  • Blankets
  • Bottles depending on how you’re planning to feed your new-born.

You probably don’t need a baby wipe warmer. Or an all-singing, all-dancing video-capable baby monitor. Or cute designer shoes before your baby can even walk.

You can get most things secondhand. However it’s not recommended to get a used car seat in case it has been in an accident or has deteriorated over time, making it unsafe. Ask around friends and relatives for any unwanted baby clothes they could give you, babies outgrow clothes so quickly that they won’t be in them for long anyway.

Local ‘mum2mum’ or NCT nearly new sales can be a great place to pick up gently used baby items for a steal. Also check Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree or other selling apps for bundles of baby clothes and other items for collection in your local area.

Many big high street stores such as Boots and Mothercare have parenting clubs which offer discounts on baby products. Also keep an eye out for supermarket baby events where you can often find great deals.

When shopping online, always look for money off voucher codes. You can download extensions to your internet browser which automatically check for working vouchers when you are at the checkout. You could also sign up for KidStart which lets you earn cashback for your child when you buy from certain retailers.

Budgeting

Whether you or your partner are taking maternity, paternity or shared parental leave, the chances are you will have to contend with a period of reduced household income. To make this more manageable, planning is key.

Draw up a realistic budget and identify where your money goes and how your spending patterns might change when your baby is here. Think about where you can cut back on non-essential monthly expenses (can you pause your gym membership? Will you still use that annual cinema pass?). And remember, you can get free dental care and free prescriptions when you’re pregnant, so be sure to factor this in.

To find out more about budgeting for a baby, read this article and try OneFamily’s free baby budget calculator.

As well as saving money, you will need to maximise your income. Have a clear out and sell any items you don’t need, and check what benefits you are entitled to, such as child benefit, child tax credits or working tax credits, using the EntitledTo website. If you already claim benefits, you could be entitled to a £500 Sure Start maternity grant.

Saving

If you’re not already saving regularly, getting into the habit now will help you in the future. Not only will it give you peace of mind to have a cash buffer for emergencies, it could also make future expenses like childcare more manageable.

If your workplace offers any salary sacrifice schemes such as childcare vouchers, this may be worth paying into, but bear in mind the scheme closes to new joiners on 5 October 2018. Replacing it is Tax-Free Childcare, where the government pays in £2 for every £8 you save into an online account which can be used to pay for childcare.

You could also think about opening a Junior ISA for your child when he or she is born. It allows you to save up to £4,260 a year to give your child a tax-efficient lump sum when they turn 18.

Grandparents or other relatives may also like to pay into a Junior ISA, and it means your family can start saving and investing for your child’s financial future from day one.

Find out more about OneFamily’s Junior ISA.

Written by Hannah Smith – Financial Journalist

 

Note: Whilst we take care to ensure Talking Finance content is accurate at the time of publication, individual circumstances can differ so please don’t rely on it when making financial decision. The opinions expressed within this blog are those of the author and not necessarily of OneFamily.