Having a baby will put the family finances under pressure. This wonderful occasion should be a time of joy, but the new expenses can also cause unnecessary stress if you aren’t smart with your spending. To help you ensure budgeting won’t ruin the joy, below are tips for getting through your baby’s first year without breaking the budget.
Estimating the average cost of raising a child can be difficult and a fruitless activity. According to one survey, the first year costs around £10,000, with bearing the child to the ripe old age of 21 costing over £200,000. But the cost doesn’t tell the whole story – you need to consider things such as the family structure, the income levels of the parents, the location where they live and so on. Nonetheless, the first year is not cheap, but it isn’t impossible to still save money.
6 rules to keep in mind
You need to stick to six money-rules if you want to make the first year a budget-friendly experience. By following these rules with your spending and planning, you will end up spending a lot less money.
1. Plan and prepare
The first rule to live by involves planning and preparing. Plan for your spending well in advance to avoid having to use credit cards or loans. Start thinking about the major spending points and saving a bit of your money each month to see how your current income will stretch with an extra mouth to feed.
You should also start preparing for the moments when you are tired and cranky. Have frozen meals on hand to avoid spending money on takeaway and have baby formula nearby to ensure your baby never goes hungry, even if you can’t be around.
2. Do it yourself
Time isn’t always on your side during the first year, but whenever you have free time, spend it doing things instead of buying things. Homemade baby food is cheaper than buying it from a store and crafting your own toys will end up costing less than buying the latest rattles and soft toys.
3. Consider buying used
You don’t need to purchase items as new in order to enjoy them. Your baby won’t be able to tell the difference between a brand new pram and a used one. Most of the items you use during the first year – the baby swings, toys and clothes – won’t be in use beyond a few months anyway.
Ask around from friends and family, taking advantage of tried and tested baby products.
4. Shop for discounts
Baby items are also part of major sales and different retailers regularly run discount campaigns you can utilise in your shopping. Whenever you need an item, check first online and in-store whether there are offers available. For example, voucher codes are available for large baby product retailers such as Mothercare.com and these offers can slash prices by up to 30%!
In addition, opt for multi-buy offers whenever it seems like the smart thing to do. If the offers are in the products you’ll use a lot, such as wet wipes, diapers, and baby powder, then buying in bulk can be cheaper. On the other hand, if the items are things like toys, books or goods that spoil quickly, you might end up spending more money just by buying a number of items at once.
5. Accept help from others
Whether it is free childcare or occasional extra pair of hands to clean the house, don’t be afraid to accept help. The first year is busy and chaotic, with sleep being a luxury you often can’t afford. If someone offers you old items or their labour, you should definitely accept it without hesitation.
Don’t feel guilty about asking or accepting. People, especially other mothers, will know what you are going through and you will be able to return the favour to someone else in the future.
6. Get things you actually need
Finally, you need to be thoughtful with your spending. The Internet is full of must-have lists for new parents, and while these have many good pointers, the lists are full of items you don’t need as well. The actual must-have list is very short: basic clothing, safe sleeping spot, breast milk or formula to eat, and plenty of love.
Before you go out and buy something, wait for a bit and see if you do actually need the item. Chances are you forget about it and find another way of solving the issue.
If you apply the above rules to your spending, you won’t spend a fortune on your baby’s first year. In fact, you’ll probably end up saving a lot of money and you’ll get to focus on what truly matters: getting to know your new bundle of joy!