Having a baby is life changing, and it can mean big changes for your finances, too, as blogger Alex found out…
From funding maternity leave to kitting out a new nursery – having a little one on the way can be an exciting-yet-expensive time for new parents. Alex Gladwin – blogger at Bump to Baby and mum to Ethan, 2, and Logan, 6 months – shares how she prepared for those new baby costs.
1. Big-ticket buys
First-time parents will probably have a long to-buy list of expensive investments, like prams and car seats. Consider spreading the cost of more expensive items. “We had some savings set aside, which we decided to use for the baby bits,” says Alex. “We spaced out buying bigger items over the four months before Ethan was born. The aim was to keep our monthly expenses consistent, rather than having one month with huge outgoings.”
2. Kitting out the nursery
A nursery needs lots of big furniture items, as well as redecoration costs like paint, curtains and linen. Unlike other pricey investments, Alex shopped for her nursery in bulk. “We set our budget, then bought it all in one go, which worked out better financially,” she says. “When you buy bits and pieces – a little bit of money here and there – it all adds up before you know what you’re spending.” It also means you could accidentally buy something that doesn’t match with the colour scheme.
3. Funding maternity leave
Taking time off work for maternity leave could mean you have less income to live on. “We looked at our finances to see how much money we would have and how many hours I could afford to drop at work when I returned,” says Alex. “I didn’t want to go back to work full time, but we had to make sure it was possible first.”
She tried to be thriftier during pregnancy. “We cut down on extras like takeaways,” says Alex. “And I was mindful when I went shopping – I started thinking, ‘Do I really need this new top?’” Lastly, consider options that could bring in a bit extra. “My husband started an online buying and selling business, which bought us some extra money each month and ended up bridging the gap between my loss of income and maternity leave.”
4. The weekly shop
In the midst of buying new baby bits, it can be easy to overlook everyday expenses. “The one cost that surprised me was our first shop,” says Alex. “I suddenly realised our supermarket shop would be a lot more every week. Even now, we buy nappies for two children, formula and baby food weekly, and that all adds up.”
5. Buying new clothes and accessories
Part of the fun of expecting for the first time is buying new things for your baby, but don’t feel like you have to get everything new. “My mum got our baby bouncer from a charity shop,” says Alex, “Also, friends who had boys let us look through bags of clothes they’d grown out of.”
Don’t underestimate the usefulness of hand-me-downs from one sibling to another. “Our second, Logan, does have some new things, but he lives in his brother’s clothes – we’re reusing it all,” says Alex. “It’s so handy having two boys because we’ve hardly had to buy anything again – if I’d had a girl we’d be a lot poorer!”
6. Planning for the future
As a parent-to-be, there are a few unglamorous-but-important extras you need to factor in. “When you become a parent you have a new responsibility for someone else,” says Alex. “We already had life insurance, but after we had Logan, we wanted to increase the amount so there was enough to cover everything and leave money for the kids. Since we got our wills and life insurance sorted a month ago, I feel like I can rest easy.”
Many parents also choose to set up a savings account for their new baby, and put away a small amount of money each month. “We started accounts for both of our boys when they were born,” says Alex. “It adds up so quickly, and even putting a little bit aside a month becomes a nice amount to help them by the time they’re 18.”
Ultimately, you may find your spending habits totally change when your little one arrives. “These days, when we do spend money, we find it much nicer to treat the kids than buy something for ourselves!” says Alex.