Budgeting for a new arrival: 5 tips for expectant parents
By personal finance writer, founder of MummyMoneyMatters.com and mum to two boys, Kalpana Fitzpatrick
Having a baby is an exciting time and as you await the birth of your child, your head will likely be filled with many thoughts; such as what their personality might be like or who in the family they will look like.
There are also practical elements to consider – decorating the nursery, stockpiling nappies, planning your maternity leave, the birth plan, getting the house ready and of course, getting your finances in order.
You’ve probably only just got used to the idea of having a little person growing inside you, but the list of things to do can continue to build day by day.
So, to help make this journey as organised and seamless as possible, I’ve teamed up with American Express to share my top tips on how to prepare financially for a new arrival – after all, money matters, but when you’re a parent, it matters even more.
1. SET A BUDGET
Budgeting is important for everyone, but for families it’s a necessity. If you are employed and can afford to, you might start thinking about how much money you can put aside into a ‘baby fund’ each month in preparation for your new family member. You’ll find the savings buffer will help with future expenses, especially if you’re taking maternity leave and your household income reduces as a result.
To help keep you on track and make sure you spend your money carefully and on the things that matter, start by making a list of the essentials and give yourself a budget.
- Buy what fits with your lifestyle and your budget. For example, if you have to drive to the nearest shops, it is important to choose a buggy that is easy to put up and down and is not too heavy. Calculate costs before splurging out on any items
- Don’t buy too many clothes, as babies will often outgrow them before they’ve even had the chance to wear them
- Try to cut back on your own expenses to help with baby costs. Take a look at your personal spending and identify non-essential items
2. RESEARCH WHAT YOU MIGHT NEED
I found it useful to read reviews for things like prams and car seats before buying. There are hundreds of items to choose from and the prices vary massively, so it’s a good idea to be sure of what you are buying before parting with your money.
Reviews can also help you understand the complex language we see too often with baby products such as ‘iso-fix’ or ‘aerotech tyres’, which can be confusing.
Additionally, speaking to family and friends to get some reliable recommendations on the things you need can also be helpful.
3. CONSIDER BORROWING OR BUYING SECOND HAND
As a mum of two, I understand how easy it is to get carried away when buying things for a new arrival.
There’s a lot of temptation to buy every baby item and gadget available. However, there will be more expenses to come.
As your baby gets older, you will need to think about new clothes and shoes, moving them into a bed, and also potentially childcare, which can be one of the biggest expenses. So you want to make sure you are careful with your finances in the early stages.
You could save money by borrowing things like a moses basket or crib, which your baby will only use for a few weeks – but always buy a new mattress for safety. You could also ask to borrow things like a baby bath, which again, your child won’t need for long.
Finally, you may be able to buy baby furniture or travel systems second hand – take a look at online stores or social media selling pages, or head to a local nearly new sale. You could pick up some real bargains, so it’s worth exploring.
4. SHOP SMARTER
You may not feel like leaving the house some days, so shopping online can be quick and convenient; it means you can stay at home and have items delivered straight to your door. Buying online also makes it easier to return items if they are not suitable.
What’s more, if you can, choose a payment card which offers cashback, rewards or loyalty points. You could be getting something back on every purchase you make and can then use these to lessen the impact on your budget or put them towards a little treat for yourself later.
As well as added rewards, many cards also come with the advantage of additional protection, meaning you’re potentially covered if you’re subject to fraud, if there is a problem with your purchase, or if something goes wrong. This gave me a huge amount of confidence when I was buying expensive items online like prams and cots.
Shopping online also means you can benefit from things like cashback sites. When you make a purchase, the retailer will pay the site commission, which is then added as cashback to your account.
5. HAVE A CLEAR OUT
Finally, your new arrival may be little but they will need space, so it’s a good time to have clear out and get rid of anything you might not need or use. Sell whatever you can to put some extra cash in your pocket ahead of your new arrival.
You can sell things like unwanted CDs, books and larger items such as furniture online. If you have a lot of things, you could even find a local car boot sale where you can just turn up on the day and sell your unwanted items.
ESSENTIAL SHOPPING MADE MORE REWARDING
For purchases you make on your American Express card, you could be making your money work harder.
What’s more, you could be rewarding yourself and the extra savings could help pay for unexpected expenses, days out with the family or even treats for yourself. American Express can help you make the most of all the essential shopping you’ll be doing as you prepare for and look after your new arrival. You can choose from a range of cards which offer a variety of ways to get more from your spending, including a versatile Membership Rewards® programme with no limits to how many points you can earn, which never expire and which can be spent on virtually anything.
To find out more, visit amex.co.uk/baby