Worried about whether you can actually afford to have a baby?
The expense of starting a family can feel extremely overwhelming, and you may even wonder how other people are actually managing to do it!
The truth is that when your baby comes along, you do just adjust to manage. It may be tricky and you might have to make cuts to your weekly spending that you don’t want to sacrifice.
However it’s worth remembering that when a baby comes along, your entire lifestyle changes.
For example, you won’t be going out for as many dinners as a couple for a while (sorry!).
Making little changes here and there can make a huge difference. If you buy a coffee on your way to work every morning, that can add up to hundreds of pounds a year.
Make your coffee before leaving the house and carry it with you in a thermos and save that cost.
Anyway, here are some practical tips for how to afford a baby. This is a UK guide, where we don’t have the expense of health insurance or paying for our maternity care. However if you are reading in the US, you will find other aspects of this useful!
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Write down all monthly outgoings
Get a hold of what is going out of your bank account, and your partner’s bank account, every single month.
Don’t forget all of the little trips to the supermarket you make in between the weekly shop, and the coffee you buy every day on the way to work.
Take stock of every little bit of expenditure. By doing this, you can see where you might be able to start making cuts.
Write down all annual outgoings
Now write down the annual spends you have to make.
This may be things like your car tax, car insurance, home insurance, and other major annual bills.
Take into account the fact that these prices may rise annually. You can always shop around to find a better deal each year of course.
Calculate where you could make cuts in order to save more
Now think about what spending can easily be ditched. You’ll be amazed at what you don’t need.
For example, do you need to keep paying for Sky or Virgin TV when you there’s tons of content on Netflix for less than half the price?
Calculate your maternity pay
What does your employer pay new mothers? How long will they pay you for?
It varies wildly from company to company. Some only offer the bare minimum as set out by the government.
Statutory maternity pay in the UK is payable for 39 weeks. For the first six weeks you receive 90 per cent of your average weekly earnings. The following 33 weeks are paid at the Statutory Maternity Pay rate of £145.68 (as of April 2019).
However some companies have a better scheme to entice employees! My company paid 100 per cent salary for the first five months of maternity leave. It’s well worth checking what your company’s policy is.
Remember that you need to have worked for the company for at least 26 weeks ending with the 15th week before your baby’s due date.
Think about shared parental leave
Dads can now share the burden of leave with their other halves! This is perfect for families where the woman is the primary earner.
Consider splitting your parental leave with your other half, as you may find this makes a huge difference for you financially.
How to have a baby on a budget
Make a list of what you need for a baby
There are a lot of lists that do the rounds on the internet stating what you “need” for a baby. A lot of these things are actually just “nice to haves”.
The truth is that your list of essentials can be cut back quite significantly. For example, you don’t need a changing unit, you can just change your baby on a simple mat on the floor.
What you really do need for a baby is:
- Cot/cot bed – if you are on a budget avoid buying a Moses basket. Your baby will grow out of it within a few weeks and they cost upwards of £50.
- Cot sheets/bedding – a waterproof cover for the mattress is a good idea!
- Blankets – two cellular blankets and warmer fleece blanket.
- Car seat – Essential item and one you should buy new for safety reasons. These cost around £100.
- Clothing – a good start for a newborn is six onesies, six vests, two jumpers/cardigans, two hats, warm pram suit (if born in winter). There’s a full guide to the clothes a newborn needs over here.
- Baby wash kit – flannel, baby bath wash, baby moisturiser/lotion, nail clippers.
- Nappies – shop around for cheaper options. Tesco-own nappies cost less than half the price of Pampers and do the same job.
- Wipes – Same as with nappies, buy supermarket-own brands to save pounds every month.
- Buggy – You can get brand buggies second hand from eBay or local Facebook buy and sell groups.
Check out this detailed post on what you actually need to buy for a baby and what to look for when shopping:
Seek out second-hand items
When it comes to clothing, the buggy and blankets, you may find you can get a lot of this type of stuff from eBay or secondhand groups on Facebook.
Your friends and family are also an amazing source for this type of stuff. Babies often wear newborn size clothes just a couple of times as they grow so fast, so they’re practically brand new.
Take any offers of hand-me-downs.
Look for must-haves on Freecycle
This is a fantastic resource for baby stuff. You may get some really big ticket items such as furniture for the baby’s room as long as you are willing to go and collect it.
Check out free stuff websites
Many websites offer free baby items and samples if you join their mailing list. For example Emma’s Diary and the C&G Baby Club will send out a pack of goodies. Register with Mothercare and Boots and you can get money off baby products too.
You may also find lots of vouchers and offers in your newborn pack given to you at hospital. This contains lots of useful information as well.
Investigate childcare costs
Now is the time to investigate how much childcare costs in your area. It varies wildly from place to place!
For me, four days a week of childcare cost £1,200. This was a nursery setting. Childminders can be more affordable than this.
Look into what it will cost you, see if your family or friends can help out. Investigate the possibility of flexible working with your company now. Figure out how this monthly cost will fit into your budget.
I now work from home as although I was earning enough to cover the childcare costs, it left very little over for me for the rest of the month.
My main income is my blog, find out more about starting a blog over here.
Start saving right now
It’s never too early to start saving!
You’ll find your savings will come in so useful for purchasing the items you need for your baby, as well as general living expenses.
In order to save effectively, you will need to cut back on your expenses if you are spending every penny of your income each month.
Find ways to cut the costs, there’s always something you can save on.
Find out what government help you can claim
There is a variety of government help out there for parents, you just need to check if you are eligible.
In the US, you can claim child tax credit of $2,000 per child under age 17. This is if you and your partner earn less than $400,000 a year. Make sure you register for this!
In the UK, here’s what you could get:
Up to £2,000 tax-free childcare per year
Under this scheme you receive 20p back from the government for every 80p you put in. To qualify both parents need to be earning a minimum of £131 per week, but not more than £100,000.
30 hours free childcare
First of all, it’s not quite 30 hours every single week! The government makes it trickier than that. But, to cut a long story short, you can get a huge amount of money off your monthly childcare bill with this scheme! It only applies for kids age three and four or if you are claiming particular disability or employment allowances.
Every three-year-old gets 15 hours, unless you are on particular benefits in which case you can claim 15 hours from age two. You get the additional 15 hours if you earn a minimum amount each month.
Check if you are eligible on the gov.uk website.
You could claim up to £3,325 a year. Check if you are eligible for this help.
Practical ways to afford a baby
Weekly meal planning can save you a ton of cash. It cuts back on wastage and means you only buy what you need.
Set yourself a challenge of writing out a seven-day meal plan. As part of this, think about how you can use ingredients twice. For example, a cauliflower could go with a roast dinner on one day and the other half could be used for making cauliflower rice, or to add to a curry, for another dish later in the week.
An entire chorizo sausage can go a long way and is versatile for use in pasta dishes as well as pies and stews.
The next key to making this work is to stick to your meal plan religiously. You also need to agree to no additional trips to the supermarket in the week, unless it’s to buy things like milk you may have run out of.
These little top-ups between supermarket shops really add up.
Breastfeed your baby
Not everyone can breastfeed and that’s absolutely fine. But breastfeeding can save you a lot of money. Formula costs around £10 per tub of powder, plus there’s all the bottles and sterilising kit you will need to buy too.
Give yourself a good chance of succeeding at breastfeeding with these tips.
Earn money from home
You could try earning money while at home by taking part in online surveys. Although the pay is small – between £1 and £5 for a survey – you may find it adds up and this bit of extra cash offers you a few more quid for your grocery budget.
Look at all of your subscriptions, including television, deliveries, magazines and other services.
Do you really need all of these? Can you save money by just having a Netflix subscription instead of Netflix and Amazon Prime? Could you cut back on your cable bill and just have Freeview?
Recycle your clothes & shop smart
There’s a new trend every month these days. Shop for wardrobe staples that will last you for more than just one season.
If you are breastfeeding, you don’t need to spend a fortune on specific nursing clothes. Check out the amazing Facebook group Can I Breastfeed In It? For bargains and ideas on turning your ordinary clothes into nursing outfits.
Set a weekly “extras” budget
We all want to pop out and treat ourselves occasionally. Have a small weekly or monthly extras budget for a small meal out or takeaway.
How to afford a second baby
Sooner or later you will have the dilemma of having a second baby! All of the same things above apply, except there are a few other things you may like to consider:
Keep all old clothes and shoes
Do not give away or donate anything from your first child if you are thinking you would like to expand your family one day.
Either keep it in your own home or find a kind relative with a loft where you can store the items. It all adds up and makes a huge difference.
Use reusable nappies
The cost of purchasing all of the kit you need for reusable nappies may seem like a lot up front. However, it all really makes a huge difference when you have your second baby and do not need to buy any nappies at all!
Consider this a good investment. Plus you’re helping the planet.
Consider what you will do about work
By the time you have your second baby, it may be cheaper for you to work fewer days and fork out less money on childcare.
Sit down and do your calculations again and see what works. It could be best for your partner to stay at home, or you. It really depends on your finances and personal preferences.
You may find you need to change your childcare, as a nursery is extremely expensive for two kids even with a sibling discount. A childminder or nanny share could work out a lot cheaper in the long run.