Congratulations, you’re going to be parents! Bringing up a child is without doubt the most rewarding (and quite often the most frustrating) experience you’ll ever undertake, and it will change your life in every way for the better.
I feel like I have to get the niceties out-of-the-way, because what I’m going to talk about is far less glamorous and life-affirming: budgets! Feel free to yawn and look bored, but there’s no denying that as well as the aforementioned wonderfulness, having a baby is pretty damn expensive. Careful financial planning is, needless to say, a very good idea.
One of the first things I’d recommend is to try to avoid being a fashion victim. Owning the gear that’s on all the magazine covers might have been great in the pre-baby days, it’s financial suicide if you’re trying to budget effectively. There really isn’t a massive difference in quality between the plain boring pushchairs, prams etc and the ones that’ll cost a month’s wages. Oh, and diamond encrusted cots are only permissible if you’re Jay-Z and Beyonce!
Being prepared to share maternity items is also a really good way to save a bit of money. The chances are that you’ve got some friends who’ve already had a little one (or two!), and will be happy to help you out. After all, they’ve been through it all, too! Things like clothes, cots, bottles and the like get passed down all the time, so take advantage of what you can.
Cheeky as it might seem, waiting to see what presents you’re going to be given is actually pretty sensible, even if it might risk a tut or two from the elders in the family! The truth is that most expecting mums will have a baby shower or two, so there’s little point in too much spending before you know what you’re really going to need. Try to avoid openly asking people what they’re buying you, though
If one of you is preparing to become a stay-at-home parent, then you should consider getting a bit of practice: living on just one income! Whilst I’m not suggesting simply quitting early (that would be throwing away savings unnecessarily), putting one half of your household income into the bank and leaving it there is a really effective way of teaching yourselves disciplined budgeting. Be warned, though: the adjustment will come as a bit of a shock until you’re used to it!
Finally, you should always plan for the unexpected, and where possible plan for the worst possible financial outcome. Whilst that’s not exactly a happy way to look at things (sorry – I really am much chipper than this in person!), it’s far better to take that approach and have money left over than to find out you haven’t saved enough! Anything you know you’re going to have to pay for, budget and never assume that you’ll be able to get something for a bargain price. It might seem like a bit of a ruthless approach, but trust me – it’s worth it.
This guest post is brought to you by:
Natalie Kirkham is a freelance writer and mother of two based out of the UK, currently working with Life Insurance Quotes, a firm she met when – you guessed it – she was hunting around for a new policy!