Having a Baby on a Budget
Deciding to have a baby when you’re already self-employed is a very difficult decision. The income you make from your work as part of a couple may be enough to sustain a healthy lifestyle but what about when the baby arrives? How do self-employed mums and dads do it? Without even going into the ins and outs of childcare having a baby can cost as much as £7,200 in the first year according to the Money Advice Service.
The other side of the story however, shows, again according the MAS that it could cost as little a £1,600. This is simply one study however and if you want to have a baby on a budget you might be able to do it for even less. Our tips should help you along your way.
Reusables, Recyclables and Freebies
The first key point when you’re planning a baby on a budget is to take everything that’s offered to you. You’ll be amazed by how many people will want you to have their second-hand baby clothes, toys and more. Don’t turn down a single freebie that’s in good condition as you’ll be glad of it when you’re dealing with nappy change number eight of the morning.
Another freebie that you should take advantage of if you can is breast milk. Breastfeeding benefits your baby no end and is obviously free. For those struggling with breastfeeding there are support groups, helplines and trained professionals available whenever you need them.
You can also save many by taking advantage of the reusable items out there. As opposed to pack after pack of disposable wipes consider investing in a few packs of muslins. Muslin squares have many purposes from cleaning up sick, snotty noses and instead of regular baby wipes when changing nappies. They’re washable and affordable and you’ll go through many less than you would baby wipes. Alternatively, consider the Cheeky Washable Wipes system which can be reused regularly and removes the need to buy wipes on a weekly basis.
Reusable nappies are also a great option for the long-term. Many councils have schemes which subsidise the use of reusable nappies and although the initial outlay may seem expensive you won’t have to spend up to £20 a month on new nappies which end up on the landfill. Alternatively, invest in preloved real cloth nappies to keep bums dry on the tightest of baby budgets.
Take advantage of other people’s seconds. Attending baby fairs and nearly new sales such as those ran by the National Childbirth Trust could uncover some hidden gems. You may pick up a second-hand highchair for 80% less than you’d pay in the stores.
If you do decide you want to use disposable nappies and wipes then take advantage of supermarket baby events and take a look at the Amazon Subscribe & Save scheme. You can save a set percentage each month if you subscribe to an item such as wipes or nappies and this extends to baby food when they’re older and need it (or feed them what you’re having and save yourself even more!)
Supermarkets are also a great option for stocking up on affordable baby clothes and even the occasional toy. If you keep your eye out for offers when doing the weekly shop then you can slowly but surely build up a full wardrobe and toy box for your impending child.
Having your first child means you’ll now be entitled to child benefit and this additional income can be really valuable. You could choose to put it towards the household budget or you could be savvy and keep it in an extra account. This way when birthdays and special occasions come around you can dip into the pot and ensure they have the best birthday possible.
It’s also a great idea to set up an ISA for your child. There’s no Child Trust Fund any more but you can still open your own savings account for your new baby and ask friends and relatives to pay into the account rather than buy gifts. Investing in your child’s future from day one gives them more options when they reach adulthood.
If you do have financial concerns or worries or are at risk of getting into debt, make sure you contact one of the many charitable agencies who can help. You can call the Money Advice Service’s Helpline on 0300 500 5000 for more information and tips.
Having a baby on a budget isn’t something to be upset about or ashamed of. Being financially savvy gives them the best chance for the future and means your family can continue to function and live the lifestyle you want.