One of the things that is taken as given when starting a family is that the cost of living will inflate and that your budget will be squeezed. With the help of some handy tools, you can even calculate the financial impact of a baby on your overall costs, and customise it to reflect your own personal situation.
But there are so many ways to be thrifty when it comes to stocking up for the arrival of your bundle of joy, and many corners which can be cut without sacrificing quality. The average family in the UK spends some £3,000 on their first child within the first year alone. I’ve listed some questions below with answers that should hopefully help in your quest to undercut this figure.
What do I need in terms of transport?
Car seats are a given for most families. But as opposed to buying a new one each time your baby grows past a certain point, you can buy convertible products which can be adjusted to last from birth to around five years of age. All-terrain pushchairs are also commonplace, but might not be necessary if you don’t spend much time in the park or in the country – not to mention a hassle to take out the boot each time. Lightweight buggies, prams or strollers will likely suffice in most cases, but there is a huge second-hand market for all of the above, so be sure to shop around for a good deal.
What should my baby sleep in?
A lot of parents go through the cycle of buying Moses baskets and cribs. But inevitably your young’un will end up sleeping in a cot at some point. It may well be worth you skipping the interim steps and opting for a cot from the start.
What else can I buy second hand?
Clothes, clothes, clothes! Of course it’s nice to buy some cute little onesies for your baby, but in reality they’ll seldom wear any of them before growing out of it. Hand-me-downs from friends are a huge saver. Other advisable second-hand purchases include baby monitors, changing tables, bumbo seats and baby bathtubs. All perfectly re-usable, and great ways of cutting costs. And that’s before even discussing cloth nappies versus disposables…
What if I want to buy new?
Oh, if you insist! Sometimes there’s a good case for it too, especially when child safety could be an issue. If so, be sure to consider budget and house brands. If you spot something you like, then shop around elsewhere first to see if you can get a better price. And keep your finger on the pulse with sales with big retailers.
What are some other golden rules of budgeting?
· Prepare a wish-list well in advance when friends and relatives ask what you need
· Stay informed as much as you can by doing some research and speaking to experienced parents
· Assume gizmos and gimmicks are a waste of money – unless proven otherwise
· Spread the word that you’re in the market for hand-me-downs
· Exchange unwanted gifts - most shops are usually happy to accommodate you
Being thrifty can almost become a state of mind, and even instinctive every time you need to get hold of something. It’s a good habit to ingrain, and can really diffuse the spike in costs when you first become a parent. It may well even be worth looking at getting a low-rate loan to help you out with the initial costs, provided the repayments are affordable, and won’t put any further strain on you in the long run.
However you decide to go about it though, with so much to put your attentions into as a new parent, you don’t want to be spending too much time worrying about household finances. So a bit of bargaining can go a long way to putting money issues to bed – allowing you to focus on the things that really matter.