Having a baby is one of the most exciting parts of life, but parenthood is not without its challenges long before your baby comes. As much as we would like to, unfortunately we don’t have an unlimited amount of money to spend on the things our baby will need, so budgeting for a baby was pretty important for us to keep our finances under control during this period of change, whilst at the same time, not depriving ourselves and our precious baby of the things we will need when the little one arrives to turn our world upside down and change our lives for the better.
Today I’m sharing some of my tips for a practical and realistic way of budgeting for a baby, without losing your mind over it; let’s start with the basics!
Get the essentials
Make a list of the things your baby can’t live without for the first 2 or 3 months and work towards getting everything on this list; the internet is full of newborn and baby essentials lists to help you get started, and although the exact contents of a ‘baby essentials’ list will be very specific to each mother and baby, in general, as long as your baby has food, some clothes, a car seat and a place to sleep, the rest can be sorted as and when the time comes.
Yes, it’s a lovely idea to have the nursery ready by the time your baby comes, but if you’re not financially ready or still haven’t found something you like, there’s no need to rush – a newborn baby won’t need half of the things in his nursery during the first few weeks or months! I have decided to wait before getting some furniture items for my baby’s nursery because I’m not sure what to do with some the existing furniture we have in the house; his room is fairly small, so instead of committing to buying a full nursery now, I’m waiting to see what we will actually be able to fit in his nursery and what will have to wait for when we have a bigger house.
I always aim to get the most durable and long-lasting items I can get, but when it comes to budgeting, it’s sometimes useful to think in cost-effective terms. If, for example, you’re only thinking of having one child, maybe a cot with a 10 years durability hefty price-tag won’t be all that useful to you; instead, you can find good quality, cheaper and less durable alternatives to suit your needs.
The same goes for co-sleeping arrangements; unless it’s a priority to you or you have plenty of disposable income, you can save a lot of money by keeping your newborn baby in a Moses basket on a stand next to your bed for the first 6 months or so, instead of immediately investing in another piece of furniture, such as a crib, that will no longer be used in a few months time.
Prioritise & compromise
There are always things that aren’t necessarily essentials, but that we really – really – want for our babies or ourselves; in my case, that was a non-budget friendly changing bag. I knew what I wanted even before I got pregnant, so when the time came to make a decision, I compromised and went for cheaper alternatives of other things we needed, but I got the changing bag I wanted.
It’s possible to get a couple of more expensive things even when you’re on a budget – you just have to remember you can’t have it all, so prioritise and compromise.
Having a baby will change your life and your house dynamics forever, so it’s useful to plan how you think you will cope with these changes before your baby comes. You might realise that you need to move house to accommodate your precious little arrival, or that you’re better off giving up your job to be a full-time mum.
In our case, unless things change completely, we will probably be moving closer to our parents within the next few years, as it would be lovely for our children to grow up closer to their relatives, so we are not making any long-term plans to renovate the house or invest in fitted furniture, as we need to think ahead of time, and if we do end up moving soon, that would be a huge waste of money for us.
Spread the spending
There’s nothing stopping you from getting a pack of nappies or baby wipes every time you do your food shop; these are things you will need in bulk, and the sooner you start stocking up on them, the easier it will be to spread their overall cost throughout your pregnancy.
Also, things like a baby monitor, a Moses basket and a car seat, can cause quite a big dent in your monthly disposable income if you leave to buy them all at the same time. I didn’t start shopping until I was about 23 weeks pregnant and I wish I had started sooner.
This is probably the most important piece of advice I could give to someone who’s budgeting for a baby – research thoroughly. Unless you’re getting the best bargain of all time on a ‘now or never‘ type of deal, a bit of research can save you a lot of money and hassle. It will make you a more informed buyer and this helps you decide if what you think you want is what you actually need.
You might find out things you hate about an item, or realise that you can get it much cheaper as part of a bundle deal. We researched a lot before getting our baby’s cot, and we ended up saving over £50 on its retail price, as well as getting free delivery. I’m a research-aholic and my main tip for successful researching is to make a list of all the features, details and costs, and compare it against other items or stores you’re considering; this will also help to narrow down your choices, which when it comes to baby stuff, can be quite overwhelming and rather mind-blowing.
Most retailers these days offer customers a price-match scheme, which is basically where they give you the opportunity to buy an item they stock for the same price of a cheaper competitor. This is useful when you like a particular store for its returns policy, customer service or proximity to you.
I’ve recently done this when we bought our pushchair from John Lewis; I had seen the same make, model and colour pushchair on Kiddicare for about £75 less, so I contacted John Lewis on their price-match scheme and they agreed to sell me the pushchair for the same price as Kiddicare. This worked out really well for us, as we have bought many things from John Lewis before and have been very happy with them so far; also the only Kiddicare store is in Peterborough, which is miles away from us, and in case of a problem with the pushchair, we can get to a John Lewis store much easier.
I know that’s easier said than done – I am a bit of a panicker myself – but, in all honesty, if you manage to get the essentials, chances are you and your baby will be just fine. Your budget might not get you everything you want – that perfect nursery you’ve always dreamed of, the coolest pushchair or the trendiest baby clothes – but if you start panicking and getting yourself down about these things now, it will spoil some of the enjoyment over all the nice things you do have.
Best of all, you’re getting a baby; nothing is more precious than that! It’s important to take one day at a time and remember that your due date is not a deadline; you can still buy a few things after your baby is born.
I hope you found these tips useful! Budgeting is always a stressful part of life, and budgeting for a baby can be even more worrisome, but try to keep a positive mind and don’t get too emotional if things are not looking perfectly smooth – think practically and realistically, get advice from your partner or family, and remember that at the end of the day, money is just money; if you and your baby are healthy and happy, you’re already very lucky indeed!
P.S.: I was not sponsored by any of the companies linked above; I just thought it would be useful to share links to the retailers and products we have actually got ourselves and our baby! :)
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