Getting your finances ready for a new baby

There’s no denying that having a child adds an extra strain to your finances. Particularly if money is already tight, parents-to-be may think it’s impossible to afford everything their baby needs. However, with a bit of time, patience, and maybe some sacrifices, expectant parents can make sure they have enough money to cover the added expense of the new arrival.

Early preparation

The sooner you prepare for a new baby, the sooner you can make changes to your finances to accommodate the extra costs you will soon face. Whether it’s a bit of scrimping and saving or making more substantial financial changes, getting a plan sorted early will mean mothers can relax during their pregnancy and both parents can enjoy the arrival of their child, without financial worries hanging over them.

Budget

If you don’t already have a budget, this should be the first thing you should do to prepare for a new baby. Firstly, calculate your current incomings and outgoings to see how much cash you have spare. From this, you will then be able to identify any areas where you are overspending and where you can make further savings, from food to online shopping to subscription services. It may also be worth looking to see if you can find a cheaper deal for your mobile and energy bills.

Once you have an idea of the cash you have available, it is then time to consider all the baby-related costs. This can be intimidating at first as the list of what to buy seems never-ending! However, you can make it more manageable by asking family and friends for any hand me downs, and looking for any second-hand bargains to reduce the cost of buying everything from new.

Need to make more of a change?

Sometimes, however much you budget, you may still feel a considerable pressure on your finances. In these instances, it may be worth looking at other ways to free up some money, such as remortgaging your house or taking a ‘mortgage holiday’. Because these decisions take time to organise, it is useful to get your finances in order early before the newborn makes your life much more chaotic!

 

Maternity leave

When you are creating your budget and making room for the new baby costs, don’t forget to plan your maternity leave! It is particularly important to know early on what leave you are entitled to, and what leave you will take, as this will impact your income before and after the birth of your child.

In the UK, mothers-to-be are entitled to 52 weeks off work, and must take a minimum of 2 weeks leave after the birth. Only the first 39 of these 52 weeks leave are paid, and the amount you receive will reduce after 6 weeks. Some employers may have their own maternity policies, so expectant mothers should confirm exactly what their income will be when they plan their leave.

Making sure you budget for this likely reduction in income will help make sure your finances stay healthy and manageable, even when the baby arrives.

Shared Parental Leave and other options

Although fathers are eligible for 2 weeks of paid paternity leave, couples can also choose to take Shared Parental Leave and Pay. This allows them to share 50 weeks of leave, splitting the time between them in a way that suits them best, whether that’s together, separately, or alternately. Again, the decision you take will affect your income, so having these discussions early will make sure you are fully prepared as the due date nears!

Depending on your situation, you may also be eligible for some other grants and financial assistance, such as a Sure Start Maternity Grant.

 

After the birth

Hopefully, by the time the baby arrives, you will have created a plan for your finances to cope with the extra costs. When you welcome your baby into the world, you want to be able to enjoy the moment without worrying how you will afford everything, which is why early planning is so vital.

Even after the birth, it is important to stick to your budget as the costs of a child continue to come! As well as food, clothes, and other essentials, there is the cost of childcare, toys, activities, and more to think about, so sorting your finances before the birth can help to give you a head-start when these expenses start to build up!

Kate Postlethwaite