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Baby on a Budget

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You can do it!

baby on a budget Having a baby on a budget is a common concern for any family with children. Children add extra pressure to the day to day living costs and it’s not easy finding the right balance between spending and savings.

What are the causes of financial discomfort?

The answer is simple: choices cause poverty. Like everything else, it's a matter of choices. If you choose to live in a big house with a £1500+/month mortgage and £5000+/year maintenance and bills, this is an expensive choice. Choosing to have children too young, choosing to mortgage a house too early, choosing to pay for years to come for a car, these are all choices that actually lead to financial discomfort.

Saving may seem as the biggest discomfort of them all. While saving, you don't enjoy the comfort of spending on all the nice stuff you would have if you didn't save. But answer this simple question: what is for the better: ending the year with £2000 in savings, or ending it with £2000 in debt?

Tips on finding the right balance for your family budget

  • Look into cheaper options in whatever you buy. If you have more than one child or plan on having more than one child, consider investing in cloth nappies. Over the years, they will have paid their price many times over.
  • Consider second hand options. Second hand baby gear is a good alternative, as long as you make sure it is in perfect condition, for safety reasons. As an extra precaution, it is not recommended buying a second hand car seat, as you can never be sure it hasn't been involved in an accident before.
  • Recycle everything. Don't throw away their toys, swings, cribs, cots, fancy clothes. eBay is a great place to make them reusable for other parents and get you the needed extra cash.
  • Start saving when children are very young. When they're babies, their needs are a lot less than at school age or teen age. Babies don't usually need swimming lessons, tennis lessons, the latest gadgets, as school age kids do, so make the hardest effort and save money while they're still little.
  • Don't pay for utilities you don't need. Look at your bill for the landline phone. If you haven't equalled the rental line in calls, this means the phone line doesn't justify its existence. Don't pay for cable if you don't use it. You might be surprised that, out of the 250 channels in your package, you only watch one or two regularly. Get a cheaper packet that includes them and that's it.
  • Keep an eye out for opportunities. If your savings account doesn't make a lot, actively start searching for alternatives. Move your money into a better interest account and get all the "freebies" that come with that, say, higher interest for a year, £100 into your account when you switch etc.
  • Make your payments in time. Banks and finance companies charge ridiculous amounts of money for overdrafts and late payments. If you pay £35 this months for late car lease payment, £38 next month for going overdraft, £10 the month after for late phone bill payment, TV & broadband services, that is £83 simply wasted over three months.
  • Pay off your debts. Your debts cost you a load of money that you don't need to be paying. It's smarter to save savagely for a while and pay your credit card off. Example: for a balance of £2000 with a credit card provider, you're likely to pay £60/month. Around £35/month is deducted for purchase interest, which leaves you paying £25/month towards your balance. At this rate you will pay your balance off in 80 months, which is nearly 7 years. If you paid the £60 into a savings account over 80 months, you would have £4800 in savings + interest. A lot better than the grand zero, isn't it? The moral of this bitter truth is: save as much as you can to pay your debts off and start truly saving after everything is paid off.
  • Find the cheapest of anything you want. Use the price comparison services to find the cheapest insurance quotes, the cheapest utility services etc.
  • Be careful with your unnoticed spendings. Such as £5 for a cold sandwich for your lunch break or £25 for an ink cartridge. Have you ever thought about that? If we all discourage ridiculous prices, the retailers will eventually start to adapt.

As a rule of thumb, be moderate in everything you do. Your children don't need the most expensive clothes, the most expensive toys, the most expensive holidays to be happy. Besides, they will be grateful later on in life for having been brought up on a moderate lifestyle and having some extra money to start up their lives, saved on their 'baby budget'.

As a bonus, start getting your children into the use of saving money as soon as you can.

Read more tips on savings for your child.