Mellow Mummy: Guest Post. Preparing for a Baby on a Budget : Taking life as it comes...

Monday 25 July 2011

Guest Post. Preparing for a Baby on a Budget

Today's guest post for the Britmums guest post match up is by Laura at The Breastest News. You can follow Laura on twitter or on facebook.

So you've found out you're pregnant or are already far into your pregnancy, well whatever stage you're at now is the time to prepare for that all important maternity leave when the purse strings will be tightened and you'll need to budget your heart out! There's no point staying in denial or thinking any actions you take might jinx your chance of a healthy baby. The sooner you prepare for your new bundles arrival the better.

First things first, open a savings account. An ISA would probably be best as this will have the best interest and you can still take money out if you need to. The only thing is you get to put away £5,340 (which is a good sum) but when you take money out you can't put it back in. For example putting £300 in then taking it out again means you'll only be able to save up to £5,040 as you've already used up that £300. Don't worry if you can't save a lot if you look after the pennies then the pounds will look after themselves!

Keeping on the financial theme it's best to start keeping a track of your incomings and outgoings via a handy homemade spreadsheet, it's the easiest and quickest way to do things. Be sure to jot down all your direct debits, standing orders etc as you want to capture a true picture of your spending habits. Everything from car insurance, mobile phone contracts, mortgage payments, car fuel costs to electricity and gas bills. Anything you pay for needs to be noted. By doing your budgeting this way you can see exactly what money you have left over after your bills to save and start buying important purchases for your baby - as well as maternity clothes for yourself.

To help make sure you keep a tight rein on the finances just that little bit more, sign up to online banking so you can check your account daily/ weekly for payments that have been made. This way you can query any payments that don't look familiar and also note down on your spreadsheet when bills have been paid incase anything should go wrong with the bank in future.

One thing which I find really useful to help budget with food shopping is to set yourself a limit each month and put that money into a different bank account to help you stop overspending on food. It's good to give yourself little challenges and seeing the money you'll be saving will help spur you on and keeps the savings going.

As well as starting your own savings it may be a good idea to look into what benefits the Government can offer you. People within a certain wage bracket are still eligible for Child Benefits which is around £80 a month for your first child and a lower payment for subsequent children, and also Child Tax Credits which vary depending on your wages and other household income. It's always better to look into these things though as every little helps and don't let the hideous looking forms put you off. If you need help, get down to your local Citizens Advice Bureau. It's free and they're always willing to help.

Next on your budgeting list should be preparing for your babies arrival. Do this by bulk buying any essential baby items such as nappies and baby wipes. There are always offers on at supermarkets and they're pretty good deals. Make sure not to get too many newborn nappies though as your baby will grow out of these extremely quickly, we learnt the hard way!

If you have any friends or family with children then borrow your heart out. This is the best way to help when you're on a really tight budget. Borrow a cot (but make sure to get a new mattress), clothes, toys etc if you can and then when it's time to give it all back you'll be glad of the free space and you don't have the hassle of storing stuff or trying to sell it on either.

Stick to the basic stuff for when your baby is born. Plain baby grows, sleepsuits, mitts, socks, hats etc from suparmarkets are cheap and cheerful and will save you a lot of money as your baby will hardly be in them at all. If your baby is anything like my son (he was a big baby) he was literally in his newborn clothes for all of 3 weeks if not less! When you're child gets a little bigger then is the time to invest in some nice cosy clothes especially through winter. Plus kids aren't fussed about what they wear, they don't know any better.

It's now time to investigate your local thrift and charity stores where bargains are a-plenty. Some clothes and toys in these shops are brand new and sell for pennies making your life a whole lot easier. My mother-in-law has bought some amazing toys for my son from charity shops and they're practically brand new, and guess what? He doesn't even know the difference!

Now I'd be letting my side of the team down if I didn't mention Breastfeeding! Yupp, it's all that your baby needs in the first 6 months of life and even better it's FREE! So give it a bash if you can. It'll save you a massive ton of money and you'll be singing it's praises afterwards.

So there you have it, some handy tips and tricks to help you budget before and after your baby arrives. I really do hope they help the people who need it most. I didn't start budgeting until I was almost 6 months pregnant and I still managed to take 14 months maternity leave so I must have done something right? Please let me know your thoughts on baby budgeting, all tips and tricks are welcome. The more the merrier!
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