What to Expect When You’re Expecting? Tips to Budget for a New Baby
26th July 2021
Firstly, congratulations! You’re in for an exciting, life-changing adventure. And just like any huge adventure, it doesn’t take long for the questions to start popping into your head. Can I afford to have a baby? What does a baby even need? Should I already be preparing? This budgeting guide is here to help quiet that voice and save you from baby debt anxiety - that’s the last thing you need.
Let’s be honest and transparent for a moment: this will probably be the most expensive stage of your life. It’s practically a universal experience, but, as a result, every first time parent is equally unprepared - it’s not just you, just ask your own parents. Suddenly you’re facing expenses you’ve never dealt with before, not to mention juggling sleepless nights with attempts to save money and make good spending decisions. The reality, however, is that babies don’t need as much as you think to be happy and healthy.
1. Create an essential shopping list
All a baby really needs to be happy and healthy is to sleep, eat, poop, be clean and be safe. You don’t actually need an entire wardrobe of newborn clothes, and you’ll almost definitely regret it. Your baby shopping list shouldn’t be overwhelming at all. Let’s breakdown the essentials based on What Baby Really Needs::
For sleep: a crib or bassinet, 2+ sheets and blankets for swaddling
For changing: nappies, wipes and a bag (literally any) for nappies
For food: breast pump for breastfeeding. 150ml and 250ml bottles (approx.) and formula for those not breastfeeding
For cleaning: 2+ towels (any size), baby soap and shampoo
For safe travel: a pram, pushchair or stroller and a car seat (if driving)
And, of course, clothes. Remember that your baby will grow almost immediately, so spending money on baby clothes is a waste. Borrow if you can, but make sure to wash all secondhand clothes (and perhaps even new) with baby-friendly detergent.
A top tip for getting all of this on any budget is to set up an Amazon Baby Wishlist. You can easily add items from virtually any website and share it with your family and friends who want to help you out. It’s especially useful if you’re having a baby shower.
2. Borrow don’t buy
Easily the best way to save money is to borrow baby items from friends and family. Babies grow before your eyes, which means, unfortunately, nothing you buy will last - particularly clothes and toys. On the plus side, neither does anyone else’s, so they won’t need it anymore, or at least for a few months while you do. Reach out and ask: worst case, they say no, best case, you get a ton of free (or cheap) goodies. It could be anything from a stroller to a pair of booties, you never know until you try.
3. Try second-hand
Shopping second-hand is also a great option as there’s always a huge surplus of baby items out in the world. After all, your baby really doesn’t care (or remember) how they look and you can still get some great essentials in charity shops or on resale websites. There are certain things you shouldn’t buy used for the sake of your baby’s safety. This includes car seats (as safety standards regularly change), crib mattresses, breast pumps and formula.
4. Make your purchases last
Yes, almost everything baby-related is as short-term as it can get, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t exceptions. While it can be impossible to imagine a growing child before your baby is even born, it’s worth thinking about what they’ll need a few years down the line. For example, it may be worth investing in a convertible crib so the bed will last through the little one’s toddler years. That initial price will most likely be less than buying a crib and a toddler bed separately. Research and keep an eye out for multi-functional, long-lasting items that will save you money in the long run.
5. Avoid the unessentials
Here’s the truth: the baby retail industry knows exactly how to get you to buy and will use every trick in the book to convince you that you need everything. You don’t, we promise. As a rule of thumb, if you don’t know whether you need something, leave it - you can always come back later if it becomes necessary. Changing tables, bottle warmers and baby baths are all ones you might need to think about before purchasing - don’t bother until your baby arrives and you’ve experienced life as a parent, not everyone needs the same things.
6. Practice your new baby budget
Getting used to life with a baby is hard enough, without having to get used to all the money flying out of your account at the same time, particularly if your household income is being cut by parental leave. Instead, why not get a little bit of practice during the pregnancy and save for any emergency baby expenses. Start by setting up a baby savings account as early as possible and each month put away the money you won’t have when parental leave kicks in. This way you’ll get plenty of practice budgeting on a lesser income, and improve your financial state.
If you need tips on how to budget in general, check out our guide on Why Budgeting is Important. With a little bit of preparation and thought, you can push the topic of money aside, put your feet up and enjoy pregnancy life, waiting for your bundle of joy to arrive.