Budget Basics Every Parent Should Know
Having a child is a life-changing experience. There’s rarely a dull day (or a peaceful night). But – and here’s the thing very few people tell you – they can be very expensive! How much stuff can such a little person need? Answer: lots. And lots. And lots.
First, there are clothes. If you think the Kardashians like to change outfits a lot, they don’t come close to a little one. One minute they’re clean and dry, they’re next they’re wet and covered in goo.
Then, there’s all the kit – Moses basket, cot, blankets, pram, bottles, steriliser, toys, nappies, nappy cream, wet-wipes, bubble bath, miniature towels with hoods (essential)…
Then, they grow. All the time. And you have to start over again. The good news is, kids only tend to live at home nowadays until they’re about 25. So you’ve just a quarter of a decade to survive.
Here’re a few tips to help you keep sane and solvent.
- Bin your ‘What-to-buy-baby’ list. You don’t need half of the stuff on it. A hairbrush and comb set? Nail scissors? Scratch mitts? You’re starting a family not a beauty salon.
- Babies do not need shoes. Miniature trainers might look unbelievably funny but until they’re walking you’re just wasting your money.
- Fact: it’s easier and quicker to bath a baby in a washing-up bowl than a baby bath. Take the dishes out first, obviously.
- Moses baskets, wicker carrycots – lots of fancy names. Very little use. They look adorable, but babies grow out of them ridiculously quick. Literally in just a few weeks. That’s why charity shops are full of them.
- Babies are not fussed if their initials are embroidered on a blanket.
- Baby equipment is so expensive. So don’t be embarrassed about buying second-hand. It’s outgrown so quickly you’ll find most things are nearly new anyway. Barnardo’s Children’s Charity shops have brilliant bargains.
- There are always lots of free samples and vouchers at antenatal clinics, baby groups, nurseries etc. Take as many as you can carry.
- Ditto online offers.
- Buy baby clothes with room to grow. Newborn outfits won’t fit after a few weeks. Invest in the next size up.
- Don’t stock up on bottles. There are so many different shapes and sizes and babies are very particular. Junior might not take to the one you’ve bought 12 of.
- Write a list of what you need and pass it around friends and family. It’s better they spend their money on things you need, rather than six-foot bunny rabbits you’ll spend the next year falling over.
- Ask for essentials and items for a six-month-old and one-year-old. Most people buy the smallest, cutest, most ridiculous outfits that will never, ever see the light of day.
- Add an item to your weekly shop. Sticking a bag of disposables or a bottle of baby bath in the basket each week helps spread the load.
- Buy the basics from supermarkets. Multi-packs of vests, all-in-ones, bibs, socks. Consider opting for a neutral colour rather than pink or blue, so you can pack them away for the next one. (Just saying).
- Don’t always go for the cheapest nappies. Strange tip in a ‘how to save money guide’. But some cheap ones’ leak, so you’ll need to change them – and the wet clothing – more. Road test before bulk-buying.
- Rein back on the toys. You do not need to fill your home with brightly coloured plastic tat. Babies like nothing better than playing with their toes. Or your nose. And small kids can fill an afternoon pretending a cardboard box is a castle.
- Don’t buy clothes too far in advance. They might be a bargain. But kids have growing spurts when you least expect them to and that warm winter coat won’t be that cosy if you can’t button it up.
Finally – take a breath and enjoy the moment. They’re worth every penny…