Expecting your first child can be especially challenging financially, coming, as it often does, with high expectations, a 'keep up with the Jones's' attitude, and complete bewilderment in the face of companies' marketing campaigns. Don't get me wrong, the 'what you need' leaflets handed out by various stores are useful but, as all parents know, there are definitely some items on those lists that you buy and never use.
So here are my top money-saving tips for new parents:
- Budget as much as you can during your pregnant months so that you can enjoy your maternity leave without too many worries. If you are not returning to work, or even if you are, make sure you have had a frank discussion with your other half about your finances, and both of your financial expectations post-birth.
- Don't buy too many uber cute outfits in the smaller sizes. First of all, your baby will be lying down most of the time, and secondly, you have no idea what size they'll be when they arrive so they may only be in the small sizes for a really short time. When we had Lara we took the most beautiful outfits we were given back to the shops to swap for larger sizes, they were much cuter and got far more wear when she was walking around. Tempting as it is to get all those cute little numbers, babygrows are absolutely perfect for the first couple of months, and you can get some super-sweet ones of those too.
- Look out for the sales. You'll know you're pregnant for about 7 months, there are bound to be sales in your favourite baby clothes and equipment shops during that time. I cannot recommend enough that you buy ahead of time. We have stuff in storage going up to about 3-4 years sizes, and petite little Lara has only just gone into 18-24 months! Get your e-mail address registered with all of your favourite retailers so that you get a heads-up when a sale's coming.
- Sign up too to Mothercare and Mamas & Papas, both of whom offer a scheme where you can choose the equipment you want, pay a deposit, then pay the rest of the money owed in instalments. Perfect for helping with that essential budgetting mentioned above.
- Don't buy masses of equipment, 'sposies and other stuff ahead of time though, and don't feel that you have to have it all ready months in advance of bub's arrival. Most things can wait till after the birth, especially with the joy that is Internet shopping!
- Don't get caught up in the 'must have' lists. A tiny baby needs little more than milk, warmth and love. They really won't care if the nursery is decorated just so, they'll be happy sleeping in a cardboard box or a drawer, even more so in bed with you (co-sleeping post coming soon...). Toys and books come later too, YOU are what your baby needs, so concentrate on the essentials first.
Get Free Stuff
- In fact, don't buy anything at all if you can help it - seriously! There is absolutely no shame in using secondhand stuff, and most of it will be hardly worn or used. Plus, the money you save can be kept towards your first holiday as a family, a really good camera, or saved for baby's future.
- Try asking friends and family with older babies/children if they have anything they could pass on to you; and join your local Freecycle or Freegle groups. People often give away massive bags of good quality, hardly worn clothes. Take them, even if they're in larger sizes, babies grow REALLY fast!
- Remember that virtually everyone you have ever met will buy you things, especially for your first baby, and even more so if you're the first in your group of friends or colleagues to be pregnant. People love buying the cute first toys, rattles and adorable outfits, so don't buy too many of those yourself. Just make sure you have a stash of thank you cards ready for your baby shower or leaving do, and even more for after the birth.
- Sign up to all the clubs and advice sites you can think of, from the obvious ones like Emma's Diary and Bounty, through the disposable nappy sites like Pampers, and onto the food ones like Ella's Kitchen and Plum Organics. All give out freebies and vouchers. There are so many out there and a quick Internet search will yield many more.
- Finally, consider natural parenting choices. Breastfeeding is the cheapest, easiest, most portable way to feed your baby and involves no equipment or expense. Co-sleeping means no expensive cot; and a sling is much cheaper than a pram, even if it is a beautiful new Stokke carrier!
You can find some more tips for new parents here.
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