We all know that having a family is one of the most joyous times in our lives, but it is also one of the most expensive. It is averaged that the cost to have one child is around £218,000 by the time they reach 21! With this in mind, here are ten tips to help you make sure this wonderful time isn’t overshadowed by money worries.
Maternity or paternity?
If you work, you’ve probably looked at maternity leave and pay, but from April 2015 there will be a new system of sharing parental leave with your partner. You’ll be able to share up to 50 weeks’ parental leave and 37 weeks’ pay, and even take the leave in up to three separate blocks allowing for much greater flexibility. The Money Advice Service has loads of information on how to access maternity, paternity and shared parental leave.
Access to essential services
Just as during pregnancy, you’re still entitled to free NHS and dental services for a year after the birth of your baby. Children also get free prescriptions, eye tests and dental care. Make the most of the free health services available to you. Find out more from your GP, pharmacist or health visitor.
Getting out of the house and meeting other people is important as a new parent, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. Children’s Centres all over the UK offer a range of groups, classes and activities at a low cost or even free. Find your local centre at www.gov.uk
4 – Re-work that budget
Everybody’s life changes after having a family. Financial priorities change and making a new budget will help you stay in control of your money, balancing the new pressures on your household income. Online budgeting tools are quick and easy to use.
5 – Make the most of pre-loved
There’s a temptation to buy brand new for your precious little one, but most baby stuff is used for a short time and second hand can be as good as new – check out eBay or local selling sites on Facebook for pre-loved equipment and clothes.
6 – Make the most of pre-loved (part two!)
…and, of course, make the best of pre-loved at both ends of the scale, by selling your good quality baby goods when you’ve finished with it. Myself and my friends sell our old baby clothes on eBay and use the money from them to buy the next size up – it can be extra work but it saves a lot in new clothes.
7 – Help with childcare costs
When you go back to work, you may be entitled to support with childcare costs, through tax credits or childcare vouchers. You can find details from your employer or from the Government website.
8 – Cook Clever
Planning meals ahead, cooking larger batches and freezing portions all help to keep the costs of feeding your family down. Look out for supermarket own brand products and deals on fresh fruit and vegetables. The BBC Food website has a range of inspiring meals for £1 to get you started.
9 – Search out the deals
Most of the larger supermarkets have ‘baby weeks’ – don’t be tempted to buy what you don’t need, but it could be a good time to stock up on essentials like nappies and wipes!
10 – Keep an eye on your benefits
As your family grows and your circumstances change, keep checking your benefits to make sure you’re getting everything you’re entitled to. Benefits checkers are widely available online, including at www.turn2us.org.uk.
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