Having a baby can be more expensive than you realise.
Having a baby is very exciting, but it also puts new pressures on your money. The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has some handy tips to help you plan ahead and budget for your new baby:
Begin with a budget: Budgeting strikes fear into the heart of many of us. But there is nothing to be afraid of. If you’re a novice budgeter use the budget planner on the CCPC’s website ccpc.ie. Before you start have some idea of what your regular expenses cost by looking through previous bank statements or recent bills. Then fill in the budget planner and see where you stand. If you feel that your budget is tight, have a think about making changes to your spending. Cutting out some non-essential items like take-out coffees can make a big difference.
Add up all your income: You may have to plan for a change in household income depending on your maternity leave entitlements and work situation, but on the other hand you should also take into account the impact that being off work will have on your travel costs and other expenses.
Check your entitlements: If you are taking maternity or paternity leave check with your employer to see what you are entitled to. If you are not sure what State benefits you may be entitled to, check with the Department of Social Protection at www.welfare.ie. Make sure to include any entitlements – like child benefit - in your new budget.
Use the baby budget planner: on ccpc.ie to help you work out everything you will need to buy before your baby arrives. There are a number of once-off purchases you will have to get, such as a cot, pram and car seat. There will also be ongoing costs when the baby is born, such as nappies and baby care products. Try to spread the costs over the nine months so you’re not trying to pay for everything all at once.
See if you can save a little: While saving might not be an option with a new baby, it is a good idea to build up an emergency fund to cope with unexpected expenses. Saving even a small amount every week can really help set you and your family up for the future. Try to pay off as much debt as you can before your baby is born, such as overdrafts and credit cards, so that you are in a better position to deal with unexpected expenses.
Be smart with what you buy: You may want to buy the newest and best of everything for your new baby, but before you rush into buying, decide which items are worth paying more for and which you can get more cheaply. If you’re buying a few things at once from one shop, don’t be afraid to ask the salesperson if they can offer you a discount, especially for the more expensive items. Keep an eye out for bargains in the sales, or you could ask friends and family for any equipment or baby clothes that they might not need anymore.
Check what cover you have: When you are a parent, you need to look after your family now and in the future. None of us wants to think that anything bad will happen to us, but it’s a good idea to make sure you have enough insurance in place to protect your family.
Start planning for your child’s future: If you start planning now for large future expenses such as school and college fees, it can really help ease the financial pressure on you later on. The baby steps booklet on ccpc.ie has lots of information to help you plan for the years ahead.