One of the most significant financial decisions a young couple can make is when to start a family. Worries about money is a major reason why couples delay having children. Being financially prepared for the first baby can help reduce the stress that can come with what should be a joyful occasion. There are three categories of costs to be considered:
- One-off costs, such as a car safety seat, pushchair, backpack or front carrier, nappy bag, changing table, baby's bath, bassinet and cot, mattress and bedding, nursery decorations (eg mobiles), baby monitor, feeding equipment (breast pump, bottles, cups, plates, steriliser), safety gates, activity equipment (jumpers, swings and play mats).
- Ongoing costs, including disposable nappies, infant formula and baby food, clothing, medical costs, toiletries, toys, preschool education and childcare.
- Related costs: the cost of ante-natal and obstetric care, clothing for pregnancy, books on pregnancy and child care, and home heating costs. The birth of a child can also be a trigger for preparing a will and increasing your life insurance cover.
Within the first year of baby's life, you can expect additional costs to be several thousand dollars. A certain amount of financial assistance is available for new parents, including 14 weeks of Government-funded parental leave and Working for Families Tax Credits.
Financial stress can be reduced by setting a budget for your baby. Ask other new parents how much they typically spend and look at ways of reducing the cost, such as buying second-hand equipment, or borrowing from friends.
While both partners are still working, try to live on the equivalent of one income. Not only will this give you time to adjust to living on less, it will also help you save for the additional costs so you can enjoy your new baby.
Liz Koh is an authorised financial adviser. The advice given here is general and does not constitute specific advice to any person. A free disclosure statement can be obtained by calling 0800 273 847.