Under the best of circumstances, being a new parent can be as challenging and stressful as it is rewarding, and if you’re struggling financially it can be especially stressful. Even if you’re not quite at the point where you’re borrowing money from your own parents or taking out payday loans to help cover emergencies, you may still be worried about how you’re going to provide a good life for your child. But don’t fret; there are many ways new parents can save money.
- Get your financial ducks in a row. This is surely one of the most important things you can do, and of course it’s really best to do it as far in advance of your baby’s birth (or even its conception) as possible. Put aside all of the money that you’re able to spare and make sure that you have adequate insurance. Also be sure to take advantage of all applicable tax credits and other benefits such as maternity or paternity leave, credits for working mums and dads or child tax credits. Do not hesitate to consult a tax adviser and/or check direct.gov.uk to find out about benefits for which you and your family may be eligible.
- If you live in England or Wales, register your baby’s birth within 42 days of the child’s arrival. This can save you a couple of hundred pounds right off the bat. Registration, which takes only about half an hour, is free, but failure to register with 42 days could result in a fine of up to £200. You can generally register your baby’s birth at the hospital where the birth took place or you can do it at your local register office (see Gov.uk for the location of your nearest office). For a few pounds you can also purchase a birth certificate that displays the details in the register. Scotland and Northern Ireland have slightly different rules for registering births; check the General Register Office for Scotland, or NI Direct.
- Get over thinking that you have to buy the most expensive clothes and accessories. Seriously. Just get over it. Every parent wants the best for their child, of course – and mums and dads are particularly conscientious with the first child, it seems – but very often, generic or secondhand and hand-me-down items are perfectly okay. Remember that your baby won’t know the difference. And if you have friends who are so shallow that they snub you for failing to splurge on the most expensive designer accouterments, are they really your friends? When shopping for a baby, safety and durability are the most important factors whether you’re shopping for a crib, high chair or toys. (And here’s a tip for frugal parents who plan to have more children: Buy durable, gender-neutral outfits and accessories as much as possible.)
- Consider reusable nappies. Although environmentalists have rightly criticised the widespread use of disposable nappies and wipes, these products have been a huge help for overworked parents over the past few decades. However, even if you use generic and store brands, using disposables can add up to a lot of money over time. On the other hand reusable nappies can save you £600 or more on just one child. If you’re hesitant and have visions of those old-school nappies, realise that modern reusable nappies are much less cumbersome: they are lighter weight and wash and dry easily. Admittedly they aren’t for everyone and may not be for you, especially in the first few weeks when you’re just getting adjusted to being “on call” around the clock, but perhaps when your baby is a little older you might consider using them. Consider using flushable liners in the reusables, which will still help keep your costs under control and will help the environment as well.
- Never stop looking for sales. If you keep your eyes open for sales and specials you will never need to pay “full price” for anything. Don’t hesitate to avail yourself of some of your favourite stores’ “Baby Clubs” for free merchandise, vouchers and coupons.
Perhaps the best bit of advice for new parents is to remember that you are not alone. There are plenty of options for stressed-out new parents, whether you need advice, financial help or just moral support. Help is always available – not just on the Internet but in your own community as well. Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
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