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Bringing Up Baby Without Breaking the Bank

little baby lying on a pile of dollars

The recent birth of Princess Charlotte was hailed by the media as the proverbial blessed event, and the world has collectively fussed over those charming photos of the new princess and her solicitous big brother George. While the birth of any child is a cause for celebration, the expenses incurred can seem like anything but a blessing if one is not a royal or otherwise well set in life. As most parents can tell you, having and raising a child is not a cheap undertaking. According to a survey by the Centre of Economic and Business Research (CEBR), the average cost of raising a child to the age of 21 is now £230,000, a 63% increase since 2003, when the survey was first carried out. Though many parents have cut back spending on toys and even food, other rising costs have eaten up much of those savings. And the first four years of a child’s life are the most expensive due in large part to nursery fees. Even so, there are many ways prospective and new parents can save money.

Organise Your Finances

It has often been said that if everyone waited until they were 100 percent certain they could afford a child, no babies would ever be born. Few parents are ever completely prepared for every contingency, but you can be reasonably ready if you have saved as much money as possible and if you have adequate insurance. You should also research all applicable benefits such as paid parental leave, child tax credits, or credits for working parents. Your tax adviser should be able to guide you, and information on the NHS.uk site can enlighten you regarding benefits for which you and your family may be eligible. Also don’t forget to register your baby’s birth within 42 days (21 days in Scotland). This is important so your child will be legally recognised and eligible for benefits and services; in addition, not registering your child could result in a hefty fine. Check the gov.uk site under register-birth for more information.

Save Money, Ditch The Designers

Wean yourself from the idea that everything has to be brand name, designer, or even new.
Many parents – particularly first-timers – seem to be in some competition with their peers to see who can ply their new baby with the most expensive or trendy accessories, clothes, toys, and other products. Of course you want the best for your child, but generics, store brands and secondhand items are often more than adequate. Your baby certainly will not know the difference. Just make sure that products such as cots and car seats are age-appropriate and properly certified for safety. If you plan to have more children, another moneysaving tip is to purchase gender-neutral outfits and accessories as much as possible. Also watch for sales: take advantage of coupons and samples, as well as the “Baby Clubs” offered by some stores. These clubs give you access to a variety of free merchandise as well as vouchers and coupons.

Nappies can cost almost as much as childcare but they don’t have to. Although disposable nappies and wipes are a wonderful convenience for parents, environmental concerns in recent years have caused many people to question their use. Cost is another issue as disposables can get quite expensive over time. On the other hand reusable nappies can save you up to £600 on your first child, and even more on subsequent children. Today’s reusable nappies are more convenient than the old type, being more lightweight and easier to wash and dry. If you use flushable liners in the reusables you can still keep down costs, both financial and environmental. Don’t feel guilty if reusables simply aren’t for you, but at least research and consider them.

Asking For Help

Although in today’s tighter economy the extended family of past generations seems to be making somewhat of a comeback, the nuclear family is still more or less the norm in the UK. Accordingly new parents often feel as if they have to go it alone no matter what. Indeed they are often torn between the desire to be left to their own devices so they can adjust to and enjoy their new status, and the hopeless sense that they are truly on their own and have nobody to turn to for help. Though being a new parent can sometimes seem completely overwhelming, the truth is that plenty of assistance is available both online (as in government and charity sites) and in your own community. Sometimes the help you need is financial and goes beyond the benefits for which you may be eligible, in which case you may need to research your loan options. There is nothing shameful about reaching out for help. Nobody can do everything by himself or herself. Remember that “it takes a village” – and you and your baby are part of that village.

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