Let’s put this straight out there, babies are expensive. Exactly the reason why it’s important to plan and budget accordingly. Last January The Telegraph reckoned it costs £230,000 to raise a child in the UK (cripes, can we send her back – joke) I never quite realised how much money we’d spend on buying things just to make life more convenient. Anyone who knows me will know I’m a bit of a penny pincher and keep a close eye on the family finances. That said, I’ve surprised myself lately of how lenient I’ve become (wifey might disagree, but this is my blog not hers). Since Phoebe was born, we’ve bought plenty expensive gizmos, including
- A new family wagon. The previous BMW 1 Series didn’t quite cut it when it came to car seats and boot space. It’s been swapped for a Fiat 500L – not the nippiest of cars and has it’s little quirks but cheap to run and lots of family friendly features, including a nice big split level boot. Just before we swapped the car, we bought one of those fancy ISOFIX car seats (we went for the Britax Dualfix) that stays in the car so there’s less messing about getting Phoebe in and out of the car. Bending over to find a seatbelt plug in the dark usually ends up with back pain.This definitely wasn’t cheap but I’d say it’s worth every penny, especially as the seat will last until she’s 4 years old.
- A new washer/dryer. Gone are the days of trundling out in the rain to the garage to get washing dry. It can all now be done in the house. You’ve no idea how excited I got about this prospect. Having to stay up on a night to rescue washing from the garage at midnight because the knackered old drier didn’t switch itself off was never a fun part of life, and one I certainly won’t miss. After all, the time can now be spent washing and sterilising bottles (story of my life, something else I won’t miss), doing more washing, and all the other baby jobs that have to be done, then doing more washing.
- A pram. Can’t really manage without one of these!
- Furniture. This doesn’t have to cost the earth.
We’re also about to enter the realm of childcare, as Phoebe approaches 6 months, the wife prepares to return to work next week and we have to dump the child on random strangers. Thankfully we seem to have got over the hurdle of the little critter only being happy when she’s with me or mummy and I don’t think we will have a problem here. A big shout out must go to Grandma and Nana. We are very fortunate to have them being able to take Phoebe one day a week which will help keep childcare costs down. Nursery should end up costing us about £380 a month and with the childcare voucher scheme it should come out a bit less than that. Still, that’s over four grand a year (yikes). So if you’re reading this in your sleep child, you best get the most out of it.
You’ll also find yourself buying random crap you probably don’t need. Just the other day I got a text off the missus which was something along the lines of “got Phoebe some of those cool bubbles. They were £12.” If you split that into two parts there’s an exciting part and a not so exciting part. Sorry, how effing much? They are cool though I must admit. These bubbles float instead of sinking and popping on the floor and Phoebe does love them. It’s a good job it was pay day today.
A few tips then for making sure your bank doesn’t dry up and you end up eating weeds out of the garden (don’t do this it’ll make you ill)
- Budget month on month. I’ve got a spreadsheet which I swear by and have been using for the last five years to keep track of spending. It also helps plan saving. There’s a link to it at the bottom of this post
- If you can, put child benefit in a separate high interest bank account and try not to touch it. So far, we’ve managed this and if we manage to leave it alone forever, Phoebe will have a nice pot of over 19 grand when she’s 18, and that’s before interest is added. It’ll also act as a bit of a buffer if you run out of money yourself.
- Try to save something each month. Even if it’s only twenty quid, that’s £240 a year
- Shop around for deals. Deal sites are the in thing at the moment so make sure you sign up to sites like Groupon or Wowcher, and also cash back sites like QuidCo. Community forums like MoneySupermarket and HotUKDeals are also good places to keep an eye on. There’s some good deals to be had out there.
- When baby events are on at supermarkets make sure you check them out. You can save a small fortune buying things like washing tablets/powder and fabric conditioner in big packs and these are usually on offer. Just make sure you’ve room to store it at home, of course away from children.
- Shop around for the best deals on things like car insurance an energy suppliers or telecoms providers. If you can save 20 to 30 quid a month on your bills collectively, that’s £240 to £360 a year, which is a lot of money. I never used to bother with this until Phoebe came a long, but it’s really worthwhile. Don’t just settle with your current supplier put the effort in and save some wonga.
One thing to prepare yourself from the start is that you’ve gotta be organised or you risk ending up on a slippery slope getting into debt – which you definitely don’t want.
Click here for my life saving spreadsheet! (requires Microsoft Excel). I’ve tried to add notes so it’s fairly obvious how to use. Drop me a message if it doesn’t make sense. I hope it helps you out!
Do you have any money saving tips? Share them in the comments below