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Baby Budget: Financial Advice for Expectant Parents

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Having a baby is a very exciting time and the mother-to-be especially cannot wait to start preparing a nursery, choosing baby equipment and stocking up on baby linen and clothes. Even if it is your second or third pregnancy, that nesting feeling is hard to ignore and partners often find this feeling difficult to fathom.

Money worries and general finances are often the biggest problem that affects couples. If you are both working at the start of the pregnancy, it can be a great concern as to how you are going to manage on a reduced income. You are going to need all the help you can get.

It has been estimated that it can cost as much as $360 000 to raise a child from birth to the age of 21. That can be a daunting statistic to absorb. So perhaps you need to keep costs under control right from the start. Don’t be afraid to talk to your partner about your concerns regarding money, and then plan your finances together. Work out a proper budget with a note of everything you spend each month. Make a point of keeping receipts so you know where everything is going and include all the regular outgoings. You may find there are some areas where you could make savings in the long term. Keep your credit and store cards to the minimum

It is much more important that your baby feels safe, secure, loved and cherished than showered with all the latest equipment, designer clothes and masses of toys. We all follow with interest news of the celebrities and their own babies but we do not need to mimic their lavish spending on the most expensive strollers or diaper bags.

What essentials do you really need?

- Somewhere to sleep – A cot, mattress and bedding with perhaps a Moses basket for those first couple of months.

- Feeding equipment – for breast feeding you will need nursing bras and a stock of breast pads. For formula feeding you will need a set of bottles, sterilizer plus formula which you will have to buy until your baby is at least one year old.

- Clothes for your baby – these should be easy to wash and to take on and off. You will need a basic set for up to 3 months, 3 to 6 months and 6 months to a year to keep you going. You can add to these as your baby grows and you take stock of any extra clothing you have been given.

- Diapers – while many moms opt for disposables, a growing number are investing in reusable diapers which are environmentally friendly and much easier to launder these days. If you chose reusable diapers, you will save a considerable amount in the long term.

- Getting out and about – a stroller that you can adjust from newborn to toddler is the most useful piece of equipment. These days they usually come with a matching car seat too. Another useful piece of equipment is a baby sling which you can use to carry your baby on your front for the first few weeks.

As you go through the months of your pregnancy, put aside a monthly sum to use to stock up on all the basics you will need for your baby plus you can buy many items in bulk so you have a good supply for the first few months to a year. Some of the bulk items would be baby wipes and diapers.

You can also spread the cost by buying one larger item for your baby each month to avoid a big shopping spree late in your pregnancy or when your baby is born. Put together a list of the basic equipment and clothing you will need such as our list above but with more detail. Check this list against lists which baby stores bring out.

You can then safely cross out about 50% of the store lists as they will be encouraging you to buy as much as possible!

When you have your own list completed, ask friends and family what they think are really necessities. Tap into their experience if they have had babies in the last few years. They will have a good idea of what you are likely to use. Often they will offer to buy something from your list as a gift to you for the baby or they will have that very piece of equipment to lend to you. Be happy to accept such offers.

Other ways to budget for your baby

Family and friends will often organize a baby shower for a new mom to be. If you know about such a shower beforehand, you can be honest about letting your friends know what you need. If it is a surprise, then you will end up with extra baby goodies and you can always exchange any duplicates for something else you need. Sometimes family and friends will club together to buy a large piece of equipment such a cot or a stroller rather than buying lots of smaller items or a pile of soft toys!

Check out equipment for sale in your local newspaper, “used baby equipment shop” or on the internet. www.craigslist.org is a good site to search. All of these sources will sell equipment for much less than if you were buying brand new.

If you are entitled to any company or government benefits while you are pregnant, make sure you apply for these. You can often save many dollars by buying good products on the market that are generic. In addition, collecting coupons both from you weekly newspaper and on the internet can give you great savings too. Most online stores have sales and if you combine such sales with internet coupons or specials, you can save money and have your purchases delivered to your door. There are free websites to check out for coupons such as www.couponchief.com and wwww.ultimatecoupons.com

As your baby starts to grow and needs larger toy items and books, you can borrow from libraries and of course when you join parent and baby/toddler groups, your child will be able to try out lots of different toys and equipment. Often by trying out a large toy on your child first, you will be able to see if he really enjoys it before you spend money on buying it yourself. This can be another saving tip!

Finally, don’t forget to take care in cleaning and maintaining your baby clothes and equipment so that they have a good re-sale value if you want to sell them on when your baby or babies have outgrown them.

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