Having a baby can be expensive. And stressful! Especially if you don’t have any savings.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Following are some budgeting tips that might help you get out of your tight spot.
Create a budget
It can be hard to know exactly how much money you’ll need in your budget for when a baby arrives. That’s why it’s often a good idea to start with your current expenses and take realistic look at what you spend, and what you could cut back on.
For example, doing this might show you that you don’t need to spend so much money on coffee, or that you could go without Netflix, Disney+ AND Hayu and still have something entertaining to watch. Just remember to cut back in places where it’ll save you the most money!
Ok, to start, gather your last 2 or 3 months’ bank statements and start taking note of your average spend in each category:
- Cleaning products and other household essentials
- Accommodation (rent or mortgage)
- Bills (water, electricity, gas, council tax, internet, phone)
- Entertainment (Netflix, going out)
- Credit card/debt repayments
Next, think about additional expenses that might come up during pregnancy or after the birth of your child:
- Nappies and wipes
- Childcare (this probably won’t come up until your child is a little older, depending on your work situation)
- One off expenses such as a cot, car seat, etc. You will be able to get most of these second hand for cheap or free, so don’t stress. More on this later.
And that’s about it! Honestly, newborns do not need a lot. As long as you can keep them clean and provide milk, you do not need to stress about toys and fancy equipment.
Add up all these expenses, and see if they are more or less than your monthly income. If they’re more, you’ll have to decide which categories to cut back on.
This could be as simple as cancelling your gym membership or creating a meal plan to reduce your supermarket spend. Or it may call for more drastic measures, such as moving back in with your parents.
There are lots of different budgeting tools that will help you monitor your spending and identify areas to cut back.
Whatever you do, remember that this is a temporary stage in your life. But cutting back on expenses will benefit you and baby in the long run.
Also, remember that your lifestyle is likely to change when you get pregnant and have a baby. Expenses such as going to the pub are likely to drop quite dramatically for a while!
Start saving now, even just a little
Start small by putting away £10-£20, or whatever you can afford, every month into a “baby fund”. It might not seem like a lot, but it really adds up over time. If you start saving now, and keep at it, you will have a tidy sum to help pay for things as your baby gets older!
Many banks offer accounts that give you free money just for opening an account. These are called introductory offers, and they’re basically designed to entice you into switching accounts. This can be a great way to kick off your savings fund.
If you don’t think you’ll manage to save manually, put it on autopilot. You can set up a standing order from your main bank account to your savings account on payday each month. Alternatively, there are lots of apps like Chip or Plum that will help you save, either by transferring a small amount for you on a regular basis, or by rounding up your spend (e.g. you spend £3.95 and it will put aside 5p for you – this really adds up over time but you’ll barely notice it).
Another good way to save without feeling the pinch is using Cashback sites such as TopCashback when you shop online. There are many of these around that pay you a small amount of money for every purchase from certain retailers, like Amazon or Tesco. It’s totally free money! And you’ll be amazed how quickly your savings start to add up.
Source free or cheap baby items
Now that you know what you need for your baby, it’s time to start looking for deals!
First things first: don’t stress! A lot of items can be picked up cheaply or second hand. If you search for local Facebook groups or join an online community such as Nextdoor or Mumsnet, there are thousands of parents willing to give away all kinds of gear for free – just as long as you’re happy to collect it from their house.
This also provides a good opportunity to get to know some new people and make friends in your neighbourhood.
You can even create a group that will share baby items with each other, or ask for items that you need – it’s a great way to save and meet people!
The exception to this is car seats. It’s recommended that you avoid second hand, for safety reasons.
Alternatively, if there are local services or charities in your area that help parents with young children they might be willing to loan or even give away items – just be sure to give them a good clean before using!
A lot of areas have services such as sling libraries, and you can even borrow reusable nappies for a cheap price! Your midwife should be able to point you in the direction of local services.
The NCT also has regular ‘nearly new’ sales all over the country.
Also, if you want to get really crafty you can make some of your own baby items such as reusable wipes. And home-made baby purees are much cheaper than shop-bought, once you start weaning.
If all else fails, buy cheap. Buy second hand where possible, and always check the prices of items in supermarkets.
Find free or low cost activities for your baby
For when you’re on a budget, and don’t want to spend money on entertainment for your baby, look into low-cost or free activities. Luckily, there are plenty of these activities all over the UK.
Here are some ideas:
- Look for free or cheap playgroups. These are often held in church halls and just require a small donation to cover tea and biscuits. If you ask in a local Facebook group you’ll probably get loads of recommendations. And these are one of the best places for bonding with other new mums!
- Visit a library or museum (libraries often have free story times or rhyme times for little ones!)
- Walks and picnics in the park
- Visit a friend and let them enjoy cuddles with the baby while you have a cup of tea
- Look for places you can take the baby to see animals for free: feed the ducks in the park, or find fields with farm animals if you live in the country
- Walk around the pet shop with your child (free zoo!)
- Visit a market and show baby all the colourful fruit and veg
Find out which benefits you’re entitled to
Having a baby with no savings is certainly scary, especially if you are not a high earner. Luckily, in the UK, you can get help from the government if your income is low. There are several benefits available to parents, including:
- child benefit
- free or tax free childcare
- vouchers for free food, milk and vitamins under the Healthy Start scheme
- free dental care
For more information on what benefits you’re entitled to and how much you might be able to claim, use the benefits calculators at this link.
Conclusion: having a baby with no savings isn’t the end of the world!
It can be a stressful situation to have a baby when you don’t have any savings.
If you’re a new parent with no savings, don’t panic. There are so many ways to reduce your expenses and get help in the form of government assistance local programs that can make it easier for you and your baby to live comfortably during this time.
If you struggle to save on a daily basis, there are some steps you can take to start saving now that will help eventually. You can use automated systems and apps to start putting money away now, and it will help for when your child is older.
There’s also other benefits available in the UK that you might need while having a baby if you don’t have any savings or high income, such as child benefit, childcare, dental care and more.
Good luck mama! You’ve got this!