Finding out you’re expecting a baby is an exciting moment, but if you’re worried about money that stress can make you anxious.
It’s totally normal to worry about whether you can afford to have a baby. If your finances are already really struggling then this may be particularly concerning for you.
Whenever people joke with expectant parents about what to expect they’ll normally make a quip about sleepless nights, but that’s often quickly followed by one about the hit your bank balance is likely to take.
However let me start off this article by saying it’s going to be absolutely fine and it’s perfectly possible to have a baby when your budget is tight.
I’m going to share some tips for what to do when you’re worried about your finances with a baby on the way and ways you can trim your baby budget.
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What to do if you’re pregnant and have no money
First of all you need to do something to take the stress out of your situation. Anxiety is an inevitable emotion if you’re struggling with money, but it’s not a helpful one to finding a solution.
So begin by taking a deep breath and remind yourself you can produce an action plan to deal with this. Remember that people are having babies around the world every minute of every day, and they certainly are not all millionaires.
There may be some adjustments you need to make to your budget – whether that is trimming down your outgoings or giving your income a boost.
The first thing to do is figure out exactly where you stand. I know this can be scary – especially if maybe there is some debt involved – but truly the best thing to do is understand what your budget is.
Start off by writing down your household income including salaries and benefits. Don’t forget to factor in benefits you can claim and extra help you can apply for after the baby is born (more details on those later in this post).
Then turn your attention to your outgoings both monthly and annual. Don’t forget to include:
- Mortgage or rent
- Bills such as gas, electricity and water
- Car insurance
- House insurance
- Subscriptions – for example Netflix, Amazon Prime or Spotify
- Hair cuts, facials and manicures
- Dining out
Can you afford to have a baby?
There’s no set amount of money in your bank account or a specific set of circumstances that mean you are now ready to have a baby.
Sometimes we get the opportunity to debate this question before the event occurs, but life happens and sometimes babies come along as a happy little accident.
When considering whether you can afford to have a baby you may want to pay attention to the following:
- How much you’re earning
- How much you have in savings
- Your debts
- Your spending
- How much parental leave pay you and your partner will receive
Whether you can afford a baby is all about the balance between these things, and adjusting one or more of them can help you absorb the costs of having a baby. And as we’re going to explore in this article, babies don’t have to cost the earth to get them kitted out and care for them.
As a general rule I always try to have at least three months’ worth of emergency funds to keep me going in savings, just in case the worst happens. I’m self employed and although I have multiple income streams, you never know when one might dry up.
Having a safety net there just in case your income drops out is reassuring, so it’s worth considering your emergency fund and how much you can top it up ahead of your baby’s arrival.
How much does a baby actually cost?
I carried out an analysis of the cost of the key items you need for a baby in the first year over on my parenting website The Mummy Bubble.
This found you will need roughly £2,354 in the first year. There’s also the ongoing monthly cost of things such as formula, nappies and new clothes, which may cost you around £95 a month (if you are formula feeding).
Of course your costs may feel harder to take on because you’ll be on parental leave – which depending on your company’s policy on pay could mean your earnings take a substantial hit in the first year.
But there are tons of ways to cut the costs back. This analysis focused on purchasing essential items new. There is a huge secondhand marketplace for baby stuff where you can pick up nearly new items at a fraction of the retail price.
If you breastfeed your baby you will need a few essentials such as nursing bras, but it will save you money on purchasing formula powder.
What benefits can you claim during pregnancy and after baby is born?
If you’re worrying about money during your pregnancy and when your baby arrives it’s important to factor in the help that may be available to you from the UK government.
During pregnancy you will be eligible for:
- Free prescriptions. All of your NHS prescriptions are free during your pregnancy and for 12 months after your baby’s due date.
- Free NHS dental treatment (including up to a year after your baby is born)
- Tax credits. You can receive Child Tax Credits if you already get Working Tax Credit.
- Statutory maternity leave and pay. You may be eligible for pay from your employer for taking time off from work after having a baby. You’re eligible as long as you give notice, earn at least £120 a week and have worked for your employer continuously for at least 26 weeks.
- Sure Start Maternity Grant. This is a one-off £500 payment. You are eligible if you claim certain benefits such as pension credit, income support, universal credit, working tax credit or income-based jobseeker’s alliance.
- Healthy Start food vouchers. You can get Healthy Start vouchers if you are at least 10 weeks pregnancy or have at least one child under 4. You must be receiving benefits such as Child Tax Credit, Income Support, Universal Credit or Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance.
How to save money on baby stuff
Once you have an idea of your income and what financial help you may be eligible for, you can then start to look at what the difference between the money you’re receiving and your expenditure is.
You may need to make savings on your weekly budget, but there are also ways to cut back on what you need to spend on your new baby. You can still get everything you need, but at a fraction of the cost, if you shop smart.
Look for secondhand items
There’s an amazing secondhand market out there for all sorts of baby essentials – basically anything you can think of.
You can find secondhand baby stuff at NCT secondhand sales (check your local NCT website or Facebook group for dates), car boot sales, on eBay and other online auction sites, and on Facebook.
I particularly like Facebook Marketplace for secondhand baby stuff.
The best way to find baby stuff on Facebook is to join local buy and sell groups for your area. This way you save money on paying for postage, as most people will be happy for you to collect stuff.
Secondhand baby stuff to look out for includes:
- Baby clothes – considering babies grow rapidly you’ll find many secondhand baby clothes have hardly been worn.
- Cots, Moses baskets and bedding
- Breast pumps – you will want to purchase some new parts for hygiene reasons but the pump itself is absolutely fine to buy secondhand.
If you are eligible for extra help you will also find there are charities in your area – in my area there is one called First Days – that take donations of baby stuff and pass them on to families who are struggling.
Create a useful baby wishlist
It’s likely you will have a few loved ones who will be keen to get you a gift to celebrate the new baby.
Get ahead of the game with this and create a wishlist – you can use Amazon’s baby wish list service to compile a list of what you need. This way when someone asks what you need or friends decide to throw you a baby shower you have a complete list of baby essentials to direct them to.
Hunt down baby freebies
There are tons of baby companies that want to give you free samples and money off vouchers.
Be sure to take advantage of these offers. Most of them simply want your email address in exchange for sending you the freebies. If you want to avoid lots of spam in your mail inbox then consider setting up a separate new email address just for signing up to baby mailing lists.
Avoid the stuff you really don’t need
There are lots of baby things you actually really do not need. You can make a big saving by avoiding the tempting baby items that will cost you a big slice of your baby budget but won’t really be of much use in the long run.
Examples of baby stuff to avoid include:
- Too many cute outfits – babies will poop or puke on most things so you want good value, practical clothing
- Baby shoes
- Baby bath
- Expensive gadgets such as sound machines
- Expensive beds – a simple cot is absolutely fine.
Shop for things that will last longer
Be tactical with what you purchase for your baby. Consider focusing your budget on toys and items that will last them longer – for example car seats that can be adjusted to grow with your baby.
I would also add you should consider whether you really need a Moses basket or side sleeper as well as a cot.
I purchased cot beds for both of my kids, which cost around £120 including the mattress, and these lasted until they were age four.
When buying clothes for your newborn try to size up where you can, as while clothes will hang off them initially they will quickly grow into them. When your baby is not crawling it doesn’t really matter if their outfit is a little baggy.
Buy supermarket own nappies and wipes
The big name brands such as Pampers cost a whole lot more than supermarket own brands, and having used a range of brands for my own kids I can tell you there’s not a huge difference.
Pampers tend to feel a little softer, but in terms of absorbency and comfort they all do pretty much the same thing!
You can get supermarket own brand nappies and wipes for more than half the price of the big brands – a saving that really adds up over time.
You don’t need piles of toys
Some toys are great for keeping a baby entertained and aiding their development. But you don’t need all of the toys in the store!
The basics that will benefit your baby are:
- Sensory toys such as from the Lamaze range
- A play mat – this will last longer than a baby bouncer chair which your little one will grow out of after around four months.
Make a maternity leave budget and stick to it
Planning is key to living within your means. Examine all of your income (and how that will change if you are taking time off work), outgoings and debts.
Look at your costs for maternity leave and consider how you can make savings.
I have lots of tips for frugal living over on this post, but some great ways to save money during your maternity leave include:
- Make your own baby food. Instead of purchasing expensive jars and packaged baby food, instead feed baby the food you eat. For example you can feed a weaning baby a little mashed potato, or place spaghetti bolognese into a food processor to turn it into a puree.
- Breastfeeding instead of formula feeding. There is some expense involved in breastfeeding, as you will need equipment like a breast pump and clothes like a nursing bra. But as formula costs around £10 a tub you may well find that over time – especially as you can reuse your nursing equipment with the next baby – you’ve saved money.
- Cut back on subscriptions and memberships. After your baby arrives you may not have much time for the gym, so you could switch your workout to running with the pushchair instead. Examine if there are any other subscriptions you can axe, or opt for a cheaper plan.
- Meal planning. A simple but effective way to save money on food.
- Cut back on takeaways.
Check out my tips for what to do when you have no money for food.
Take advantage of baby events
The big supermarkets and stores such as Boots that sell baby goods hold regular sales events throughout the year. It’s worth planning your purchase of large items as well as wipes and nappies around these events so you can stock up.
You can find the ASDA Baby Event sale dates here.
Make extra money on maternity leave
A great way to alleviate the pressure a little on your baby budget is to earn a little extra cash on maternity leave.
Cool ways to do this include using survey sites, such as Prolific, and decluttering your home to sell excess stuff online.
I have a while post with ideas for how to make money on maternity leave here.
Final thoughts on having a baby with no money
The key to affording a baby with no money is to have a good plan in place.
Once you’ve got an action plan in place you will feel a lot better.
Be clear on exactly what your expenses are – both the ones that are fixed and the ones that are flexible such as beauty treatments and luxuries like takeaways.
Then make a plan for baby stuff you need and find ways to get the essentials for less – for example as gifts from friends or by shopping secondhand. Do not forget to check what financial help you may be eligible for.
Finally find ways to cut back during your parental leave, so that you can keep your monthly expenses down.