Things to consider before having a baby
Preparing for a newborn is a hugely exciting time, but it’s perfectly natural to feel some apprehension about becoming a parent. Sleeping patterns, nutrition and your work-life balance are just some of the things to consider before having a baby, but what impact will the new arrival have on your bank balance? In this article, we explore what you can do to get ready for a baby.
Having children will give you treasured memories to last a lifetime, but there’s no escaping that family life can burn a hole through anyone’s wallet. Below, we’ve listed some of the financial realities to think about before your little one arrives.
Maternity and paternity
If you or a partner are planning to take time off work to look after the baby, how will this impact your finances? If you’re an employee in the UK, you’re entitled to up to a year’s Statutory Maternity Leave (or Shared Parental Leave). You may then be eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay or Shared Parental Pay, which entitles you to 90% of your average weekly pre-tax earnings for the first six weeks, then £156.66 or 90% of your average weekly earnings (whichever is lower) for the next 33 weeks. Fathers are entitled to one to two weeks’ Paternity Leave as well as Paternity Pay as an alternative to Shared Parental Leave.
It’s worth thinking about these entitlements before you decide how long you can afford to take leave, and whether you’d wish to return to work full-time, part-time, or as a stay-at-home parent.
In the UK, children normally start school in the September following their fourth birthday. Until then, unless you intend to look after your child throughout the week, you’ll need to consider how to finance their childcare. We’ve summarised some of your options below, and quoted figures published by NCT – collected from a variety of sources including GOV.UK – for children under the age of two.
- Nursery – a full-time nursery place (50 hours) costs an average of £263 per week, or for part-time (25 hours), it’s £138 per week.
- Childminder – on average, a registered childminder costs £228 per week (50 hours) or £118 per week (25 hours).
- Nanny – a part-time nanny (25 hours) costs around £250-400 per week (including tax and National Insurance contributions) while a full-time (50 hours) live-in nanny costs between £500-800 per week, plus tax, National Insurance and their accommodation).
From the age of three, all children in the UK can get 570 hours of free childcare per year (often taken as 15 hours a week), and some children are entitled to 30 free hours per week depending on a family’s circumstances, such as household income. Read more on GOV.UK.
Once a baby arrives, there are plenty of other day-to-day and one-off outgoings you might spend money on. Here is a quick summary:
- Moving home. Is your current property suitable for a baby or growing child? What are the school catchment areas like? Parenthood is often a cue for families to upsize or relocate, which costs money whether you’re renting or buying.
- Writing a will. Becoming a parent means you’re responsible for another person’s financial future and general welfare. Writing a will could give you peace of mind in knowing that should the worst happen, the right provisions are in place.
- Shopping for baby items. Your supermarket bills may well increase after having a child, as you’ll suddenly find yourself shopping for everything from nappies, wet wipes and formula milk or food, and perhaps essentials like buggies, clothes and cots
To make life a little easier, you may be able to claim Child Benefit, which could be used for everyday spending, or put into a savings account for your child’s future needs.
How much money to save before having a baby
Every family will have different outgoings, but the Child Poverty Action Group claims that the average cost of raising a child up until age 18 is more than £160,000. While you won’t need to fork out such an eye-watering sum straight away, it may be useful to take this long-term expenditure into account when you think about your family finances.
How to save money when expecting a baby
While raising children doesn’t come cheap, there are ways you can financially plan for a baby without breaking the bank. Here are some money saving tips:
- Look for freebies, second-hand baby clothes and ‘hand-me-downs’ from any older children in your extended family
- Young children love to get creative, so rather than buy expensive toys, everything from bubble wrap to cardboard boxes can provide hours of improvised fun
- Look for discounts on groceries, like the NHS Healthy Start scheme, which you may be eligible for if you’re more than ten weeks’ pregnant
- Remember to sign up for Tax-Free Childcare, which allows you to claim up to £2,000 a year per child towards childcare costs.