Yay, you’re pregnant! Congratulations, it’s such an exciting time. Once all the fuss dies done, it’s time to get planning so you can figure out how much money to save before baby arrives.
If, like me, your pregnancy is a (welcome) surprise,
there’s no need to worry. You’ve got time to save money before baby arrives. We actually wanted to travel with our baby while he was young (and ultra-portable) but these tips can be applied to anyone who wants to save a baby fund and give yourselves some financial breathing room post-birth.
We didn’t plan our pregnancy, in fact, the timing was pretty horrendous. We’d just finished a huge trip to South America, and we had plans for more travel. I knew from blogs it was possible to travel with babies. The only thing that stood in our way was money. We needed to save money during pregnancy so we could enjoy the first year with our baby and hopefully, see some more of the world, too.
How to Save for a Baby While Pregnant
Whilst we were saving for travel I hope that these tips will help expectant parents to save regardless of their goals. Whether you want to be a stay at home parent or put down a deposit on your first home before baby arrives. Below is the exact strategy we used to save money while pregnant.
Birth as a Deadline
I work well under pressure, when I was studying I was always cramming the night before an exam or finishing essays ten minutes before they were due. I knew that after birth our financial situation would take a nosedive. But we had nearly ten months (he was 2 weeks overdue) to prepare! There is something about putting a time limit on drastic changes that make them a little easier to bear.
Live on Post-Pregnancy Income
My absolute number one tip for couples expecting a new baby is to start living on your post-pregnancy income before you have to. Essentially, you are tricking yourself into living with less so it’s less of a transition after baby comes (which is enough of a shock for anyone). With the cash you are not spending, you build up the cash reserves.
Living on one income is the best way for dual-income earning couples to save money. We got used to combining our money and saving all of one income when we were getting ready to travel in 2011. This was no different. I had my weekly paycheck directed straight into our high-interest savings account and as I never saw it, I never missed it. For the entire time my baby was in my womb I didn’t touch a cent of my paycheck. With careful budgeting, we were able to pay all the bills from my husband’s income.
Earn Extra Income
Earning extra money is definitely the best way to save money for a baby. I took part in market research surveys after work and paid online surveys to earn extra cash. I had a very easy pregnancy so this wasn’t a burden to me and I’ve never been the type to put my feet up and relax. I like being busy.
My husband is a tradesman, so he can work overtime and earn extra money. During my pregnancy, he took every opportunity he could to work longer shifts and weekends. This helped build our savings. My weekends were pretty boring as he was tired when he wasn’t working, but when we look back now it was definitely worthwhile. We knew the overtime had an end date, as he would cut down once the baby was born.
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Downsize Your House (and ignore expectations)
We were living in Sydney, Australia where the cost of living is high. The rent on our dingy one-bed apartment was $410 per week which was low for the area.
We instantly thought we had to move to a bigger apartment – so the baby could have a nursery – but the rent of $600 + per week put us off. People asked us when we were planning to move. It was simply expected that we would move to a bigger place. We told them we’d consider it when the baby was mobile.
The truth is little babies don’t need much more than some floor space for tummy time and a place to sleep. We started travelling when our baby was four months old, right when he was about to outgrow his bassinet, so in the end a small apartment was fine for us. Since then we’ve stayed in studios and one-bedroom apartments and we are totally comfortable in small spaces.
Ditch the Car
One of the side benefits of our expensive but dingy apartment was its proximity to work and the hospital. My husband ran home from work every day. It was free exercise and saved five bus fares every week. Before I got enormous – really, I was like a walking blimp – I walked home from work.
I would walk to all my prenatal appointments and I even walked to my scheduled induction at nearly 42 weeks pregnant. I struggled with the hills but I did it. When taking baby home from the hospital was discussed in our prenatal classes we were the only ones who didn’t need help with figuring out how to install the baby capsule – because we didn’t have a car.
We had planned to get a taxi home but it was a sunny day so we ended up walking – with baby in the ergo carrier on my husband’s chest. And me checking every minute that he hadn’t stopped breathing.
Don’t Buy Everything!
You do not need to spend thousands getting a nursery ready for your baby. Or buying a super-trendy buggy. Spending less doesn’t make you a bad parent. As we were living in a one-bedroom apartment there was no nursery, the baby slept in our room. We purchased a compact bassinet (which my parents paid for – Thanks, Mum and Dad) and a baby bath and change table. In hindsight we didn’t need the change table – it was really bulky and a waste of over $100 but as first-time parents, we didn’t know. Just take my advice and minimise.Our stroller is a compact lie-flat fully collapsible model that cost less than $100. It does the job. The one thing I recommend you splurge on if you are going to be travelling with a baby is a good baby carrier. I love my ergo baby carrier but there are plenty of other suitable models.
Ask for Useful Gifts
I’m one of those boring people who always gives (and wants to receive) practical gifts. My wonderful colleagues put together a tiered nappy cake covered with toys and baby clothes. They also bought me a big box of baby wipes and an enormous basket of toys. The nappies and wipes on that cake kept us going for the first month of our son’s life. And the toys were all he needed for the first year of his life. A lot of them came travelling with us. What a huge money-saving!
Micromanage Your Money
During my pregnancy, we were both paid weekly. My income would go straight to the high-interest savings account earning 4% interest. But my husbands pay had to be budgeted for expenses. Each Friday morning I would log on to internet banking and carefully distribute funds so each and every dollar was earning as much interest as possible. We paid bills with a credit card that accrued frequent flyer points and paid the balance in full at the end of each month. This had the double benefit of earning us interest (while the funds sat in the account waiting for the credit card payment to fall due) and accruing us frequent flyer points for future travel.
I did (and still do) all my banking manually. Some people believe automation is the easiest way to manage your money but I always find that sitting down with a pen and paper next to the computer allows me to find extra ways of saving, and I always transferred any leftovers straight into the high-interest earning account. Our system might not work for everyone but the interest we earned certainly went a long way in Mexico so it was worthwhile.
We were pretty extreme when it came to saving money during pregnancy but I’m sure that even doing a couple of these things will help any expectant parents to save money. We knew it was the last time we would be earning two strong incomes (without the exorbitant expense of daycare) so we made the most of that opportunity to earn and save as much as we could.
How Much to Save Before Having a Baby
Figuring out how much to save for a baby is different for everyone. The final number depends on how you live now and how you’ll live when baby arrives. The first thing you need to work out when saving money for a baby is what your financial situation will look like after you give birth. Will you give up work? Will you utilise childcare so both parents can still work? Are you a single parent? Do you have financial support from elsewhere? Whether you want to take extended parental leave, be a stay at home parent or put down a deposit on your first home before baby arrives, saving a lump sum while you are pregnant is not a decision you’ll regret.
If you think one parent will be at home after baby arrives, a quick rule of thumb when working out how much money to save before having a baby is to work out how much life costs when that parent is working, then remove the costs of commuting and any other expenses to do with work.
For example, in our case, I stayed home with the baby so I no longer needed to spend $40/week on a bus pass to get to work. I still bought a daily coffee from a local cafe as it got me out of the house (which is very important in the early days) but I made lunch at home every day so that saved us another $20/week or so.
I was, of course, losing my income, but as we’d lived frugally and saved my income throughout my pregnancy, it didn’t make a difference to our daily life.
When we were trying to figure out how much money to save before baby arrived, we subtracted my income from our budget, added in family support payments and took off any expenses that would no longer occur with me out of the corporate world.
In the end, we saved around $35,000, which was enough for our wee family to travel the world for over a year. But, had we stayed put in Sydney, my husband would have continued to work and we would have still had his income to live off. Having an extra few thousand dollars in the bank would have made for a very comfortable home life.
Did you save money before you had a baby? What are your tips for expectant parents to help them maximise their money?
(This post was originally published in 2015. Updated November 2017)