Finance Dollars & Sense The essentials and ‘nice-to-haves’ when budgeting for a baby
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The essentials and ‘nice-to-haves’ when budgeting for a baby

baby dad budget
First-time parents can save money by turning to hand-me-downs. Photo: Getty
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There are many unknowns as a first-time parent but one certainty is that your child won’t care if you drop more than $1500 on a cot or buy one secondhand.

My daughter is six years old now and not once has she complained about sleeping in a pre-loved cot as a baby, rather than a fancier, expensive version.

Financial educator and mother of two Lacey Filipich tracked her annual spending when she had both children and it rose $10,000 after her first and by $5000 after her second.

“You’re going to have exploding nappies, so you don’t need everything to be shiny and new,” Ms Filipich said.

“Having shiny new things can be stressful because you’re worried about them; it’s a bit nicer to have some old things so you don’t mind if there are a few teeth marks in the cot or an exploding nappy happens in the pram.”

Ms Filipich said your routines change when a baby arrives and while your income may drop, your lifestyle spending often also reduces if you are going out less and spending more time at home.

So, what will you need to budget for if you’ve got a baby on the way?

The Essentials

You will need a cot, a mattress, a pram, a car seat, nappies and baby clothes.

Ms Filipich said apart from a cot mattress, consider buying pre-loved or accepting hand-me-downs from friends or family, but make sure any secondhand car seat meets Australian safety standards and has been involved in no accidents.

Something to consider more than a year before you plan on having a baby is whether you want to give birth in a public or private hospital.

If you want to be in a private hospital, ensure your policy covers pregnancy and note that most private health funds make you wait 12 months before you can have this cost covered.

The Nice To Haves

When it comes to things like sleep suits, slings, room thermometers and baby monitors, Ms Filipich said it is wise to borrow from a friend or family member first before making the investment.

“In your search for anything to get you more sleep and less stress, you’ll try anything, right?

“It’s your body being exhausted, it’s your brain being exhausted and wanting a solution quickly so you’re willing to pay for that, but try and find a way to test it before you go and invest lots of money.”

The Sanity Savers

When you are waking to feed your baby every few hours through the night, a few things make the experience easier.

A comfortable chair in which to nurse your baby is worthwhile and if it’s within your budget, other things like TV streaming services or a Kindle can help you through those early hours.

If you are looking for the perfect useful baby gift for a friend or family member, a voucher for a meal delivery service is a great idea.

The big picture

Ms Filipich said it was important to establish an emergency fund to fall back on if the unexpected happens, like a job loss.

“If you’ve got a savings fund that means you don’t have to go into debt or give up something really important to you or part of your lifestyle, to get you through,” she said.

“It helps you not worry so much as a parent; you’re going to be focused on your child and you don’t want to be worrying about money if you can avoid it.”

Ms Filipich said it was also a good idea to think about high school options in your area early, and if you think you want to move closer to a particular school down the track, it pays to get a financial plan in place well in advance.