Babies and toddlers are small expensive creatures. When you have young children there are so many expenses all concentrated over a very short period: nappies, buggies, new clothes, childcare…
The costs can quickly spiral out of control. But there are simple steps families can take to stretch your budget and save some money:
1) Hold ‘swap’ parties with friends and people in your community to exchange used children’s clothes, toys and games. Kids are constantly outgrowing their stuff so pass good, clean items on. Other good sources of second hand clothes and toys are ebay, jumble sales, school fairs and car boot sales.
2) Register your children at the local library and teach them how to ﬁnd books they’ll love instead of buying new ones. Some libraries even hold free classes like story time and mum and baby yoga – baby classes in private centers can be so pricey!
3) Rope your friends and family into babysitting. One of the biggest expenses when you have a date night as a parent can often be childcare! When you feel more confident and your child is settled in a routine, your relatives or friends can host a sleepover or a fun afternoon – then, if they have children, you can do the same when they need you to.
4) Get to know your local park inside out. It’s free and will give your family hours of entertainment at no cost.
5) Search NCT groups and Mumsnet boards for second hand baby items, free advice and more. The only baby items you really need to buy new are car seats and mattresses.
6) Use www.freecycle.com when you can. Freecycle is a fabulous grass-roots movement that was set up to stop used items becoming landﬁll. It’s great for sourcing larger items such as bikes and furniture. You can list your items for free as long as you are giving them away for free.
7) Why not swap skills and talents with other families? You can use your skills to teach friend’s children in exchange for help from other parents. For example, if you speak a foreign language, perhaps you can swap language lessons with a parent who plays an instrument.
8) Try to save £5 a week for your little one. If you could save just an extra £5 a week for a child, that works out as £260 by the end of the year – and within 10 years that would be £2600, which, let’s face it, would come in very handy when they started university, and a fiver isn’t much, is it?
9) And remember to get money back for your child every time you shop online. When you’re buying new stuff, sign up to KidStart to earn money back. When you buy things for your baby online and you go through KidStart, the site will offer you a percentage of the money you spend with the retailers back, which will go into a savings account dedicated to your child. Turn the essential costs into a nest-egg for your child’s future even before they are born.