Having attempted some pre-baby finance planning firsthand, I know how utterly mystifying it can be. There’s literally no knowing what sort of baby you’ll have, what sort of mum you’ll be, and how your lifestyle and priorities might change when you pop a kid out.
You feel me?
A lot of new parents have faced the dilemma of how to prepare for a baby financially, and I’ll tell you this: many of us just bumble through and hope for the best. And that’s probably fine. But what if it could be easier? What if you could feel less stressed, and more confident when financially preparing for a baby? With the right advice, maybe you can.
I’ve rounded up 10 of the best financial tips to help you get your sh*t sorted in the lead-up to your pregnancy and birth. These financial tips and tricks are brought to you by some of the finest and smartest mums we know:
- Victoria Wallis-Smith, Money Coach at Nutshell Money (mother to an 11-year-old and a 15-year-old)
- Rebecca Pritchard, Senior Financial Planner at Rising Tide Financial Services (mother to an 11-month-old and a two-year-old)
- Christina Hobbs, CEO at Verve Super (mother to a six-month-old)
- All of you, AKA mums from the Mumli community – because when we asked, you ladies put forward some awesome ways to save money with a baby, you bloody legends!
How to financially prepare for a baby: 10 best financial tips for future parents
1. Work out what matters to you and COMMUNICATE it
There are a few things you should hash out with your significant other before you parent together, and finance is one of them. Yeah, talking about money is icky and frustrating, but it’s important.
Victoria advises against the ‘see how we go’ mentality when financially planning for a baby. This easy-breezy attitude might make you look impressively chill, but it can land you in trouble if you and your partner have different ideas about managing finances. (Awkward.)
“Sit down as a couple and work out what your values are, and what your vision is for bringing up this baby,” she says.
She suggests really getting into the nitty-gritty details. Like:
- What your baby actually needs (spoiler: probably not the latest gadget being advertised to you).
- What’s important to you and how you want to raise your child (i.e. your parenting vision and values).
- What your childcare arrangements will be.
- How you’ll deal with potential feelings of guilt relating to wage imbalance.
- How to achieve superannuation equality and make it ‘fair’. (More on super below.)
- How you’ll juggle the mental load and make big financial decisions together.
If you don’t see eye to eye on some things, it’s best to work through it now and find a way to compromise ahead of those post-baby finance dilemmas.
2. Research baby costs
I’m not gonna lie. This part sucks. It can be overwhelming when you look at all the different areas you need to spend money on when planning for a baby financially.
There are the health-related things:
- Health insurance – with or without pregnancy cover.
- Pregnancy and birth costs – which can be wildly variable depending on your situation. For a good insight, check out Rebecca’s carefully tracked first pregnancy expenses and second pregnancy expenses.
- Postpartum care – Rebecca says, “This is an area that people consistently under-budget for. The physical and mental recovery from birth should be prioritised”. This might include hiring a postpartum doula, seeing a women’s health physio, or a few visits to a psychologist to debrief from the birth. (Not to mention ice packs for your poor vagina, and other postpartum essentials.)
Then there are the tangible baby things:
- Newborn needs – Our newborn baby checklist gives you the rundown on essentials so you can start to add up costs here.
- Ongoing baby costs – Think: nappies (cloth or disposables), baby clothes, feeding equipment, medical checkups, toys and more. (Consumer advocacy group CHOICE estimates this to be between $3,500 and $8,000 per year!)
If you want to get really detailed, you could also account for costs of financially preparing for a baby like:
- Financial advice fees.
- Updated insurance policies (more on this later).
- Investments for your child’s financial future.
- The potential cost of pregnancy loss.
That last one! Had you thought about it? I know I never did. But Rebecca is a big advocate for thinking this through from a financial standpoint.
“Pregnancy loss awareness is incredibly powerful,” she says. “It doesn’t make it any easier if you do experience a miscarriage, but it can reduce the shock of it. The best financial tool you can have in this scenario is to make sure you’re not going to your limits financially. Have financial room to move, because there will be some curveballs, whether it be pregnancy loss, prolapse, or need for a lactation consultant.”
3. Create a budget AND a plan
Victoria recommends combining a baby budget with a series of potential plans.
“Yes, there are those budget templates you can find on Google,” she says, “… but they’re shite.” She prefers a style of budget that incorporates timing and cashflow tracking, but also points out that when planning financially for a baby you need a few potential options, or ‘plans’.
“For example,” she explains, “you might plan to work while your baby sleeps. But if your baby comes and they’re a clingy, colicky nightmare and you spend a year just sitting on the couch patting them on the bum, Plan A’s out the window. So create a Plan A and a Plan B, and think through the financial implications of them both. If you take a year off work altogether, what would that look like financially?”
We love this approach to help you deal with the uncertainty of financially preparing for a baby. Backup plans can save you a lot of stress and anxiety.
4. Pay off annoying debts
One Mumli mum says, “Pay off small debts before the baby arrives to save money while on maternity leave.” This can free your budget up more for baby-related costs.
If you’re stressed about debt, you can call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 for some free financial advice.
5. Sort out your insurances
So you’re having a baby. Finances are going to shift around. And this can get stressful pretty quickly, unless you’re protected.
Christina says, “Go to a financial advisor and get it worked out. It might cost you $1,000 or so to get that advice, but it’s worth it. Look carefully at what you’re paying for – a lot of people are paying for insurance through their super that they’re not even eligible for. E.g., if you become self-employed it could mean that you’re not covered.”
And she adds, “Having a dependent means you need to think about insurance even more. It’s so important.”
In addition to considering life and disability insurance, remember to add your baby to your health insurance policy once they’re here. And if you’re covered for pregnancy, check if there are any exceptions to your cover (i.e. what happens if you have twins?!).
6. Take stock of your superannuation situation
Christina is very passionate about superannuation equality (so much so that she started a super company specifically for women – GO LADY!). She encourages thinking about how you can make financially preparing for a baby ‘fair’ for everyone.
You might decide as a couple to even the playing field. In that case, whoever earns the big bucks would split their super up and contribute to the other person’s balance. Or, you might go straight to your employer about super.
“At Verve Super we have what’s called the Baby Bump Program,” she explains. “If one of our members goes on parental leave, we can suspend their admin fees for up to a year. We also offer to call their employer on their behalf to ask them to keep paying super while they’re on leave.”
“Don’t be afraid to ask about this!” she encourages. “Even if it’s not common in your workplace – even if it’s unheard of – it could spark much-needed change.”
Amen to that.
7. Plan your maternity leave and childcare expectations
When it comes to how to financially plan for a baby, parental leave can be daunting AF. You may not know if you’ll even want to return to work after having a baby, and, if so, when. And how.
“Be careful not to make assumptions about work and childcare arrangements,” Victoria warns. “Your partner might expect to drop their work hours to spend time with the baby. Or Great-Aunt Edna, who you’re counting on to look after the baby one day a week, might expect payment for her services! And while childcare is expensive, it might mean that you (the mother) can retain your career, which might be a reasonable trade-off.”
8. Have a baby shower
Because people will give you gifts, and that’s some serious money-saving sh*t right there.
(I’ve added this very important piece of advice of my own accord.)
9. Just. Buy. What. You. Need.
Don’t get sucked into the highlights reel of Instagram.
Rebecca says that “families, particularly women, go up against the ‘beauty’ of having a child. Making it cute. Styling the nursery. Having a cute change table setup.” But all this stuff shouldn’t be at the expense of important aspects, like your postpartum recovery care.
While it’s totally fine (and normal!) to want some beautiful things for your baby, it’s not necessary for them to have a good life.
In The ultimate baby & money guide that Christina wrote for Verve Super, she says, “all your baby needs is love, shelter, warmth, food, and safety – and that can be achieved with minimal purchasing, so don’t worry if you don’t have all the latest gear”. A great reminder.
(By the way, Christina breaks down her pregnancy expenses and offers some incredible finance tricks and tips in the guide too – definitely give it a read!)
10. Listen to stories of how other parents do it
Rebecca makes a great point about looking for examples of other families in a similar context to you, and exploring how they make finances work. (Podcast reccos!: Tales From The Fourth Trimester, Australian Birth Stories.)
“I would recommend that women take the time to listen to other people’s stories so they understand that breadth does exist,” she says. “Knowing that an infinite number of scenarios could play out is useful, when paired with financial planning. It’s great to speak to people living a similar life to you.”
So if you’re a business owner, find other business owner mums to talk to. If you struggle with mental health issues, find someone in the same boat who can impart wisdom on how they managed. If you have investment properties to juggle, or a side hustle, or are a shift worker, or have an addiction to buying expensive skincare (find me on Mumli, we have so much to discuss) – there’s always someone in a similar position who can pass on advice about planning for a baby financially, in a way that suits your lifestyle.
*This bit’s important*: In addition to chatting with friends and family, we highly recommend finding someone who’s properly qualified to offer the best financial advisor tips to help you navigate this period. They’ll give you useful advice that’s specific to your unique situation.
Bonus tips from everyday mums (also experts)
Lean into free stuff!
“I applied for free baby courses through the local Sure Start Centre (UK), they had lots on offer.”
“Ask and accept offers of clothes etc. from friends.”
Avoid the urge to do a nursery spending spree
“You don’t need as much as you think. Budget for buying baby stuff, and buy in sales only.”
“We waited until our baby was born to buy items as we needed them.”
Make the most of Medicare
“Put both parents on one medicare card to reach the limit earlier.”
“Get as much as you can secondhand – FB marketplace is the bomb!” (We second this.)