Maybe you've just found out you're going to become a parent. Or perhaps you're planning to start a family in the not-too-distant future. Either way, having a baby involves a huge financial outlay, with researchers pitching the cost of raising a child at between $130 and $204 a week.
With that figure in mind, what better way to help get your finances in check pre-parenthood than to quiz those who've already been through it? We asked two relatively new mothers to share their top tips for saving before your baby's arrival, how to manage the range of expenses that come immediately after and the importance of finding affordable products and services for the long-term.
If you're used to pooling yours and your partner's wages, Jenny, whose daughter recently turned two, suggests leaving plenty of time to get used to a single-income lifestyle.
"When we decided to plan for a baby, we started living on one income to see how it would be," she recalls. "It was a great exercise to get us used to the way our household finances would be stretched after her arrival, and it also gave us a head-start on getting some savings together."
When your little bundle arrives, expenses can mount in a hurry, and both mothers suggest turning to your nearest and dearest to minimise costs.
For Jenny, that meant creating a wish-list for her baby shower. "Friends helped out heaps, which meant I ended up being much less stretched financially than I thought I would be," she says.
Laura, mum to a three-year-old, recounts a similar experience. "Family and friends were so generous, gifting clothes, furniture and toys or giving us items their own children had grown out of so we didn't have to purchase everything from scratch."
And on that note, babies grow up fast, which means many of the items you do purchase will need to be upgraded regularly. So, before you commit to buying, explore alternatives.
"Look into temporary solutions, like hiring equipment," Laura suggests. "Car capsules, for example, are big ticket items that your child will outgrow before you know it, so buying one new can feel a little like throwing money out of the window."
Or, if you're not averse to a spot of DIY, you could repurpose an existing piece of furniture to save some extra cash. Jenny tried her hand at converting a laundry table into a baby change table rather than shelling out for a new one. "It worked perfectly – just as good as any I would have bought from the store, but it cost me a fraction of the price. Even better, I got to upcycle something I would probably have never used again," she says.
Technology has shaken up the retail landscape for the better, and baby goods are no exception. For the best deals on big-ticket items, like strollers and cribs, it pays to get clicking, says Laura.
Signing up to baby retailers' newsletters, so you're one of the first to find out about any upcoming sales, is her number one tip. "You get all the info delivered straight to your inbox, which makes it much easier for busy parents to keep their eyes peeled for bargains and snap up the best deals," she says.
No matter how prepared you try to be before your baby's arrival, life can often get in the way. And when there's 101 things to think about, it's easy to overlook a few key things, like medical expenses, insurance or an endless list of other essentials.
"Things like the first heating bill can be a shocker because you're home so much with the little one," Laura warns." So, make sure you're prepped for changes in your utilities that you might not have anticipated."
To find out how Latitude can help you be primed, prepped and ready for a new arrival coming into your life, check out our budget tracker here.