Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Ten Ways To: Have a Baby Without Breaking The Bank [sponsored]

So, babies are expensive, right? The media never tires of lumping averages together to tell us that our first baby WILL cost us upwards of £11,000* in the first year. What if I told you they don't have to be such a burden on your finances? With some savvy shopping and spending you can kit your small human out with everything its tiny heart desires without breaking the bank. Here's how:

1. Embrace the second-hand market 
Before you scroll on shouting "not for me", pre-owned doesn't always mean used. Apps like Pitapat are perfect for finding those unwanted gifts or barely used baby buys. Babies are light users of most things anyway, they lie still and drink only white liquid, it's difficult for them to get anything too dirty.  That old adage of your shiny new car losing money as soon as it leaves the forecourt applies to baby kit too, like cars, on the re-sale market, good quality second-hand buys really hold their value. I've bought and sold with the same £60 since my daughter was born last year. Those notes have owned a Bumbo, a swing chair, a door bouncer...the list will go on. Forever, presumably.

2. Make a gift list
If you're lucky enough to have family and friends who can't wait to spoil your new bundle, ask for things that you really want or need and have your list ready for when people ask. A baby only needs so many soft teddies and blankets and people will be glad for a little direction to buy something that you'll be really grateful for. Think ahead too, teethers and rattles might seem a long way off when your newborn can't even point their eyes in the same direction but it will come around quicker than you can say 'statutory maternity pay'.

3. Shop savvy
Budget supermarkets are increasingly winning awards for their baby and toddler offering. It's worth downloading the Lidl and Aldi apps to beat the rush on amazing deals on organic cotton baby clothes (Lidl), Wooden toys (Aldi) not to mention nappies, food and milk. Their 'special buys' don't hang around for long so it's worth stocking up when they're in store.

4. Sell sell sell 
Selling your unwanted items for cash has never been easier, do it now, right now. Whether they are unwanted gifts (because somebody went off-list!) or one of those huge essentials (I'm looking at you, all singing all dancing swing chair), as soon as you trip over it more than you put your baby in it, it's time to give it a new home. The Pitapat app is completely free to sell through and the money you earn will buy the next must-have. You know that £60 I talked about? I've re-sold everything I bought with it and am currently a whole £2 in profit.

4. Birth before you buy
That third trimester is a very exciting time and it's easy to get a bit heavy handed with the credit card, the 'must buy' list seems to grow by the day but every baby is different and there is no need to stock up on every possible baby gadget before your baby is  actually here. There is no point in having a bottle prep machine decorating your kitchen if you end up exclusively breastfeeding or a Sleepyhead if your baby prefers to sleep stretched out. Next day delivery exists for a reason, better still, buy pre-owned and pick one up from a local mama (you know, one of those uber-prepared ones) for a fraction of the cost.

5. Claim child benefit 
It's amazing how many of my mum mates didn't know that this is for everyone, yes YOU too. A not-to-be-sniffed-at £20.70 per week for your little cherub's nappies, milk, the ever disappearing dummies or whatever you decide to splash it on (£13 per subsequent child) is yours in exchange for your details on a CH2 child benefit form. If it's been sitting on that pile of admin, move it to the top, they'll only backdate it for three months,  and over your child's first year it adds up to a massive £1076.

7. Use your free supplies
Ok, I know that not everyone can breastfeed. But during that often tricky and often turbulent first few weeks it might help you grin through the pain (I promise it passes quickly) when you know that powdered formula milk costs around £13.50 per week, and the pre-made bottles cost up to £4.60 per day**. Over the first year, boob food could make a saving of over £700.

8. Find free (or very cheap) entertainment
Local authorities, libraries and churches all provide a place to meet other mums at very little or no cost (they often throw a cuppa and a biscuit in too). The pay-for classes shout louder but it's worth taking the time to investigate your options because very often a similar course, class or play session is available completely gratis. The Hoop app is great for finding things do, and you can filter by 'free' too.

9. Points make prizes
Now is the time to make sure that no purchase goes unrewarded, Quidco offer cash back on the big buys, the Pampers app offer little treats like magazines and toys when you scan your receipt. Sign up for all of the loyalty cards too, Ikea offer free tea or coffee on weekdays, Waitrose will give you a free cuppa when you spend a fiver and John Lewis regularly send vouchers for completely free tea and cake in their cafe. I recommend the scones. Delicious!

10. Get free kit
Lots of websites look for testers of their big buys, Mothercare recruit product testers here and Kidly ask parents to sign up to try be a parent tester, here, on a mission to put kit through its paces before they'll put it on their (virtual) shelves. The best thing is that you get to keep it, so when your child inevitably outgrows whatever it is, get straight onto the Pitapat app to give it a new home and reap the rewards.

I hope you've found this helpful. This post was made possible with the sponsorship of Pitapat, a new app made by mums for parents to buy and sell completely free, safely and locally.

Sources *LV= survey 2016 **First Steps Nutrition
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