Here's the thing, babies/children are expensive, the government has calculated that raising a child costs around £218,000 (from birth until 21). This of course is a ridiculous figure which has been created assuming some the following:
- you put your child in a private nursery from the age of 6months - 5 years -full time
- your child attends university for three-years where tuition fees and living costs are paid in full by the parents
- you take an annual holiday from the age of one
They have even assumed you will buy your child their first car and driving lessons plus some other £13,000 in toys over this 21 years.
These three assumptions were the ones I found most surprising in calculating the cost of raising children as it is a idea that is very far removed from our reality. LV have calculated that your child's first year will cost approximately £9,152, now I know Wilf is only approaching ten months but I can guarantee you this first year has cost no where near that figure (not even half that!). Here is how we have cut costs (plus some un baby related tips too).
- Using reusable nappies. We spent roughly £100 on purchasing 20 nappies (which are birth to potty size so once you have bought your set, that its). After trying a fair few brands we stuck with Bum Genius. We bought two new and the rest from Facebook groups where you can buy second hand ones. Ebay is also another good place to find bundles of reusable nappies both new and pre-loved. We also cloth wipe (as mentioned in this post) again this saves a lot on wipes, which tend to cost around £1/£2 a packet. It is estimated that taking into account of the cost of running a washing machine you are saving £500 a year on nappies and £200 on wipes. We also cloth wipe (as mentioned in this post) again this saves a lot on wipes, which tend to cost around £1/£2 a packet. Two good cloth nappy Facebook groups are 'Pre Loved Cloth Nappies' and 'Cloth Bum Mums'.
- (on that note) Buy your baby clothes from Ebay 'bundles'
We were very fortunate that Tom's sister gave us the majority of all our baby clothes for Wilf (as her son is ten months older). However as Wilf is now in some 18month clothes we have bought a few bundles (mainly vest and some other special pieces) from Ebay. Its also a great place to look for more expensive brands of baby clothes. For example I love JoJo Mamam Bebe and Mini Boden but would never buy these items new as babies just grow so fast! Wilf has always been a large baby and so I tend to buy the size up, in some cases Wilf wears 18-24 month clothes now that he will still be able to fit into for the next few months.
- Another great place to look is charity shops, there is a baby clothes 'bin' in our local charity shop with items for 10p or 20p. If you are in the mood a good rummage can unearth some lovely pieces, especially if you are fan of baby knitwear!
- Although I know lots of people that swear by playgroups and activity type cafes I'm not a great fan. I am fortunate enough however to have a group of good friends (from my NCT classes) with babies the same age. Instead of attending playgroups we meet as each others houses/parks twice a week or so and set up our own 'free playgroup' plus the money you save from playgroups can be used to buy a bottle of wine to share among yourselves.. ;)
- Nearly New sales are a great way to pick up bargains, you can find out about local to you ones on sites like NetMums and Mumsnet.
- When it comes to Wilf's food we do a mixture of baby led and purees. The purees are great when you are out and about, you can stock up on pouches with deals like the Asda sale where you can buy 6 for the price of 5. You can also pick up free Organic baby food from places like IKEA and Asda when you buy something for yourself. The best saving in feeding your baby though is just to make a little extra of what you are having (leave out the salt) and there you go!
- Obviously when Wilf was born, one thing that had to change was our set of wheels. Upgrading from my little run-around to the car we have now obviously came at a significant price, so I wanted to be savvy when looking into car finance . Luckily the market for loans these days is actually pretty consumer-friendly, with peer-to-peer lending platforms in particular offering APRs starting from as low as 5%. The low-cost car loan from one of these platforms meant that we’ve now got the benefit of an upsized car, while having also saved a huge amount in interest when paying it off
- Places like Poundland and Savers often also sell baby food and baby paraphernalia (like cups and plates and beakers) for half the price of shops such as Boots.
- We dont drive (so there's a saving right there!) but we do travel by train a bit. We got a family rail card (costing £28 a year but there is 10% off at the moment) which means we save a third of all our train journeys. Your child will not need to pay a fair until he/she is five but if the difference of a third of your travel is more than a child ticket using this card will be mean you save in the long run. This has helped a lot in making visits to family doable. The savings we make in not having a car/car tax etc means that if there is somewhere we need to go that is not accessible on public transport then we can justify the very occasional taxi ride.
- We very rarely go out to eat these days but when we do we only go to places that are supporting voucher deals. You can find out easily which restaurants these are by downloading apps like 'voucher cloud' and entering your postcode or tapping 'current location' if you are out and about. Its amazing how many larger brands have deals on almost all the time, some up to 50% off the price of the bill.
- Again Ebay bundles are a great way to shop. I have favourite brands and instead of entering for example 'maxi dress bundles' into Ebay I will enter a brand I know I love and see what bundles there are containing one of the these items. Chances are that someone you wears a brand you love will also have other clothes in styles you like. This is also a great way to find out about new brands you might not have heard about
- One of the big things we did when Wilf was born was get rid of TV. This probably sounds like a very middle class/hipster-y thing to do but I knew that if I didnt I would be trapped in the stay at home - waste half my day watching 'This Morning' kind of cycle. By doing this we saved £145 on a TV Licence and a further £50 a month (!) on our crazily expensive TV package with Virgin. Instead we bought a Netflix account for £4.99 a month (and the first month free). When Wilf is asleep we catch up on box sets like Breaking Bad, we tend to only watch one a day and this has forced us to actually do other productive things with our day/evening. I am beyond happy that we chose to do this and can honestly say I do not miss TV one bit!
- This isn't really a saving as such but I enter quite a lot of blog competitions. Your chances are much higher on winning (especially if it is not a very well know blog) and by doing so I have won items of clothing for both Wilf and myself and beauty products I would never have been able to justify buying. Two good sites for finding competitions are MSE and Blog Giveaway Directory
- Plan family meals, to ensure you don't waste food. This is one of my biggest problem areas and I hate that things still go out of date and un eaten in our fridge. We are still working on this one...
So that's it! I am really going to work a little harder on those meal planning and food shopping ideas. Do any of you have good money saving tips and tricks? I would love to hear them!