It’s no surprise there are a multitude of books about starting a family adorning the bookshelves of Australia.

There are numerous things to consider, and while it is an exciting life step, getting your ducks in a row plays a big role in maximising your enjoyment when your little one arrives.

It’s also no surprise money is a key issue that many couples starting a family struggle with. Loss of income and the addition of new costs can put a strain on anyone. So, with that in mind, for our readers about to take the step to motherhood, we thought we’d put together a checklist of things to consider, as well as ask some mums about their experiences.

Loss of incomeIf mum or dad chooses to stay at home with bub, the change to the household budget will be significant. It’s hugely helpful to get a plan in place to account for the reduced income – savings; thoroughly understanding what your expenses will be (it’s amazing how many nappies one tiny human being can go through); big bills like the mortgage/rent etc.

Use the time you have with two incomes to build up a nest-egg and get savvy with your budgeting so a clear plan is in place. It might be that some decisions have to be made – and it’s definitely best to not be making certain decisions post-baby when you’re sleep deprived and adjusting to being a parent.

“It is really important to plan for the drop in income – even if you both think you’ll go straight back to work. Your ideals can change once the baby arrives and you might not want to return to work straight away. I thought that I’d want to get back to work after about six months, but it took me a lot longer,” says Vanessa, a mum of two working part-time.

“But on the bright side – and while this might sound overly optimistic – also bear in mind that some types of spending can go down when there’s a baby on the way or in the house. Those lunches and dinners out combined with bottles of wine become a thing of the past, and weekend-breaks a distant dream…”

Working and childcareIf you are planning on going back to work, it definitely pays to check out your child care options and do the sums with your budget. It’s great when you have the option of friends or relatives providing care, or a workplace with childcare facilities, but if you don’t you’ll need to do a good amount of research on centres and costs. Some can be extremely expensive.
InsuranceMake sure you know what your insurances cover and what they don’t. Some policies require that you have held the insurance for a year before they will cover you for maternity services. Go through the policy with fine tooth comb and check what it covers against the services you’ll need during pregnancy and birth. And if you don’t have cover, it might be the time to have a look at your options.

“I wasn’t insured before getting pregnant but as soon as I knew I was, my perspective on all things insurance changed. It’s one of the most important things you can do to safeguard your family. While I remember disliking the task (I’ve never been one for crossing t’s and dotting i’s), I made sure I shopped around and really understood what was covered and what wasn’t. It’s amazing how your priorities change when a little one is on the way – and a bit of time spent with insurers and brokers was well worth it,” says Vanessa.

Government allowancesMake sure you spend some time understanding the allowances paid by the Government, like paid maternity leave; parenting allowance; baby bonus; rental and childcare assistance; and other benefits. Obviously it depends on income levels, but it is good to know what assistance is available – especially for the first few months.

Buying for bub It is really easy to race out and buy up large on prams, cots, bedding, clothes and a vast array of other items for your little one. The trick is to find out what are necessities and what aren’t – it’s an emotional time and one that we are very easy prey for clever marketers.

Get the things you absolutely know you’ll need and then wait until your baby is born to get the extras. As they say, it’s only through experience that we learn that the gizmo for this and the widget for that wasn’t needed after all.

“I quite enjoyed putting on my savvy shopping hat and looking around. I did some research in stores and then waited until things I needed came up on sale – with a bit of planning, you have the time. And definitely don’t rush in! Don’t buy everything for the baby before they arrive. A lot of things that are advertised as baby ‘must haves’ are all but useless,” says Vanessa.

Thinking laterally is key. Think about putting together a Baby Gift Register; borrowing from friends and family; organising a swapping system for larger items etc. There are many ways you can prepare for your little one without breaking the bank.

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