For many of us, the first question that comes to mind when we discover we’re pregnant is “can we afford it?”
There are obviously a lot of things to think about, but as a soon-to-be-mum, often the most pressing is the possibility of being a stay at home mum, even for a short while.
The benefits of staying home with your baby are numerous so here are some tips to make it happen.
10 Tips for Affording to be a Stay at Home Mum
1. Do the math
Life as a stay at home mum can be a lot cheaper than life as a working mum.
You don’t need a special uniform or dry cleaning, you have zero commuting costs and you can always make your own lunch.
Do the maths on how much you’ll save staying home, it might surprise you.
2. Use Your Time Wisely
You get a fair amount of warning that a baby’s arrival is imminent and if you’re feeling well and have no pressing health issues, working as normal is the best way to prepare your finances.
Use the time before baby arrives to get ready for a change in the way you manage your money – you could try out living completely on one income if you’re a two-income couple.
Use the other income to pay down debt, test out a new family budget or build a savings stash to tide you over in the early days of being a stay at home mum.
3. Prepay your bills in advance
Contact your utility provider and see if you can pay extra in advance towards future bills. Suppliers like Powershop make it easy to buy power packs months in the future.
4. Research Your Entitlements
We are very lucky in Australia and New Zealand to have governments supportive of mums staying home during the early years.
In Australia, you’ll be entitled to family tax benefit A and/or B and in New Zealand, you have the Best Start payment and Working For Families.
Make sure you read up on what you’re entitled to and get your paperwork in as soon as possible to ensure you’re not caught short
5. Accept the hand-me-downs
Mums love to pass on their treasured baby items to other soon-to-be mums.
So much so, that you might just get away with not buying many clothes at all for your new bundle.
Accept every item that comes your way – I know this is going against all minimalism advice – you never know what you’ll need and your baby will poo or spew multiple times per day so you need a lot of outfits.
6. Buy used baby stuff
Big things like a cot and a pram are the budget-destroyers of new parents.
Purchasing gently used items will save you a lot of money. (I’ve found that these items tend to go cheap too as they take up a lot of space so when you no longer need them, you want them gone!)
The only thing you really must buy new is a cot mattress.
There is a SIDS risk associated with 2nd hand cot mattresses, but everything else is fair game.
7. Get yourself a good coffee machine and learn how to use it
If you’re a coffee addict, learning to make a decent flat white at home will change your life. I recently upgraded to a Sunbeam Mini Barista (from JB Hifi on sale) and it has saved me a lot of money.
Good coffee is a new mum luxury I wouldn’t scrimp on, so get yourself a coffee machine and you’ll make the money back in a month.
8. Swap takeaways with easily prepared foods
I know I’m supposed to tell you to give up takeaways but that ain’t happening. Being a new mum is a hard season of life so you should keep eating the foods you love if they nourish you.
One little hack that works for me is buying a high-quality prepared sauce (for example, Butter Chicken) and making my own delicious but still cheap favourite Indian takeaway.
You save money and still get a delicious meal – and much less plastic waste.
9. Start a mum-friendly side hustle
Taking on extra jobs or working all the overtime you can isn’t good for anyone’s health, especially so if you are pregnant.
But that doesn’t mean side hustles are off-limits.
Think easy couch-friendly options like scanning your groceries with Homescan or iRi or answering surveys with Opinion World, Valued Opinions or Toluna (these are our top Kiwi survey sites)
Nielsen Mobile will pay for around $50 a year just for installing their app or software on your computer and allowing them to track your browsing history.
10. Trim your expenses
The final tip for those wondering how to afford to be a stay at home mum is to just be ruthless with your budget.
There is always room to save money and with time on your side, you can achieve a lot.
These are my favourite ways to save money.
- Find some amazing slow cooker meals to cook in bulk,
- Use online grocery shopping to eliminate impulse purchases and eliminate the need to drive to the supermarket,
- Use cashback sites and apps for everything,
- Ditch the gym membership and take up walking with the pram,
- Breastfeed if possible, it’ll save you a ton of money,
- Clear the clutter and sell things online,
- Attend council or community-run family events, as they are always a fun and cheap day out,
- Sell your 2nd car – walk or take public transport if needed or just get your groceries delivered. We’ve only ever had one car and it’s fine if you’re organised.
Look after your mental health
Ok so this has nothing to do with money but becoming a stay at home mum can be a hard transition.
Make sure you have time for yourself each day – even if it’s just a shower with the door locked or a ten-minute stroll around the block.
I like to go to the library by myself and spend ages looking for a book. Whatever works, just don’t forget about you.