How We Saved $35,000 to Travel the World (Whilst Pregnant)

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Yay, you’re pregnant! Congratulations, it’s such an exciting time.

Once all the fuss dies down, it’s time to get planning so you can figure out how much money to save before the baby arrives.

If, like mine, your pregnancy is a (welcome) surprise, there’s no need to worry.

You’ve got time to save money before the baby arrives.

We actually wanted to travel with our baby while he was young (and ultra-portable), but these tips can be applied to anyone who wants to save a baby fund and give themselves some financial breathing room post-birth.

We didn’t plan our pregnancy; in fact, the timing was pretty horrendous.

We’d just finished a huge trip to South America and had plans for more travel.

I knew from blogs it was possible to travel with babies.

The only thing that stood in our way was money.

We needed to save money during pregnancy to enjoy the first year with our baby and, hopefully, see some more of the world, too.

How to Save for a Baby While Pregnant

While we were saving for travel, I hope these tips will help expectant parents save regardless of their goals.

Whether you want to be a stay-at-home parent or put down a deposit on your first home before the baby arrives.

Below is the exact strategy we used to save money while pregnant.

1. Birth as a Deadline

I work well under pressure. When I was studying, I was always cramming the night before an exam or finishing essays ten minutes before they were due (I now know this is because I have ADHD).

I knew that after birth, our financial situation would take a nosedive.

But we had nearly ten months (he was two weeks overdue) to prepare!

There is something about putting a time limit on drastic changes that make them a little easier to bear.

how we saved money while pregnant
Somewhere in the Bolivian Andes, we fell in love with South America and planned to return. Five months after this photo was taken, I was pregnant.

2. Live on Post-Pregnancy Income

My absolute number one tip for couples expecting a new baby is to start living on your post-pregnancy income before you have to.

Essentially, you are tricking yourself into living with less so it’s less of a transition after the baby comes (which is enough of a shock for anyone).

With the cash you are not spending, you build up cash reserves.

Living on one income is the best way for couples earning from a dual income to save money.

When we were getting ready to travel in 2011, we got used to combining our money and saving all of one income. 

This was no different.

My weekly paycheck was directed straight into our high-interest savings account, and as I never saw it, I never missed it.

For the entire time my baby was in my womb, I didn’t touch a cent of my paycheck.

With careful budgeting, we could pay all the bills from my husband’s income.

3. Earn Extra Income

Earning extra money is the best way to save money for a baby.

I took part in market research surveys after work and paid online surveys to earn extra cash.

I had a very easy pregnancy, so this wasn’t a burden, and I’ve never been the type to put my feet up and relax. I like being busy.

Related: Our top picks for paid surveys in the United States | United Kingdom | Australia | New Zealand | Ireland

My husband is a tradesman, so he can work overtime and earn extra money.

During my pregnancy, he took every opportunity to work longer shifts and weekends.

This helped build our savings fund.

My weekends were pretty boring as he was tired when he wasn’t working, but when we look back now, it was worthwhile.

We knew the overtime had an end date, as he would cut down once the baby was born.

These days, there are many ways to earn extra cash online.

Related: 51 Best Ways To Make Money From Home

4. Downsize Your House (and ignore expectations)

When we discovered we were pregnant, we lived in Sydney, Australia, where the cost of living was high.

The rent for our dingy one-bedroom apartment was $410 per week, which was low for the area.

We instantly thought we had to move to a bigger apartment so the baby could have a nursery, but the rent of $600+ per week put us off.

People asked us when we were planning to move.

It was expected that we would move to a bigger place.

We told them we’d consider it when the baby was mobile.

The truth is that little babies need little more than some floor space for tummy time and a place to sleep.

We started travelling when our baby was four months old, right when he was about to outgrow his bassinet, so in the end, a small apartment was fine for us.

Since then, we’ve stayed in studios and one-bedroom apartments, and we are comfortable in small spaces.

Related: Downsizing with a Family: Why We’re Downsizing with Kids

5. Ditch the Car

One of the side benefits of our expensive but dingy apartment was its proximity to work and the hospital.

My husband ran home from work every day.

It was free exercise (active transport is one of my top money-saving tips) and saved five bus fares every week.

Before I got enormous – I was like a walking blimp – I walked home from work.

I would walk to all my prenatal appointments, and I even walked to my scheduled induction at nearly 42 weeks pregnant.

I struggled with the hills, but I did it.

When taking your baby home from the hospital was discussed in our prenatal classes, we were the only ones who didn’t need help figuring out how to install the baby capsule—because we didn’t have a car.

We had planned to get a taxi home, but it was a sunny day, so we walked – with the baby in the ergo carrier on my husband’s chest.

And I checked every minute to make sure that he hadn’t stopped breathing.

6. Don’t Buy Everything!

You do not need to spend thousands preparing a nursery for your baby.

Or buying a super-trendy buggy.

Spending less doesn’t make you a bad parent.  As we were living in a one-bedroom apartment there was no nursery, the baby slept in our room.

We purchased a compact bassinet (which my parents paid for—thanks, Mum and Dad), a baby bath, and a change table.

In hindsight, we didn’t need the changing table – it was bulky and a waste of over $100, but as first-time parents, we didn’t know.

Just take my advice and understand less is more.

Our stroller is a compact, lie-flat, fully collapsible model that costs less than $100. It does the job.

If you are travelling with a baby, I recommend splurging on a good baby carrier.

I love my Ergo baby carrier, but there are plenty of other suitable models. 

7. Ask for Useful Gifts

I’m one of those boring people who always give (and want to receive) practical gifts.

My wonderful colleagues assembled a tiered nappy cake covered with toys and baby clothes.

They also bought me a big box of baby wipes and an enormous basket of toys.

The nappies and wipes on that cake kept us going for the first month of our son’s life.

The toys were all he needed for the first year of his life.

Many of them came travelling with us, which saved us a lot of money!

how we saved money while pregnant
The wonderful nappy cake I received from my colleagues. And the extent of our tiny kitchen in the background.

8. Micromanage Your Money

During my pregnancy, we were both paid weekly. My income went straight to the high-interest savings account, which earned 4% interest.

But my husband’s pay had to be budgeted for expenses.

Each Friday morning, I would log on to Internet banking and carefully distribute funds so that every dollar was earning as much interest as possible.

We paid bills with a credit card that accrued frequent flyer points and paid the balance in full at the end of each month.

This had the double benefit of earning us interest (while the funds sat in the account waiting for the credit card payment to fall due) and accruing frequent flyer points for future travel.

I did (and still do) all my banking manually.

Some people believe automation is the easiest way to manage money, but I always find that sitting down with a pen and paper next to the computer allows me to find extra ways of saving. I always transfer any leftovers straight into the high-interest-earning account.

Our system might not work for everyone, but the interest we earned certainly went a long way in Mexico, so it was worthwhile.

We were pretty extreme when it came to saving money during pregnancy, but I’m sure that even doing a couple of these things will help any expectant parents to save money (especially if you are having a baby on minimum wage or low income)

We knew it was the last time we would be earning two strong incomes (without the exorbitant expense of daycare), so we made the most of that opportunity to earn and save as much as we could.

Wondering how to save money for baby? Here are my best tips plus I share exactly how we managed to save a lump sum before our first child was born.

How Much to Save Before Having a Baby

Figuring out how much to save for a baby is different for everyone. The final number depends on how you live now and how you’ll live when the baby arrives.

The first thing you need to work out when saving money for a baby is what your financial situation will look like after you give birth.

Will you give up work? Will you utilise childcare so both parents can still work? Are you a single parent? Do you have financial support from elsewhere?

Whether you want to take extended parental leave, be a stay-at-home parent or put down a deposit on your first home before the baby arrives, saving a lump sum while pregnant is not a decision you’ll regret.

If you think one parent will be at home after the baby arrives, a quick way of working out how much money to save before having a baby is to work out how much life costs when that parent is working.

Then simply remove the costs of commuting and any other expenses to do with work.

For example, in our case, I stayed home with the baby, so I no longer needed to spend $40/week on a bus pass to get to work.

I still bought a daily coffee from a local cafe as it got me out of the house (which is very important in the early days), but I made lunch at home every day, so that saved us another $20/week or so.

I was, of course, losing my income, but as we’d lived frugally and saved my income throughout my pregnancy, it didn’t make a difference to our daily life.

When we were trying to figure out how much money to save before the baby arrived, we subtracted my income from our budget, added in family support payments, and removed any expenses that would no longer occur with me out of the corporate world.

Ultimately, we saved around $35,000, enough for our wee family to travel the world for over a year.

But had we stayed in Sydney, my husband would have continued to work, and we would have had his income to live on.

A few thousand dollars in the bank would have made for a comfortable home life and extended maternity leave.

Either way, we never regret having money in the bank.

Did you save money before you had a baby? What are your tips for expectant parents to help them maximise their money?

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About Emma Healey

Emma is a recognised family finance and budgeting expert and founder of Mum's Money. Her advice has been featured in Readers Digest, Yahoo Finance, Lifehacker, The Simple Dollar, MSN Money and more.

10 thoughts on “How We Saved $35,000 to Travel the World (Whilst Pregnant)”

  1. That’s an awesome effort! I totally agree that you don’t need half the stuff your hear you should buy. Family and friends were generous with baby shower gifts and work organised a hamper with lots of goodies so we really didn’t have to buy much beyond the pram (our biggest expense) and car seat.

    I wish I had been stricter with my spending during my pregnancy though, and even before we started planning to fall pregnant. But in the end everything worked out and we’re back to saving now that I’ve returned to work. Once we start thinking about baby #2 we will definitely be better prepared.

    Looking forward to reading about how you afford to travel long term with your child. It’s something I’d like to do in the future.

    • I think it’s OK to spend a little more than when you are pregnant, it’s an exciting (and confusing) time. The main thing is that you started to save again once you went back to work. Once you have that savings mindset, it’s easy to know when to save and when to spend.

    • Sydney is one of the highest cost of living cities in the world so even scrimping and sacrificing on accommodation and expenses saw us spend over $800 weekly. Compared to what we spend to live in Spain or even New Zealand that is really high. Of course, the flipside is that incomes are higher.

  2. We haven’t had a kid yet, but I agree that one key is to just avoid things that people think you need. I was told that a changing table — something we all think of as a “must” — is really unnecessary. That’s more than $100 right there.

    If we are able to have a baby, we’ll be shopping mainly at thrift stores. I mean, babies spit up on everything anyway, so as long as the items are only gently used…

    Speaking of useful baby shower gifts, I’d urge people to ask for larger sizes, not newborn ones. First of all, kids are coming out bigger and bigger. Second, they grow so quickly in those first months, the clothes are almost immediately useless. My mom always tells me to buy 3-6 month items instead.

    • So true re the newborn sizes Abigail. Our son was 4kg at birth (nearly 9 pounds) so he was in his newborn stuff for only a couple of weeks then straight into 3-6 month gear.

    • Hi Stacy. We are Qantas Frequent Flyers which utilises the OneWorld Network and also Air New Zealand frequent flyers which is Star Alliance. We also have memberships for Virgin Velocity rewards although we hardly use that.

  3. . As a father of 3 babies and a lover of skiing the Chilean Andes in August, rock on! There is no greater joy in life than holding a mini me, thrice! And no greater thrill than flying through Andean deathly cliff scapes and living to tell the tale!

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