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Preparing financially for Becoming a New Mum can be daunting – Here’s what I’m doing to try and make things easier on our family finances in the run up to our baby arriving
At the time of writing this I am 31 weeks pregnant with my first child. As always I’m thinking about our future and our finances and how best to prepare for the weeks and months ahead. Because this baby is my first, I’ve got no idea how I’m going to feel as a new mum in the days and weeks after she’s born – so I’m preparing financially now in the hope that in that in those precious early weeks I can focus on my newborn baby girl and nothing else.
Filling up the Freezer
I want to be able to eat really well when I first come home from hospital as a new mum- lots of people I’ve spoken to said they lived off takeaways for the few weeks and that’s not something I want to do. Not because I’m mega health conscious, more because of the cost!
So I’ve gradually been stocking up the freezer with some of our favorite weeknight meals in portions for two and a label saying ‘Do not use until Baby is Born!’ This means I can get these lovely homemade dishes out of the freezer in the morning and either pop them in the slow cooker or make something super simple to go with them and reheat. It also makes cooking much easier on my husband or Mum if they are around to help.
We don’t have a microwave so ready meals are out of the question.
Here are some examples of what I’ve been making and freezing:
- Bolognese – I usually make this in large batches in the slow cooker and then freeze down in portions for two. Last time I cooked it I made around eight tubs and have put three of these aside for those first few weeks. The Bolognese can be reheated in a pan and served with either pasta, a jacket potato or even rice.
- Cheese Sauce – Cheese sauce is super versatile and can be used in so many dishes it’s handy o have in the freezer. Having it ready prepared makes things like macaroni cheese, pasta bake and cauliflower cheese really quick and easy to make.
- Dump Bags – Whenever I’ve found reduced meat or veggies in the last few weeks I’ve been making dump bags and adding them to the freezer – I simply blanch the veggies, cool them down and the add to a plastic bag or container with a stock cube and the uncooked meat. These provide a whole meal that can be put in the oven or slow cooker and left without the hassle of prepping and chopping on the day.
- Leftovers- I’ve also been freezing down any leftovers we might have – I’m struggling to eat big meals at the moment but even a small portion of something could make a quick and easy lunch once defrosted and reheated.
Starting a Stockpile
I’ve talked about couponing a lot on the blog before and I’ve also mentioned that recently I’ve been struggling to get my coupon game to where I would like it to be. There been plenty of offers but not having a Tesco nearby seems to really hinder me in terms of what I can get for free. There is also the problem of the supermarkets not having the products when I go looking for them.
However, I’ve decided to make a conscious effort in the coming weeks to do as much as I can and start stockpiling for when money is tighter or when I might not be able to get out to the shops so freely as a new mum. I’ve also been making sure we’re using the shopping apps on my husbands phone too so we can double up on freebies. These are items I’m keeping away from my cupboard until needed.
There are quite a few things that I particularly like the branded versions of, such as tomato ketchup and curry sauce. Also, thanks to offers on Topcashback we’ve already bought all our Easter Eggs and not had to pay a penny for them!
Currently in my food stockpile
- Six Easter Eggs
- Two Bottles of Heinz Ketchup
- Two Jars of Pataks Curry Sauce
- One tub of Bisto Gravy Granules
Total Cost: £3
I’ve also been lucky enough to find lots of baby items cheap such as Pampers baby wipes in Poundland at £2 for six packs and lots of baby bath, talc and oil reduced in Asda after their baby event. I should easily have enough for the first three months, if not longer.
Claiming Maternity Allowance
As I’m self-employed I’ll be claiming Maternity Allowance directly from the government. While I’m claiming MA I won’t be able to make any money from or work on my blog which is currently my main source of income. While I feel I am quite well prepared for this – we have savings and as you can see from above I’m making sure I’ll spend as little as possible in the first few weeks and months of being a new mum, it will still be quite a drop in income and I can see why a lot of self employed Mum’s either continue to work or go back to work fairly soon after their baby is born.
You can apply for MA from around 15 weeks before your baby is due – I’d advise doing this as early as possible to allow yourself time to get it sorted and apply for any other benefits you may also be entitled too. What you can claim depends on how long you’ve been self employed, if you’ve recently had any other type of employment and how much N.I and tax you’ve paid too.
Thinking about Dads Pay too
While all Dad’s that are employed are entitled to a minimum of two weeks of paternity leave, those that are self employed don’t actually get any paternity pay so will need to decide how much time off they can afford to take. If Mum is also self employed this could mean a huge hit to the family finances. Preparing for this as early as possible is key – even if it’s a small amount each week from the time you find out about the pregnancy it could make a huge difference by the time baby is born.
There are a huge amount of freebies available when pregnant and although these are often just sample sizes, they can still add up significant savings. Also many of the free packs come with vouchers and coupons which I plan to use to continue to grow my stock pile and save money in the process.
Here are some of the most Popular baby clubs and the freebies they offer:
Emma’s Diary provides Mum’s to be with three free baby packs as well as plenty of advice and know how on their website. They also provide a free labour pack which should be given to you by your midwife at 32 weeks. Packs can be picked up from Boots, Argos, Asda and other selected retailers although bear in mind stock can be limited so it may take a few attempts to actually get them. It’s also worth noting the vouchers for these packs do need printing off and while there is an app with the codes on many stores don’t accept this yet.
Bounty is a similar club that offers free sample packs, exclusive offers & personalised emails during your pregnancy. Download their app to claim the free pack which includes nappies and wipes and collect from your local Tesco, Boots, ASDA or Superdrug store.
Just a word of warning – Bounty ‘Newborn Photographer’s’ are allowed on some maternity wards – they often have no training and quality of the photos taken is sometimes questionable. Fran from Whinge Whinge Wine thinks that they should banned – read her full post explaining why here.
When I signed up to the SMA baby club I received a free pack of Milestone cards which detail the first 1000 days of baby life including pregnancy announcement, first scan etc right through birth and through babies first few birthdays. While they do have some branding on it would be easy to hide or disguise this for pictures.
I signed up to a attend a mothercare expectant parent event and while the event didn’t really do much for me as a whole, I did get a goody bag with lots of freebies and money off vouchers – including 10% off at mothercare which would have been fab if we had something big like a pram or cot to buy. There was also samples of washing liquid, bio oil, nappy rash cream and a few other products.
While these clubs are great there have been a lot of complaints about unsolicited phone calls and emails after signing up with some of them so it may be worth using a separate email address and old phone number.
Saving on Babies ‘Stuff’
So far, I honestly don’t think we’ve paid full price for anything for the baby. There were so many baby events and sales on in January we’ve managed to grab almost everything we need for much less than the RRP. We are also lucky enough to have been given lots of baby items from family and friends and I’ve been picking up odd bits from Facebook Marketplace too.
Here are five quick ways to save on the cost of baby items if you’re a new Mum
- Facebook is your friend – I’ve seen loads of baby items going for free recently including baby baths, Moses baskets, carry cots, toys and much more.
- Shop online for the big stuff and take advantage of Voucher Codes and Cashback
- Look out for Local nearly new sales – a bit like posh jumble sales specifically for nearly new baby items
- Remember you don’t need everything right away – while it’s nice to be prepared things like stair gates and highchairs can wait until several months after the baby is born
- People are often really generous when a new baby is born so it might be worth focusing on essentials initially and then taking stock again after baby arrives to see what you need.
It’s also really important to take care of you when you’re pregnant – Jenna over at A Balanced Belly has a fantastic Mum-to-be Self Care Gift Guide.