In our opinion, there’s little anybody can say to prepare a new parent for the life changing effects of meeting their first child. Have you ever seen new parents in the delivery room? That’s love at first sight, literally. It’s difficult to believe such a little person can bring you to your knees.
But, even more unbelievable, is the big financial impact this tiny human being brings to the household budget. It’s something very few new parents are adequately prepared for. And, unless you’ve built enough margin into your budget, money management tends to be a hit and miss during the first year of your baby’s life.
The Unexpected Costs Of Having a Baby
Most parents believe a comprehensive medical aid is the biggest expense in preparation for your little one. Followed closely by disposable nappies. But, medical aids only cover 100-200% of prescribed minimum benefits (PMBs), while many of the specialists (like the anesthetist in the delivery room) can charge up to five times that. This results in co-payments that can range from R1,000 to R11,000. For your personal account.
A lot of gynaecologists and other specialists also charge cash up front which you claim back from your medical aid. Then there’s the newborn hearing screening during your postnatal hospital stay. And, did we mention all the immunisations?
In the first year, expect to change up to 5,000 nappies. You can budget for between R800 and R1,000 per month, for nappies alone, in your first few months. During this stage, your baby will need about 12 nappy changes every day. Then there’s wet wipes. If you buy bulk packs, you shouldn’t spend more than R200 per month. Plus up to R200 per month on bum cream. Thereafter, there’s also nappy rash cream, if things go south.
We’ve all heard it: breastfeeding is best (this applies to the mothers, of course). It’s healthier for your baby, it helps you lose your baby weight faster, it’s cheaper. Cheaper, but not free. The costs of breastfeeding accessories is one of the biggest surprises for new, frugal mommies. Disposable breast pads (your boobs will leak breast milk), will cost you a minimum of R60 for a pack of 36, which lasts about a week. Nipple cream costs between R89 and R200, and it is an absolute must-have. A breast pump can be anything between R200 and R7,000. And, finally, 10 of those Avent reusable breast milk storage cups are about R300 or more.
If you’re buying everything new, you’re going to be looking at an absolute minimum of R4,000. That includes your cot, mattress, your compactum, baby bath, baby monitor, bath thermometer, and humidifier. If you’re planning on looking at the premium brands, you’re looking at upwards of R20,000.
Nannies will cost upwards of R4 000 per month, and that’s for a non-live-in. A more experienced child minder will be more. You may consider including transport costs and providing meals, which is standard practice in most homes. CPR and first aid courses will cost approximately R400 to R1,000, but is once-off and absolutely necessary for your peace of mind and your baby’s safety.
Four Tips To Budget Well For Baby’s Arrival
The first thing you must do when starting a family, is to plan your budget. Paying for an extra dependant on a medical aid (R300 to R1,000 per month), baby-proofing your home, transporting the baby, these are all things to be considered. There are bound to be expenses you miss, so make sure you have an emergency savings fund dedicated to the new member of your family.
Cover The Gap
Even the most comprehensive medical aids can’t cover the rising cost of private medical care. Before you enter the maternity ward, find out from your gynecologist who the other specialists will be in the room and whether they charge medical aid rates. Also, get yourself a good gap cover plan for your family. It covers up to five times medical scheme tariffs for any in-hospital procedures.
While baby may take centre stage of your household’s money management, it’s important not to let that new baby smell cloud your judgement. Make sure you plan your finances in a way that balances your child’s current and future expenses, with your existing financial obligations. Your number one priority is still to pay off debt and save for retirement.
You have no idea how much money baby showers save new parents. Make a list of the items you need for friends and family. Also, don’t be too hung up on buying everything new for your child. Some parents get offended by unsolicited donations, but accepting a second-hand pram or cot, from a well-meaning relative, can go a long way to covering other unexpected costs.