Baby steps to better savings

Overwhelmed by the cost of having a baby? From smart shopping to savvy savings, try these small changes that can make all the difference.

At home, consider these options before you blow the budget on cute baby clothes and furniture:

  • Rent baby equipment – it’s natural to want all the goods including cots, changing tables and car capsules, but it’s inevitable that some items will be used less than others or will be outgrown very quickly. Instead of committing to the full price of items you may not use for long, try one of the growing number of baby rental services; ask at your hospital for a list of resources.
  • Get as much use out of items as possible. Reserve disposable baby wipes for when you’re out and about, and stick to cloth towels and water when you’re at home.
  • Embrace hand-me-downs and resist temptation to spend up big on baby fashion. Your child will grow out of clothes so quickly they might not even wear that designer onesie you think your infant can’t live without. Also, unless your child is already walking there’s no need to buy baby shoes – socks will do just fine.
  • If you can breastfeed, don’t stop before you’re ready – you don’t need to finish at six months just because one of your friends did, and it will save you hundreds of dollars on formula. Do invest in a good breast pump, though. Once your child is on solids, puree steamed chicken and vegetables and mash fruit – freshly made food goes much further than a baby meal in a jar.

And with a little money management, you can get ahead without making major sacrifices:

Don’t try to round up some savings if you’ve already got a parcel of debt. Credit debt earns about two or three times more interest than your savings, so you’re just going backwards.

Find a balance transfer credit card to move that debt into a nice low interest rate – but don’t put any purchases on it until it’s paid!

Bearing the first point in mind, if you do have a low low balance transfer interest rate, you could trying stoozing. That’s when you only pay the minimum due on your balance transfer and put the rest of your repayment money into a savings account that will earn you high interest. So if you’re balance transfer costs 3% and your savings earn 6%, you make the difference. (Not a fortune, but very satisfying.) Just make sure to pay off the credit card when the balance transfer expires!