Mum tips to keep your pre-baby budget in check

There's an app for that
There's an app for that Photo: Getty Images

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Money might be funny in a rich man's world (or so ABBA told us), but for the rest of us it's a major consideration – particularly before having a baby.

It's an interesting time in your financial life, with reduced income and a new set of costs. That's right: as well as giving birth to a baby you're about to see a whole lot of new expenses be born.

It's really easy for those expenses to blow out to epic proportions during pregnancy, leaving you in a not-so-great position when baby arrives, so it's important to keep your spending under control.

Don't know where to start? We spoke to some mums to find out how they did it.

Know your expenses

The first thing to do is to get a realistic idea of what pregnancy and life with a baby is going to cost.

Mum of two, Donna, says she was worried about the financial impact of taking time off work, and needed to remove the mystery in order to feel better about it. "I sat down and did a fully detailed spreadsheet before having my first baby, so I could estimate how much outgoing and incoming there would be," she says. "It put my mind at ease about being able to afford a year off."

The expenses of pregnancy are important to budget for, because they can take you by surprise: there are doctors' appointments, obstetrician visits, hospital expenses, ultrasounds and perhaps specialised antenatal classes. Knowing what's coming up will help you gain some control over your costs. There are useful baby budget calculators online that can help too.

Maternity clothing: what do you really need?

There are so many beautiful – and highly expensive – maternity clothes available. Remember, though, that you'll only need these clothes for a few months, so don't go overboard.

Lisa says her strategy was to get by with as many pre-pregnancy clothes as possible. "I bought one $70 dress and one $40 breastfeeding top and they were splurges. Everything else was cheap dresses or tights, mostly ones I already owned," she says.

There are a few ways to reduce your maternity wardrobe costs:

- Get yourself a few key wardrobe items that will wash and wear

- Borrow maternity clothes from friends

- Belly bands are a great option, too: they fit to your pants and skirts so you can wear your pre-pregnancy clothes through the months of your expanding belly

Use an app for your budget

Using a budgeting app gives you a synchronised, always up-to-date version for both you and your partner.

This is something that Jane and her partner have found useful. "We just use a simple spreadsheet, using the Google Docs app that's on both our phones," she explains. "That way we don't have to have constant conversations about what's budgeted for or how much we can afford."

The best thing about an app like this is it's always with you so, when you're shopping, you can check in with the figures to make sure you're not blowing the budget.

Have a buffer zone

Kerry, a mum of one, thought she'd work right up to within about a month of her due date. Life had other ideas.

"I worked in retail, so I was on my feet all day," she says. "I developed pre-eclampsia and also had quite a bad back, so I just couldn't keep working for as long as I'd thought I would. I had to leave when I was 30 weeks, and even that felt like a struggle."

She was relieved that she'd thought to start saving while trying to conceive; this savings account got her through when work didn't, well, work.

All of this shows that money really is an important part of planning for life as parents.

This article is sponsored by CUA