Having a baby: financial lessons I’ve learned

Eight weeks ago, I gave birth. As a first-time mum, to say it’s been a steep learning curve would be an understatement. I’ve learned a lot in that short time, from the basics of feeding and settling all the way to what a healthy poo looks like.

I’m also finding out how parenthood impacts one’s finances. While I’m only at the very beginning of my journey, here’s what I’ve found so far.


Nappies cost a bomb

In case you didn’t already know, babies wee and poop a lot. Mine is no exception. Sometimes I change upwards of ten nappies a day. With disposable nappies costing around $40 for a box of 108 the costs quickly add up.

Cloth nappies are typically a more affordable alternative in the long run. There is a large initial outlay but after that the only costs are for cleaning products, electricity and water.

Cloth nappies are also generally kinder to the environment. While the water and energy used to clean cloth nappies still take their toll, cloth nappies are thought to be less detrimental than disposables. One disposable nappy takes 200-500 years to disintegrate and the Union of Concerned Scientists has estimated that an alarming 18 billion diapers are thrown into landfills every year*. Cloth nappies, being cloth, are biodegradable.

But as with anything, there are cons as well as pros. The downside to cloth nappies is that they need to be washed. Continually. From a practical point of view, a time-poor new mother may not have time for all the extra washing.

Unfortunately for both my pocket and the environment, I find myself in this camp. It was a decision I grappled with, but the convenience of disposable nappies wins.

You pay taxes, so accept Government assistance

It’s no secret that dealing with Centrelink is a nightmare. Long queues, seemingly endless call times and confusing processes are all part of the experience. But for many new parents a little financial help from the Government will be worth the pain.

Centrelink offers some new parents financial assistance to help with the cost of raising children. Depending on their situation, new parents could be entitled to payments like the Family Tax Benefit, Parental Leave Pay, Newborn Upfront Payment and Child Care Benefit. You will be means tested when you apply, meaning that your household’s income and assets will be taken into account to determine your eligibility for payment.

The ‘Families’ section of the Department of Human Services website houses information on these payments, as well as a payment estimator which will give you a rough estimate of what you may be entitled to. I also found this article on the BabyCentre website to be useful: www.babycenter.com.au/a562850/government-benefits-for-families

Don’t overspend on things you won’t use

The final lesson I’ve learned is not to go overboard buying clothes, toys and gadgets for baby before she arrives. This takes self control – it’s easy to get caught up buying those adorable little outfits. I admit I went crazy. At the time, I didn’t realise I would receive so many lovely gifts from my gorgeous family and friends. The result is a wardrobe bigger than my own. This is a picture of what I bought on just one shopping trip early on in my pregnancy. Naughty!

baby clothes

Unfortunately my little one has already outgrown many of her clothes. Hopefully we can give her a little sister one day so that some of the items get decent wear out of them!




* http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=789465&page=1