Deciding when to bring a bundle of joy, and indeed how many of them, into your lives is the great question facing most couples. Arguably deciding when you are physically and emotionally ready is the most important debate to have. However, one that often gets forgotten is the less interesting, but no less significant, issue of financial security.
Let’s face it, we in Generation Y have it pretty difficult when it comes to standards of living. In fact, we’re being squeezed such that parents today are propping up their children up until an average age of 31! And with the trend going in its current direction, who knows how the picture will look in a decade or two’s time?
It’s not about scaremongering – all it means is that it’s crucial to have a plan in terms of family finances, and to make use of all the helpful cost-saving options at your disposal…
Amazon Family targets parents (although not exclusively) and offers great monthly discounts to signed-up members – along with 20 per cent off all nappies. It comes with a free 30-day trial period, and you can cancel at any time in that window without then having to pay a penny of the £79 monthly fee. So sign up, stock up, and then make a run for it. Oh, and you’ll also get Amazon Prime free for those 30 glorious days too!
You can also make use of this handy tool to find other hefty Amazon discounts.
Women who have given birth over the preceding year are entitled to free NHS dental care and prescriptions throughout the UK. This is also true for eye tests, depending on where you live. They might not be life-changing savers, but these are handy freebies indeed, and it makes sense to take advantage of them while you can.
Be thrifty with Prams
The prices of prams and strollers these days never cease to amaze me, with many people I speak to paying well over £1,000 for theirs. It seems a crazy amount of money, and the truth is that it need not be spent, especially with such good deals available on second-hand wheels. Nevertheless, if you insist on buying new, be sure to get some advice on models from sites like Mumsnet and Buggy Advice. Once you’ve done that, the Megashopbot comparison tool is your friend for finding the best possible deal.
Get paid to have your say
Without even leaving your house, you can earn hundreds of pounds by taking part in online parenting surveys (or non-parenting ones too). They generally pay between £1 – £5 per survey, and don’t often take more than a few minutes of your time. Sites like iSay, Swagbucks, Crowdology and many more are reputable, so, if you haven’t already, set up a Paypal account and start giving your feedback on, well, anything!
Save for the future
Finding discounts and boosting your income is actually the easy part. Finding a decent place to put your savings for the long-term? Not so much. Banks generally pay poor interest on savings, and even Cash ISA rates have plummeted in recent years. Stocks & shares tend to be more for the brave and/or knowledgeable. So it’s handy that a middle ground, known as peer-to-peer lending, has emerged. It’s riskier than putting money in the bank as returns aren’t guaranteed, but by lending directly to fellow consumers via these online platforms, returns of 5-6 per cent are pretty standard – especially with the new ISA which has recently been launched for this.
Hopefully these five pointers will set you on your way, and of course there are many other ways to get the most out of your pennies. So don’t panic about money. It just needs a bit of careful budgeting, some good-old sensible discipline, and then there’s no reason to believe you and your family can’t have a very happy and secure future.