Ask the Expert: I'm worried about how expensive it could be to have a baby
Q: I'VE just found out I'm pregnant but I'm worried about the costs of a new baby when I'm on maternity leave. What's the best way to manage financially during this time?
A: Jacqueline Dewey, managing director of the credit report provider Noddle says: "Having a child can be one of the most exciting, joyful times in our lives, but financially speaking it may be tough. Parents have to try to factor in all the costs of caring for a new baby, such as nappies, clothes, toys and equipment, while on a reduced income.
"I'd recommend starting to buy the essentials as early as possible and look out for offers on things like nappies and baby wipes, as stockpiling these items can save you a lot of money. In terms of clothes, you'll probably get lots as gifts, but look out for offers on the basics, or shop during the sales, and buy them in bigger sizes so you've got them when you need them.
"When thinking about prams, car seats and nursery furniture, make sure you shop around to find the best deals and have a look on some of the many cashback sites to see if they've got any offers as well – as the savings can all add up.
"It's important to try to do as much financial preparation as you can before the baby gets here, to help stave off money worries. Take stock of your finances by checking your credit score to get a snapshot of all your outstanding credit, and use this information to work out where you might be able to cut back, and how much disposable income you have after all your bills and debts are accounted for.
"Once you've worked out what disposable income you have, decide how much you'll put aside as savings each month and try to stick to that amount while you're still on your full income. Working out what your income will be while on maternity leave will help you budget for when the baby comes; the gov.uk website has some helpful information on statutory leave and pay.
"Get familiar with what else you're entitled to as a parent, such as tax credits, child benefits or free prescriptions. There are also lots of schemes and clubs to join that give you discounts or freebies on baby products.
"And finally, use your contacts – friends and family are a great source of second-hand toys, clothes and equipment, as well as recommendations on what you really do or don't need for your new baby."