If you want to start a family, planning ahead (if possible!) makes it much easier to budget and stay in control of your finances during such a special time of life.

Financial planner and mum of two, Rebecca Pritchard says there are three major considerations when planning your saving and budgeting priorities: context, priorities and preferences, and these are personal to you and your partner.

  1. Context: If you have suffered a miscarriage, for example, you might feel reassured by having your baby in the private system. If you have an existing back problem and already see a physio, you might budget for additional appointments.
  2. Priorities: Consider if you want a new pram but are happy to have a second-hand change table. Are second-hand maternity clothes ok but not baby clothes?
  3. Preferences: What’s most important to you, buying brand names and having the very best or everything, or choosing second-hand, or sustainable products such as cloth nappies?

Additionally, as birth plans don’t always pan out the way you expect it pays to over-estimate, if you can.

Planning ahead makes it much easier to budget and stay in control of your finances during such a special time of life.

Budgeting for a baby

It’s not as exciting as choosing things for your baby, some of the first things to consider is parental leave and insurance policies: income, medical and life. There’s no question these policies impact your financial health.

Find out from your employer what your parental leave entitlements are, and consider getting your partner to save annual leave or long-service leave to add to their often very short parental leave. Also check if you’re entitled to government paid maternity leave, and how and when you need to apply for it – if you miss the cut off date, you can miss out altogether.

If you have private health insurance, check that you have opted in for maternity cover, and make sure you understand the waiting periods as they are often 12 months.

Income protection can be beneficial particularly as you’re likely to drop down to one income at least for a period of time. Similarly, once you have a child, life insurance becomes more important as that support them.

You should also consider reviewing your will, or making one if you haven’t already done so.

Depending on how far in advance you are planning, you might want a specific ‘Family’ savings account to support the outgoings during pregnancy and first few months after the birth, and longer if you are factoring in a buffer to cover a reduced income.

Rebecca Pritchard also recommends considering a specific transaction account so that both parents can buy baby-related goods without it coming out of one or other’s personal spending account, for example.

It’s worth getting your paperwork up to date ahead of starting a family.

Medical expenses during pregnancy

Australia has one of the best public health systems in world and the main cost of having a baby in hospital is covered by Medicare, as are routine blood tests and scans during pregnancy.

Medicare pays for your hospital stay, midwives and shared care. If using the public system, talk to your GP about potential unforeseen costs and ask about registering for the safety net.

With private insurance, you’ll pay an additional premium to cover maternity so that should be factored into your budget too. The costs for your hospital stay will depend on the fund you are with, the level of cover, the hospital itself, your obstetrician and so on.

You can also opt to be a private patient in a public hospital, which significantly reduces out-of-pocket expenses.

New, second-hand, or pass

Preference plays a big role in many of these items, so it’s important to think about what you’d accept from your sister or friend, or buy second-hand from Facebook Marketplace etc. Similarly, what are your items that must be new? While not a definite list, here is some food for thought.

First, can your existing car fit a baby car seat…?

Cot and/or bassinet, mattress/es and bedding

Pram and/or stroller; waterproof cover/s; sunshades

Car seat, mirror (so you can see your baby), and window shades

Change table, change mat and change bag

Rocking or breastfeeding chair (plus footstool, plus cushion for your back)

Breast pump and accessories

Nursery aesthetics (soft toys, wall hangings, floor rug, mosquito net for bassinet, plants)

Washing basket

Baby clothes, sleepsuits and sleeping bag

Baby wipes (reusable / disposable)

Nappies (reusable / disposable)

Nappy bags / nappy bin

Baby monitor

Thermometer

Muslin wraps

Dummies

Mum’s wellbeing

Much of this will be based on context – continued health and personal care, wants and needs (extra chiro for existing hip pain etc).

Gym, PT or prenatal fitness or yoga classes

Nutrition – vitamins, nutritionist

Dermatology – skincare products and additional skincare needs as your body changes

Women’s physio – pelvic floor

Maternity clothes

Acupuncture – to bring on labour

Post-partum nutrition – food services or special requirements

Pre-birth personal care – eyelashes, nails, hair removal, pedicure etc

Hospital stay and bringing baby home

Additional costs quickly add up and some of these might not be on your radar.

Hospital bag (including breast pads, sanitary towels or disposable undies; dressing gown, slippers, PJs, earplugs, eye masks…)

Doula or private midwife fees

Parking at the hospital

Additional childcare if you already have a toddler etc

Assistance with housework; a dog walker

Newborn photos (in hospital or after)

Registering baby …

AND now, your new life begins!