Parenting - the toughest job you’ll ever love. Parenting PLUS staying on top of your finances? Now that’s a whole other ball game. The last thing a parent wants to do is think about finances. It’s a boring life chore for most people, and becomes (even) scarier when you become a parent - now you have little people depending on you to keep them alive!
However, there is help out there, and ways to ensure you don’t get any nasty financial surprises. So, given the probable lack of time and brain capacity available to you as a parent, we’ve compiled a 3 step guide to help you get started.
Step 1 - Budgeting and planning
As soon as the word “budget” is mentioned, you can almost hear the quiet groans, even remotely.
It may seem like a daunting task, but it can be such a powerful tool. Even the process in itself of sitting down, assessing your situation and considering what might be coming up can have a huge impact.
It is common knowledge that kids are expensive. Nevertheless when it actually happens it can still be quite a shock. For 73% of UK parents in fact. And of these, 22% had absolutely no clue as to how much it would really cost.
“90% of parents overspend on baby goods”
And that averages out to be £5,567 per family per year! That’s crazy. “Overspend” meaning purchased baby products which were not used, or not used enough to warrant the price tag. The average spend is even higher than that at £11,000 in the first year.
Now armed with that knowledge, would you perhaps say that you are more likely to think twice about your next baby purchase and whether you really need it or not? See, the power of budgeting and planning!
It’s never too early or late to budget
The best time to start is as early as possible, but it is never too late to start!
A parent’s budget is unique in that it changes quite significantly over time. The first two years are the most expensive, what with buying necessary big ticket items (pram, car seats), childcare costs, and potentially when you have the least income whilst on maternity / paternity leave.
Although less expensive as the kids get older, it’s still important to continue budgeting and make sure that you have enough set aside to suit your lifestyle and family needs. And even more important to make sure you’re accessing the financial help available to you.
Step 2 - Make sure you’re getting the entitlements you deserve
As a parent, there are a number of benefits and government support available to you depending on your work situation. It is definitely worth checking your eligibility at gov.uk or the government-sponsored Money Advice Service to be sure you are getting what you’re entitled to.
Maternity Pay and Leave
Every working pregnant woman in the UK is entitled to some form of pay and leave. Most working pregnant women will likely qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay and Maternity Leave. How much depends on what your job situation is. You may also be eligible for shared pay and leave with your partner.
If you are not entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay, you may qualify for an allowance which can be paid to you to help cover costs even before the baby is born.
For every child born in the UK, parents are entitled to claim child benefit. How much depends on if you are a single parent or if you and your partner receive other benefits such as income support.
Child Tax Credit
Child tax credit has now been totally replaced by Universal Credit. This is an allowance which covers any child tax credit, housing benefit and income support. This is a means tested benefit which helps you towards living costs as a family.
This is for working families with kids aged 0-11. Although widely available, only 1 in 6 people claim what they’re entitled to, which can be up to £2,000 per year, per child.
Universal Credit for Childcare
You can get up to 85% of eligible childcare costs for kids under the age of 16.
Free Childcare Scheme
There are different tiers to this depending on the age of your child.
All families can get up to 15 hours of free childcare per week, for up to 38 weeks and a maximum of 570 hours per year. This can be “stretched” over 52 weeks, by reducing the number of hours per week.
This is the same deal, but is applicable for families who are already receiving some form of government support.
To be able to use this benefit the childcare you use must be an approved service such as a registered childminder or nanny. Find out more about the different types of childcare here.
Check out your eligibility to and make sure you’re maximising on any help you can get at childcarechoices.gov.uk.
Step 3 - Take the hassle out of day to day management
Now that you’ve planned and prepped, what can you do day to day to stay on top of things?
Don’t forget about your budget! Some people might forget that after doing a budget, the next step is to update it with their actual spend!
It doesn’t need to be daily, but maybe once every week or two, and there are an abundance of tools and apps out there nowadays to make this easier and more convenient (e.g. spreadsheets, account aggregators etc.).
It might also be good to revisit the budget every now and then, to make sure that it’s still relevant. Perhaps you were overly ambitious in terms of how little you wanted to spend on necessities, or you’ve realised that a different form of childcare was best for you and your family. It’s important to avoid unrealistic targets, or run the risk of feeling demotivated and wanting to give up.
Admittedly, when you’re first budgeting for a child, it can be quite difficult to figure out what costs are coming up.
There’s lots of advice for parents online, but we’ve found something that combines everything we needed into one. Introducing: StorkCard a bank account which has been designed specifically for parents and provides lots of useful cost and budgeting tools
With the free StorkCard app, you can get a fully customisable baby budget, which will tell you what costs to expect in the first two years of their life, including childcare costs depending on your lifestyle. All you have to do is enter the baby’s due date / date of birth, how much you’ve already put aside for the baby and the app will do the rest for you.
As well as a budget, StorkCard is a joint account designed for parents, and can be used as a dedicated account to track all of your child-related spending.
To make the lives of parents easier, it also has a “Helper” account, a siloed account and card, which is a huge tick-box for anyone considering a nanny or other home-help.
How to manage finances when you have a nanny
Your nanny is literally the person that you would “trust with your kids”. If you can trust them with your kids, you can trust them with your money too right? But maybe you don’t want to give them full access, like you would with a joint account.
A card for nanny expenses
These days there are lots of easy-to-set-up bank accounts that let you easily add money as needed, and allow you to keep things separate, but this means yet another account and app to keep track of.
Our recommendation is to use Storkcard who combine their parent focused banking app with a very nanny-friendly feature, a “Helper” account.
This is connected to your main StorkCard account, but you have total control over this account and they can only see the information that you choose to share with them. You can top up their account with the necessary funds, so that you don't need to faff with getting out cash or have them being out of pocket, and track what was spent on the kids without having to keep receipts. And it’s so easy to do, just invite your nanny to join when you’re in the app, and their account can be set up in 2 minutes flat!
You can even go one step further, and have your nanny be paid out of your StorkCard account. And just like that, all of your child-related, budgeting, spending and tracking all in one place. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, check it out for free on the App Store, and Google Play store.
Parenting is hard. Let’s make finances easier.
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