Your new baby is the love of your life. But alas, your (rapidly emptying) bank account isn’t. So we’ve enlisted expert advice to help you cope with your dwindling income
Of course, if you qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity Allowance it’s a Godsend. But, unfortunately your income will be substantially less despite the fact you’ve an extra mouth to feed plus you still have the same bills to pay.
So your lifestyle can become as tight and uncomfortable as a pair of size-too-small Spanx. But there are some easy ways you can save yourself loads of money to make life easier with a reduced income.
Pain free saving. Er, this exists? Yes, it actually does. Let’s take credit cards for instance. ‘Shop around for a cheaper balance transfer card,’ says Dan Plant from Moneysavingexpert.com. ‘You can save quite a bit on interest which means you’ll make a lower minimum payment each month.’
But if you’re able to pay your credit card bills back in full each month and have no debt, get a card that gives you a reward, like cash back. ‘There are certain cards that pay you money for spending,’ Dan tells us. ‘So say you spend £100, you might get a reward of 1.25 per cent in cash back.’
The catch? ‘If you want to make a profit,’ says Dan, ‘you must pay the full amount each month.’ Damn.
A cheaper mortgage
Speak to your mortgage broker about ways you can reduce your payments. Over to Dan. ‘There are things you can do like extending your mortgage term which will decrease your payments, but increase the length of time you’re paying it off,’ he says. Or you can move to interest-only mortgage payments, temporarily – but be aware that in future you’ll obviously have to pay more back.’
Lower gas/electricity bills
There are loads of comparison websites that will help you find the cheapest rates. And some providers will even pay you a reward for switching to them. Dan advises also registering with Cheap Energy Club (set up by moneysavingexpert.com) as this remembers your current tariff and when cheaper ones are launched you’ll be notified. ‘It’s great if you’re time poor,’ he says.
If you can pay your credit card bills in full each month, get one that gives you a reward
Reduced mobile phone bill
‘If you’re near the end of your contract call your network provider and ask to be put through to the cancellations department,’ Dan tells us. ‘What they’ll do is transfer you to the customer retention department who’ll do all they can to keep you by offering you a better deal.’ Research the best deals on the market first so you know what’s out there.
‘It’s best to do your grocery shop online because you’re less tempted by unnecessary things than if you’re pushing a trolley down the aisle,’ Dan says. Why not try a ‘downsizing’ challenge. For instance, if you always buy a premium brand of muesli, try getting the next cheapest brand. If you don’t notice the difference, don’t buy the expensive brand again.
Bargains on nappies, baby wipes, creams etc
Check out mysupermarket.com – it’ll tell you which places have offers (and if you can’t get to the store in person, you can order online). ‘Boots and Superdrug also have great offers and parenting clubs which offer discounts, as do Tesco, and Early Learning Centre to name a few,’ he adds.
He also suggests looking at Amazon Family – it costs £49 to be member but you get a free three-month trial and £10 off if you spend £50 or more. ‘You can join, use the discount, then end your membership (if you want to) before the free trial ends.’
Tesco Club Card is the most popular loyalty scheme in the country. But Dan says the big mistake people make is spending their vouchers on food shopping only. ‘You can boost the value of your points – for instance, if you buy theme park tickets using your Tesco Club Card, you can get three or four times the value of the points you would if you use your card for just food.
'They’ve now got a permanent new offer called Boost With Tesco – on departments such as baby and toddler, clothing and cookware – where you earn double the points.’