Inspect your regular outgoings. Are you getting the best deal from your mortgage and credit cards? Visit www.uswitch.com to see if you’re with the cheapest energy suppliers, and browse www.moneysavingexpert.com for other hints and tips. Pay your bills by direct debit – many companies offer a discount if you settle this way, and it’s much less hassle for you.
Don’t forget to claim all the benefits you can (your statutory maternity pay and your child benefit, for example) – check your entitlement at www.dwp.gov.uk/lifeevent/famchild.
Everyone can earn a certain amount every year (a ‘personal allowance’, currently £5,225) without being taxed for it. You could pick up some pocket money – maybe with data entry or leaflet delivery? Put your extra income into a high-interest savings account – you can put £3,000 a year into a tax-free ISA (individual savings account). Check www.hmrc.gov.uk for the latest regulations.
Don’t be afraid to surf the web for baby gear – great for when your bump’s too big to get round the shops. Scour eBay for bargains, but remember these auctions aren’t covered by the same consumer laws as when you buy from a shop (in real life or online). It’s Buyer Beware – you have to inspect the item and be satisfied it’s up to scratch, and the seller doesn’t have to disclose defects. Alternatively, sell the items you and your baby are finished with, and recoup some of your outlay!
Got friends with babies a little older than yours? Don’t be shy to accept hand-me-downs. Trawl the high-street charity shops or NCT sales (www.nct.org.uk ) for a bargain, too. You could even set up a BabyGift list at Bump to 3 (www.bumpto3.com ), then family and friends can log on to buy presents you really need.
Finally, try borrowing toys from your local toy library – click on to www.natll.org.uk or ring 020 7255 4604.
A final tip
Don’t economise on a car seat (which may have been damaged in a accident) or a cot mattress, because of the possible link between bacteria in the mattress and cot death. Buy these items new. Scour the internet for bargain buys!