Your new baby will make you re-examine areas of your life you used to take for granted. The first is usually your finances. It does not matter how much you or your spouse is earning. What is important is knowing where you are now, where you want to go and planning a way to get there:
1 SET GOALS
Your financial goals reflect what’s most important to you and your family. Goals help you manage money and motivate you to budget and plan. Together with your spouse, list down:
- Short term goals: achievable in a few weeks or months like a weekend trip or new clothes.
- Medium term goals: achievable within one to five years such as a car or a computer.
- Long term goals: achievable within five to ten years like a house or your child’s education.
How much to save for each goal depends on you and your spouse. Discuss this together openly and come to an agreement you are both happy with and can manage.
2 KEEP TRACK
The first step to achieving your goals is to formulate a sound spending plan. Start by recording your household expenditure for eight weeks. Your aim is not to cut down but to find answers to these questions:
- Where and how do you spend your money?
- How much you owe every month?
- How much is left at the end of the month?
So, are your spending habits in shape? If you find that you have nothing left by month’s end, you need to assess your habits. Ask yourself:
- Which household items can you switch to a more economical brand?
- Do your grocery lists contain ‘nice to have’ items rather than necessities?
- Review your luxury expenses (eg. electrical goods, magazine subscriptions, beauty treatments, entertainment, etc). Which ones can you do without?
4 PLAN IT
Now that you know your spending patterns, you can whip up a spending plan that will work for your family. Here’s how:
- State your monthly total income
- Add up your total expenses
- Set aside a fixed amount for emergencies or seasonal expenses like road tax or insurance renewals.
If you have money left over after this, that is good news. You are one step closer to achieving your goals. If not, you need to revisit Step 3 and reduce unnecessary expenses.
NEW BABY MONEY TRAPS
Many new parents willingly splurge on the best for their precious new baby. Here are some things to remember before loosening those purse strings: plan what you need to buy, stay away from ‘oh-so-cute’ but unnecessary items, bargain for a lower price when possible, buy in bulk if you have enough cash and try to shop during sales periods.
Spend smart and baby will look like a million bucks without your having to actually spend a million.