15 ways for new parents to save money

Single father managing monthly expenses at home.

by Laura Riddell |
Published on

It's an exciting time, but welcoming a new baby can add to the financial strain of a household budget, especially considering how the cost of living has jumped so high in recent years. If you're normally a two income household, maternity pay can be a struggle, so clever ways to budget and spending your money savvily are must have skills for new parents.

But, with helpful advice from financial experts and all you need to know about your entitlements as a new parents, here's how new parents can save cash.

1. Reuse

The cost of nappies, wipes and breast pads can really add up. So, you might want to consider switching to reusable, washable options. This will not only take pressure off your bank balance, but will also help the environment. In 2021, the government's money advice service estimated an overall saving of £1,475 over the first two and a half years if you switched to reusable nappies.

Alongside this, it's been found that local authorities can save up to £11 in their waste disposal budget for every £1 spent on reusable nappy schemes. To encourage more families to try reusable nappies, many councils offer vouchers, cash back offers, trail nappies or discounts. In some areas, you could get a voucher worth up to £70 to help with the upfront cost of buying reusable nappies, or to put towards a washable nappy laundry service. So, it might be worth contacting your local council to enquire if they've got such a scheme in operation. And if they don't, you might consider writing to your local councillors and asking them to introduce one. For more information visit nappyalliance.co.uk

2. Make the most of discounts

When you're on maternity leave, it can be tricky to make ends meet with the reduction in earnings. So, make the most of discounts to help your money stretch further. Some brands offer Mum to be, Bump to Baby and New Family packs. The contents vary but most include samples and vouchers off baby products.

Sign up to parenting clubs, such as Pampers Club, Beaming Baby Trial pack, Ella's Kitchen Friend, Pura baby wipes freebies, Boots Parenting Club, and Piccolo Family Club, for freebies and discounts, and follow your favourite baby brands on social media so you're alerted as soon as any big discounts or flash sales become available.

Also, many online stores offer discounts on your first purchase when you sign up for their email list. Sign up to Boots Parenting Club and download the Boots app for free gifts and extra points when you when you purchase baby items. Your Nectar Prices are personalised discounts in the Nectar app that you can get alongside regular Nectar Prices. These are based on the things you buy most (so if you're stocking up on lots of nappies, baby food etc).

Sainsbury’s Baby & Toddler Events are the perfect time to stock up on all your essentials. Buying wipes, nappies, clothes and all those items you use the most when they are on offer means you won’t need to buy them again for ages. Keep an eye out or Baby & Toddler events in-store and online. You might also find it cost effective to bulk buy baby products through Amazon, or to team up with other new mums to buy wholesale.

3. Swap/Borrow/Hire

Avoid spending money by borrowing or swapping baby stuff with friends and family. Sign up to local community groups on Facebook and search on sites such as Gumtree and Freecycle, where people doing a clear out will be happy to pass on clothes, baby equipment or toys they no longer need for free. Also, there are lots of companies popping up, such as thelittleloop.com where you can hire branded clothes for growing little ones. Many local councils also have toy libraries that allow you to hire toys suitable for your little ones age and stage instead of forking out full price for them, and companies such as whirli.com allow you to rent toys. When it comes to books, get yourself down to the library, or find books for pennies on Vinted.

4. Buy preloved

You'll be amazed at what you can find in charity shops and at car boots sales. Buying clothes, toys and baby books from these places will save you a fortune, and your little one won't care where these items came from. Charity shops, car boots, Facebook Marketplace and Vinted can be a treasure trove of pre-loved baby products, from clothes to buggies and other baby equipment. Once you realise the bargains to be had, you'll feel foolish for thinking of paying full whack to begin with!

5. Buy products that will last a lifetime

When making big purchases, try to find products that will grow with your child. For example, a car seat suitable from birth to age 12, a highchair that converts into a toddler chair, and a cot that converts into a bed. These purchases will likely mean a larger initial cost. But it'll save money in the long run. Also consider multi-use items, such as a bedside crib that's portable and can compactly fold so you can take it on your travels instead of purchasing a separate travel cot. And, make sure to sign up to and check cashback sites such at TopCashback to ensure you're making savings, especially on big purchases.

6. Feeding on a budget

An 800g tin of formula milk can cost up to £18. And there's the added cost of the bottles, teats and steriliser. So, if possible, breastfeeding will save you money. When it comes to baby weaning, keep it simple and budget friendly. Save money by avoiding ready meals and home cook simple recipes instead, avoiding added sugar and salt. Carrot, sweet potato, parsnips, swede, cauliflower and broccoli are good introductory foods. If you get a chance, drawing up a toddler meal plan and batch cooking and freezing will ensure your baby gets healthy food and it will actually save you time in the long run. You'll see a range of 'baby specific' food on the market - baby porridge, baby rice etc. But this will just cost you more and there's no reason your baby can't eat the normal family versions of these products. Life can get hectic and there will of course be times when you need to rely on baby food pouches and snacks. But products from budget friendly supermarkets like Aldi can be a lot cheaper than from leading baby brands.

7. Create a babysitters' club

Depending on where you live, babysitters can cost up to £20 an hour - add that to the cost of dinner, drinks and taxis and you might not be bothered to go out at all! Heidi Skudder from Positively Parenthood says: 'Save money on babysitting costs by asking friends or family members to help out for a few hours. We are so bad at asking for help in today's world, that we forget that often, friends and family are happy to help out. As a mother of three, I have had to teach myself to be OK with asking for a few hours of babysitting here or there from friends and family. I still don't always love asking, but it saves hiring a nanny or babysitter and almost all of the time, your friends or family are honoured to be asked.'

8. Keep things simple

Lucy Shrimpton, Sleep & Wellbeing expert and founder of The Sleep Nanny says: 'Don't over-complicate the nursery unless it brings you joy. Remember your baby won't care what the nursery looks like at such a young age. So, keep things simple.' Before you buy anything, ask yourself three things: 1. Is it practical? 2. Will it save you time? 3. How long a you use it for? If it's under a month - or even six months - is there an alternative cheaper option?

9. Do your research

Make sure you shop around and try before you buy. You will be bombarded with advice from friends and family, books, and influencers about what products you need as a new mum or dad. But the best thing to do is really consider what you're missing and what would actually make your life easier. Don't splurge on an expensive gadget that you'll never use, as you'll probably regret it further down along the line. Ask yourself - do you really need a fancy nappy disposal bin with pricey scented bags, or a special baby food blender?

10. Find free events

Family days out can get really expensive. So, searching for free places to visit with the kids is a great idea to keep little ones entertained for less. Galleries, museums, and country parks are all great places to spend a day with the kids without breaking the bank.

It’s also worth looking out for 2-for-1 tickets and free child tickets on product packaging next time you’re doing your food shop. These vouchers are normally available for bigger attractions and can help you make some big savings. And a lot of big attractions tend to offer parent & toddler weekday tickets at a cheaper price.

Head to your local library to take part in a host of free classes to keep little ones entertained during the week. Most libraries run free rhyme time and story time classes for babies and toddlers. These sessions are a great way to help you save money on expensive club memberships, plus you’ll be able to meet other parents. Church groups often host toddler events, and these are usually open to the whole community regardless of religious belief.

11. Free prescriptions

In England, you qualify for free prescriptions while you're pregnant and for a year after the baby is born, and you're also entitled to free NHS dental care during this time. You can claim by filling out a Maternity Exemption form (FW8), which is available from your GP or midwife.

12. Child benefit

Child Benefit is worth £25.60 per week for the oldest or only child, and £16.95 per week for each additional child. It can be claimed by parents or guardians once you have registered your child's birth and can be claimed up the age of 16, or 20 if your child stays in education or training.

It's a boost to your household finances. But alongside this, Child Benefit ensures parents qualify for National Insurance credits, which can help protect their state pension, and it also helps children automatically receive a National Insurance number when they reach 16. To check eligibility and make a claim visit GOV.UK Child Benefit can be used with Tax-Free Childcare.

13. Free childcare

Childcare is one of the biggest costs facing working parents. But, from September 2025, working parents will be able to claim 30 hours of government-funded childcare a week from when their child is nine months old, up until the child starts school. This is being rolled out in stages to allow childcare providers time to implement the changes.

Eligible working parents of two-year-olds are now able to access 15 hours childcare. Eligible working parents of three- and four-year-olds are also able to access 30 hours of government-funded childcare.

From September 2024, 15 hours childcare support will be extended to eligible working parents with a child aged from nine-months-old.

From September 2025, this will be extended to 30 hours.

These hours can be used over 38 weeks of the year during school term time, or up to 52 weeks if you use fewer than your total hours per week.

Working parents must each earn more than £9,518 and neither one of you can earn more than £100,000 per year to be eligible.

14. Tax-Free Childcare

What is Tax-Free Childcare?

It's a government funded top-up scheme to help eligible families across the UK with their childcare costs. Working families, including those who are self-employed, can receive up to £2,000 a year per child - or £4,000 if your child is disabled - to put towards the cost of childcare. Simply put, for every £8 paid into a Tax-Free Childcare account, the government tops it up with another £2.

You can receive up to £500 (or £1,000 if your child is disabled) every three months for each eligible child. In 2022-23, more than 650,000 families benefitted from Tax-Free Childcare. But thousands more could be eligible. The scheme is for working parents or guardians who:

  • have a child or children aged up to 11. They stop being eligible on 1 September after their 11th birthday. If your child has a disability, you can receive support until 1 September after their 16th birthday

  • earn, or expect to earn, at least the National Minimum Wage or Living Wage for 16 hours a week, on average

  • each earn up to £100,000 per annum

  • do not receive tax credits, Universal Credit or childcare vouchers

The benefits of using Tax-Free Childcare

One of the benefits of using Tax-Free Childcare is the flexibility. Because it can be used for any approved childcare provider, you can pay childminders, nurseries and nannies, and before and after school clubs. If you use a combination of childcare providers, you can use it to pay them all. It can also be used alongside the 15 or 30 hours free childcare offers, and to help pay for any specialist equipment needed for a disabled child when they're attending childcare. It can also be used if you have more than one child and they attend different settings. Each eligible child requires a separate Tax-Free Childcare account. So, you'll need to register an account for each child. The government top-up is then applied to deposits made for each child, not household.

How to open an account

It's simple to open a Tax-Free Childcare account and takes about 20 minutes via GOV.UK Accounts can be opened at any time of the year, money deposited at any time of day, and it can be used straight away. Any unused money in the account can be withdrawn at any time.

Parents will receive a reminder from HMRC every three months to confirm their details are up to date so they can continue receiving the government top-up. You can ask your childcare provider if they're signed up. And if not, urge them to go to Childcare Choices for more details of how to sign up and what it means for them.

15. Plan ahead

Now that you've got the basics of making the most of your money after welcoming a new child, it's time to get further savings in motion by getting into the habit of planning ahead. Keeping an eye out on sale and buying out for season is a great way to significantly reduce the amount of money you spend. For example, in the end of summer sales, stock up on shorts and t-shirts in the next size up to be worn the following year. Or in the Christmas sales, grab those reduced price kiddie Christmas jumpers, and reduced gift wrapping paper. Plan ahead for kids parties by stocking up on treats when they're on offer and putting aside gifts purchased in sales. Planning ahead not only means you get items at the best price, but it also helps to spread the cost of big spend times of the year such as Christmas and birthdays.

Laura Riddell is a freelance writer for Mother&Baby, in her day-to-day role she is Assistant Editor on our sister brand Take a Break magazine. She specialises in real-life stories and has won a Bauer Media Award for Real-Life Story of the Year. She edits Take a Break Super Savers, sharing inspirational real-life savers stories, advice from experts, and practical small steps readers can take to improve their finances. So, she's a great source for tips on saving money as a family.

Laura also runs the Family Days Out section of Take a Break’s website, and has a particular interest in subjects relating to parenting and family life.

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