THE BLOG
04/05/2018 06:22 SAST | Updated 15/05/2018 11:56 SAST

Financial Life-Hacks For New Parents From Super-Mum Rachel Kolisi

Many mums and expectant mums are often not prepared for the mounting financial obligations that come with babies.

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This Mother's Day is sure to be the first for thousands of mums out there, who can all declare that nothing beats the indescribable glow of holding our little ones in our arms.

However many mums and expectant mums are often not prepared for the mounting financial obligations that come with babies, and are often stunned when their maternity salary is not nearly enough to cover these costs — or when their savings come up short, thanks to the hidden costs of motherhood.

As a career woman and mother of four, I've learnt to juggle multiple roles -having recently had another baby, I have become well versed in both the hidden expenses of raising a child and how to curb them.

Ahead of Mother's Day, I would like to share some of the challenges I faced and my best tips on tackling them.

Be aware of the unforeseen expenses:

1. Maxed out medical aid

A sickly baby can max out medical aid within a few months (a visit to the paediatrician is around R500-R1,000. And not all medical aid plans even cover doctor visits.

2. Gym

Exercise is a perfect way to release endorphins, and those exercise classes have been shown to combat postnatal depression. Most mums forget to budget for gym memberships, which can be anything from R300-R900 a month.

3. Formula

If you choose not to breastfeed or struggle with the process, you'll need to supplement with formula, which is usually about R100-R500 for an average 800g tin.

It is important to review your financial situation as soon as you find out you're expecting, to plan ahead for your maternity leave and beyond.

4. Car seats

Unfortunately, kids do outgrow their car seats — sometimes, after only a year of use — and these cost anything from R600 to R6,000 to replace. I've got three of them.

5. Babysitters

We're lucky to have relatively affordable childcare options in SA, but nannies are still pricey, costing around R4,000 to R10,000 a month. Babysitters can be anything from R60 to R200 per hour.

It is important to review your financial situation as soon as you find out you're expecting, to plan ahead for your maternity leave and beyond.

I asked my sisterhood of moms to share their best financial hacks to make their money go the distance:

1. Start a baby fund: I think that it is important to review your financial situation as soon as you find out you're expecting, to plan ahead for your maternity leave and beyond. Begin with opening savings accounts to align with your new financial goals and responsibilities: like future school fees, an emergency fund, or a nursery decoration fund. Link these to your main account so you can easily transfer funds across and capitalise on interest.

2. Cut small costs when you can

Find out what you're paying for bank fees for example, and shop around for a bank with low fees; one at which you only pay for what you use, where you can earn up to 4.8 percent in interest for a positive bank balance.

3. Shop in bulk

Shop in bulk online to avoid excessive delivery fees. Also, compare prices between shops before you buy. Stick to buying necessities and capitalise on sale items when you can.

4. Buy quality second-hand items

Shop around on reputable sites for secondhand travel systems, prams or cots. Invest in high-quality, well-looked after items.

5. Have your doctor on speed dial

New mums especially tend to rush the baby to the doctor at the slightest sniffle. Which is completely understandable, but also costly. If it doesn't seem serious, phone your paediatrician. Depending on what she says, she may also be able to fax a script directly to your pharmacy.

6. Form a playgroup / babysitters' club

Use Facebook groups to locate nearby mums for regular meet-ups. See if any mums are interested in forming a babysitting club. You can take turns to look after the kids on a rotational basis to cut down on babysitting costs. This is also a great way to network if you're thinking of starting a business: mums tend to support other mums.

7. Keep track via an app

Use your bank's app to keep track of your spending and easily transact online when you're too busy to go into a branch. Examine your bank statements to check your current expenditure, then revise your budget with an online budgeting tool — especially while you're on a reduced budget, as the UIF doesn't pay out a full salary during your maternity leave.