Regardless of how much money you’re making or saving each month, there always seems to be a payment that is due this month or the other for that unexpected car repair, or that new phone you need to buy because your old one just died, or something. It’s happened to me and it sort of happens all the time. But while managing finances can be difficult for those of us who are single, imagine doing it with a growing family.
As a mother of one, who’s also expecting her second child, I’ve realized that when it comes to providing for a family, at least where I live in Abu Dhabi, it’s not the milk, or the diapers or even the baby clothes that kill your budget. At the end of the day, those are minimal compared to when you have to pay higher rent for more room for the kids or where it’s time to send the kids off to school. Now THAT could kill your budget.
I had not thought about how much nursery schools cost in Abu Dhabi until I had to start looking for one for my kid. It just never crossed my mind and I didn’t think it was that much of a big deal. I was later shocked to find out how much money goes into just that. After viewing maybe 10 nurseries in town, it turns out that an average one costs somewhere around Dh15,000 a year where a really good one comes close to Dh24,000, or even Dh30,000. Now that is a good chunk of one’s salary.
However, when parents can’t afford the best of everything out there, or if they’re on one income, then it really becomes about prioritizing your needs and the kids’ needs as well. So what becomes more important – where the kids go to school or the community where they live in? It doesn’t always work the way we want it to, but it usually helps to have a financial plan that a family can try to stick to.
Here are some tips that could probably help you better manage your finances and save some money along the way as you start a family.
1. Write down a list of priorities with a budget. That includes everything from how much money goes for housing, schooling, groceries, outings and trips. Even if you could not afford to travel this year – squeeze in a family retreat. It’s important to make sure there’s always some element of fun for the family or some fun family trip that you can look forward to throughout the year. If you do travel, book in advance.
2. When you’re expecting, don’t buy everything at once. You’ll have nine months to get the baby’s stuff ready. Take advantage of sales and of close family and friends who are willing to gift you what you need.
3. Invest in good items. Many of the things you buy for your newborn can be handed down to his or her sibling if it’s in good condition. Go for a good car seat, a sturdy stroller and a practical high chair… it’ll be cheaper for your next baby.
4. Buy in bulk when possible; cook your own baby’s food and breastfeed for as long as you can.
5. Open a separate savings account for your newborn. Even if that means putting as little as 50 dollars in the account every month, it is an important saving for your baby and his or her education.
6. Save a percentage of your salary for hard times, even if it’s only 10 per cent of what you’re making. You’ll need that money when things don’t go as planned, which is always likely to happen.