SMA Nutrition has appointed ‘Money Doctor’ John Lowe to the Every Step Panel of Experts — an independent advisory panel designed to offer much-needed support and mentorship to Irish parents across a broad range of issues at every step of the parenting journey. Lowe will provide financial guidance to expectant and new parents through a weekly online forum hosted by parenting website www.rollercoaster.ie/sma This week he is focusing on a number of little steps you can take in order to economise while bringing up Junior, but at the heart of it all is planning. There are five areas that you need to start thinking about even before your child has arrived.
You will need a room for the baby, maybe not immediately but certainly after three months so that you can catch some sleep! Spend a few euro on freshening up a spare room. Extensions, attic conversions, and the like could be considered at a later time subject to income or savings.
For starters, you will need a cot, pram, baby clothes, nappies, and baby-food. It makes sense to research these costs, and work out in advance how they can best be met. eBay can be a source of bargains. Also complete a day to day annual household budget so that you are putting aside a sum of money each month to meet future child-related costs.
Childcare can be very costly and with both parents’ income generally required on a continuing basis because of the home loan and other financial commitments. Grandparents could certainly shore up childminding costs for the first year or two. If you do not have the luxury of a grandparent or relation, it might be more cost-effective to employ an au pair. If you have the space, they can work out cheaper than crèche fees.
Research shows that a tidy sum is required to maintain, educate, and enjoy your child from birth to second or third level education. To meet this cost, you need to plan. You could start by saving your Child Benefit (currently €166 per month per child ) into a Regular Saver account and once a lump sum has accrued, put that amount into a high yielding deposit account. For more sophisticated investments, you will need proper professional and independent advice.
Protection Life and disability insurance should be considered and even income protection, in case either or both parents are unable to work financially. Generally a life policy for a specific term to coincide with the end of your child’s education should again be considered. This pays out a lump sum in the event of death and for a couple in their 20s would be relatively cheap. Redundancy cover should also be considered – once the policy is in force for three months, you can claim and receive up to 12 months payments until you are back to work or the 12 months elapses.