A survey has put the bill for raising a child to the age of 21 at a whopping £218,000 - that's the equivalent of £865 a month* so reviewing your budget is time well spent! When mum Carol Cabourn-Ford got in touch we were keen to help. Dad Jamie is a teacher, but Carol gave up her job as an office manager when Mabel, now 13 months, was born: "We have no spare money and it is a struggle. Jamie and I have not been out since Mabel was born," she says. Personal finance expert and mum of three Rosanna Spero comes to her aid, with tips that can benefit everyone.
Rent or mortgage
Carol is lucky that her flat only costs £300 a month, as her father is her landlord. But for many people their mortgage is their biggest outlay. Tesco Compare can help you to compare mortgages or re-mortgage deals from a range of lenders to see if you could save money each month. Visit tescocompare.com. (Mortgage comparison service powered by London & Country Mortgages Ltd.)
You can save hundreds of pounds a year by switching providers. Carol has never done this, but a quick search shows that she could save by switching to a dual fuel tariff and managing her account online. The Government wants energy providers to simplify their tarrifs and transfer households to the one that suits them best - watch this space! Carol also pays separate suppliers for TV, broadband and landline. Amalgamating them could save money.
Websites such as tescocompare.com let you search the majority of the market for the best deals, and new customers may get a discount too. To work out how much insurance you need, go round room by room, adding up the cost of replacing the contents.
Once you have children it is vital to write a will - which costs £100-£150 - not just to set out who gets your belongings but more importantly, who will look after your children if you die. Life cover could provide your family with a cash sum for immediate expenses or provide money for the future. Tesco Bank life insurance from as little as £5 per month can provide your family with a lump sum if you die during the plan term. Tesco Bank New Parent Free Life Cover is also available and provides £10,000 of free life cover until your baby's first birthday. Conditions and exclusions apply. Tesco Bank life insurance and Tesco Bank New Parent Free Life cover are provided by Aviva Life and Pensions UK Limited.
Carol has a permanent overdraft of more than £2,000. If you are struggling, don't ignore it. Explain your situation to your bank or mortgage lender, as they may let you take a payment holiday or restructure your payments. The government's National Debt Assistance service has invaluable information and will get back to you within 20 minutes of completing the online form to advise you how to reduce payments to an amount you can manage. Are you paying a higher interest rate on other store and credit cards? You could start saving straight away with a Tesco Bank Clubcard Credit Card. Visit tescobank.com to find out more.
Shop around for the best offers and discounts. Tesco's fantastic deals include regular Baby & Toddler promotions. You should also sign up to websites such as myvouchercodes.co.uk, which offer discount vouchers for a huge number of shops and restaurants. And don't forget that £5 of Tesco Clubcard vouchers can be exchanged for up to £20 in restaurant rewards, making a great way to eat out on a budget.
Tesco Loves Baby Club members' favourite money-saving tips.
"I use own-brand nappies and baby toiletries; the only difference I find is that they are a lot cheaper!"
Nicola, mum to Charlotte 3, and Oliver, 2
"I go to NCT Nearly New Sales, and look out for what other mums are advertising in the newspaper. People sell unwanted baby gifts for very good prices."
Ines, mum to Liana, 8 months
"I buy nappies and formula in bulk and make use of Baby Club coupons and in-store Baby Events. To keep the kids entertained we visit the Sure Start Children's Centres which are free."
Laura Jane, mum to Lexie, 3 and Lennon, 1
"I write a shopping list, then I'm more likely to buy only the things I need and will know more or less how much I'll spend."
Julie, mum to Isabelle, 19 months
*Source: Liverpool Victoria
Join Tesco Loves Baby Club
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