Balancing babies and budgets

Having a child, whether it's your first, third or fifth, will undoubtedly affect your family finances. It helps to know how to cope with changed circumstances.

Financial change can be one of the biggest stresses for many families. But help is at hand and a number of organisations offer advice to those looking to manage any changes
in circumstance.

Plunket and its principal sponsor, BNZ, are working on a programme designed to help families adjust to new financial situations, to plan for future changes and get through the tough times.

Some basic hints can set you on the right path. For instance, it’s always a good idea to have a budget, no matter what stage in life you’re at. It’s especially important when starting or growing your family. Before you do anything you need to know what you’re spending your money on.

The government-backed website www.sorted.org.nz provides useful information and includes a budget calculator to work out your spending. The Citizens Advice Bureau in your area will also be able to help you with budget advice. Call 0800 367 222 or go to www.cab.org.nz.

Coming up with ways to cut spending is not easy, especially when you have children to entertain. Try to plan ahead and consider how you will deal with pressure to spend on activities such as parties, gifts and outings.

Tips to help you save money:

  • Use toy libraries – Plunket has these libraries in many areas where you can borrow toys at little or no cost.
  • Share or swap toys with friends and family.
  • Take advantage of sales or look for second-hand items.
  • Review your bank accounts/loans – combining debt may lower interest rates.
  • Buy some food items in bulk – it can be cheaper than buying smaller amounts more often.
  • Talk to companies you owe money to if you’re unable to pay a bill on time. Many will agree to help you come up with a payment plan without you being charged late-payment fees.

Many families are entitled to financial help, depending on their circumstances.

Most are entitled to one or more of the following:

  • Paid parental leave
  • Working for Families benefits
  • Family tax credits
  • Childcare subsidy
  • Child support

We recommend you talk through your situation with local support services to see what government benefits you are entitled to.

For more information, support and advice talk to your Plunket Nurse or call PlunketLine 0800 933 922 (7am-midnight).

 

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