Expectant parents: How to save money in the cost-of-living crisis
Pregnancy is exciting, but the rise in living costs this winter will be a source of anxiety for many families. Here's where to turn if you’re expecting a baby this winter
Adding to your family can be very expensive business. From the day you discover you’re expecting, the unending list of items you need, such as feeding bottles, a pram and baby furniture, quickly adds up.
By now, it’s no secret that this winter will be difficult for almost all families. The amount we pay for regular goods and services have increased so much that it leaves little in the purse for a new arrival. Figures from the Office of National Statistics have revealed that inflation is up 8.6 per cent from last year. This is a terrifying number for most, but especially if you have a baby on the way.
"Adding to your family can be very expensive business"
If you’re pregnant and the cost-of-living crisis has made you feel particularly vulnerable, here are eight benefits and services that can help you cope.
1. Baby clubs
Baby clubs are online spaces devoted to offering pregnant women and new mothers all the information they need from the moment they know they’re expecting.
Beyond giving you the latest trends and expert opinions, you can also get free samples, vouchers, offers and the chance to win baby essentials through competitions.
2. Sure Start Maternity Grant
This is a one-off £500 payment available to expectant parents on benefits who live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. As it’s a grant, it doesn’t have to be paid back. However you can only claim it if you’re welcoming your first baby, or are having a multiple birth if you already have children.
The Sure Start Maternity Grant can only be claimed within eleven weeks before the baby’s due date, and up until six weeks after the baby is born. Check if you’re eligible on gov.uk.
3. Healthy Start
Families in England, Northern Ireland and Wales claiming certain benefits can apply for a Healthy Start food card, which is automatically loaded with money each month.
You must be at least 10 weeks pregnant, or a parent or guardian to children under the age of four to be able to apply. Once activated, the card can be used to cover the cost of cow’s milk, cow-based formula, fruit and vegetables. Find out more, including how much you can get on gov.uk.
4. Pregnancy and Baby Payment
For people living in Scotland, this is one of three one-off payments which make up the Best Start Grant and is available to anyone with a baby on the way. Apply for this grant from week 24 of your pregnancy, up until your baby is six months old.
The money can be used on whatever you like and does not have to be paid back. Eligible applicants will get £642.35 for their first baby, and £321.20 for other children, including stepchildren. More information can be found on mygov.scot.
5. Best Start Foods
This is similar to the Healthy Start food card but is exclusively for people living in Scotland. The prepaid card, which comes loaded with money, can be used on healthy groceries such as milk and fruit. The amount you get depends on how far along in your pregnancy you are, or how old your child is.
Applications for Best Start Foods are usually made together with the Pregnancy and Baby Payment. This is to ensure you get everything you’re entitled to at once. Look out for more information on mygov.scot.
6. Priority Services Register
This winter, every household will get £400 off their electricity bills. But for pregnant people, parents living with very young children and anyone else considered vulnerable, additional free help is being offered by energy companies via the Priority Services Register.
"For pregnant people, additional free help is being offered by energy companies via the Priority Services Register"
When you sign up, you become eligible for support in emergencies including free provision of heating and cooking facilities if your supply is cut off. You can also get your energy meter moved at no cost, if you have a hard time accessing it.
There is more information about the Priority Services Register on Ofgem.gov.uk.
7. Maternity Allowance
If you’re unemployed or not eligible for statutory maternity pay, you may be able to claim this weekly payment from week 26 of your pregnancy.
All the facts about Maternity Allowance can be found on gov.uk.
8. Online marketplaces
If you’re struggling to pay for necessities for your baby, consider accepting preloved items from friends and family whose kids may be older, or who are wishing to declutter.
"Consider accepting preloved items from friends and family whose kids may be older"
Outside of that, online marketplaces such as Facebook Marketplace, eBay or Vinted are great platforms where expectant parents can procure quality items such as buggies, car seats, baby furniture and clothes.
Read more: 7 Ways to teach your children about money
Read more: 9 Common childbirth misconceptions
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