Are your finances baby-ready?
Planning to conceive? First check your bank account.
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Getting pregnant is surely the biggest, most life-altering thing you can do free of charge (assuming you don’t spend on fertility treatments).

Of course, the expenses start almost as soon as the sperm hits the egg, and don’t stop until – well decades later. It’s enough to make you run scared. As our forum user DanV says: ‘ I don't know if I'm panicking too much or not enough but I'm scared I won't be able to afford everything.’

If you’re in the planning phase, get ready by laying out a spreadsheet of your current income and expenses. Plan where you will cut (do you really need 10 new CDs a month?) when you have other costs to keep to pay.

On the expenditure side, estimate how much you will be spending in the next year on baby-related items. One of your biggest discussions should be around how much maternity leave

Here are some of the bigger expenses of having a baby:

Prenatal care – Visits to the gynae may be covered by medical aid, but if you have extra scans, chances are you’ll be paying for those out of your own pocket.

Birth costs -  Medical aid will pay towards these costs, but may not cover everything, especially if you request a private ward. Can be reduced by having the baby at a public hospital and not asking for a private ward.

Nappies – New parents can never believe the cost of disposable nappies; hundreds of rands for something your baby is going to crap on? Consider using cloth nappies at least when you’re at home – they now come in easy to use shaped styles, and with liners the cleanup job isn’t as bad as you might think.

Feeding paraphernalia – Bottles, a steriliser, formula and a warmer – the costs of bottle feeding do add up. Breastfeeding, if possible, is a whole lot cheaper in financial terms.

Childcare – Whether you opt for a nanny, a crèche or a combination of the two, finding a decent place for your baby to spend his or her time while you’re at work is a stressful and costly business. Even if one of the parents stays at home there is a financial implication, as you are likely to be losing income.

Transport – The big ticket baby items are the pram and car seat. Car seats have to carry a stamp of approval, and a rickety pram will do nothing to make your life easier. Spend a decent amount, or better still, get them given to you as a gift.

Furniture – Decorate your nursery carefully, with the knowledge that a baby is a toddler after a year. Don’t spend vast amounts buying a cot that baby will soon outgrow. Accept offers of second hand or borrowed cots, but buy a brand new mattress if you can.

Clothing – This is one area where you can sensibly decide not to overspend. Does your baby really need a designer babygrow to puke on, or would a perfectly serviceable one from Ackermans or Jet do the job as well?

The first year of parenting goes by in a blinding flash, and your baby will have everything it needs, as long as you have a roof over your head, food on the table and love to go round.

Do you worry about being able to afford a baby?

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