How To Afford To Stay Home With Your Baby

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a stay at home mum cradling her baby

For many of us, the first question that comes to mind when we discover we’re pregnant is, “Can we afford it?”

There are a lot of things to think about, but as a soon-to-be-mum, often the most pressing is the possibility of being a stay at home mum, even for a short while.

11 Practical Tips to Afford to be a Stay-at-Home Mum: 

The benefits of staying home with your baby are numerous and well documented, so here are some tips to on how to afford staying home with baby so you can make it happen.

1. Do the math

Life as a stay-at-home mum can be a lot cheaper than life as a working mum.

You don’t need a special uniform or dry cleaning, you have zero commuting costs, and you can always make your own lunch.

Do the math on how much you’ll save staying home; it might surprise you.

2. Use Your Time Wisely

You get a fair amount of warning that a baby’s arrival is imminent, and if you’re feeling well and have no pressing health issues, working as usual is the best way to prepare your finances.

Use the time before the baby arrives to prepare for a change in your money management.

If you’re a two-income couple, you could try living completely on one income.

Use the other income to pay down debt, test out a new family budget or build a savings stash to tide you over in the early days of being a stay-at-home mum.

3. Prepay your bills in advance

Contact your utility provider and see if you can pay extra in advance towards future bills.

Suppliers like Powershop make it easy to buy power packs months in the future.

4. Research Your Entitlements

We are very lucky in New Zealand to have a government supporting of mums staying home during the early years.

In New Zealand, you have the Best Start payment and Working For Families.

Make sure you read up on what you’re entitled to and get your paperwork in as soon as possible to ensure you’re not caught short.

Click here to read more about Working for Families and Best Start in New Zealand

5. Accept the hand-me-downs

Mums love to pass on their treasured baby items to other soon-to-be mums.

So much so, that you might just get away with not buying many clothes at all for your new bundle.

Accept every item that comes your way – I know this is going against all minimalism advice – you never know what you’ll need and your baby will poo or spew multiple times per day so you need a lot of outfits.

6. Get free samples before you buy

Companies love giving out free samples to new parents. Think nappies, formula, skincare, and food samples.

There is no better time to take advantage of free stuff than when you are about to become a parent.

Check out the lists below for your local free samples.

7. Buy used baby stuff

Big things like a cot and a pram are the budget-destroyers of new parents.

Purchasing gently used items will save you a lot of money. (I’ve found that these items tend to go cheap too as they take up a lot of space so when you no longer need them, you want them gone!)

The only thing you really must buy new is a cot mattress.

Second-hand cot mattresses carry a SIDS risk, but everything else is fair game.

8. Get yourself a good coffee machine and learn how to use it

If you’re a coffee addict, learning to make a decent flat white at home will change your life.

I recently upgraded to a Sunbeam Mini Barista (from JB Hifi on sale), which has saved me a lot of money.

Good coffee is a new mum luxury I wouldn’t scrimp on, so get yourself a coffee machine, and you’ll make the money back in a month.

9. Swap takeaways with easily prepared foods

I know I’m supposed to tell you to give up takeaways but that ain’t happening.

Being a new mum is a hard season of life so you should keep eating the foods you love if they nourish you.

One little hack that works for me is buying a high-quality prepared sauce (for example, Butter Chicken) and making my own delicious but still cheap fave Indian takeaway.

You save money and still get a delicious meal – and much less plastic waste.

10. Start a mum-friendly side hustle

Taking on extra jobs or working all the overtime you can isn’t good for anyone’s health, more so if you are pregnant.

But that doesn’t mean side hustles are off-limits.

Lots of mums start home based businesses when home with little kids.

I felt more motivated when I had a new baby than ever before to start my own business. 

Now, blogging is my main income earner. If you’re interested in blogging, here’s how you Make Money with a Blog for Beginners.

Other home-based businesses include becoming a virtual assistant, teaching English online to kids in China, making and selling things on Etsy, and freelance writing.

Here’s a huge list of small business ideas that are perfect for mums.

If starting a business is not your cup of tea, there are still plenty of other ways to make money as a stay-at-home mum, including couch-friendly options like scanning your groceries with Homescan or answering paid online surveys with Opinion World, Valued Opinions or Toluna.

Nielsen Mobile pay around $50 a year just for installing its app or software on your computer and allowing it to track your browsing history.

For more info, check out our top picks for survey sites: Best Paid Survey Sites in New Zealand

11. Trim your expenses

The final tip for those wondering how to afford to be a stay-at-home mum is to be ruthless with your budget.

There is always room to save money and you can achieve a lot with time on your side.

These are my favourite ways to save money.

  • Find some amazing slow cooker meals to cook in bulk,
  • Use online grocery shopping to eliminate impulse purchases and eliminate the need to drive to the supermarket,
  • Use cashback sites and apps for everything,
  • Ditch the gym membership and take up walking with the pram,
  • Breastfeed if possible; it’ll save you a ton of money,
  • Clear the clutter and sell things online,
  • Attend council or community-run family events, as they are always a fun and cheap day out,
  • Sell your second car. Walk or take public transport if needed, or just get your groceries delivered. We’ve only ever had one car, and it’s fine if you’re organised.

Check out these frugal living tips that will save you money.

Look after your mental health.

Okay, so this has nothing to do with money, but becoming a stay-at-home mum can be a hard transition.

Make sure you have time for yourself each day – even if it’s just a shower with the door locked or a ten-minute stroll around the block.

I like to go to the library by myself and spend ages looking for a book.

Whatever works, just don’t forget about you.

Related guide: 16 Free Budgeting Printables To Save Money

a stay at home mum with her baby on her shoulder


About Emma Healey

Emma is a recognised family finance and budgeting expert and founder of Mum's Money. Her advice has been featured in Stuff, NZHerald, Readers Digest, Yahoo Finance, Lifehacker, The Simple Dollar, MSN Money and more.