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Budgeting for the new baby

The National Consumer Agency (NCA) advises that expectant parents should prepare for the financial changes ahead.

"It is more important than ever that parents know how to budget and think about planning ahead for their children's future. The best time to start this is before your baby is born, so you have time to prepare for the financial changes," says Ann Fitzgerald, Chief Executive of the NCA.

Research carried out by IPSOS Mori on behalf of the NCA revealed that 58pc of 30 to 39-year-olds with children said they are worse off financially compared to three years ago.

And 44pc of people in this age bracket do not have a household budget, while just over half (53pc) have not made any financial provision for their retirement.

The agency has launched a new guide, Baby Steps, in three stages to help expectant parents to prepare for the financial changes that having a baby brings. Among the tips in the new guide are:

>Shop around for baby equipment as prices can vary significantly from one shop to another.

>Think about borrowing or using pre-owned items such as car seats, buggies or cots from friends and family members.

>Consider asking friends and families to buy gifts from your list of baby essentials.

>Use parenting and other websites that have classified sections to buy, sell and swap equipment.

The NCA guide points out that early planning and research are important to help cope with additional costs, such as medical expenses while pregnant; one-off costs for baby equipment and clothes; increased spending on baby food and nappies; ongoing costs such as childcare and future costs in relation to the child's education and emergency fund savings.

It said that "a financial health check will give you a clear picture of your current situation and make it easier to identify where you need to make changes."

It advised that people should consider keeping a spending diary for a couple of weeks to see how much money they spend.

"Once you have completed your financial health check, compare your overall spending against your total income. If you are spending more than you are earning, you will need to revise you regular budget."