We spoke to Rachel Kolisi, mom of 4 children, about some of the unexpected expenses she discovered while raising her kids, and how to curb costs.
What were some of the unexpected costs you faced and think new parents should be aware of?
A: Wow, there were definitely some expenses that I didn’t see coming. I think the 3 that stood out as the most unexpected were a maxed-out medical aid, gym fees and the cost of accessories, such as car seats.
1. We’ve learnt that a sick baby can max out your medical aid within a few months. Not all medical plans cover doctor visits.
2. Although my gym membership helped me to stay focused, it also meant an additional cost of R300 – R900 per month. But despite the cost, I still believe that exercise is one of the most powerful ways to break through postnatal depression. It releases endorphins and helps you get back in shape, which can make you feel better about yourself.
3. We were surprised by how quickly kids outgrow their car seats. These seats cost anything from R600 – R6 000 to replace, and by now I’ve got 3! While a baby shower might help with items such as nappies and clothing, bigger items, like car seats, are often overlooked.
I suggest that new parents should plan for these type of expenses in advance. Sit down and discuss the expenses you expect and how your income can cover it. If you plan ahead, it takes a lot of financial pressure off those first few months with your newborn.
Can you tell us what helped you to save money?
A: Definitely! The following tips really helped us:
- Start a baby fund: It may seem like an obvious thing to do, but now it’s time to actually do it! Open a savings account specifically for a new financial goal or responsibility, such as future school fees, an emergency fund or a nursery decoration fund. Link these to your main account if possible, so that you can easily transfer funds across and capitalise on interest
- Have your doctor on speed dial: New moms tend to rush their babies to the doctor at the slightest sniffle. It is completely understandable, but costly! If it doesn’t seem serious, phone your pediatrician. Depending on what they say, it may be possible for them to fax a script directly to your pharmacy
- Don’t be shy to buy second-hand: You don’t have to purchase everything new. Shop around on reputable sites for second-hand, but high quality items such as prams or cots
- Shop in bulk: It works for us to buy in bulk, but only if you compare prices between shops and if it’s really cheaper than buying single units. It helps you save money and you are forced to plan ahead, which can cut out unnecessary or impulse buys
- Keep track through an app: Use your bank’s app to keep track of your spending and if necessary, revise your budget with an online budgeting tool. It is a great help, especially if you have a smaller budget due to being on maternity leave