Think like a rat says The Children’s Mutual
New parents should start thinking like a rat to save money this Chinese New Year, says leading children’s savings provider The Children’s Mutual.
February 7 marks the start of the new Chinese year – the Year of the Rat. Some of the attributes of ‘rats’ include being enterprising, resourceful and great with money, just like shrewd celebrities born under this sign, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Geri Halliwell and Damon Hill.
To celebrate the Chinese New Year, The Children’s Mutual has created five rat-inspired top money making and money saving tips to help families make their purse strings stretch further.
Following all of the tips could save nearly £2,200 in a year. Alternatively, by trying just one of these thrifty tips, parents could be on average £440 better off. If this money was invested into a Child Trust Fund (CTF) account, it could give the child a lump sum investment of more than £13,500, on top of the Government’s contributions, by the time they reach their 18th birthday.
David White, Chief Executive of The Children’s Mutual, said: “One way to ensure your children a financial headstart is to save regularly. By taking a tip out of a rat’s book and saving early, a child could have a healthy CTF account by the time they reach 18. And if wider family and friends are money savvy rats, they too could be keen to contribute towards a CTF account to help reach savings goals.”
Nappy know how (£400 per year)
It may come as a surprise to many new parents the amount of times a baby’s nappy needs changing and how much that can cost. Deciding whether to choose cloth, disposables or a mixture of both has to be down to your time, budget and environmental concerns. If you opt for disposable nappies, consider supermarket own brand nappies or a delivery service which can provide nappies to your door, often in bulk, saving money and time.
However, where cost and environmental concerns prevail, it’s useful to know that during the two-year period before your baby is potty-trained, disposable nappies could cost £1,200. Compare this with £400 for cloth nappies including the washing costs, and it saves £400 a year. Independent supplier www.babykind.co.uk offers a wide choice of cloth nappies and advice on how to choose the one which best suits your needs.
Babysitting bonus (£333 a year)
With all the excitement your new baby will bring, don’t neglect spending quality time with your partner, friends or family – going to the movies or out to dinner for example. Make a babysitting circle with your friends and exchange babysitting favours. If you go out once a month and a friend babysits, you could save £333 a year.
Benefiting from benefits (£964)
Every year millions of pounds worth of benefits go unclaimed so make sure you claim yours. Every parent, no matter what their income, can claim Child Benefit of £18.10 a week for their oldest child – this adds up to more than £941 a year. In addition, Mums are entitled to free NHS prescriptions and dental treatment from pregnancy to when their baby is 12 months old – even if you just had one dental health check and one free prescription this would still be a potential saving of £23 a year.
To find out exactly what benefits you’re entitled to, order a free copy of The Essential Guide to Money for Parents from The Children’s Mutual by phoning 0800 040 7262. This helpful guide covers everything from Government benefits and Tax Credits to your free NHS treatments. It also provides a handy step-by-step account of how to claim them.
Selling your maternity and baby wear (£170)
When you’ve decided you won’t need those old maternity clothes any more and your baby has outgrown its clothes, you could always sell on those unwanted items. You could sell them online through sites like eBay or on the High Street where a specialist second-hand store will typically give you back 30 per cent of the retail value of the items you bring in. Even a basic maternity wardrobe and a staple selection of baby outfits can cost more than £568. If a shop buys this back, the saving would be nearly £170. Alternatively, if you want to make some money and do your bit for charity, the NCT (previously known as the National Childbirth Trust) organises nearly new sales throughout the country. You can take along maternity and baby clothes and equipment, and the NCT will sell them for you keeping a percentage of the sale (approx 25-30%) for the charity.
Toys for loan (£312)
Keeping children entertained can be very expensive; research shows that parents spend £624 on toys and entertainment in a typical year. With libraries now offering toys as well as books for loan, your child could have their fill of different toys, whilst saving you money at the same time. There are more than 100 toy libraries across the UK which let children borrow toys for either a nominal fee or nothing at all. You certainly wouldn’t have to tell your child no when they ask for a new toy to play with. Even halving the £624 spent on toys means a saving of £312 a year. For details of your nearest service, contact the National Association of Toy and Leisure Libraries on 020 7255 4604 or try Freecycle.org to create your own toy sharing community. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rat_%28zodiac%29
 These projections are based on money being invested for 18 years in a stakeholder CTF account excluding the Government’s contributions, with yearly growth at the FSA tax-exempt mid-rate of 7% and charges of 1.5% of the account’s value each year. These figures are not guaranteed, shares can go down as well as up and the eventual lump sum could be more or less than indicated.
 Based on the cost of one outing alone per month with the average cost of a babysitter £5.55 per hour http://www.sitters.co.uk/cost.aspx for 5 hours (average duration of an outing).
 Every parent can claim £18.10 per week for the oldest child – http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Parents/Moneyandworkentitlements/YourMoney/DG_10016699?cids=Google_PPC&cre=Money Dental check up = £15.90 – http://www.nhs.uk/AboutNHSservices/dentists/Pages/DentistsSummary.aspx
Prescription charge = £6.85 – http://www.nelm.nhs.uk/Record%20Viewing/vR.aspx?id=577789£941.20 Child Benefit + £22.75 free prescriptions and dental check ups = £963.95
 For the year 2007/8
 List of essential items maternity clothes – http://www.mumsontop.co.nz/default.asp?s1=the%20cafe&s2=Your%20Guide&s3=Maternity%20Clothes
Essential clothes for a baby – http://www.preciouslittleone.com/articles/equipment/newborn.asp
Maternity clothes £447.50 + Baby clothes = £120.41 = £567.91
If a shop will buy this back for 30% of the retail value, the total saving would be: £170
 Parents spend an average of £12 per week on toys and entertainment – Family Circle and Maestro research, February 2006. £12 per week average x 52 weeks = £624. This sum divided by two = £312.