One of the things that's surprised me as I prepare to enter the world of parenting is just how expensive or cheap having a baby can be. Newspaper articles would have you believe that the cost of raising a child has topped £200,000. Others ridicule this as nonsense, and claim the first year can cost almost nothing.
How? Well I've looked into this carefully and my top tips are:
borrow as much as possible, ask around for hand-me-downs, and use Freecycle or Gumtree and local jumble sales and NCT sales. Check out the baby clothing "bundles" and maternity clothes on eBay, and get ideas from websites such as moneysavingexpert.com and mumsnet.com.
Wash everything that's previously used, and be absolutely certain that car seats have not been involved in an accident. Many parents choose to buy a new one, and new cot/moses basket mattresses.
Some very kind friends have already asked for present ideas, so I recommend keeping a mental list of what you need. And make sure you're getting all the government support you're entitled to.
Breastfeeding, if possible, will clearly save money although it's unlikely to be completely free - you may want a breast pump and bottles (can be second-hand), and need breast pads, nipple cream and nursing bras.
Reusable nappies could save up to a few hundred pounds a year. Most local authorities provide a voucher to help with the initial outlay, following that, second-hand ones are fine. Getting the hang of them is another matter, but disposables can also work out very cheap if you shop around.
In practice, it's hard to resist every piece of persuasive advertising that comes your way. I've recently bought some not-strictly-necessary maternity tops, and spent a fair amount on childbirth books. But I'll cover that delightful topic another time!