Baby on board – This is how you relieve your bundle of joy financially
The idea of giving every new mother a free “baby package” is brilliant.
I wish I had had one many years ago when the only thing you were guaranteed postpartum was a paltry 12 weeks of disability and resentment from your boss.
The baby box, announced by the Government this week, is a pilot scheme for 500 happy mothers at Dublin’s Rotunda Hospital and University Hospital Waterford, who will receive virtually a mattress in a sturdy box that doubles as a cot, along with a variety of other immediately necessary things to support them on the path to parenthood.
It is the latest in a growing line of government benefits available to new parents which I believe have improved tremendously in recent years.
Having a baby is terribly expensive, so anything that eases the financial burden is welcome.
I looked at the other supports available that new parents can take advantage of once the pattern of tiny feet becomes clear.
I also offer some additional money saving tips for one of life’s financially challenging bundles of joy!
The maternity and infant care system has been around for decades. All expectant mothers are entitled to free prenatal care from their family doctor and an obstetrician, regardless of private health insurance or a health card. You will receive five prenatal and two postnatal check-ups, a free delivery in a public hospital and a home visit by a public health nurse. In addition, pregnant women do not pay hospital fees (A&E or otherwise) for pregnancy-related admissions to public hospitals.
The Department of Social Security pays €250 per week for up to 26 weeks. This must be returned if your employer pays you your full salary during your absence, although many simply top up the benefit with salary.
You cannot work during the withdrawal, which can make it difficult for self-employed women.
Additional unpaid leave
After maternity leave, you can apply for an additional 16 weeks of unpaid leave, but you are not entitled to it.
Fathers are entitled to two weeks of paternity benefit (payable at €250 per week) once they have sufficient PRSI contributions.
Not to be confused with parental leave (below), this is an entitlement to up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave until your child is 12 years old.
It can be divided into six-week blocks with the employer’s consent and is calculated pro rata for part-time employees.
The Parental Leave and Benefits Act 2019 sets the paid leave available to new parents. It is currently five weeks and amounts to €250 per week from the social welfare office. It must be drawn within the first two years of the baby’s life and must be granted by the employer to mothers and fathers if they wish, without them being obliged to top up their salary during the period of use.
It will be increased to nine weeks in due course, but not nearly enough fathers are requesting it – likely for financial reasons – which the Government hopes to change.
This is a universal, tax-free payment granted to mothers until their child turns 16 (or 18 if they remain in full-time education). The current rate is €140 per child and is neither means-tested nor based on PRSI. There are higher payments for those with twins and multiple births.
Home Caregiver Tax Credit
This is a very valuable credit for some couples where one stays at home while the other works, giving the working spouse up to €1,600 of tax credit. It is tiered and means-tested, so the partner can work some amount of work but earn no more than €7,200 to get the full benefit and no more than €10,400 to get some.
National Child Care Program
The Universal Child Care Allowance is a new no-means-tested benefit available to children over six months old who are not yet old enough to qualify for the pre-school ECCE program (typically 3) to contribute to the cost to provide childcare. It is paid at 50c per hour (for a maximum of 45 hours per week).
This means that a child attending a Tusla registered childminder or after-school care center will receive up to €22.50 per week, paid directly to the provider and deducted from the parents’ bill. For poorer families there is a separate income-related subsidy for children up to the age of 15, which pays between 33 cents and 5.10 euros per hour for childcare, depending on the age of the child and the income of the parents.
Free family doctor care
All children under the age of 6 (to be extended to 7 years) are entitled to a free GP visit card. In addition to daily care, it also includes specific examinations (weight, height), as well as vaccinations and vaccinations and the care of children with asthma.
This is how you keep baby costs down
According to research by Laya Healthcare, it costs a whopping €105,321 to have a baby from cradle to college.
They may be small, but they’re a huge money pit, especially if you insist on outfitting the baby with the best of everything. But you don’t have to, and there are plenty of ways to keep costs down.
- Check your finances (CCPC.ie has an online financial health check tool to establish a realistic affordability position).
- Assess your postnatal income, including what benefits you are entitled to, the tax situation if either of you quits or reduces your job, and how a leave of absence might affect your pension entitlements.
- Although safety is paramount, you don’t have to buy everything new. Toys, clothes, baby books, high chairs, buggies and many other items in perfect condition can be found at thrift or charity stores for a fraction of the price. Always buy a new mattress and make sure the car seats are in good condition.
- Popular online stores like flopsyshop.ie, lovelythings.ie and thriftify.ie all have fantastic bargains on used clothing. Because babies outgrow things so quickly, most of them are in perfect condition.
- Disposable diapers cost a fortune. A baby goes through 4,500 of these, each of which takes 500 years to decompose in the landfill. Reusable options are becoming increasingly popular. Sites like fluffybums.ie (cloth nappies from €12 each), earthmother.ie (€18.99) and clothnappylibary.ie provide support, meetings and information.
https://www.independent.ie/business/personal-finance/baby-on-board-how-to-ease-the-financial-burden-of-your-bundle-of-joy-41764886.html Baby on board – This is how you relieve your bundle of joy financially