Real life story – Darielle Ben-David

A bit about you

I am a 36 year old new mum, and have worked at a large corporate organisation for 8 years – initially in legal and now in change management. I recently moved house from a smaller townhouse to a bigger home in the suburbs with my partner and our sweet, cheeky one year old daughter. I have a passion for food, wine and dining. As a side hobby, I work as a restaurant judge, critiquing for an international Guide. (Not very lucrative but a lot of fun). I also have a love of fitness and travel.

Before you had Amelie:

Before you had your baby, what are some of the money decisions you made?

Before I had Amelie, my money decisions were all about me. I am (was) a lifestyle person, so I loved to eat out regularly, enjoyed an occasional shopping spree and had multiple gym memberships. As I earned a reasonably decent wage, and had my mortgage under control, this was quite manageable. I also made sure I budgeted money for travel as I love to go away (interstate or overseas) at least once a year. (In hindsight, I wish I had saved more at this time where it would have been easier than post baby!).

How did falling pregnant make you reassess your money position for the now and for the future

When I became pregnant, I suddenly became a lot more mindful about what I was spending. A $30 brunch and a $300 dress purchase was thought of more closely. I began to take more note of how much things cost and how I was leading my lifestyle. However, in all honesty, I don’t think my spending patterns really changed until I actually had my baby and it became a reality. More so, once we moved into a new house and had a much bigger mortgage and greater living expenses.

When you had Amelie:

What were some of the things that surprised you?

I was surprised at how much the little things cost that all add up. There are the obvious big ticket items that we knew would be expensive, but the small everyday items (i.e. baby clothes that they grow out of in 5 minutes, nappies bottles, cleaners, medications, creams etc) – its never ending.

Also, the price of activities with babies, and then day care, etc. I didn’t realise that someone so small comes at such a cost! (Well worth it every cent).

The other major ‘shock’ was not having an income. I was fortunate that my employer paid me for 3 months when I had the baby, but I took a full year off, so that left 9 months with no income. I had never been ‘dependent’ on anyone for money for such a long time, but when I wasn’t working – I was suddenly dependant on my partner. I am lucky that he was able to support all three of us for that time, but having a single income for 3 was very different to a double for 2!

How did you change the way you manage your money now

I feel that our change in money has been a gradual and evolving process, that is largely about a shift in priorities. We now spend less money on frivolous items for ourselves and more on our child. I am much more mindful on everything, from supermarket shopping, to lifestyle costs ( reducing my gym memberships for instance). We have re-assessed our finances, consolidating credit cards, and paying out short debt to make sure our funds are best utilised. (This was also largely due to upgrading our house).

Also, we now try to budget for future rather than short term. We constantly reassess the money we will need as our child grows – i.e. for childcare, schooling, food, clothes, activities and holidays.

What are the top do’s and don’ts you would recommend to parents / prospective parents?

In an ideal world, I would have saved more pre baby when we had 2 incomes, and no dependants. If you are thinking of having children, it’s a great tip to start putting away some money earlier.

I also recommend (and I am by no means an expert) having foresight to know what expenses are coming (i.e. our daughter is starting childcare soon, so we have to factor that in) and constantly reassess finances as things change to try and keep on top of it. Another important thing is communication with your partner. Sometimes there are some
tough conversations to make sure priorities are aligned but it is best to do to make it work effectively.

Lastly, its good to have some money set aside for emergencies.