Having a family

Budget planning for a toddler

5 min read

This is a budgeting guide for parents of children aged one to three years. Just like your child, money issues can grow and present further challenges. This guide offers a little bit of help to make life just that little bit easier.

BNZ and Plunket have partnered in this way to bring parents the right budgeting information at the right time. Parenting is a challenging and rewarding time, and we all know how tough it can be to take a drop in income to stay at home and look after your little one(s). We're keen to help new and not so new parents budget through the changes and challenges ahead.

As you would know already, the first few years of life are important for your child’s continued growth and development. By putting in place a well thought out financial plan, life and all its challenges can be made that much easier for you to secure a brighter future for you and your child.

In this guide we’ve tried to provide some starting points for you to assist you on your parenting journey.

Preparing a budget

A budget is a way of keeping track of the money that comes in and goes out of your life. You can set goals on what you want to come in and go out and then compare this to what is actually happening with your money.


A budget shows you:

  • How much you earn
  • How much money you plan to spend
  • How much money you have left over or you are short of

Follow the steps below to plan a monthly budget. You’ll find a sample budget sheet to print off here.

Step 1: Household budget

As your child’s needs change, an updated budget helps you to plan for the things you need, the things you want, and the things that are a little bit of a luxury.
1. Pick a recent one-month period to look through your household bank accounts
2. For each line item in that month, put a letter next to it for the category it belongs to. Such as Debt (D), Savings (S) etc.
3. So when preparing your budget, write down the expenses that occur - once a week, once a fortnight, once a month, once every quarter and once a year
4. Total up the expenses in each category and write them into column one of your budget
5. Add up all your spending (totals for all categories) and write the total next to TOTAL SPENDING
6. Work out your surplus or deficit, (amount spare or amount over- limit) by subtracting total spending from.

Take a look at an example budget for a toddler here.

Step 2: Plan the change

Revisit your budget often as it’s a way to track your spending behaviour, over a good period of time. Remember: Basics such as groceries or household costs are likely to increase. Also remember that each child will be different, often reaching milestones in their own time.

Step 3: Update your budget – income and spending

Now it’s time to go back to your budget sheet and take the changes you’ve written into the column two and use them to update column three. It should look like the example seen here.

Tips and scenarios

We’ve pulled together some tips to help make things a little easier for you. These are just a few starters and we’d be keen to hear what your views are. You may have some great ones.

Print out a copy of your Planning for a Toddler Budget Guide here.