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Cash on delivery

1. The birth

Opt to use the public system, and you won't be charged a cent. Opt for semi-private care, and the bill - assuming you have private health cover - will typically be in the region of €1,200. Opt for private care and, again assuming you have cover, it could be anything from €2,500 to €5,000.

2. Paraphernalia

These days, babies emerge clutching a shopping list as long as themselves. Read it and weep; you could be looking at anything from €1,000 to €2,000 by the time you get a buggy, car seat, Moses basket/cot, changing table, monitor etc. Unless you are loaded, check out second-hand stuff (apart from car seats). Much of what's out there is in great nick, and you'll only need most of it for a couple of years. Remember, the day will come when your child will sneer at the mere suggestion of a hand-me-down, so sneak a few in when they're too small to do anything about it.

3. Nappies

Assuming your child will be potty trained by about age three, expect to spend over €1,000 on nappies. There is always the cloth nappy option, if you have a half-decent washer/dryer and a bit of gumption. Although it requires more effort, you can buy a set of nappies for a few hundred euro. These can be used on subsequent children (if their contents haven't put you off for life), meaning a hefty overall saving.

4. Childcare

This will be your biggest expense in the early years, unless you're doing the minding. Ireland is one of the two most expensive countries in the world for childcare, with parents paying an average of €167 per child per week. Assuming they're in childcare 48 weeks of the year, that will set you back approximately €8,000 per year just for one child.

5. Healthcare

If the promised free GP care for the under-sixes goes ahead in April, it will be a huge help. But you may still need to prepare yourself for the fact that you will probably get to know your local pharmacist far better than you ever wanted to (no offence to your local pharmacist).

6. Clothing

Parenting website Eumom.ie estimates clothing to cost about €700 per year. Hopefully, you'll be lucky enough to have a niece or nephew whose stuff gets sent to you. You won't get away with this forever (see point 2) so make the most of it. And don't be afraid of charity shops.

7. Education

Although education is technically free, putting a child through the system is expensive. Barnardos' most recent school costs survey found that parents pay an average of €100 for primary-school uniforms, considerably more at second level. Books cost an average of €76-€100 per year at primary school, several hundred at secondary. 'Voluntary contributions' are voluntary to the same extent that education is free, in other words, not quite. At primary you may be asked for €50 per year, though some are asked for two or three times that, while at secondary you'll be asked for closer to €100-€150, sometimes more.

8. Pester power

Underestimate this at your peril. All those knick-knacks you buy against your better judgement add up. And then there are all those Christmases, at least a few of which will see you handing over obscene amounts of money for a piece of branded tat. (Frozen, anyone?) You may swear you'll never succumb. Oh yes, you will.

9. Child benefit

Previously known as children's allowance, child benefit is a drop in the ocean, but its monthly arrival is still the only time your bank balance will increase as a result of having a child. This is €135 per month per child up to the age of 16 (up by €5 on last year).

10. Just another 18 years to go…

Estimates of how much kids cost until they turn 18 vary, but most are not far off €250,000. Hmm, take a moment to consider what else you could buy for that: an Aston Martin Vanquish, a three-month stay in the Oliver Messel suite at The Dorchester in London (Marlene Dietrich's favourite); two bottles of Chateau Margaux 2009 (yes, just two, that wasn't a typo); a private performance by Ellie Goulding with just about enough change for another one from, say, Ed Sheeran. Nope? Kids it is, then.

For a handy guide to what to expect (financially) when you are expecting, and how best to budget for it, see consumerhelp.ie/having-children.

Irish Independent