When we first posted this article a few years ago we got a great response and we got tons of comments! Making this a CSWM Best Blog Post we just had to share again!
I have been getting hits from people searching for information on baby expenses. I decided to write about how to spend less on getting ready and bringing up a baby for the first year. We have all heard it babies are expensive, and they are! If you barely have any room in your budget right now chances are you will be really tight once a baby is added to the mix. But there are things you can do to minimize the squeeze.
- Pregnancy: let’s start at the beginning. Pregnancy is a time of change and that usually means having to acquire a new wardrobe that you will only use for a few months. My first tip for minimizing costs is try to stay in regular clothes for as long as you can. Being pregnant you probably dream of wearing maternity clothes and rubbing your belly. But the truth is that those cute maternity clothes from the first months won’t probably fit you in your last months. I remember buying maternity clothes and thinking “That’s huge!, I would never fit in that.” Well, the last couple of months those were the only items I fit in. By wearing normal clothes for as long as you can you minimize the number of transition maternity wear you have to buy. My second tip is to invest in neutral, flexible pieces. Buy tops that you can wear with several pants and pants that can be worn with several tops. That way you can maximize the use of the pieces you have without feeling that you keep wearing the same outfit day in and day out. Finally, try to buy pieces that can be worn across the seasons. I know this can be hard in extremely hot and extremely cold conditions. But I suggest this because if you are thinking of having more than one child you might want to buy clothes that you will be able to use next time regardless of when that pregnancy happens.
- Delivery Expenses: Assuming you have health insurance coverage, if possible contribute the amount of your deductible to a flexible spending account. You will probably hit this amount with delivery costs. Both of my deliveries have been natural and the first time my health insurance ended up being charged $10,000 for obstetric care and hospital charges. Then an additional $5,000 were charged for nursery care for my newborn for the two days he spent in the hospital. You can add a premium to this if you end up with a C-section or, even worse a baby that requires a lengthy hospital stay.
- Baby Equipment: Stores such as Target and Babies R Us have created lists such as this to help you buy the things you need to be ready for baby. The list is overwhelmingly long and you are probably feeling you will be breaking the bank if you need to buy all of that. But you don’t need it all and you don’t need it all at once. Initially what you really need is a safe place for baby to sleep, a place to change his clothes and diapers, a place to keep his clothes and a car seat. Things such as stroller, bouncy seat, swing, etc are lifestyle needs. My first tip to minimize this cost is set up a registry. The majority of pregnant women get a baby shower, and even if they don’t they still get showered with gifts from friends and family after the baby is born. Have a registry set up so people know what your needs are. Secondly, consider buying used items. A crib, a changing table, a dresser are things that can be safely bought second hand as long as you do diligent work to make sure the items have not been recalled. However, the one item I recommend buying new is the car seat. It’s just not worth it to take the chance on a used car seat. Make sure what you buy will last you a while. You need to get quality items because you will be using them for a while and you might be using them again. Try to skip buying items that only get used for a short period of time such as a bassinet (3 months tops) and a toddler bed (invest on a twin bed instead).
- Baby Clothing: Let’s not delude ourselves, baby clothes are cute and most people have a weakness for them. This means, this is the area where you will be more prone to overspend. Try to set up a budget during the pregnancy of how much you can spend on baby clothes. Stick to it. You are likely to get a lot of baby clothes as gifts, so let other people spend money on this while you spend money on other things you will need. You will also find that there are a lot of people who want to give you their baby clothes because they are done having babies or their baby has outgrown them. Never say no to these offers. Gently smile and thank them for the clothes. Later on sort through the clothes and if there are any items you might not use take them to Goodwill or Salvation Army. Hit garage sales. Because people love to buy baby clothes these are very common items at garage sales. What’s best, because people tend to overspend on this you can find good quality clothes worn very little.
- Feeding: Your best bet for keeping feeding costs down is to breastfeed your baby. You will still need to get some gear such as breastfeeding bras. A manual breast pump is necessary if you want someone else to feed the baby while you are not around. Having to go back to work doesn’t mean you need to stop breastfeeding. Nowadays many companies offer facilities to help their employees continue breastfeeding their babies. If there’s nothing like that at your workplace don’t hesitate to lobby for one while you are pregnant. Talk to your boss about your wishes, bring it up to HR. There are also ways to save money if you are formula feeding. Register with formula companies to receive money saving offers. Don’t be shy to have other family members do this too. Sign up with all formula companies even if you don’t use their formula, you can trade these formula checks with other people and save more money. When baby starts eating solids, consider making your own baby food. It saves you money and it allows you to feed your baby organic food in an affordable way. You don’t even have to buy the expensive baby yogurt. All you need is whole milk yogurt and you can always flavor it with a teaspoon of fruit preserves. However, any of this may not be feasible if your baby attends a daycare center. So, again make sure you register with baby food companies to receive their money saving offers.
- Diapering: Cloth diaper or disposable. It’s your choice.
There are many things you can do to take the bite out of baby expenses. These are just some saving ideas on the main expense categories. If I have missed something, please chime in and leave a comment. I would like this post to be as helpful as possible.