First of all, congratulations on the new member of your family. Between the books and all the different kinds of advice people are throwing at you, this chapter of your life can be overwhelming. We’re here to put your mind at ease and let you know that you’ve got this.
Instead of letting the world influence you to buy endless items you probably don’t need, take a breath and do the opposite by coming up with a strategic, easy-to-follow plan to save money when you’re having a baby. Let’s face it, becoming a parent is expensive and you should do everything you can to avoid frivolous spending.
When it comes to saving for a baby, start with the simple stuff and go from there. Whether it’s something as easy as not buying multiple strollers or picking the right baby registry, there are so many ways to save and ensure you’re not overspending, while still keeping the essentials in mind.
How Much Do I Need to Save for a Baby?According to a study done by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2015, it’ll cost around $233,610 to raise a child through the age of 17, and that doesn’t include money for college. Housing is apparently a middle-income family’s biggest expense, reaching 29% of total costs. Food comes in second at 18% and child care/education is third at 16%. Of course, these expenses vary depending on the child and family.
Since housing payments are one of the biggest costs for families, it makes sense to start there when you’re saving for a baby. If you already own a home, remember that interest rates are currently at record lows, so there’s no better time to refinance your mortgage and lower your payment. Bringing in a roommate or moving back home — which happens for many couples — are also ways to pocket money and develop a manageable budget.
Related: How to Save Money Fast During a Recession
As for child care expenses, see if your work offers a Dependent Care FSA (DCFSA). These programs can help shoulder the costs of child care in certain circumstances. Click here for a full list of how you can use a DCFSA, and check with your employer or tax advisor for details. If a DCFSA isn’t an option, there are still ways to save. See if a family member can help, or find out whether you and your partner can work opposite shifts. Would a nanny share or home daycare be cheaper than a traditional daycare center? It pays to research all of your child care options before your child arrives.
Groceries are another major expense that you can lower on a regular basis. Whether it’s buying in bulk or sticking to a budget-friendly meal plan, there are so many effective strategies for cutting back.
Related: You Could Save $1,866 a Year on Groceries with These Clever Food Waste Gadgets
Of course, the life of a parent is also quite unpredictable, which means there are tons of unexpected costs that could come up. For instance, having a child could increase your health insurance costs. And while you may qualify for public programs such as Medicaid and CHIP, budgeting for higher premiums and extra medical visits for your little one is something you’ll definitely want to consider.
And how about when your kid is sick? For many people, taking off work isn’t easy, never mind the costs of lost wages, but it doesn’t hurt to see what benefits your employer may offer. Some companies have the benefit of on-call babysitters or may allow employees to work from home. Alternatively, certain daycare centers offer sick care for children. This is another area where looking into the details — and any costs — of all your options ahead of time could definitely save you money.
Childbirth Isn’t CheapBefore you get into the price of child care and extra groceries, the cost of actually giving birth is important to keep in mind and set money aside for, as well. Even though insurance can help relieve your wallet, ahead you’ll find how much you should expect to pay for certain services.
- Pre-Birth: Prenatal appointments, ultrasounds and other procedures are all part of the parenting adventure, so make sure you know the exact health insurance plan you have, what it covers and all the eligible providers in your area. If you don’t have health insurance, low-income families may be able to qualify for Medicaid or a program through HealthCare.gov.
- Birthing: Your hospital bill for childbirth will depend on where you go, but it could cost anywhere from $2,000 to over $20,000. However, the average for normal deliveries is apparently $10,808, as reported by a 2015 study.
- Adoption: If you’ve chosen to adopt, know that costs can vary greatly, with adopting through foster care typically being the least expensive. If you prefer a private agency, you could spend anywhere from around $25,000 to $48,000.
Create a Baby Shower RegistryBaby showers aren’t just for memories, it’s a way for friends and family to show you how excited they are for your new baby. Trust us, put your pre-baby shopping on pause and pick it back up after the party.
Quite frankly, you may not even have to buy much stuff, especially if you let your loved ones know exactly what you need. And that’s what registries are for. Additionally, many baby registries feature free gifts and discounts that are worth taking advantage of, even if you don’t end up having an actual shower. Here are some of the best registries to sign up for featuring can’t-miss freebies:
- Amazon Baby Registry: When you sign up for an Amazon registry, you may receive limited-time offers such as a Welcome Box, free parenting eBook, discounts from Tiny Prints, maternity savings, and more. On top of that, you’ll get 10% off (or 15% if you’re a Prime member) eligible items left on the registry within 60 days of your baby’s due date.
- Target Baby Registry: Target has similar deals in favor of the soon-to-be parents. For instance, there’s a free welcome kit that includes $120 worth of coupons and handpicked samples, as well as 15% off everything left in your registry eight weeks before your baby is due. In addition, you have the chance to return and exchange items up to a year after your due date.
- Walmart Baby Registry: With a Walmart baby registry, you’ll also be gifted a complimentary Welcome Box with $40 worth of products. Plus, you’ll have up to a year to return items from your registry.
While a registry should help ensure you get what you need, don’t hesitate to get all the gift recipes from those guests who ignore the list. “Hold on to receipts from baby showers,” adds Karen Cordaway of Money Saving Enthusiast. “This way you can go back to the store and exchange the clothes for a bigger size or get other needed items. Do the same for Pampers or any other items that you may not even use. While it’s nice to have a registry, many people bypass it.”
Know What You Need to BuyWe all know that panic buying never works and it definitely won’t help when you have a child on the way. While stocking up and grabbing more than what you need may seem like the right thing to do, it’s completely unnecessary. Just stick to the basics and we promise, you’ll be good to go.
- Diapers and Wipes: There’s nothing parents will need more than diapers and wipes. Remember, babies grow fast, so don’t stock up too much on the same-sized diapers. If you’re unsure of which brand to pick, know that Huggies provides a great rewards program that lets you earn points for your diapers and wipes purchases. Target’s Up & Up diapers are also a solid option because, beyond quality and affordability, you can save an extra 5% and get free shipping with the Target RedCard. When your kid reaches a more constant size, then go for the budget-friendly bulk purchasing at Costco.
- Car Seats: You should welcome secondhand toys and clothes from your friends and family, but be wary of used car seats. Make sure any car seat you get hasn’t been involved in an accident, hasn’t been recalled and isn’t expired. Moreover, just because a car seat has a higher price tag, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better. All car seats have to pass the same safety tests. If all else fails, snag that old car seat from your loved one for Target’s annual car seat trade-in event, where you could get 20% off a new car seat in exchange for an old one.
- Cribs: Don’t waste money on just a crib for your newborn. Order something that can convert into a bed for when your baby is older. Naturally, Amazon has a wide selection of cribs that easily convert into beds for the younger stages of your child’s life.
Skip the Non-EssentialsEven if you think you need it, check yourself because there’s nothing more wasteful than having stuff you’re not going to use. Below, you’ll find some non-essential items that new parents shouldn’t have on their shopping lists.
- Multiple Strollers: There are so many kinds of strollers on the market, but it doesn’t mean you need them all. Instead, grab an all-in-one deal like the Baby Jogger City Mini that’s perfect for anything, lightweight and collapses easily. Furthermore, consider buying strollers used. You could definitely scoop up a great deal on a high-end one just by scrolling on Facebook marketplace.
- Shoes: We get it, you want your kid to look fresh. However, why put in all the effort of buying shoes when your newborn can’t even walk yet. If style means that much to you, at least wait until your child is mobile.
- Changing Table: In reality, changing tables are an unnecessary added cost that just take up a lot of room. Make your life easier by simply throwing a changing pad on a dresser.
Find the Best Deals on Baby ItemsBaby deals are everywhere and we’re here to help you spot them. From rewards programs to social media groups, below is a list of how to save.
- Store Circulars: Store circulars (online or via snail mail) are a guaranteed way to stay on top of all the steals.
- Couponing: Take things even further by clipping coupons, but don’t go overboard. Only set aside the discounts you need, otherwise it’ll get inefficient and overwhelming.
- Rewards Programs: There’s no doubt you’ll be spending plenty of money on daily essentials, so why not get rewarded for it? Pampers and Huggies have solid rewards programs that give you points, which you can use on more items you need. Many baby formula companies also offer rewards programs and will send you frequent product coupons when you sign up.
- Word of Mouth: You know what they say, mothers know best. Take that advice and ask the mommies around you where they’re finding the baby bargains.
- National Diaper Bank Network: In case you or anyone you know needs help, this nonprofit organization is ready to help get you the diapers your child needs.
Where to Keep Your SavingsSo you’ve managed to save up a little nest egg, but now you need to keep it in the right place. When choosing a savings account, you’ll want to prioritize the following:
- A competitive interest rate
- A safe place to keep your money (FDIC insured)
- No fees (or very minimal fees)
- Easy access and liquidity
Since you’ll be saving as much as you can (or $233,610 if you’re lucky), you should put in the time to find the right institution for you. Click through here for details on the pros and cons of a variety of online savings accounts with high-interest rates that should be on your radar.
Bottom Line“Nobody shared with me the cost of having a baby from pre-pregnancy to afterbirth. That was all very surprising to me for baby No. 1,” CFP and Founder of Avea Financial Planning Angela Furubotten-LaRosee shared with MagnifyMoney. No matter the stage you’re at, it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting into and to plan in advance as much as possible. While that’s easier said than done, fingers crossed that the stress-free money-saving tricks above will help. If you’re disciplined and only buy what’s absolutely necessary, we promise you’ll end up spending less than you’d expect.
How to Save No Matter Where You Shop or What You Buy
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