It’s no secret that adding a new member to your family can be a bit costly, and I’m here to tell you that I’ve learned firsthand just how true this can be. However, with a little planning and some smart shopping, you can get your budget ready for a baby and minimize the impact he or she will have on your bank account, and your new life as a family in general. We’re coming up on the one-month mark with our little peanut, and I thought it might be helpful to share some ways we prepared for her, as well as some tricks and tips for saving more and spending less on anything and everything baby.
Refine your budget. Prioritize your essential spending and cut back where you can. The “entertainment” and “miscellaneous” parts of budgets are usually the first to get trimmed – nights out at fancy restaurants will have to be reserved for special occasions. Your first few months will likely be spent trying to catch up on sleep anyway. Remember to take into account all of the things you’ll need to plan for – furnishings, food, clothing, diapers, health care, and child care, just to name a few.
Stash some extra savings. Many of the costs associated with raising children are spread out over the course of a lifetime, so this leaves lots of time to plan your finances accordingly. It doesn’t hurt to put a little extra money away on top of what you’re already saving. Think about all of your expenses – basic necessities, health care, education, and extras such as toys and entertainment. The more you can have set aside before baby comes, the better! I was lucky enough to be able to start saving long before we even knew we were having a baby, which made preparing for her even easier. It’s also a smart idea to start a savings account now for your new little person. It’s never too early to teach the value of saving!
Shop smart. A lot of people, especially first-time parents, feel like everything they purchase has to be brand new or top-of-the-line. While this is important in some instances (i.e. when your child’s safety is the top priority, like when buying a car seat, for instance), it’s not usually necessary. Consider making second-hand purchases when you can, or buy generic-brand items. In turn, you’ll have more money to put towards the items that ARE worth spending more for. Be sure to focus on essentials first and worry about the little things (outfits, fancy toys, etc.) later. Don’t forget to shop around when making major purchases – compare rates and read reviews to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck! It’s also a good idea to compare prices and sales for any baby purchases, in general. You’d be surprised how much costs can vary from store to store. Why spend more when you don’t have to?
Keep an eye out for freebies and useful coupons. I was never a fan of coupons, mostly because all of the ones we got in the mail generally didn’t apply to most of our purchases. I’m singing a different tune these days. I’m always on the lookout for ways to save on products we need or use often. A ton of baby product companies offer coupons for commonly purchased items – think diapers, wipes, baby wash, etc. If you sign up for their mailing lists, you’ll get discounts sent straight to your inbox! A lot of companies will also offer free samples as well, mostly to get you familiar with their brand. Take advantage of all the offers you can! After struggling with breastfeeding, I felt incredibly lucky to have a huge stash of formula already on hand, none of which we had to pay for – we had received complimentary cans and bottles to get us started! It’s also a good idea to reach out to companies that make products you use often to see if they have anything additional to offer you that you might not see advertised. You never know what you can get until you ask!
Are you a first-time parent or a seasoned vet? What surprised you most about having a baby and how it relates to your budget?