You are about to have a baby! While planning for a baby is super exciting, I know that one of the major things on your mind is how you will afford it. Don’t panic! While babies may seem like they are expensive, it is really all in the baby planning and what compromises you are willing to make. Here are some ideas for how to save money while planning for a baby.
Get in the right mindset
First things first – you have to recognize that you want to save money. I believe that raising a baby can be as cheap or expensive as you want it to be (within reason). Saving money really is possible when you get into the right mindset – especially while planning for a baby. It is something that takes some getting used to, but once you do, it is life changing.
Consider cloth diapering
Diapers are probably one of the most expensive parts of having a baby. Cloth diapers will cost you a bit more up front, but once you’ve made that purchase, you’ll save a huge chunk of money over time. Cloth diapers are reusable for years and much better for the environment. That said, cloth diapers are not easy! They are an investment in your time, but will keep additional funds in your wallet.
Be very specific on your baby registry (and ask for what you NEED)
If you are lucky enough to be given a baby shower, make the most of the situation. The baby shower is the one chance you have to get what you really need without dipping into your wallet. Make sure that you take the time to put exactly what you need on your registry. While you don’t have to go overboard, try really hard to focus not on the shiny new gadgets that you see in the store, but on the items that you would otherwise have to purchase. Items like cribs and strollers – while big ticket purchases – can be turned into group gifts from the grandparents or coworkers. The shiny little things (like the tub kneelers and wipe warmers) are items that you can live without (just ask any girlfriend who got them at a shower and never used them!).
Start budgeting now
Some people think that they need to wait until their baby gets here to start budgeting, but that’s not true. This is all part of planning for a baby. Here is a little trick: If you are living on two incomes now, start saving as much of one income as possible. If you can live on one income now, you will be able to do it when baby gets here. I know that it is often a necessity for both parents to work, but putting away this savings can allow for one of you to be home longer or supplement a part-time job instead.
Prepare to breastfeed
Not everyone can breastfeed, so let’s make that clear off the bat. There are medical conditions and lifestyle choices that lead a parent to choose formula. There is no judgement about this, so please understand that this tip is a financial recommendation, not a lifestyle evaluation. When you’re planning for baby, your cheapest route is going to be through breastfeeding. If this is an option for you, it will save you significant amounts of money. Formula is very expensive and adds up extremely quickly, so if it’s possible, breast milk is your thriftiest option. If you are back at work, consider pumping milk and feeding your child half breast milk and half formula. Do what is right (and possible) for you and your family.
Watch where you buy your baby products
There are many good places to buy baby products while you are baby planning, but if you want to be thrifty, the stores with all of the commercials and glowing signs are not the places to go. Keep in mind that babies don’t wear any size of clothing for an extended period of time, so you don’t have to spend a ton of money. Second hand stores are an excellent place to buy your baby products and watch your dollars. Go to your local second hand store, purchase and wash four or five sleepers and a handful of onesies and you’ll be good to go for a few months (particularly those first few). You will find that between a growing baby, the weather and a lack of outings, a closet full of clothing will go to waste. eBay is also an excellent place to save money on items and clothes.
Accept hand me downs
You may have heard about hand me downs, but have you ever gotten them? Getting hand me downs for baby clothes is truly the best thing ever. You don’t have to pay money for them, you can pay them forward to someone else when you’re done, and you’re helping someone else by taking something that they really don’t have room for in their home anymore. Besides, as any parent (like myself) will tell you, it is fantastic to know that these items that only get worn two or three times will get used in a new home.
Borrow baby stuff when you can
Okay, this might sound crazy, but babies really do not use the things you buy for very long. One super thrifty option is to borrow baby stuff from your family when you can! Although it may not be fun giving it back, you’re running a marathon, not a race. When you think of everything you need for a baby, it can get extremely expensive. I encourage you to try to borrow at least one big thing so that you don’t get overwhelmed with the mounting costs. For example, a baby swing can cost between $60-$200, but you will only use it for a few months. Do you have a friend or family member who wants another child, but they aren’t pregnant yet? Ask if you can borrow the swing in the interim. Borrowing can save you a ton of money and – particularly when you are in the “small children” parenting stage – most people like to feel useful helping in these small ways.
Get used to having less money
There is only one way to say this – having a baby is more expensive than not having a baby. Something to get used to right away is having less money. Learn how to cook while you’re pregnant (that goes for both mom and dad!), get used to grocery shopping the sales with coupons and keep an eye on your budget. Once you start to move in this direction it gets much easier to be frugal minded in various aspects of your life. Be sure to also read these cost cutting ideas and household budget mistakes to help keep your savings in check!
What tips would you offer someone who is planning for a baby on a budget? I’d love to hear them!