Most people are very aware that having a baby is not only wonderful, but can get quite costly too. A lot of expenses are planned, but once in a while you will encounter some unexpected ways to spend money. Babies are well worth all the trouble and spending, no doubt, but when getting ready to have one, be aware that according to some research, it can cost around $240,000 to raise a child from day one to 18 years of age. And that’s not including education.
Such sums of money might seem very daunting at the beginning, especially when one of the parents is on reduced maternity pay or when the family considers daycare options, which are always expensive.
It’s always good to plan ahead, even when the little person is not even here yet. This way parents have some precious time to do some research, plan ahead, and cut corners when needed in order to save money. Starting a savings account or college fund early can ensure peace of mind later and great family financial health.
Read on to find 19 ways to help you save and enjoy the baby without stressing about spending too much:
Saving on clothing
First of all, you don’t need so much – this is one thing that every first time parent needs to understand. Your newborn will have the best time with just a couple of sets of clothes and a few blankets for the first 3 months. Wardrobe for babies is expensive and outgrown so fast. This being said, our advice is not to waste money on expensive clothing items that you will need for a few weeks only. The best places to shop for outfits are consignment stores, Goodwill, and Target. New clothes should be few and saved for special occasions. When possible, buy gender neutral clothes and you will be able to use them later, if needed for other children.
Don’t be afraid to ask
Your baby is anticipated not only by you, but by family and friends who are eager to shower him or her with gifts. All you have to do is not be afraid to ask for what you really need. There are also people whose babies are growing up and they no longer need various baby gear and clothing. Clothing hand-me-downs are wonderful – you can use them for every day and shop for something cute only.
Facebook marketplace or Craigslist are both wonderful places to find bicycles and big toys at very affordable prices. You can even get full sets of LEGO for cheap.
Don’t follow trends
Be careful and think for yourself when planning for a baby – you really don’t need everything that Amazon or Buy Buy Baby registry says you need. Use common sense and don’t rush into buying everything at once.
In our digital and social media age you might want to follow the fashion and hire a professional photographer to capture every milestone. Again, fight that urge and consider enlisting a family friend with a good camera. Otherwise use coupons and choose fewer prints to be able to afford more sessions.
Take your time and spread out the spending
Paying for stuff all at once is tough for most budgets, so if you can, spread out your expenses. You can stock up on things like diapers and shampoos whenever you see a good deal. Your wallet will thank you later.
Buy non-name brands
Most baby products are exactly the same if you buy brand name or store brand, except for the price. Check the list of ingredients, compare, and you will see that often times it makes much more sense to buy a non-name brand and save.
Also skip fancy diaper holders, wipe warmers, and dirty diaper containers – you don’t need them and they are bad not only for your wallet, but for the environment too.
Do your homework
We understand that new parents don’t have lots of time on their hands, but invest at least a few minutes into research. You will not only know what you are buying better, but will save money, especially when it comes to bigger or more frequent purchases. The best thing is not to rush into buying something that looks great right away. Instead take a picture and do some comparison shopping later.
Cook and shop smart
If you are serious about saving, try meal planning and creating shopping lists. This strategy will save both money and time. Home cooking is healthier and cheaper for your young family, so learn to do it.
Instead of going out, entertain at home with healthy options and pot luck meals. Try shopping online or getting your groceries delivered after the baby is born and you are still in a fog.
Free hobbies and budget date nights
Life changes, especially when the baby is born, so we need to learn how to change and adapt. Just because date nights meant a dinner and a movie before the baby, it doesn’t mean that they still have to mean the same thing.
Once the dust settles and the family falls into a happy routine with a baby, consider pursuing new activities and hobbies – hiking, biking, boating, swimming. Think about all the money you will save by doing something healthy with the family in the forest or by the lake. If you absolutely have to go to a movie once in a while, enlist baby sitting with friends and pay them back doing the same thing for them.
Even if you frowned over coupons before, having a baby might change your mind about that. There is really no reason not to use coupons for diapers or other necessities. You can subscribe to coupon sites and follow your favorite stores on social media for the best deals. If all else fails, at least buy in bulk and save.
Let them do all kinds of spoiling, especially if that’s their first grandchild. They are often waiting to buy everything, from the cutest outfits to the strollers, so let them know what you need.
Always scout for free stuff – samples from companies, who want your future business, and vouchers from the hospital. While you’re at it, shop around for cheaper electricity and gas rates, because every little bit helps.
Create a budget
It’s very easy to overspend when you are not actively planning. Paying with plastic can encourage us to spend 12-18% more than paying with cash. Despite the sleep deprivation and the lack of time for anything, try to continue budgeting, because it will pay off in a long run. Just writing your expenses down will be a great help.
Pay extra attention to experiences, not things. Our society seems to finally have figured out what’s really important, so follow that trend and not what commercials tell you.
Your child needs love and attention, not the most expensive outfit and every bouncy chair on the market.
Don’t throw away the tags in advance
Don’t rush to take tags off the new clothes, to wash, and fold them. Young parents often end up never using those items. If you keep the purchases in their “store-like” stage, you will be able to return them before it’s too late. You can also exchange items with tags or re-gift them.
The web is amazing for so many reasons – we can talk to like-minded people, share ideas, learn from experiences, and even exchange baby items in your neighborhood. All for free.
Sibling discounts are offered at various day cares and after school activities, so always ask for one to lessen your financial burden as much as you can, especially with multiple kids. If all else fails try negotiation and shopping around, because if one place won’t honor something, another just might.
Re-negotiation for services
This might be a good time to revisit those cable and insurance plans and re-negotiate them as most companies tend to increase the prices every year.
If you are staying at home with your baby and not driving to work all the time, you might benefit from a reduced insurance premium.
Free passes and classes
Lots of cities and local communities offer free early childhood classes at no cost. You can also find local groups of moms that love to get together at local parks and stay social with their kids. Libraries often offer story hours at certain days.