The arrival of a baby is, without doubt, a blessing. While most parents understand that the baby comes with new financial responsibilities, few understand how high the cost of bringing up a child to adulthood can be.
On average, the first year of bringing up a child can cost $13,186. If you are not smart, you could end up with a high credit card debt, in addition to the student loan debt, auto loans, medical loans, mortgage and personal loans most Americans carry.
Let’s look at the few costs of having a newborn baby.
- One time baby supplies
There are a few essentials that you are sure to need and require a significant investment such as a crib, stroller, and car seat. You can always buy second-hand or use hand-me-downs. They help reduce your expenses but always ensure they are safe first.
- Recurrent baby supplies
Recurrent baby expenses include diapers, wipes, baby formula, clothes, and personal care items. Buying in bulk can get you a good deal. Request your pediatrician for free some free samples of baby formula.
If you are both working, you will definitely need to hire a nanny after the maternity leave is over. The cost of hiring a nanny will depend on the terms of engagement. A live-in nanny will cost more than a live-out nanny.
- Healthcare cost
Most parents assume that newborn health care costs will be covered by insurance, but you should expect to cough up a substantial amount from your pocket. The healthcare costs for the first year will include regular checkups, vaccinations, and common illnesses such as the occasional flu.
As the baby grows, expect to incur other major expenses such as college fees. Begin saving for these costs as soon as you plan to start a family. Ensure that your debts are paid and build a sizeable emergency fund.
If you are already expecting, or just had a baby, do not fret. Here are ten practical ways you can save some money.
1) Saving on Baby Clothes
Babies outgrow clothes very fast and if you are not careful, you could spend a lot buying new clothes every week. Instead of getting the newborn size, get clothes on sizes ranging from nine months and beyond. Your child will grow into them.
Get into an arrangement with friends and neighbors who have kids older than yours. They can pass over their clothes to you once their kids outgrow them. You could get lucky and receive a few other extra items these parents no longer use. Always disinfect the clothes and items before use.
2) Never Underestimate the Power of a Budget
With so many new responsibilities and hardly enough time to sleep, you cannot rely on your exhausted mind to make sound financial decisions. A budget can come in handy and prevent you from digging yourself into credit card debt or other hefty loans those are hard to pay off due to their unacceptable interest rates.
Set aside a reasonable amount for every recurrent household expense. Place this money in envelopes labeled according to your expenses. For instance, every onesie you buy will deduct money from the clothing envelope, when the money is over, you cannot buy any more clothes until the next paycheque.
3) Go for Convertible Gear
Before buying baby gear, ask around for 3-in-1 or 2-in-1 options to avoid making a new purchase every time your child outgrows what they are currently using. For instance, get a crib that you can convert to a toddler bed or a convertible car seat, they are both cost savers.
If you are expecting another new baby or plan on having one soon, go for a convertible stroller that can be used as a single or double stroller. It is cheaper than buying a single stroller now and buying a double stroller later.
4) Sign Up for Diaper Subscriptions
Running out of diapers and baby wipes can be a crisis. It can happen when you have no money to spare. Besides, running to the store every now and then is bound to have you spending on more than just diapers. A few unplanned items will end up in the shopping basket as well.
Sign up for a diaper subscription. They ensure that you are always stocked up with adequate diapers. Sticking to a specific brand can also make you eligible for discounts.
5) You Don’t Have to Splurge on Every Birthday
Millennials are addicted to social media and it’s affecting their parenting. New parents are often overwhelmed by the need to measure up to other parents who post Instagram pictures of extravagant birthday parties or feel pressured to reciprocate birthday invitations. They end up taking unnecessary debt to keep appearances.
If you are working on a tight budget, don’t worry about it. Your child is only interested in the cake and candy, and so a simple and intimate party will do. Leave the big celebrations with friends for major milestones such as turning five and ten. You will have saved up enough by then.
6) Prepare Your Own Baby Food
Pre-packed baby food is fast and convenient for the busy mom but it also comes at a cost. Making your own baby food is not rocket science. With a blender or processor, you can cut the cost of buying ready-made food.
When you make your baby’s food yourself, it gives you the confidence that all the ingredients used are baby-safe and nutritious. Get recommendations on a good recipe book for first foods from your pediatrician. Make a lot of the baby food when you are free and store it under safe conditions, when you need some you can just steam it.
7) Housing Expense
Of the total cost of bringing up children, housing expense takes up the largest proportion. The baby’s arrival does not mean you have to move to a bigger house. Your expenses are going to skyrocket, so save when you can. Have the child sleep in a baby nook placed in your room until it’s no longer convenient, perhaps at two years.
Having the baby close to you also reduces the anxiety most first-time parents face. You no longer have to check on the baby every hour to check if they are safe.
8) Saving on Baby Toys
If you are not careful, you can spend a significant amount on toys. Get simple items, your baby will not know the difference, and they might break it in a few days.
A simple trick to avoid buying new toys every time is to hide a few and reveal them when the kid gets bored with what they are currently playing with. They will think you bought a new toy. Hide some more and it will be some time before you have to actually buy something new.
9) Ask for Monetary Gifts during Occasions
Few people get creative with their gift-giving, and most times, you are likely to receive similar items or things you already have enough of such as toys and clothes.
Ask your friends and family to consider gifts in money form. If making the request feels awkward, you can request them to contribute towards the child’s college fund.
10) Consult Other Parents on the Necessities
New parents spend a lot money buying items prior to the arrival of the baby. However, most of the items remain unused such as baby wipe warmers and newborn shoes. A better method is to keep the money and buy items on need-basis.
Seek advice from other experienced parents. Find out what is necessary and what isn’t, which brands are best, and the money saving tips that have worked for them.
Raising a child is no walk in the park. It comes with a new set of financial responsibilities which if you are not careful, can get you into debt. With all the late nights and fatigue, you may not realize the excessive spending, not until your drowning in debt.
Work with a budget to ensure that you are living within your means. Buy only what you need, and if possible, it should last through a few phases of your baby’s growth. Reduce your trips to the store by registering with a diaper delivery service and making your own baby food.
Remember that the baby’s arrival does not mean you have to move to a larger house, do it when you can afford it. Don’t strain your budget trying to please people with large birthday parties – do what you can afford.
The only person who will suffer in case you fall into debt is you, and your family; spend wisely.