Parenthood is undoubtedly the most exciting, exhausting, and exhilarating adventure of your lifetime. But it can also be one of the most expensive. Take a stroll through the baby section of any local department store and you could easily spend thousands in baby supplies that are all deemed “necessities.” Becoming a parent is just the start of another financial responsibility, but with some research and careful planning, you can successfully manage your baby-related spending. While you await the arrival of your new addition, check out our top tips for how to budget for a baby.
1. Buy Secondhand
Since most baby items are used for a very short window of time, many parents end up unloading baby items that are still in excellent or gently used condition. Visit your local thrift store and hit up yard sales during the weekend. You can find gently used baby clothes, strollers, high chairs, play gyms, bouncers, toys, and other necessities on the cheap. (Generally, the only items that should be brand-new are cribs and car seats, due to safety regulations.) Children’s consignment sales, which usually happen in either the spring or fall, are an excellent source of low-priced, hardly used items for children of all ages.
2. Tighten Your Current Budget
To figure out how to budget for a baby, sit down with your partner and take a hard look at your monthly bills and expenses. Do you really need cable, or could you switch to Internet streaming services? How much of your grocery bill could you afford to cut? How can you avoid nonessential purchases, such as takeout? Although these areas may not have anything to do with the baby, tightening your finances in all areas will lighten your financial burden when you have an additional member of the household in tow.
3. Go Natural
Relying on natural options for feeding your baby will save you thousands in the first year. Regardless of your personal stance toward breastfeeding, it is the most cost-effective way to feed your baby within the first six months of his or her life. Once your little one can test out actual foods, consider mixing up your own baby food using a blender and fresh vegetables, fruits, and protein you have on hand in your house. You’ll be able to save a bundle when you skip the pricey baby food pouches.
4. Make Your Needs Known
If family and friends happen to ask what you need, make sure to mention some of the more essential items on the pricier side — for example, a crib, dresser, and car seat. If you have created a registry for a baby shower, limit your list to these must-have items and avoid getting distracted by the retailer’s suggestions of what you “really need.” Request items like diapers and wipes or gift cards to local grocery stores to help you stock up your supply.
5. Clip Coupons
Items like diapers and wipes can quickly add up to a considerable expense — one that will stick around for the first few years. You can trim some of the costs by visiting websites for companies like Huggies and Pampers, which regularly send samples and coupons if you sign up on the website. You may also consider testing out the generic store brand diapers and stalking the coupons section for upcoming deals in your local pharmacies and grocery stores.
6. Start a Baby Fund
Having an emergency fund is even more essential when you welcome a new member of the family. Make it a point to start transferring a certain amount of cash to your baby fund either weekly or monthly. Once you have a fund started, you can worry less about a situation arising that might strain your finances — such as your spouse or you have to stay home from work due to a child’s illness. To limit your access to the cash, try to set up the savings account in the bank you don’t normally use.
7. Seek Out Items with Multiple Uses
Children’s items have a limited shelf life, so it helps to find things that can be used for various stages of their lives. For example, some cribs can convert to a toddler bed and even a standard-sized bed. Many convertible car seats can be used from infancy through your child’s preschool years. Save yourself the hassle of continually having to replace items by strategically purchasing items that convert as your child grows.
8. Make Credit a Priority
As an expectant parent, your credit plays an important role in how to budget for a baby. Take this opportunity to check in with the pros at Ovation Credit for a thorough review of your credit report. Contact us for a free consultation today.