Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Budgeting for Baby

A new baby brings joy, adventure, and excitement into a parent’s life. It can also bring additional expenses. You have less than a year to prepare for your little one's arrival, so make sure to get a head start by establishing a budget before the baby gets here.

A recent article from NBC News stated that the average cost of raising a child from birth to age 18 is $241,080. That cost does not include college. The article also says that 42% of new parents never budgeted for child care expenses before having a baby.

Establishing a budget beforehand will give you realistic ideas on what to expect while you’re expecting! With a little creativity and some serious planning, you can save money and make your dollars stretch. Here are some potential ways to save:

1.   Take advantage of gently used items or hand-me-downs

Did anyone in your circle of family or friends have a baby in the past 2 years? If so, ask them if they have any items they no longer use. This could be a great way to acquire things like cribs, high chairs, toys, and clothes. Also remember that not everything needs to be bought before your new baby arrives. Make a list of items you’ll need before baby is born, 3-6 months after the baby is born and a year after. This will help you space out your costs over time, and will also give you the opportunity to shop for deals and save up coupons for larger purchases.

2.   Have a baby shower
Your friends and family want to show their support for you and your new bundle of joy. Let them throw you a baby shower. Registering for the baby shower will help eliminate getting repeat gifts and will definitely help relieve the financial burden of buying baby supplies on your own.

3.   Buy in bulk or buy generic

Diapers can cost anywhere from $600-$1,000 a year for one baby. This is one reason why cloth diapers have made a huge comeback in recent years. Many budget-minded parents have saved a lot by washing their own diapers instead of buying disposable ones. If you don’t want to go the cloth route, consider buying your diapers in bulk or shopping online to find discounts. Another great way to save on items like baby powder, wipes, and formula is to buy generic or store brand items.

4.   Make your own baby food
Baby food costs about $1 a jar. Have a food processor at home? You’ll spend a lot less on baby food if you make it yourself. You can make baby food ahead of time with fresh fruits and veggies and freeze leftovers to keep for a few months. It can also be a fun and creative way to prepare healthy meals for your little one.

5.   Ask for free samples
Many manufacturers give free samples to hospitals so make sure you ask for them before you head home with your baby. If there is a particular brand you like, make sure to register and sign-up for newsletters too so you get discounts and free samples from that company. There are hundreds of websites that provide free samples for new parents. You just need to be proactive and seek them out. You may only get a couple of uses out of anything you’ve sampled, but the products are still free.

Remember that it takes a village to raise a child, so never be afraid to ask for help from family and friends. Coming up with a plan and budget before your baby arrives will give you more time to focus on your new baby and adjusting to life as a parent. 

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