A baby changes everything – including your bank account balance. Before you reach into your wallet for all the latest and greatest baby “essentials,” review these 11 tips for practical money-saving advice:
Baby budget: Revise (or create) a new budget, adding up the costs that will arrive the moment your baby does. Among the categories to consider:
- Healthcare: Do you have a co-pay or deductible? You will visit your pediatrician for check-ups numerous times in the first few months. In fact, whatever you anticipate spending on healthcare, set aside extra – even if you have good insurance. You can’t predict your baby’s health, and some medical procedures may not be optional.
- Childcare: Daycare costs can easily exceed $1,000 a month, so be sure to budget for this hefty expense. If you’re not returning to work, factor in any loss of income.
- Daily baby needs: Estimate the costs of everyday items like diapers, wipes, formula, and other baby needs.
- Mommy gear: Don’t forget to budget for clothes that will fit after delivery, breastfeeding equipment, a diaper bag, etc.
- Transportation: Do you have the appropriate vehicle and car seat to tote your little one?
Maternity leave: Many working moms get six weeks or more of maternity leave. Is your leave paid or unpaid? Do you have a savings buffer to cover your family’s living expenses while you’re caring for your newborn? Can you use accrued sick and vacation days during your leave? If money is a concern, begin setting aside extra cash as early as possible to ease the financial burden of maternity leave.
Life Insurance: If you’re not insured – or if you’re underinsured – now is the time to research and purchase sufficient life insurance.
Brands:Be careful not to stock up on too many items of the same brand – like bottles, binkies and formula – until you’re sure your baby likes them. And, if an “essential” item is available in a dependable, lower-priced brand, consider trying that one out instead.
Luxury baby items: Many parents feel pressured to buy luxury gear, but remember that your baby won’t know the difference between a no-name swing and the top-of-the-line model.
Newborn gear: Don’t overbuy “newborn” outfits, pajamas, onesies or diapers. Your baby will outgrow them within a few weeks.
Choose “convertibles:” Seek out baby furniture and other necessities that have multiple uses. For instance, buy a playpen with an optional bassinet or a crib that converts to a toddler bed. It won’t be long before it’s time to move your baby to a big-kid bed, and you’ll be happy you don’t have to spend even more cash.
Buy used: While there are a handful of items you should always buy new, such as car seats and breast pumps, consider browsing Craigslist, consignment stores and garage sales for baby toys, swings and strollers. Babies grow so quickly and many such items are hardly used. To that end, you should consider selling your baby’s used gear too.
Choose your registry wisely: You will likely receive gifts of clothing and blankets from friends and family. When planning your gift registry, select necessities your friends may not think to buy. Sites like www.babycenter.com can help you choose these items.
Stock up: Buy the jumbo box of diapers and the largest-available canister of formula. And when it’s on sale, stock up. This applies to clothes, too, but keep in mind your baby’s age and be sure to buy seasonally appropriate clothing.
Sign up for samples: Warehouse stores as well as brands like P&G, Huggies, Pampers, Enfamil and Similac give generous samples to new parents. Get on their email lists!