It’s not a secret that children are expensive. We talk about the cost of diapers and daycare, but those aren’t the only costs you need to anticipate as you think about starting a family or you calibrate your finances after you have your first.
Babies do bring a bit of escalation to the family budget, but it’s not all doom and gloom. The newest addition to your family doesn’t have to cost quite as much as you were anticipating. There are plenty of ways to anticipate costs, plan ahead, and save money every step of the way.
The Obvious Costs of Raising a Baby
There are many costs associated with having and then raising a baby. The most obvious ones include:
- Hospital bills
- Formula, diapers, and baby clothes
If you are fortunate enough to have excellent medical coverage, you may not have thousands of dollars in hospital bills. But many families aren’t so fortunate. If you know you’re going to be paying for the birth, talk to your doctor and the hospital during the pregnancy about your health insurance situation. You may find that the hospital has a “cash rate” for delivery or that you can arrange payments over the time before delivery to avoid a large bill when you leave.
Formula, diapers, and baby clothes.
The typical baby care items can all be expensive when purchased new and on a regular basis. There are a few ways to trim some costs here, however.
- Formula – If you choose to and you’re successful breastfeeding, try nursing exclusively. If you choose formula, consider supplementing first as you nurse to use less formula. Join a wholesale or reliable online supplier to buy formula powder as it will be less expensive than the grocery store. Signing up newsletters from the formula company and later baby food companies may yield regular coupons as well. Encourage friends and family to sign up as well for additional coupons.
- Baby clothes – As adorable as they are, baby clothes are easy to overbuy. Your baby doesn’t often need full outfits. Interchangeable onesies and pants will cover most of the day. Zipper pajamas will cover the rest.
Babies outgrow clothing at a terrific rate, so follow parenting groups in your area on social media to score hand-me-downs. Resale and consignment shops also have excellent deals on baby clothes. Most importantly, don’t try to stock up too far in advance since you can’t be sure what size your baby will need for each season. It might wind up being a waste of money.
- Diapers – Diapers only come in two options – cloth and disposable. Some families opt for cloth diapering which cuts down costs considerably since the diapers are reusable. Other families prefer disposable. You can cost costs with diapers with coupons, buying generic brands, buying wholesale or buying online. Just be sure the diapers you buy are a good fit for your baby. Don’t buy hundreds of diapers wholesale before you have a chance to test the fit of the diaper on your individual baby – not all diapers fit every baby well.
This is a tricky cost that can be enormous for some families. The best solution to childcare is to have a family member watch your baby without any cost. Shift work, a retired grandmother, or a loving aunt might be the solution. But many families wind up paying quite a bit for childcare. To keep costs down here:
- Sign up in advance for childcare at your workplace. If they have childcare, it may be free or a reduced fee, but often these perks have a waiting list. Get on it now.
- Look for church-based childcare programs. These might be less expensive, but also might have shorter hours. Church-based programs plus a babysitter might be a great solution.
- Join forces with another family, especially if they have a single baby as well. Hire one babysitter for both families and you can essentially share the cost. Just be sure the babysitter can handle the two little ones.
- Use childcare credits. Read up on flexible benefits and childcare credits that you may be qualified for. These benefits allow you to pay for childcare with tax-free money, which is some savings at least.
The Hidden Costs of Raising a Baby
There are a few budget items you might not think about initially when you bring that baby home from the hospital. There are “hidden” costs that show up over time, but it’s definitely worth thinking about now. If your family budget allows it, prepare for these costs ahead of time by setting up savings accounts in your bank.
- School costs – We know college is a future expense, but so are the first 13 or more years of school. If you know you’re going private school, that’s going to cost you tuition and fees, just like college will. But even public school has additional costs. Keeping money in the bank for field trips, band instruments, private lessons, sports fees, uniforms, lunch money and more will ease the burden down the road.
- Housing costs – A tiny baby fits easily into your apartment, but babies don’t stay tiny. They have so much stuff. And what about when little brother comes along in a couple of years? If you’re stretched to afford the place you have now, start thinking about future housing costs and if that might mean moving to a more affordable area to be sure you have room for your future family’s growth.
- Vehicles – You can squeeze that infant seat into just about any car since it sits between the seats, but a rear facing car seat takes up quite a bit more room. Add to that a second car seat down the road and you’ve outgrown your vehicle. Start a savings account for your future parent-mobile. There’s a reason so many parents drive cross over SUVs and mini vans.
- Life insurance – Once you hold that precious baby, you’ll know just how it important it is to keep your child safe and secure. One of the most important things you’ll buy will be life insurance for both you and your partner. Life insurance will ensure that your child is financially protected even if the worst happens to you. Add to these costs the cost of a lawyer to draw up your will and other estate documents. After all, you need to be prepared on all fronts.