It’s a common consensus that babies are expensive. According to the US Department of Agriculture, the cost of raising a child (excluding college) is $233,610! Of that, over $13,000 is the average cost for baby’s first year (not including delivery expenses). There are ways to greatly reduce this cost! Growing up in a rather poor family, I had always been on the frugal side. Even if I had more money to spend on things for baby, I chose to save it. Wouldn’t you rather spend more time with your baby and less time working to pay for things? How about putting that money toward experiences together?
Below is a list of the things I did to prepare for baby and save money:
Look at your insurance plan. Make sure you are aware of your deductible and out-of-pocket costs. If you are lucky enough to look at options while planning a pregnancy, search for short-term disability plans, too. Since we were planning on starting a family, I enrolled in the “lower deductible” plan my employer offered. My daughter had to be delivered at 29 weeks due to severe preeclampsia. If I had opted for the high deductible plan, it could have been financially devastating.
Whatever your deductible and out-of-pocket expenses may be, plan to save those amounts by budgeting an amount throughout the pregnancy. Sure, you could pay it off in payments, but some OB-GYNs don’t give you that option. You’ll appreciate having medical expenses covered as costs of baby items accrue.
Buy everything you can gently used. Our crib and mattress was $20, and our changing table was $5. A friend was looking to find a home for a glider that needed work. With some paint and about $20 more, there were the basics for our nursery! Maternity and baby clothes are only used briefly. Find these items at yard sales, marketplaces, and Craigslist. Ask around to see if anyone you know is looking to part with items! While you’re making room for baby things, now is a good time to sell or part with items you are no longer using. That extra cash will help replace those items with things you will need. Now is also the time to decide what items you really want, or can do without. We chose a glider because nursing was important to us, and it was free! Also, a diaper pail might not be important to you, but we had gifted cloth diapers to use as our daughter grew into them, so it was a must for us.
Make a registry for every company that sells baby products! Seriously, the baby market is huge, and they are all competing for your business. Even if you don’t plan on others buying you items, use it to make a list of things you will need. I had a Target, Buy Buy Baby, Walmart, and Amazon registry. All four of these companies give you free goodies, discounts, and coupons for creating a registry. The Target goodie bags included diaper samples, bottles, pacifiers, toiletries, coupons, and offered 15 percent off of anything left on the registry closer to the due date. Amazon will send you a box of goodies for creating a registry and spending $10 on an item on that registry. We got more bottles, diaper samples, blanket, onesie, and lots more! The point is, all of this will save you money. We never bought a bottle, had at least a couple of days of free diapers, and saved money on the things we were going to buy anyway!
Use services such as Poshmark to sell items you no longer use. With some free time on the weekend, I was able to photograph and list clothing items I didn’t need anymore. I made enough money selling these items to get several maternity items as well as a few items for the baby. Use my code when joining, and get $10 off! I’ll also get $10 if you make a purchase.
Consider breastfeeding if it is an option for you. Formula can be very expensive, and there are a lot of reasons to breastfeed besides finances. More information on my breastfeeding experience can be found **here** .
Cloth Diapers Trust me, you’ll be so used to poop that the “yuck” factor won’t matter anymore, and you’ll be doing laundry anyway. Cloth diapers have come a long way, and there are very affordable options out there. If you choose to cloth diaper, beware that there are tons of cute prints and lots of extras that you can get for the cloth diapering experience. In order to save money, you need to stick to the basics! Read more about my cloth diapering experience **here**.
Check out your local health department. Ours offered absolutely free classes for mom and dad, and grants allowed them to provide incentives for completing the classes. We received diapers and wipes, and a brand new pack ‘n play just for going. The information in these classes was very valuable, and it gave us another reason to bond on a weeknight. These classes also offered extra visits where I could listen to the baby’s heart between OB appointments and ask questions as they came up. All of this was free, and no insurance information was needed. They also pointed out community resources that I was unaware of, and many were able to help!
Breast Pumps If you plan to breastfeed, contact your insurance company to find out what breast pump and supplies may be covered. I received a breast pump of my choice! You can read more about my pumping experience **here**.
Do some research to see if you qualify for any other programs or assistance. Before we had our daughter, we both worked decent jobs and had planned for her to arrive. What we didn’t plan for was for me to be deathly ill, have her come 11 weeks early, and spend two months in a hospital two hours away! I had assumed that we wouldn’t qualify for help based on our incomes, but was surprised to see that there was help available for situations like ours. Our baby would need extra medical care for quite a while, and we now receive help for her medical expenses. After a simple phone call, I also found we would receive mileage reimbursement for travel to her appointments. We qualify for WIC simply because of her incredibly low birth weight and my exclusive breastfeeding. It never hurts to ask!
Do the math to see if you can make it on one income, or find a way to save on daycare expenses. In our area, daycare is more than our mortgage. The one daycare I liked was $1300 a month! When our daughter came early, we were told no daycare until she was at least 6 months old. We made the decision that I would stay at home and we would do whatever we could to make things work. The daycare savings and being frugal made it worth the sacrifices.
Remember that having a baby doesn’t mean that you need tons of gadgets and items. It is so easy to go overboard with all of the cute items, or things that seem to be convenient. There are many things that you just don’t need! Those items will be different for every family. I wanted a changing table for storage and as a place to change baby. Some people don’t use them or think they are helpful. I needed a sterilizer for pump parts and bottles for my preemie, but many just boil bottles once. A bottle warmer seemed expensive, when we could just stick one in the hole in the sink and fill it up with hot water. I would never pay $150 for a place to “dock” my baby, but some moms swear by them! We don’t judge because we know every family has different needs. Start with only the basics, and you can expand if you need to.
Using the above techniques allowed us to spend a very minimal amount to prepare for our bundle, and I hope they help you, too! Do you have any money-saving tips to add? I’d love to feature them here!