Budgeting After Baby
By Sarah Lyons
Babies cost a lot of money! Diapers, formula, clothes, and baby gear can take a huge chunk out of your monthly budget. Some families find that with the cost of child care or reducing to a single income makes the adjustment even more difficult than expected. Here are some tips to cut down on spending.
To save on diapers, consider switching to cloth. Modern cloth diapers are easy to use and come in cute designs. The initial cost is typically $10-20 per diaper, but they can be reused for years.
If cloth diapers aren’t for your family, there are still ways to save money on disposable diapers. Check manufacturer websites for high-dollar coupons and combine with store sales. Generic diapers are another great way to save and they are typically comparable to name brand. “Don’t be afraid to potty-train your child early,” says Jane Vazquez from Jackson, who is financial planner and mom of a newborn and a 3-year-old. “While every child is different, some are able to potty-train very early. This will help save a lot of money on diapers.”
Breastfeeding is not always an option for families for a variety of reasons, and formula is pricey. Coupons and rebates are readily available from the manufacturer. Go to the manufacturer’s website and sign up for additional coupons and have friends and family do the same. You can also ask your obstetrician and pediatrician for free formula samples.
Car seat, stroller, high chair, bouncer, swing and more. There sure is a lot of gear for someone so small and it seems each item costs $100, often more. It’s wise to buy a new car seat that meets current safety standards but all the other items can be purchased gently used and later sold again when your family no longer needs them.
Babies grow fast! “A lot of parents seem to have extra costs from clothing.” says Vazquez. “Kids grow up so fast and seem to need a bigger size constantly and they are still in good condition to be passed to friends or family.” Consider buying gently used clothing or asking friends for hand-me-downs. If you want new items, buy less than you think you will need because they are used for only a short time.
To save money on childcare, you have to get creative. Ideas include having a family or friend watch the baby at a lower rate, trading babysitting with another family, or alternating shifts with your partner to reduce time in childcare. Some companies offer flexible spending plans to pay for childcare with pre-tax money. “During the day my husband works while I take care of our children. In the evenings we switch. My husband takes care of the kids while I work a few hours. When you consider the amount of money we would spend on daycare, I would be making the same amount or less with my previous job,” says Vazquez.
Bringing home a new baby is an adjustment in many ways and financial priorities may have shifted in your family. In time, you will adjust to your new lifestyle and budget and you will feel comfortable with budgeting after baby.
Sarah Lyons is a stay-at-home mom of six children, including five-year-old triplets. She has learned to cut costs and save money in a variety of ways over the years as they added to their family.