It’s here. The beginning of our several week-long series on how to save money.
The first topic we discuss is something near and dear to my heart. How to save money with a baby.
Babies, though a miracle and a joy of a lifetime, are hilariously expensive. I’m talking average costs over $200,000 to raise that little human to age 18, and that number does not include college tuition.
There are, however, several things you can do to help mitigate the costs along the way. Most of the tips below are designed for babies on the way and for newborns, but some of the tips can be used forever.
Sign up for baby registries
Baby registries are an easy way to save money on your newborn.
You go to a store or go online to sign up. Then you go around the store or website and add as many things as you could ever need onto that registry. When it comes time for people to buy you gifts, such as the baby shower (see below), they have a list so you get things you actually need.
An additional benefit to a baby registry is some companies will throw in a discount for anything that you don’t get. Babies ‘R’ Us, for example, gave us 10% off for any item remaining on our registry.
A baby shower is where your friends and family gather to celebrate the coming birth of your child with food, games, and gifts. Most of the attendees will use the baby shower to get your gift, if you receive something that you don’t need, promptly return it to the store and use the cash (or store credit) to buy something you do need.
Sometimes, the host will use diapers and other much-needed items as decorations. For one of my wife’s baby showers (we have a large family so she had a shower for her side and a shower for my side), one of the decorations was a three-tier diaper “cake.” Diapers were rolled up and placed in a cake like formation with a ribbon holding in the outsides. At the end of the shower, we took the “cake” home and got immediate use of those diapers.
Friends and family
Your friends and family are always a great resource. If you have someone close to you that recently had a baby, ask if you could have or buy some of the lightly used clothes.
You could also see if any of them have kept baby furniture from years past. We were graciously given a rocking chair so we didn’t have to spend $100+ for one.
Another awesome way you can use the support of your family and friends is for babysitting. Child care is expensive. The average cost of child care in the United States is $11,600. Instead of taking your child there, take them to Grandma’s. You know your child is in good hands here and you save money in the process.
When shopping for clothes, gear, and furniture, look closely at thrift stores and garage sales. Your baby will grow out of their clothes so incredibly fast so it really does not pay to buy brand new.
At the same time you are looking for clothes, look for some baby furniture and gear. My wife found our changing table at a garage sale and paid $25 for it, whereas some in the store are over $300! We also found the diaper bag that I use (she has one and I have one) at a resale event. The original price tag for mine was $70 and we paid $10 for it!
Save on diapers
Whether you use cloth or disposable, there is always a way to save money on diapers.
From an article on Mint.com, the cost of cloth diapers for 12 months is $584 and the cost of disposable if $800 for 12 months. The article was written back in 2011 so the prices are probably a little higher now, but you get the idea.
If you plan to use a cloth diaper cleaning service, that would cost another $90 or so per month. The use of a cleaning service makes or breaks the case for cloth diapers.
Breastfeed if you can
Breastfeeding is not possible for everyone, but if you are able to, do it as long as you can. The cost of feeding your baby for the first year with formula is about $1,700. Breastfeeding costs nothing, aside from the cost of a breast pump.
Breast pumps can be rented, bought new or used, or can be provided by your health insurance. Check with your health insurance to see if you qualify for a free one. My wife was able to buy hers used from a friend for $50. This came with all the attachments and a lot of bottles.
Participate in subscription programs and rewards. Amazon Family is one you can subscribe to and receive instant savings on diapers, food, and more.
We take part in Pampers Rewards. Each box of Pamper’s diapers or wipes comes with a code. You enter the code into their app and receive rewards. You can trade those rewards in for gift cards and other savings. Free money!
Whether you are in the hospital still or at the pediatrician’s, take advantage of freebies. Ask for samples, you can get diapers, wipes, lotion, and formula. Isn’t doesn’t take any effort and will save you a lot of money.
In the first few months of life, your baby will experience several new things and will be sensitive to each new thing they receive. Bottles, for example, come in a variety of different shapes and sizes, and your baby will not like them all. Buy the minimal amount until you figure out his/her preference, and keep receipts so you can return what you don’t use.
Make your own baby food
This hack saves you so much money on food. All you have to do is buy a couple of pounds of your desired vegetables, steam it, then puree it. Use containers to store the food until you need it. The thickness or consistency of the food will change as the child ages. The thickness will change depending on how much water you use.
The average cost of baby food and the supplies you need range from $300 to $1,000 for the time period it’s usually needed (4 months to 12 months), so making your own food will save you a lot of money.
Taking advantage of the thousands of apps that are out there is a must for new parents.
There are apps available to help you keep a budget, there are apps to help you track your spending, and there are apps that earn you rewards while you shop. There are so many apps out there that can help you save money.
Here’s a good list brought to you by Fatherly.
An often forgotten method of saving money, but a very useful one is using coupons. Go to the manufacturer’s website to find coupons on the things you use the most, like diapers and food. You can also visit designated coupon sites to find ones that apply to you.
Don’t buy baby shoes
Your child won’t be on his/her feet for at least 6 months, but most likely longer than that. Buying baby shoes, though cute, would just be a waste of money.
Use your local library
Your library is something you should be using all of the time. Not only for free entertainment, like movies and books, but also for free classes. There is almost always a class at the library designed for new parents and their babies.
Making frequent and extended trips to the library will also make it a place of familiarity and fun for your child, which will encourage reading and learning. Win, win!
Take advantage of FSA and HSA
FSA stands for Flexible Spending Account and HSA stands for Health Savings Account. These types of accounts are contributed to with pre-tax or tax-deductible money. This should help you come tax time.
The key difference is that an HSA is only available to people who have a high-deductible health insurance plan ($1,500 for an individual, $2,600 for family). Also, if you contribute to an FSA, you have to use the money by year end because you start at $0 at the beginning of the year. An HSA you can carry over year-after-year.
This is post is much longer than usual, but there is a lot of information that can be very beneficial for those of us with kids. There are also some tidbits in here that can be used for anyone, like apps you can use for your financial health, using coupons, buying second-hand items, and the last point about FSAs and HSAs.
Yes, having a baby is extremely expensive, but it is an incredible experience. My son is six months old today and I will tell you, I wouldn’t trade a single day with him for anything. Cherish it and enjoy every minute.
If there is something not on this list that you’ve found useful in your own life, please let me know in the comments.
So readers, what one way you’ve saved money with a baby?