Babies change everything, from your sleep cycle to your views on life. Unfortunately, your little bundle of joy can also put a big dent in your wallet. Don't be caught off guard by the new expenses in your life. With a bit of planning, your savings account will not only remain intact, but as brimming with money as your heart is with love.
Saving with Apps
There's an app for just about everything, and saving on baby items is no different. Between Ibotta, Checkout 51, and the Target Cartwheel app, you can save hundreds of dollars on baby food and baby gear on top of what you save with sale prices and manufacturer coupons. Stack up the savings, and you won't believe how little you'll spend.
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When you save money with apps and coupons, actually save it. Each time you shop, check the bottom of the receipt to see how much you've saved. Log into your bank account and move that amount of money from your checking to your savings account, or place it in your child's education fund to help save for college.
Practice Living Off of One Income
Unfortunately, not many parents receive paid maternity or paternity leave. Talk to your employer as soon as you find out you're pregnant and start planning. It can be difficult to drop from two incomes to one, so start acting like you already have. While you're still both working, stick away the income that you will lose when you go on maternity leave. Pretend it doesn't exist. Redo your budget based on your new income amount. This way, when that baby arrives, you won't blow through your savings.
Sure, it's fun to scan items while you set up your baby registry. But if you're smart about what you scan, you'll get what you actually need for your baby. Stick to the necessities like a stroller, a crib, a car seat, diapers, and other items you won't be able to live without. Cousins and aunts can chip in together for big ticket items.
Borrow Instead of Buy
If you have family and friends with a child who has grown out of her crib or pack 'n' play, ask if you can borrow it. Borrowing items instead of buying them will save you a ton of money. Some friends may even just tell you to keep smaller items with not-so-small prices such as the Baby Bjorn or play mat.
If you're undecided on breastfeeding versus formula feeding, go with breastfeeding. Not only are there significant health benefits for both mother and baby, but the financial benefits are substantial as well. Formula costs about $50 to $200 a month depending on the brand, compared to the zero dollar price tag on breastfeeding.
Skip Unnecessary Items
There are a million and one baby items out there, many of them not even remotely necessary. Bottle warmers, wipe warmers, the Diaper Genie, and baby shoes are just a few of the high-priced items you can skip. Your baby won't miss them, and neither will you.
Dependent Care Flexible Savings Account
Setting up a Dependent Care Flexible Savings Account allows you to set aside up to $5,000 a year from your paycheck tax free to use on daycare, afterschool care, and summer camps for your child while you work. Your contributions are deducted from your paycheck before federal, state and social security taxes are taken out, saving you up to $2,000 a year.
Start Saving and Planning Early
As soon as you learn you're pregnant, or even before, take every opportunity to plan for your future. Compare your company's health insurance with your spouse's to see which has better maternity coverage. Costs for care add up quickly with tests, ultrasounds, and the high cost of labor and delivery. Better coverage can save you a bunch of cash. You should also price out life insurance policies and create a will before the baby arrives and you have less time (and money) on your hands.
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Join a Toy Library
There are currently around 400 toy libraries in the U.S. They work just like book libraries. Parents and children can borrow toys, and once they have mastered them or become bored with them, the toys can be returned for another child to use. It's a brilliant way for families to save money and cut down on plastic waste, too.
After your baby arrives, you'll want to be able to focus your time and energy on him or her instead of your bank account. Plus, financial stresses and baby stresses can both strain your marriage. Eliminating money worries will help both you and your spouse rest better and truly enjoy your new family life.
Nancy Flanders is mom to three girls and is the managing editor of ParentingSquad.com, a community blog offering parenting tips and advice. She contributes to several parenting and family websites and publications and writes about parenting a child with cystic fibrosis at ChronicAdmissions.com.