Expecting? Start Budgeting for Baby!
Babies bring a lot of fun and happiness into a family, but all this joy comes with a huge price tag. If you have kids or have ever raised them, you know caring for them is not cheap. The latest statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture calculate that it will cost an average of $241,080 for a middle-class couple to raise their baby until age 18 – and that does not even include college tuition. Those who live in the Northwest can expect to spend $446,100 – a whopping $200,000 difference. And just because newborn babies are small does not mean they are inexpensive. In fact, parents can expect to spend $10,000 in Baby’s first year alone!
This is a 3% increase from 2011. And while costs are climbing, wages are falling. The average household is earning $4,000 less than it did in 2000. How are parent supposed to keep up without drowning in debt? Here are some ways to ensure Baby has the essentials while saving money.
Babies grow at a rapid pace during their first year of life. Some babies are in 3-month-old clothing just days after birth. While it may be tempting to spend hundreds of dollars on baby clothes – those outfits are so adorable! – your little one may only wear them a few times. Instead of splurging, ask friends and family for hand-me-downs. Visit thrift stores and yard sales for used clothing at cheap prices.
Car seats, cribs, high chairs, strollers and bouncers are all necessities, but they are also pricey. Add these items to your registry so relatives and co-workers can chip in and get you these higher-priced items. Check out yard sales, Craigslist and other community websites and events to score great deals.
Some new moms may recoil in horror at the thought of cloth diapers, but they are making a comeback. They are more convenient than ever and are much cheaper than disposable ones. Some moms save up to $2,000 when choosing cloth diapers. If you are still not convinced, be sure to stock up on coupons and buy in bulk for the biggest savings.
Formula is another costly purchase. Some families spend $100 a month – even more if their baby has an allergy and requires a premium brand. You can save money by breastfeeding, but if that is not feasible, look for coupons and buy powdered formula in bulk.
If you are planning to go back to work after Baby is born and a friend or relative is not able to help with child care, you will need to find a reputable daycare provider. Full-time daycare – surprise! – is not cheap, either. Prices range dramatically, depending on where you live. In Mississippi, you can expect to pay under $5,000 a year, while Massachusetts boasts the highest prices in the nation, at more than $15,000 annually.
Before taking on such an expense, do the math and see if it is financially beneficial for you to return to work. After spending money on gas, lunches, new outfits and taxes, it might make more sense to be a stay-at-home parent, at least until your child reaches school age. If that is not feasible, discuss a flexible work arrangement with your boss. You may be able to adjust your schedule or even work from home.