Ten Ways To Have a Baby On a Budget

by Sarah Levoy, PsyD.

deciding on which strollerThinking of having a baby? Are you already expecting? Not sure if you can afford the additional costs? There is no question that adding that little bundle of joy can add up. It is estimated that that baby’s first year will cost about $12,000 (not including college savings), so it is important to prepare and spend responsibly.

Here are ten simple and painless ways to cut costs and lower your financial related stress.

  1. Create a new family budget which includes baby's first year and begin saving for baby before you get pregnant. It is important to know just how much more you will need and to decide where to get the extra cash. There are several great websites that offer free baby budget calculators. Once you have a new family budget set up try setting aside at least a small amount monthly right away, so you won't be scrambling to come up with what you need all at once after the baby is born. Create a separate baby savings account to make sure you don't spend this money ahead of time. You will have other costs come up that you hadn't planned on, so it is better to start early.

  2. Resist the temptation to buy too much too soon. It is so easy to get caught up in the commercial hype of getting ready for the little one to arrive and sometimes that pressure can cause you to want to overbuy and overspend. Start by making a list of the bare bones necessities for the first three months after birth and begin researching those items to start.

  3. Create a registry for those things which didn't make the bare bones list or that you know family and friends would want to buy you. Be sure to create at least two registries at larger stores/online retailers to give your friends/family an easy way to get all those smaller and less vital purchases for you. Don't be afraid to be specific and request that only those items chosen be purchased to make best use of everyone's time and money. Also check the return policies for those registries so you can get what you really need and not get stuck with another outfit with bunny ears or other novelty items.

  4. Wait for sales, compare prices, and buy in bulk when possible. Don't shop impulsively. Plan ahead for holiday sales or even right after the holidays and ask the sales clerk if that item will go on sale. Take note of the item and cost and force yourself to leave the store to take time to comparison shop. Often you can price check with online search engines. Consider buying ongoing supplies like diapers, wipes, laundry detergent, etc. in bulk online or at bulk stores.

  5. Borrow, trade, rent. Don't be timid about asking family and friends to pass on their child's used clothes, toys, etc. Or offer to trade these things with each other. It is better for all of you and for the environment. You can also always rent breast pumps and other baby equipment instead of purchasing new.

  6. Shop used. There are a number of consignment stores popping up in light of the strained economy. These stores sell used and sometimes new clothing, toys, and gear at a fraction of the cost. This is such a smart option especially for baby clothes that you end of using for such a short period of time. Better yet, bring in your baby's outgrown things and make some money back. There are also community garage sales targeting baby and toddler goods. Or even organize your own with your neighbors. Just be cautious of potential safety hazards with items like car seats, cribs, etc. Don't get hung up on name brands. Your baby doesn't care or remember what designer clothes or gear she had.

  7. Make your own baby food. At around 4-6 months when your baby begins solids consider making your own baby food in larger quantities and freezing them in storage containers. You will save on time and money in the end because you won't buy pricey individual jars or waste time shopping often.

  8. Reassess your family's medical insurance and determine if you need to change your plan to cover additional co pays and other baby related medical costs. Examine your health plan's details carefully to make sure all well-baby care will be covered. If it isn't, consider switching to a health maintenance organization or preferred provider organization that does cover such care if you possibly can.

  9. Investigate tax credits and flexible spending accounts. The child tax credit, which gets subtracted directly from parents' tax bills, is $1,000 per child for couples who file jointly and make no more than $110,000 a year. Every bit counts. Working parents also may qualify for the child and dependent care tax credit, which allows them to deduct as much as 35 percent of their annual day-care expenses depending on how much they earn. It's also a good idea to ask your employer about flexible spending arrangements, which allow you to direct a portion of your pretax wages to a personal account from which you can draw for medical and child-care costs.

  10. Plan ahead to pay for legal fees associated with creating a will, power of attorney, and other necessary estate planning once the baby is born. Save some money on legal fees by doing the foot work and creating a draft for the lawyer so they won't be starting from scratch. You can even create your own documents by purchasing software like Willmaker and only use the lawyer when absolutely necessary. Lawyer fees can range from $250-$1200 to complete these documents depending on your needs.

Sarah Levoy, PsyD, has worked in the field of healthy child development and parenting for more than 15 years. Her path has taken many turns -- helping families of all cultures, backgrounds and life experiences, through private sectors, volunteer work and within the television industry. Dr. Levoy's focus and joy in helping future families improve their mental health, happiness, and quality of life resulted in the founding of The Prepared Mom, a practice dedicated to helping couples prepare for parenting their baby and caring for themselves as new parents.

Copyright © Sarah Levoy. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.