Sounds silly, doesn’t it, to ‘save up’ for a baby? But besides being a life-changing presence in your life, a child comes with tons of expenses. And if you’re planning to get pregnant, it’s very important to talk to your partner about how that little bundle of joy will affect your finances.
Some would argue that a newborn doesn’t need a lot of things, but the parents definitely will. At the very least, you’ll need a car seat to bring the little one home from the hospital (and drive him/her to doctors’ appointments), a bassinet, a clean, sanitary place to change diapers, the diapers themselves, clothes, baby formula if you’re not breastfeeding, and bottles for the formula.
Then there are the other things that most parents will like to have — a crib, perhaps a dresser, a stroller or a baby carrier, Pack ‘n’ Play (which really is just a glorified crib, but much cooler), bouncer and rattles/teethers. And all the other accessories that come with raising a baby. The crib will need a mattress, sheets and blankets.
Anticipating Your Costs
If you really want to scare yourself — uh, I mean, be prepared for the costs of your newborn — BabyCenter has a neat little calculator to give you an estimate of your first-year expenses. I inputted the anticipated first-year and “startup” costs for my child (surprise, I’m pregnant!) and got an estimate of $11,602, with $4,800 of that daycare costs alone (and only for 6 months).
So as you can see, daycare costs are what will really eat up your income, if you’re not going to have a stay-at-home parent. Especially here in New Jersey, our costs relative to income are sky-high — $800 a month for childcare may be a conservative estimate on my part, as I’m not ready to talk to daycare providers just yet.
Where to Find Savings
One word (well, three hyphenated words): hand-me-downs!
Think of all the baby items that are barely used because of how fast a child grows. There are barely-worn clothes, infant car seats that can’t be used anymore, baby swings, infant tubs and even cribs. Why spend full retail price on brand-new items if you can get slightly-used stuff at little to no cost, particularly if you have friends who have stuff they no longer need. Some ways to find these items:
1. Ask friends and family if they have clothes or furniture that they’re no longer using. And these things don’t have to specifically be baby-related. For example, I already have a glider chair from a neighbor who was giving it away because she’d changed her decor. I can sew new cushion covers on it to match the decor in the baby’s room.
2. Check Craigslist or Freecycle. There are so many posting on these sites for stuff that’s free or priced pretty low. Just be careful about meeting a stranger — if you decide to look at items or buy them, conduct the transaction in a public place to be safe.
3. Scour yard sales. Many people sell whatever they no longer need at cut-rate prices. You could score a box full of hardly-used infant clothes, a baby swing or toys.
4. Look at the Salvation Army or Goodwill stores. You may not find a ton of smaller items here, but you may luck out with furniture, toys and strollers.
5. Get crafty! If you’re any good with a sewing machine, you can make a ton of stuff, from a diaper bag to fitted crib sheets to clothes, and even curtains and decorations for the nursery room. Knitters can make baby blankets and sweaters. I plan to make curtains, a diaper bag and anything else I can get use out of (and it will help kill time since I’m now unable to help with our home renovations, such as painting).
I plan to use a combination of all five suggestions to keep our costs as reasonable as possible.
Is there anything I’ve missed? Share your tips!