Raising children is expensive. According to a report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture last year, a middle-income family with a child born in 2013 will spend about $245,340 ($304,480 if you adjust for inflation) to raise a child up to 18. This number doesn’t include the cost of pregnancy or college costs. Although insurance can cover much of the typical pregnancy and labor costs, most parents will have to pay for at least some of the medical expenses or the adoption costs when adopting a child. Although it is expensive to raise a child, you can save money in many ways. Sometimes the first year can be especially expensive because there are so many doctor’s visits, clothing needs, diapers, laundry, and necessities. If you can cut down on the typical first year costs, you will be off to a good start. Here are five ways to do so.
1. Only buy the necessities
If you follow the lists included on many websites, you will end up spending hundreds of dollars for your baby’s “must-haves.” Truthfully, you don’t need many of the items that experts or bloggers suggest. You obviously need a safe place for your baby to sleep, food, a reliable car seat, diapers, and clothing. Many of the other baby items are extras. While a baby bouncer might be convenient, you don’t have to have it. The same is true of expensive toys and other items, like a bottle warmer, swing, video monitor, and so on. If you must buy these items, try to get away with just one: many people purchase multiple play yards and infant seats but if you plan carefully, you shouldn’t need multiples unless you have twins.
2. Buy used
You can also save money by purchasing used items. While some items should be purchased new (such as car seats, cribs, and mattresses) there are many items you can purchase used and save money on. Look for items at garage sales, used clothing stores, and even on Facebook or Craigslist. Many Facebook groups exist based on where you live, and you can often purchase a set of clothes for a specific size (such as a newborn lot). Certain toys can also be purchased new, but make sure that they are not recalled and that all parts still function properly and safely. You can also use these sites to sell stuff once you don’t need it anymore, which will free up more cash for items you still need for your baby.
3. Stay healthy
Depending on your insurance plan, one of the most expensive aspects of your baby’s first year might be all the doctor’s visits. Some insurance plans cover well visits but not sick visits. Keeping yourself healthy, as well as any other kids you have, will lessen the chance of your baby getting sick. Depending on your preferences, this might mean getting vaccinations, or it might simply mean staying away from very busy places where you or your children could get sick. Staying healthy will also help save money on medications, and potentially will stop you from missing too much work.
Also, be sure to pay attention to nutrition for the first year to help keep your baby safe, and to make sure that he or she gets the proper nutrition.
Many baby items can easily be made yourself if you have the time. Of course once the baby comes and you are sleep deprived, it becomes harder to find that time, so it can help to plan ahead. You can make your own baby towels, spit up towels, and pretty much any other clothing item. You can also make decorations for your baby’s room. Another way to save is to make your own baby lotion, baby wipes, and of course, baby food. Recipes and directions for do it yourself items are easy to find online. Pinterest has many ideas.
5. Trade babysitting
As cute and sweet as a newborn baby is, and hard as it will be to leave your precious little one, you will also need to have time away. If you can set up a babysitting swap with family or trusted friends, you will save a lot of money. According to Frugal Mama, you should define the boundaries of your group, ask for helping getting the group started if you need it, determine who can join, pick a name for your group, and determine the point system your group will use.
You also might be able to save money by trading childcare during the workweek. Look at all the different available child care options, and don’t forget to ask trusted friends and family members. You might be able to save money, and have piece of mind knowing your child is with someone you trust. If that won’t work, there are also many wonderful day cares to choose from, and it’s worth comparing costs and reviews before you choose one.
Your baby’s first year will certainly include many costs, but you can save money if you take these steps.