Finances can be a tough truth to figure out.
On top of all the changes motherhood throws at a person, finances are the last thing a new mama wants to worry about. She would probably rather do loads upon loads of dirty laundry or scrub crusty dishes until her hands go raw. She may even prefer painfully sitting at a breast pump for hours or continuously picking up food purposely dropped on the floor.
Simply put: Financial frustrations happen.
It’s good having a realistic outlook on parenthood before the chaos truly begins – even though the chaos begins the moment that little positive sign shows up. However, it’s hard to put a finger on exactly how parenthood is going to be since every family is unique. You may think your budgeting method is flawless or you understand how much this and that will cost, but surprises are around every corner when it comes to babies.
And surprises can be costly.
Whether someone is low or middle class, finances can be a tough truth to figure out. Even for those well-off public figures, there are probably times when they stress about a purchase or two. Getting real-life suggestions from real-life moms can be helpful when trying to make your way through the money maze.
“I definitely wasn’t expecting to get such an exorbitant bill for the labor and delivery,” explains mom of one, Kira Literalee. “50 hours with a bunch of interventions and an unplanned c-section, and then a NICU stay for our little guy. His bills alone were around 150K. Thankfully New York has Child Health Plus so all of his bills are covered, and mine were greatly reduced by having our personal insurance.
Insurance can be a godsend when it comes to facing that awful hospital bill. It’s unfortunate that something as exciting and beautiful as having a baby must also be so darn expensive.
On the other side of things, there are the breastfeeding mamas. Even though breastfeeding does save a family a little bit financially, it can add up over time. Though the health benefits are recognized, the purchases outside of nursing are often overlooked.
“I didn’t expect breastfeeding to be so expensive with my last baby,” mom of three, Bree Hudson, explains. “In all honesty, one of the reasons I decided to breastfeed her along with the health benefits and all the usual reasons was because of what I thought would be the financial benefits as well of it being cheaper. I wasn’t expecting to end up needing two breast pumps over that year and after a couple of months I stopped buying the breast pads and bought reusable, washable pads. I have enough nursing bras to last a year.”
Even with showers, family members, and friends throwing gifts and hand-me-downs at you, clothes still become a necessity you end up spending money on. A lot of the time, new parents want to buy this and that for their little one. However, another huge factor is this: babies grow. While many new parents contently see the fully stocked dresser and closet, they overlook the fact that newborns only stay newborns for so long.
“I didn’t expect to spend as much on clothing,” says Amy Stanton, mom of five. “Especially for a first baby. You buy a ton of small sizes only to realize babies grow fast.”
“Since we decided to use cloth diapers, I wasn’t expecting to have to buy any disposable ones,” states Alicia Marie, mom of one. “But we had to wait until he got big enough to fit into the cloth ones. We also needed the disposable ones for when we went to visit people overnight so we didn’t have to go through the hassle of packing a bunch of cloth ones and bringing them back home to wash.”
While cloth diapers are a great way to support the environment and save a few dollars overall, new parents don’t always realize that newborns can’t just jump into cloth diapers from the get-go. Therefore, disposable diapers must be purchased and having a backup stash is also a good idea for those overnights stays, as suggested by Alicia.
You often think of nursing as being the healthiest, most budget-friendly method of feeding your child. However, though this is true, more comes with breastfeeding than just the “chest and the child.” There are a lot of supplies that come with pumping and, on top of that, the creams and pads to help prevent your skin from becoming cracked and raw.
“I wasn’t expecting nursing to be so expensive,” says mom of one, Rachel Footen. “Pumps, bottles to pump into and store until bagging, pump parts, bags for storage, supplements to try and increase supply, nursing bras and tanks, and nursing pads.”
Parents never know what adventure their child is going to throw at them. So when your little one is diagnosed with allergies, it impacts the entire family. It often means adjusting to a new lifestyle and budgeting so finances are available to meet your little one’s certain needs.
“We didn’t expect our little one to have allergies and needing special formula at $46 a can,” says mama, Jennifer Collins. “Thankfully we got approved for WIC to help with the expense, but we still have to purchase 2-3 cans a month.”
Even when those additional supports are available, it still usually means out-of-pocket costs.
How can cute, teeny, itty-bitty socks cause so much stress? Well, when they mysteriously disappear from the bottom of your diaper bag or get eaten by the washing machine – then yes, stress is understandable.
This happens to a lot of families. Even though some parents do not think newborns or infants should even wear socks, the colder-weather families may think a tad differently.
For those who live in the cold, socks become a necessity. Sometimes, those footed onesies don’t always do the trick and socks are used over the feet of the onesie.
Since baby socks are so small, they often can come up missing – making Mom’s bank account slowly go missing as well.
Bottles become expensive – especially when you’re a mom of multiples or your little one is picky when it comes to bottle and nipple types.
Many moms stock up on a certain kind of bottle because of the look or price, but their baby ends up pushing it away. While some brands work well for some babies, others won’t work for others. Therefore, the search begins – and that search can sometimes be an expensive one.
Always ask your pediatrician for samples.
Sometimes those samples come with free bottles – and who knows if those free bottles will be the ones to save you the few extra bucks.
Many families decide to supplement using formula. Even though it is sometimes looked down upon, this stigma needs to be erased because some women either cannot produce milk to nurse or feel uncomfortable with breastfeeding altogether. With that being said, formula is expensive and if you do not have financial supports, such as WIC, helping you out – it can get ridiculously costly.
Jessica Sugg is a mother of twins who understands the expensive nightmare that is the purchasing of formula. “Formula for twins, after stopping breastfeeding, was $60-$80 a week,” she says of the pricy necessity.
“My husband and I worked it out to being about $3000 for two and a half months of feeding her formula,” says mom of one, Alyssa Kurtzworth. “I thought we could get away with the less expensive version, but we ended up having to get the pro-sensitive.”
Even though technology and social media have taken over, many families still love to send out personalized holiday cards. Whether it is a family tradition or just a keepsake item, the act is often genuine and memorable – even if the baby cries in every photograph.
Receiving holiday cards is one thing, but creating them, purchasing them, and mailing them out is another.
It adds up fast – especially when you have a big family and lots of friends looking forward to their card. Even though holiday cards can be a pricey endeavor, the financial burden is often overlooked because the memories speak more than the money lost.
And 10 Things Not Worth The Money
“The number of bottles bought! Just do dishes more,” says mom of twins, Jessica Sugg. “Don’t spend $20 on a pack of two Dr. Brown bottles – even if they’re pretty or new colors.”
It can be hard looking beyond the name brands and colors and designs and sticking to what is budget-friendly and works. With bottles, it can be tough because your baby often decides what will work for them. When you find one that works, reuse the bottles – try not to purchase boxes and boxes of them if you could save money by doing the dishes more often.
Yes, it’s a terrible thought – but a necessary one when you’re trying to stay budget-friendly.
While some mamas believe the Diaper Genie or Diaper Pails are wonderful, magical necessities, some moms absolutely do not. Since each parenting style is different, not every parent will think throwing dirty diapers into one specific pile is helpful or sanitary. Some may also think it’s a waste of money to purchase something you could pretty much make with a normal trash can and normal trash bags.
“As a mother of two children, one being five and one being two, you change those kids wherever,” says mama, Meagan Elizabeth. “There isn’t a designated poop spot where your Diaper Genie goes. It’s easier to throw that poop in a spare grocery bag and throw it right in the garbage outside. The idea of hoarding poopy diapers where my child sleeps is yuck.”
“What definitely hasn’t been worth the money has been shoes when she was a newborn,” says mama, Alyssa Kurtzworth. “Yeah, they are cute, but in reality, she didn’t need shoes for a long time and even now she wears slip-on water shoes. I’m getting her slip-ons for winter to keep her toes from getting cold because, realistically, my husband and I aren’t going to be letting her walk around in drifts of snow bigger than she is this year.”
It’s a sad, hard truth for many parents when it comes to purchasing shoes. It is hard saying no to cute, tiny shoes – especially when you feel the need to match shoes with every outfit. However, the truth is – newborns don’t really need shoes.
Heavy socks or slippers are the most budget-friendly alternatives.
Swings, bouncers, pack and plays, bassinets - as the living room fills up, mom’s bank account goes down. Even if many pricy items are on the registry, moms come to realize when their little one arrives that not all those fancy gadgets work well for their baby as they may have hoped.
“I think the largest thing that was a waste of money was the swing,” says mom, Rachel Footen. “I didn’t register for one because I hate that they are so big and only used for a little while. However, she naps like a dream at daycare in a swing. Thankfully I got one second-hand for cheap, but she won’t even sleep in it at home. So, it wasn’t a ton of money wasted – but wasted nonetheless.”
“Listen, kids cry when naked. It isn’t your wipes,” says mom, Meagan Elizabeth regarding wipe warmers. While some moms are dedicated to having warm wipes, other moms see no use in the purchase.
“They’re used to being cooped up in this warm belly of yours and now you lay them down sprawled out. It’s startling. This big world is scary and they’re cold.”
Wipe warmers are usually put on registries in hopes of getting a nice, gifted item for their little one in the end. However, sometimes the warmer simply takes up space or is an outside purchase that just didn’t make the cut. Spending money elsewhere is sometimes the best idea – or saving a few dollars by purchasing typical, cold wipes.
Sometimes that name-brand, expensive diaper bag works just the same as the backpack you used to wear in school. Throw in some wipes, diapers, a portable changing pad and voila – you have a diaper bag at half the cost. Even though it can be nice to have those additional pockets and supports, those additions can be costly.
“A special diaper bag wasn’t worth the money,” says mom of five, Amy Stanton. “A simple backpack works and is much easier when toting a baby around.”
New mama, Kira Literalee, agrees with this backpack method. “I will second the backpack as a diaper bag. It has pouches on the sides that are perfect size for a stash of diapers and wipes.”
“So far, the baby bath hasn’t been worth it,” says Alicia Marie. “I’ve found it much easier to just bring him in the shower with me. Maybe I’ll use it more when he’s a little bigger? Thankfully we received it as a gift, but if I had known I wouldn’t use it much, I would have left it off the registry.”
Again, while some moms absolutely love giving their little one baths, other moms would prefer the shower route. Sometimes it can be easier cuddling your little one while standing under the shower. If you have your significant other helping you out, it can make the process, and the hand-off, much easier.
Some people have a need to purchase name brand everything. They automatically become attracted to anything with a specific name on the tag no matter how insane the price tag is. If you are someone who has the finances to support that lifestyle, that’s great. However, if you are someone who is trying to stay budget-friendly and financially humble, seeking out specific name brands may not be a smart idea.
Off-brand products are often just as supportive and enjoyable as that expensive stroller with that colorful nametag or those onesies with that special logo. And, in all honesty, your little one will not be able to tell the difference between one brand or the other.
“Toys. I wish I had asked people to invest in experiences for us instead of birthday gifts. Trips to the zoo or art classes,” explains mama, Rebecca Ames. “You realize as you get rid of things constantly that things aren’t really what you want in the house. It’s togetherness and talking about the experiences you’ve had together as a family.”
While toys and things can be nice to have, those ‘things’ can sometimes create clutter while experiences create memories. Making more time for experiences can bring forth more positive memories – and less complaints when there’s too much to pick-up at clean up time.
Newborns may be teeny, tiny little humans, but they also come with teeny, tiny nails. When these nails get long, they feel like claws against your skin and theirs. Parents may stock their registry with newborn mittens in hopes of not having to see that horrible scratch across their baby’s face. However, when those mittens are put on their baby’s hand, two things may happen: they may be too big or they may fall off within minutes.
This truth is frustrating because some parents will spend a good chunk of money on these mittens. A budget-friendly answer is to put socks on your newborn’s hands instead. For some strange reason, socks tend to stay on their hands better than the mittens do.
If you already have socks, don’t spend extra money on products that will just end up on the floor – no matter how cute the patterns and colors may be.