Oh, babies - those cute, adorable little being that parents end up devoting all of their time, love, and attention as soon as they are born. But guess what else moms and dads are devoting to them? A good chunk of their paycheque. As amazing as babies are, they are not known to be cheap.
Throughout a child’s lifetime, you can end up spending upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars on them. That’s why keen parents get smart about how to spend their dollars. They figure out the best things to invest in, and which ones are smarter to pass on. They figure out the local resources that are available and take advantage of them. They find materials that won’t only support them through the newborn days, but for years to come.
It’s not easy to navigate the world with a new baby in tow, which is why it’s so important to take a step out and think through your financial landscape. The dollars spent hiring a babysitter for an evening date with your spouse can be some of the best dollars spent. Is it romantic? Not really (though add in a couple glasses of wine and some chocolate and you’re on your way). But it can be one of the best investments you give to yourself, and your family.
Taking the time to ensure you have your finances set up in the best way possible, or even improving it 30%, can create a huge impact for years to come. So do what you need to carve out the time and have a family finance date. It can be the best investment you make for yourselves.
20 Wait to Buy
While seemingly basic, this is one of the biggest potential savings when it comes to a new baby. There are seemingly endless items that people recommend for a new baby, but the reality is that newborns require very little stuff. They basically need milk, diapers, a safe place to sleep, some outfits, and a place to get clean.
Then why are there thousands of items lining the shelves of your local baby store? It can be intimidating to the most seasoned parent.
While you’ll want to add the basics to your baby registry, consider holding off on many items. You can get through the first few weeks or months of parenthood, and understand what babies will really use. Swing, bouncer, Bumbo AND Rock N Play? Your baby may only need one.
19 Know The “Must Buy” Lists Aren’t Needed
When it comes to purchasing for baby, many retailers eagerly post their “must buy” lists to their websites. A pregnant mom wondering what they need to purchase sees the list and thinks that all of these things are required, from wipe warmers, to custom towels, and countless small appliances.
Ask any seasoned mother and she’ll tell you that at least one “essential” baby item is sitting in their home, unused, and taking up space. In reality? It’s usually shelves of items. The smart mom will look through the list and decide for themselves what items are truly necessary or not. Remember – per the previous tip, you can always purchase later.
18 Rock the Thrift Stores
The frustrating, but also great thing about baby equipment is that it can only be used for a limited amount of time. While it can be hard to purchase something knowing that you’re only going to use it for less than half a year, it also means that a good chunk of second-hand baby equipment has rarely been used.
While certain pieces such as car seats and crib mattresses experts generally recommend are purchased new, there is tons of equipment in second-hand stores and online shops that have barely been used, such as swings, exersaucers, toys, and baby clothing. Figure out what things are important to you to buy new, and which you can save on. And remember, it’s not only great for the pocketbook, it’s also awesome for the environment!
17 Don’t Add Baby Clothes to your Registry
Think that you need to load up your baby registry with tons of cute baby outfits? They can be pretty hard to resist after all! Few things are more adorable than tiny little outfits, and tiny little booties. And that’s the reason that people seem unable to resist buying them for their friends and family.
Regardless of what equipment you put on your registry, people will instead want to purchase cute baby blankets and clothing for them. They can seem like such a better purchase than something more utilitarian such as a bottle warmer. Given this, smart moms know to keep clothing off, and instead focus on the equipment needed.
16 Return Unneeded Gifts Quickly
Here’s a tip I bet you never knew – when baby arrives here, you will be exhausted. Shocker, right? It will seem like every second of your time will quickly be eaten up by this little newborn baby. The last thing you’ll want to schedule in is running errands, including returning unneeded stuff to the baby store. That can mean that baby equipment can sit in the closet, unused, for months to come. You may lose receipts, and stores may run out of equipment, meaning you’ll get pennies on the dollar for returns, and might be stuck with store credit.
Smart moms know to return equipment they won’t need quickly and get exactly what they do need in place before baby arrives.
15 Breastfeed Instead Of Formula-Feed (If Possible)
This one isn’t a surprise. Families can spend thousands on baby formula throughout the first year of life. That doesn’t even take into account the various costs of bottles, accessories, and cleaning equipment. Compare that to the essentially free cost of breastfeeding, and the financial reasons to breastfeed greatly outweigh that of bottle feeding. And we all know the health benefits of breastfeeding for both mom and baby as well.
That said, it’s not always possible for every mom to exclusively breastfeed, and it’s a very personal decision that should never be judged. After all, a fed baby is best. However, if breastfeeding is an option for you, there’s no doubt it can be a cost-savings.
14 Make Your Own Baby Food
Head to your local baby store to stock up on bottled baby food, and you may find that the prices may add up. Feeding multiple babies? You’re sure to realize pretty soon how much it can cost. There’s no doubt that it’s more convenient to purchase pre-made food. However, if you want to save on parenthood and have even the most basic skills in the kitchen, you have the ability to save big on baby food.
All it takes is steaming and blending one round of veggies, and you can have enough to freeze and feed your baby for weeks. If you’re already purchasing veggies for yourself at the grocery store, think about it as meal prep for baby.
13 Make Your Own Adult Food
If you think prepared baby food is expensive, consider adult food. Whether it’s premade food from the grocery store, meal prep delivery services like Hello Fresh, or restaurant takeout/ delivery, prepared food in any format is more definitely expensive than preparing it for yourself. Especially when you consider doing it for your entire family, the difference between home cooked and prepared food can be significant.
Similarly to how you’re now preparing baby’s food, meal prepping for your family is a great cost saver. Even if you can increase the amount of food you prepare at home by 25%, the savings can be great. Consider using Sundays as meal prep days for both baby and family food. You can dice, sauté, and prepare an entire week’s worth of food for the whole family – savings galore.
12 Take Advantage of Free Samples
The world knows how difficult it can be to bring a new baby into the world. That’s why they rally around and try to help us. Many organizations provide free samples of their products to help get you started as a new mother. Whether it be diapers, wipes, baby shampoos, formula, breast pads, or more, there are samples out there for the savvy mom who looks.
In addition, your hospital, family doctor, or pediatrician often has samples that they can provide to give you a great start. Sometimes, all you have to do is ask, so try to not be shy about speaking up!
11 Attend City-Run Classes
Another organization that rallies behind new moms is the government. Aside from the multiple benefits that the federal government offers, the municipal government often steps up in terms of classes, sessions, and lessons for new families.
Checking out the local community center and city websites are great places to start. There can be everything from mom and baby workout classes, baby sign language, nurses sessions, first aid, and a plethora of others. These classes are usually far less expensive than private classes, and can sometimes be completely free. All it takes is a quick Google search, and you can see the options available to you. And if there’s nothing in your town? Create a meet up yourself, and post it for other local parents to join!
10 Use Your Library
One of the best places to go for kids can be as simple as the local library. Many libraries have specific children’s floors, with play areas, toddler books, and story times. There are even classes for older kids, around drawing, music, puppets, etc. The best part is that the majority of activities and special events on at libraries are completely free. Children get an enriching experience, regardless of their means.
If there’s a local library in your town (even if there’s no specific children’s section), give them a quick call or pop in and see if they have any events for children. You may be surprised at the options available to you. Some families attend story time every weekend, with many additional daytime classes available during mat leave.
9 Have a Side Hustle
While the thought of working while on mat leave may be unthinkable to many, others may get excited about the thought of keeping a part of their brain career focused while off. Some people believe that everyone should have a side hustle. Not another full-time job, and not necessarily something that they would give up their entire career for – but a side project that gives them fulfillment, joy, and yes, a little extra income.
Think about your passions, hobbies, or even what you loved to do when you were ten years old. That could translate into freelance writing, photography, calligraphy, accounting, consulting, technology or electrician services, or the like. Whatever you have to offer in the world, it’s worth trying to market it.
8 Shop Around for Diapers
Did you that the cost per diaper can be shockingly different per retailer? I’ve seen it anywhere from around 25 cents per diaper at a big box store to $4 at an airport, and everywhere in-between. As a general rule, the smaller the case of diapers you purchase, the higher the cost per diaper. That means places like convenience stores and even downtown grocery stores can be some of the highest costs.
Purchasing from big box stores, such as Costco, or online systems like Amazon, can be a way better deal. Another great tip is to never let your diaper stock deplete too far. Ensuring you have enough on hand to avoid running out for a last minute purchase means parents are getting the best deals possible
7 Shop Around for Expenses
When is the last time you looked at getting better prices for your expenses? Consider your car insurance, internet, cable, home insurance, daycare fees, cell bill, and all the various other monthly fees you pay each month. For many people, it’s been years since they even looked at most of these bills, let alone shop around for better options.
Taking the time now to do a review of monthly expenses, and doing a quick scan for competitors offering better options might be able to save you hundreds. Consider downgrading your services, and you could save even more. Many a family has switched from cable to Netflix and never looked back!
6 Create a Budget
Speaking of expenses, do you know how much you spend each month on fixed costs? How much does that leave, and what percentage of disposable income is put into savings versus spending? Every family should have a rough idea of these three numbers for their monthly income: fixed vs. variable vs. savings.
It doesn’t take fancy online tools to create a family budget. For most people, a basic Excel spreadsheet can work, or even paper and pen. Simply listing out your major expenses (which should be lower now that you’ve shopped around!), adding savings, and miscellaneous expenses can be all you need. Understanding how much that leaves means gives you the power to use it wisely.
5 Lose the Shoes
By this, I mean unnecessary baby equipment. One of the most unnecessary, albeit adorable, items for babies are baby shoes. Babies feet rarely touch the ground, meaning purchasing fancy shoes are not really required until you have walkers on your hands. That doesn’t mean though, that people don’t rush out and purchase tons of cute baby shoes and other materials that have no functional duty.
Smart parents learn that function is first. They understand what is needed, and what is just superficial, and choose to invest in the things that are most useful. And okay, sometimes that means one pair of adorable baby shoes for the family photo.
4 Buy Furniture that Will Last
The key here is double duty. A changing table? Maybe instead, you can purchase a dresser with a change pad on top. Perhaps you’ve chosen a solid wood version that can last you decades to come. Purchasing a crib? Maybe you can buy one that converts into a toddler bed, and then a full-sized bed.
Being able to see beyond the immediate needs of equipment into the longer-term vision is the key to long-term savings. Yes, this might mean slightly higher upfront expenses. However, it means you won’t need to purchase multiple items over the years. In many cases, one item at a higher price that’s made from high-quality materials is a better investment than three different items of lower quality.
3 Trade with Friends
If you have friends who have a kid slightly older than you, you may have hit the jackpot. Many friends with children of different ages set up swaps, meaning they swap clothes, toys, and equipment back and forth. You take the newborn clothes when you’re in the newborn stage, then wash and return to your friend when they become pregnant again. All the toys that you’ve gathered for toddlers can be passed off to your friend when their baby transitions into toddlerhood.
And what about when both families are done having children? Remember the environment, and either donate or sell your equipment to the next generation of mamas coming up the ranks.
2 Use Convertible Car Seats
Check out any baby store, and you’ll be overwhelmed by the number of car seats on the market. There are dozens of models available each (at least!) in infant, convertible, toddler, and booster styles. And while many moms swear by the infant seats as an easy way for babies to fall and stay asleep while transferring from car to stroller to home, babies typically outgrow infant seats around the one year mark.
Additionally, it’s not recommended by doctors for babies to remain sleeping in car seats, so you’ll likely need to wake babies anyway. Instead, consider choosing a convertible seat that transitions from infant to toddler to booster – everything all in one shot!
1 Buy Equipment Under Your Health Insurance
Are you considering breastfeeding? Did you know that many health insurances plans that are provided by workplaces include medical equipment like breast pumps? I actually got my high-end pump entirely for free through my workplace insurance. Depending on your insurance plan, there are other devices for babies that can be offered.
And when it comes to services for both you and baby, there are registered massage therapists, postpartum physiotherapy, chiropractors, dietitians and more that may be covered. As the old adage goes, you don’t get what you don’t ask for. So understand what your office covers. Sometimes all you have to do is ask.