So you’re trying for a baby, or just thinking about trying, or maybe you’re already pregnant- the absolutely last thing you want to hear is that from birth to age 17 it will cost you approximately $233,610– according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture report from 2017. I can’t think of a more debbie downer, buzz kill, or soul crushing piece of information.
SIDE NOTE: I’m pretty sure that estimate does not include the cost of getting pregnant as an LGBT family.
Well, unless you have $233,610 saved up and ready to go for the next 17 years, you might start to panic a little bit. For Regan and I, we definitely did. After the initial shock wears off, you realize that it is possible to start a family on a budget. Yes possible, but definitely not easy. We are not financial experts and have no real qualifications except trial and error, but we want to share some ideas and tips on how to make your bundle of joy become a reality. So take a deep breath, don’t throw your dream of being a parent away, and read on.
Tip #1- Save up for your maternity/paternity leave
I know some jobs offer paid leave which is AWESOME. However, most jobs don’t and the time off that you want to spend with your new baby can become financially stressful if you aren’t prepared. We are both teachers and I will be using my paid sick time for 6 weeks of leave. I want to take off 8 weeks, so we are preparing for 2 weeks without my paycheck. Right now every extra penny we have is being put towards those 2 weeks, so we can relax when the time comes and my paycheck doesn’t.
Tip #2- Stock up on freezer meals
We’ve heard more than once that we will be so tired when the baby has arrived that we won’t want to even think about cooking meals. I already feel that way some nights without the baby being here so I know it will be hard. This tip won’t seem like a money saver at first because you will need to buy and prep a lot of things ahead of time, but in the long run I think it will be worth it. We plan on doing this so that when we are tired, we can just pull something out of freezer instead of ordering food (usually costs at least $30) or getting take out (usually costs more than $30). Not only will this be a healthier option, but more cost efficient for sure.
Tip #3- Don’t buy too much ahead of time
We have bought A LOT of things ahead of time, but this tip is more about not buying things you aren’t sure the baby will use or need. For example, bottles. Babies are picky about bottles, so we only have a couple on our registry and haven’t bought any ourselves. Another thing is diapers and wipes. We have a small collection of diapers and wipes, but didn’t get too crazy because we have no idea how our baby will like the brand we bought. She could have sensitive skin and we wouldn’t want to waste money on a lot of wipes we can’t use.
Tip #4- Buy in bulk- once the baby has arrived
Tip #3 was about not buying too many things ahead of time before the baby comes, this tip is for once your baby is here and you know exactly which brands you like and what he or she needs. We have a Sam’s Club membership and plan on buying diapers and wipes in bulk. I also hope to breastfeed, but if I can’t I know that formula in bulk will also save money. We currently buy our meat (chicken, steak, ground turkey) as well as paper products (paper towels, paper plates, toilet paper) in bulk. This helps us save in the long run when these are items we always need!
Tip #5- If possible- bring in some extra money
Like I said earlier in this post, we are both teachers. Extra income is always a nice thing, so if you can, pick up an extra shift or a side job to help you save even more money while the baby is cooking! We both tutor after school a couple of days per week to help us do that. The extra income is going towards my maternity leave that I talked about in tip #1. There are tons of other ideas that might work better for your family such as serving in a restaurant, having a garage sale, coaching a sports team, etc. Try to find something that will work with your schedule and not add on a ton of more stress for you and your family.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again- this saving money thing is a lot easier said than done. It takes work. A lot of work and discipline. Regan and I try to follow these tips, but we all know unexpected situations come up, like your car breaks down, or your wife’s eye randomly gets infected and you have to pay to go to the eye doctor, (this actually happened to us last week!) or some other emergency arises and you feel like your budget just goes out the window. Well it might have, but just for that week. Regroup and start over the next week. I know that having a baby will be financially draining, but I can’t think of anything more deserving in my life to spend our money on!
We hope you can use some of these tips in your own life to help prepare for when your baby comes. Please let us know of any other great tips or advice in the comments below that you may have- us parents need all the help we can get!