New Baby + Small Budget: How to Prepare
Having a baby can bring on a whirlwind of emotions, from excitement to sheer terror. When you consider all of the expenses that a child will add to your life, financial stress can take the wheel and drive you into madness. Fortunately, countless parents before you have found ways to cut costs. And so can you!
Here’s how to stick to your budget-friendly lifestyle during pregnancy and beyond.
Tackle Home Maintenance Now
Start by scratching items off your home maintenance checklist before the baby arrives. Without regular maintenance, parts of your home can break down and require expensive repairs. This is a great time to have your HVAC system serviced and your roof assessed. A leaking roof is no friend to a new mom with a full plate. The sooner you deal with roof issues, the less likely you’ll have to deal with major repairs or having to get your roof replaced (an asphalt roof replacement can cost up to $16,000 in Los Angeles).
Splurge on the Important Things
It may feel wrong to spend money on yourself when you’ve got baby expenses looming on the horizon. But splurging on a few clothing items can help you feel good during pregnancy and motherhood. Consider investing in some nice maternity wear and comfortable nursing pajamas (available for $16). Ask any mom, and she’ll tell you that quality maternity clothing is a worthwhile investment to get you through the sleepless nights and long days ahead.
For other purchases on your pregnancy prep list, head to the second-hand store. What to Expect recommends skipping the fancy nursery items—like a changing table, diaper caddie, diaper pail, and white noise machine—and sticking to the essentials. A second-hand dresser with a changing pad will work just fine as a changing table. Some items, however, should be bought new due to regulations and safety concerns. These include a crib, mattress, car seat, and stroller. You can also save money on toys for your tot by starting a toy swap with other new parents. A toy swap allows you to acquire “new” toys in exchange for those your child has become bored of.
Use Expensive Diapers at Night
Diapers are a constant expense for new parents. Save money by limiting your expensive diapers to night-time use—this is when you need powerful absorbency layers and a leak-proof fit. During the day, opt for cheaper versions, or use cloth diapers to save even more.
Stock Your Freezer with Premade Meals
You won’t have much time to cook when your newborn comes along. Luckily, pregnancy is the perfect time to stock up your freezer with pre-made meals! Ready-made meals that you can pop in the oven will prevent you from ordering pricey takeout. Here are 39 ideas from Traditional Cooking School for inspiration. When your baby starts on solids, try making your own nutritious baby food for significant savings. As an added bonus, you’ll be able to avoid added sugars and preservatives in commercial baby food.
Make Cuts to Your Budget
One of the best ways to financially prepare yourself for a baby is to analyze your budget. Track your spending for a couple of months before the baby arrives. Then, determine where you can make cuts. Since you won't be spending as much on entertainment with a newborn around, this money can go toward diapers or baby clothes instead. Consider canceling subscriptions or memberships you don’t need. Scrapping your morning Starbucks drink or cutting the cord on your cable box will save you hundreds that can be better spent elsewhere or put into a savings account for maternity leave.
Budgeting for a baby will take a lot of planning and willpower. But in the end, you’ll be able to give your full attention to your newborn without worrying about your financial health. Stay on top of your spending and look to the future so you can anticipate upcoming expenses. Parenthood is an amazing gift—make the most of it by cutting out financial stress!