Having kids is expensive and welcoming home a new bundle of joy can put a serious pinch on your wallet. According to the Department of Agriculture, the average cost of raising a child until the age of 18 is right around $241,000. If you’ve got a new baby on the way, you need to cut costs now so you’ll have plenty of money saved by the time your little one arrives.
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Here are some tips for keeping more cash in your pocket when you’re expecting.
Minimize Your Medical Costs
Assuming you have a normal pregnancy, you can expect to pay anywhere from $7,000 to $15,000 for a hospital birth. The cost can be even higher if there are complications with the mother or the baby. Unless you have stellar insurance that pays for every penny of your prenatal care, labor and delivery, you’ll probably have to shell out anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand bucks in medical expenses alone.
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If you’re looking to keep your out-of-pocket costs as low as possible, you’ll want to find out exactly what your insurance is going to cover and what the hospital estimates the charges will be. If there’s more than one hospital in your area, you should compare costs to find out what’s covered and which facility is less expensive. Avoid add-on charges for things you don’t really need and try to keep your stay as short as possible. After the birth, make sure you request itemized copies of all your bills to check that the charges are correct.
Take Advantage of Freebies
The cost of diapers, clothing, baby gear and formula can add up fast so it’s smart to try and score some of the things you’ll need for free whenever you can. There are lots of places to find freebies on just about everything you’ll need, starting with your pediatrician’s office and the hospital. Depending on the hospital, you may be able to snag diapers, swaddling blankets, nursing supplies and hygiene products for free before you walk out the door.
You can also go online and sign up to receive free samples from companies that specialize in baby products. For example, if you’re bottle-feeding you can sign up to receive free formula samples from Enfamil. As long as you don’t mind getting a little extra mail, you should be able to stock up on the basics without spending a dime. You may even be able to get coupons that can help you continue to save as baby gets older.
One of the biggest pitfalls to avoid when you’re expecting is the impulse to go out and buy brand-new everything. It’s easy to go overboard on baby gear if you’re buying based on wants rather than what your newborn will actually need. Things like basic clothing items, a crib or bassinet and a car seat are essentials. Just about everything else is extra. If you’re trying to save money, it may mean having to forgo that pricey custom stroller or high-end baby furniture.
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It’s tempting to deck your baby out in designer duds but buying gently used clothing secondhand will add up to big savings. And your little one won’t know the difference! You should also try to avoid buying clothes too far in advance, since you can’t really predict how quickly your baby will grow. You should keep the same rule in mind when buying maternity clothes. Since they’ll only be worn for a relatively short period of time, it doesn’t make sense to shell out big bucks on new items when you can get them secondhand.
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When it comes to things like cribs, bassinets and car seats, you want to make sure you’re buying new products that have a high safety rating. You want to avoid getting these items used since you really don’t have any way of knowing if there are any existing safety issues.
The Bottom Line
When you’re basking in the new baby bliss, your budget is probably going to be the furthest thing from your mind. Taking steps to get your cash flow under control before the big day arrives can relieve some of the financial stress of bringing home baby.
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