When the time is right and your hearts are ready, a baby is a blessing. That doesn't mean that it's the wrong choice to plan ahead financially for that day of arrival. If a baby is in your future thoughts, save some money now.
Babies are more expensive than most think. The average middle class couple devotes $13,000 to their first year as parents. To cover extra costs, needs, and days away from work, stock a cushion of $5,000 in your bank account.
Besides a bank account to back your new family, have a good healthcare plan. One round of shots at a pediatrician can be $300, and infants require several rounds of shots. Thanks to health insurance, these visits could only cost you the co-payment. If you don't have healthcare, search for a reputable local clinic for your child's checkups.
Also remember, most insurance programs only allow changes and additions during the first few weeks after the birth, so contact them before the birth to understand their policies. You can't afford to miss this deadline.
The decision for both parents to return to work after the birth of the baby is important. Professional childcare costs at least $150 a week for full time infant daycare. Could you afford another car payment each month? If not, childcare is out of the question. For some, it may be more reasonable to stop working until the child is older.
Infant daycare costs more because of the high level of care. As the child becomes a toddler, the cost of daycare decreases. Eventually, this costs lessens even more when school begins and before and/or after school care is all that is required.
Get used to it now. By adapting your lifestyle before the baby arrives, you'll be less shocked when your bundle of joy taps into your bank account. Try to get used to living on less luxury. Eat out less and learn how to make some quick meals at home. It will come in handy when you're a new parent. Your child has basic needs that must be met. It will be you who will be the one to go without a morning breakfast stop and lunch with coworkers.
Consider your leave time. Women who take maternity leave usually may use their accumulated sick or vacation days to get paid for their leave. This is important because if a baby looms in your future you may want to conserve your sick days now. On days that beg for you to 'play hooky", drag yourself to the office and save the day for a future parental leave. If work allows, the mother may take maternity leave and the father may take paternity leave once her maternity ends. This allows for more time to keep baby home and out of daycare.
The largest daily costs of babies are the diapers and formula costs. There's a lot more involved than just those two items, but those are the ones that add up the quickest. The baby budget should include roughly $100 a month for diapers during infancy. For the bottle feeding parent, get ready for the weekly grocery bill to soar. Besides the needed bottles and accessories, canned formula adds $40 to the grocery bill each week.
Sewing: When I had my fist 2 kids I was dirt poor. Where I saved the most money was knowing basic, beginning sewing. I bought an old sewing machine at a thrift store for $20 & went to town sewing 100% cotton flannel receiving blankets & little cotton gowns with a drawstring at the bottom. This way I saved money & had the highest quality at the same time! We had no Walmart's here then, but these days you can buy the flannel for $2 a yard or less at Walmart & get the pattern for the whole layette on sale for 99 cents to $3. You can also make simple curtains for the baby's room too!
*You can buy a brand new Brother sewing machine for only $49 at Walmart. It's marketed for kids & teens, but it sews beautifully!
* I can't emphasize how easy it is to sew a square flannel blanket. All you do is by 48 inches of fabric in each of 2 colors. First wash & machine dry your fabric, that way you're removing all the chemicals & you'll know it won't shrink later on when it's washed! Then rip (or cut) the edge off so it's straight on both ends. (you'll end up with about a 46" x 46" blanket) Stack one piece on top of the other with right sided together. Now sew around the edges about half an inch from the sides. Stop about 6 inches before you get to where you first began stitching. This hole is where you'll turn the blankest right side out. Do that now, then the blanket smooth flat & iron the edges. Now stitch around the edges about an inch from the edge & *PRESTO* you have a wonderful, square, double-sided receiving blanket!
Diapers: You can even make your own cotton diapers that will last & last. Make them like the blanket (above) only smaller. I know it sounds like a hassle to not use disposable diapers, but if you have a washer, you'll save TON's of money not buying & re-buying disposable's. Even if you DO plan to use disposable diapers, it pays to have a pair of plastic pants & dozen reusable diapers in the closet for those times when you run out in the middle of the night & don't want to have to run to the store!
Breast Feeding: Another place to save TON's of money is not buying formula! Breast feeding isn't just the healthiest way to go, it's also, by far, the cheapest way to go! Check out the price of formula in the stores, if you don't believe me!
Crochet and Knit: If you crochet or knit, even if you are a beginner you can crochet a square or rectangle! Spend all your spare time (like crocheting when someone else is driving) & the time you spend in front of the TV crocheting (or knitting) baby blankets. Be sure to use an easy-wash yarn. My favorite yarn is Bernat shiny baby yarn. (Walmart has the best prices, but Joann's has more colors to choose from) But because it's a little bumpy it's not the best for beginners. It come in 2 colors (for stripes) or in solids. I like white for a fresh look that works for boys AND girls & Instead of yellow, I prefer mint green for something different.
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All pediatric vaccinations (with the exception of the HPV vaccine in some states) are offered for free in every state. Most pediatricians will refer parents to those Well Baby clinics rather than giving the shots in the office.
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