Aside from those first flutters of excitement, panic at the thought of parenthood, and moments of sheer, unadulterated bliss, one other emotion that’s likely to hit as you adapt to the prospect of parenthood is apprehension; how much is a baby going to cost? How are we going to afford this? What sacrifices need to be made now? A study conducted by the US Department of Agriculture back in 2014 estimated that the average cost of raising a baby from birth to adulthood was a whopping $245,340 – or $13,630 per year if we assume that your child will be standing on his or her own feet by the age of eighteen. Indeed, there are so many things that need to be bought and paid for when a baby arrives that you’ll find many parents are in the same boat as you; a little too worried about finances to fully embrace the adventure they’re about to embark upon.
So, is there anything to be done? The truth is this. If would-be parents waited until they could comfortably afford to raise a baby few of us would ever dare enter that world. Sure, having a baby is an expensive undertaking, but it’s also an incredibly rewarding one – and there are ways around the costs. From asking for certain items as part of your baby shower registry and accepting offers and gifts from friends and relatives, to spreading the cost of purchases over weeks and months, or browsing pre-loved sites and social media, affording those must-have items needn’t send you screaming from the bank…Dollar-saving tips for savvy parents
For any new parents facing those first inklings of monetary worry, here are a few of the tips you need to be living by today…
The best time to budget is before that baby arrives; take a look at your most recent bank statements and draw up a list of your incomings, outgoings, and disposable income, and familiarize yourself with the bills you need to pay, the purchases that you could forgo, and the areas in which changes need to be made. Are you spending too much on a movie subscription you don’t use, or a gym membership that’s been dormant since February? Cut back now. Now is also a good time to check your entitlements, including maternity pay, and unavoidable costs such as medical and prenatal care. The chances are you’ll notice room for improvement immediately, and suddenly the cost of raising a child won’t seem so daunting.
When it comes to having a baby there are some items that you’re definitely going to need, including a crib and, later, a cot, a changing table, a diaper bag and station, clothes and bedding, baby toiletries and medical paraphernalia, and a pushchair and car seat; these items are essential aspects of your baby’s early days and weeks, and will need to be purchased. The trick, though, is how and where you source such items; yes, now is the time to shop around, checking online prices against high street retailers, learning to sniff out a bargain, and becoming a savvy shopper, capable of keeping an eye open for discount days and special events. Even the best baby gym, which will become integral to your baby’s early development and entertainment can be found in such a way; when it comes to such items the best option is to price match, and to find a store you’re happy to rely on for all your baby’s needs.Sign up for memberships and newsletters
Just as shopping around is important for new parents navigating the unforgiving world of baby items, so too is learning where your loyalties lie; that is, your loyalty cards. You see, retailers want your custom, and they want you to feel valued, so take a long hard look at the loyalty schemes, memberships, and incentives being offered whenever and wherever you shop. Is there a particular scheme that catches your eye? Does your favorite store offer such motivation? The chances are there’s a shiny bit of plastic waiting for your wallet – and it could save you a fortune in the end. Also worth signing up for are newsletters and email subscriptions that are offered by some mom and baby sites, or parenting experts. As well as helpful hints and tips, many of these will offer vouchers at certain times of the year, and let you know about discount events and special ‘members only’ sales that are taking place near you. Can you really afford to miss out on such insider information? Remember, such schemes can be unsubscribed from if you’re not getting any use from them, but you can’t be sure until you see how they can best help you.
As well as saving money on top baby buys here, there, and everywhere it’s also worth having a think about the amount of money you can afford to save each month. Whether it’s a few dollars, a hundred dollars, or a little more, the money you’re able to set aside for a rainy day, or in trust for your baby, will stand you in fantastic stead for the future – particularly when it comes to medical emergencies, problems around the house, or that college fund. As you sit down to budget look carefully at your disposable income – could a portion of that be set to one side for your family’s future?
As you head into parenthood you’ll soon realize that it pays to be realistic, to prepare for every eventuality, learn to be flexible, and never fear the unexpected. Yes, having a baby can be incredibly expensive (if you let it be), but that’s nothing compared to the wonderful journey you’re about to embark upon as parents. Count the costs as you go, but learn to enjoy every moment, too.