First time parents are not going to be shocked to learn that bringing their baby into this world is going to cost them some money. Think of everything that you use to care for yourself in a day, then keep adding to that list diapers, formula and so on.
Having worked these costs into your budget and possibly adding some new categories to your baby budget such as baby categories will help to ease some of the stress of just how much of money you will spend.
If you don’t have a budget you can download Mr.CBB’s free excel budget spreadsheet which has a sheet for every month of the year and you can customize categories as you need.
As a mom of two children I can safely say that I’ve learned what I need to buy and what I don’t need to buy over the years but the final call is up to you. Being informed is the first step in preparing for the arrival of your baby.
How to save money when having a baby?
That’s a good question because the expenses of having a baby can grow exponentially if you aren’t careful, although it doesn’t have to be all frills and bling. The simple answers are to budget your money, prepare in advance as much as you can and spend less than you earn OR make more money.
I don’t believe there is any baby budget calculator that will give you the definite answers you need but preparing a baby checklist might help smooth out the budgeting process. All you need is to figure out what baby essentials you need and factor them into your budget accordingly which I will share a few of with you today.
Couple this with watching your flyer deals, using coupons, stockpiling, rewards programs, make homemade, garage sales, mother-child sales, freecycle, Kijiji, friends and family hand me downs etc… the rest really is up to you in order to sort out your finances.
How a baby can impact your finances
It is not very common that both parents will return back to work immediately after the arrival of their newborn baby. Maternity or parental leave in Canada provides you with one full year of Employment Insurance payments that are calculated based on your income of the year prior to when your child is born.
Our government will provide up to 55% of your weekly income, yes that’s just over half of what you were used to making while you were working everyday.
It is a good idea during your pregnancy to learn to live on less by using a baby budget and to figure out what 55% of your weekly income would be and then save the rest.
Not only will living on less not be new to you once the baby arrives but having the extra money in savings can be used towards purchasing things that will be a necessity for you baby once they are born.
Preparing for your baby
Nesting is something that is commonly experienced by expecting parents as we want to be prepared for when the big day arrives. Like everything else when it comes to budgeting and being prepared making a baby checklist will be a good way for you to decide what you need to purchase and also when you need to make these purchases, before or after your child is born.
While it is nice to be well prepared keep in mind that you do not need to purchase every single thing that your child will need prior to them being born.
For example, if your newborn will be sleeping in your room for the first few months and a crib set including a fitted sheet and bumper pad is not something you can afford you are not likely going to need it right away. Budgeting in the cost of a crib set knowing that you will need in it 3-6 months will make that purchase easier on your wallet. This gives you time to add it to your baby budget so you can save it as a projected expense as something you know you will need in a set amount of time.
When making your baby list of things you will need don’t forget about the cost associated with taking care of yourself as a new mom. If you plan to breastfeed remember to budget for things like nursing pads a breast pump and nursing clothes.
As a new mom you will require some after care such as pain medication which may be something you will need and comfortable clothing is a must.
During your pregnancy taking advantage of all the different programs that some companies offer can provide you some money-saving tools. Companies such as Similac, Nestle and Enfamil all have programs that once you have registered they will send you samples of formula, baby cereal and baby coupons to save you money in the future.
Not only are the formula samples good to have to save a little on the cost of formula but if you are planning to exclusively breastfeed some of these samples can be handy to have if you are struggling with breastfeeding and need to supplement with some formula to ensure your baby is receiving adequate nutrition.
If you provide these companies with your expected due date or your baby’s birthdate they will also often send out age-related information and tips throughout their first year.
What do you need to buy to prepare for the arrival of your baby?
While it is fun to go out shopping and pick out all the things you will need it is easy to spend a lot more money than you can afford buying things that you think you need or falling into the ‘cuteness’ trap. Baby clothes are so darn cute and you think you may need every cute outfit you see, when in reality you won’t.
Although it may be hard to walk past a great sale on size 2 diapers while you are pregnant stocking up on them isn’t likely in your best interest. Babies grow so fast and you really don’t know how many size 2 diapers you will use. Instead, make a category for diapers in your monthly budget unless you choose to use cloth diapers so the money is available when you need to purchase your diapers.
I wrote an earlier post detailing the pros and cons of using disposable diaper vs cloth diapers so learning about what might work for you and fit in your budget might make the diaper days a bit easier for you.
New Vs. Used
Online sites such as Kijiji and Freecycle can be utilized to obtain some free or cheaper new or used baby items. While these sites are great for saving money on items such as clothing, bedding and toys there are a few items that you should not obtain second-hand.
In Canada you are required to have a CSA (Canadian Standards Association) approved car seat before you will be allowed to leave the hospital with your newborn child. The manufacture date is present on all car seats and due to constantly changing safety standards the car seat expires 5 years from this date.
While you may find a car seat on Kijiji or garage sales for a fraction of the cost of buying a brand new one you risk not knowing the accurate history of that seat.
There are also certain items according to health Canada that can’t be re-sold at a garage sale and that includes many baby items. A car seat that has been involved in a car accident should never be resold or given to a friend or family member.
Unless the person giving you the car seat is someone you hold a lot of trust in to provide you all this information skip the used car seat and buy one brand new. Jeopardizing your child’s safety isn’t worth the risk.
While some people may decide to buy a used breast pump I would recommend to keep this on your baby checklist of things to buy new. These pumps may not always be the easiest to clean so for sanitary reasons I would buy new.
While using second-hand bottles whether they are glass or plastic may be fine, bottle nipples and soothers are best to buy new.
Again unless you are very trusting of the person giving you a used stroller buying new will likely be the best option. There have been many safety recalls on strollers and when you buy it used you again are risking not knowing the history of the stroller.
Buying new allows you to register your stroller to be notified for future recalls, which is an option you will not having buying it used. Buying used items such as clothing, bedding, toys, and even maternity clothing will be a great way to save you money in your baby budget.
As I mentioned above while Kijiji and Freecycle are great online resources don’t forget to check out local consignment and thrift stores and don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family if they have items that they will no longer use.
Once your maternity leave is over it’s now time for you to make the decision of whether or not you will return to work. A major factor in making this decision is the cost of child care for your child while you and or your spouse are away earning money to care for yourself and your children.
In some cases individuals will find that their daycare cost whether it’s a home daycare or a daycare centre are not worth paying for in order to return to work depending on your income. Some people find they are working just to pay child care when they could just stay home and spend that time with their children.
Thinking about returning to work and daycare arrangements are things you do not want to leave until last-minute. You may find many daycare centres have waiting lists so if you choose to use a daycare it’s best to start looking early so you aren’t left with no child care.
Not leaving this until last-minute will also give you the time needed to figure out how you are going to work this cost into your budget. If you are a low-income family or a single parent remember that subsidized child care may be an option for you but again keep in mind they programs will also likely have waiting lists so not waiting until last-minute will be in your best interest.
The birth of a child is an exciting, memorable life event that will overwhelm you with feelings of joy, happiness and honestly in many cases stress. With the lack of sleep that comes with the addition of a newborn some days may seem like they are never going to end.
Like any big event or major purchase in our lives they are always easier to get through when you are prepared. Making your baby budget well before the day your newborn arrives should be one of the first tools you use to prepare for this time in your life.
- Do you have a baby budget and when did you start preparing for the arrival of your baby?
- What other advice can you give to new parents to prepare in advance and what else should they buy?
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