This post is sponsored by Lexington Law, thank you for supporting brands who support TCM. As always, all thoughts, opinions, experiences, and advice are my own.
Babies can be wildly expensive! I read a survey recently that found the average cost is roughly $13,000 in the first year! I mean you could be looking at nearly an extra hundred dollars a month on diapers and wipes alone! Today's post in our Saving Series sponsored by Lexington Law is all about saving money when you have a baby! Before we jump into our saving tips for when baby arrives, you may want to take this quiz and see if you're financially ready for children!
In this post, I'll be covering everything from money saving tips to get financially ahead while your pregnant to loads of ways to save money on baby during the first year and some tips for setting a strong financial foundation for your little one's future!
And if you are just tuning in, every other week, I've teamed up with Lexington Law to bring you a post in our Money Saving Series. These posts are designed to help you save money while navigating all of life's major milestones and more! Lexington Law is here to help. They are experienced credit repair professionals who leverage consumer rights to resolve issues with creditors, data furnishers, and credit bureaus to ensure that client credit reports are fair, accurate, and substantiated. In 2018, Lexington Law challenged an average of 29 items per client sign up!
If you believe you have unfair, inaccurate, or unsubstantiated negative items on your credit report, call Lexington Law for your FREE credit repair consultation here! A good credit score can impact a lot of things in your life (read 'em all here) and it's especially important to improve things when you have a baby (anyone else go house hunting crazy when pregnant? Nope, just me? Cool… Cool…). A baby can add more financial stress, so in my opinion, it's best to get into the best financial shape before baby arrives.
If you know me, you know I love saving money (don't we all?!) so I dove DEEP into how we've been saving money for a baby! These are the steps we took while I was pregnant, and throughout the first year of our daughter's life so far!
37 Ways To Save Money When You Have A Baby
Get good insurance before baby arrives
If you have an employer, check your plan benefits and see if they offer any other plans that may be better suited for having a baby. If you're self employed like me, take advantage of the marketplace system if you can! So, I typically get pretty cheap, not so great insurance via the marketplace each year. Fortunately, my daughter was coming in January, which meant that I'd be on new insurance by the time she was delivered.
I opted for one of the most expensive plans in the marketplace which brought down my out of pocket cost from over $10,000 to under $1,000 for the pregnancy/delivery! I then qualified for a special enrollment period when we moved shortly after having my daughter, so I switched back to my cheap not-so-great insurance and put my daughter on my husband's Cobra plan since it was cheaper with better coverage. The world of insurance can be overwhelming, but if you do the research and take a little time to understand how it all works, it could save you thousands!
Take everything from the hospital!
Ask what you can take from the hospital and pack it all! Ours gave us a pack of diapers, nasal aspirator, wipes, and so much more! Most hospitals I know of want to send you home with a care package of all the essentials you’re going to need for the first few days (that includes for mom’s recovery too!)
Second hand is a first class decision!
Babies grow quick my friends! Which means that often times, items are only use for a few months at a time! We said yes to all second hand items friends offered. We didn't know what we would need, or what she would like, so this gave us a plethora of things to choose from. Anything we didn't end up using has either been in storage (future babies!!) or we've donated to friends in need.
Research, research, research
Do your homework before making purchases. Read blogs on baby essentials, ask friends, filter online shopping by most frequently purchased, and read reviews. Sometimes it can pay to spend a little more than you'd like so you don't have to keep replacing the item. For instance, we got a budget stroller that was about $200 cheaper than the one I really wanted. It seemed fine when I tested it out and checked everything off on my want list. Turned out, it was awful once we got baby home and started using it! The tires were so loud and the ride was so bumpy and uncomfortable for both baby and whoever was pushing it. We ended up having to get the higher end stroller in the end.
Say “yes” to help
When family offers to bring anything over, ask them to pick up food or whatever you need. If people are offering to babysit and you need/want the break, let them! Childcare can get expensive and time is one thing you'll never get back. So take the help whenever it's offered.
You'll be tired with a baby, so think ahead and prep some meals. Even before the baby arrives, cook a ton of meals and freeze them. One of the fastest ways to rack up the dollar bills without realizing it, is on ordering food!
Prioritize your health
A healthy mom and dad are the foundation of a healthy family system. By keeping your physical and mental health in check, you can save loads of money on your own medical expenses down the road and you're setting your baby up to model the same behavior and save on potential medical expenses of their own in the future. Plus, people tend to spend more money when they are stressed out or aren't feeling great (hello retail therapy!). By taking care of yourself, you can avoid unnecessary spending. If you do struggle with retail therapy, I highly suggest doing a no-spend challenge! It totally shifted my relationship to buying things!
Buy in bulk
Once you know what products you'll be using regularly for baby, buy them in bulk if you have the storage space!
Visit manufacturer's websites
Many manufacturers offer coupons on their website for their baby products. These can be printed out and redeemed at any store their product is sold at. If they don't have a coupon on their website directly, you can try emailing them and they may send you some coupons or discount codes too! This is particularly helpful if you frequently buy a specific product!
Connect with local parents who recently had children
Yes, it's great to have your friends who have been parents for a few years, but the truth is, things change FAST with kids! Products from year to year, school programming, resources, and so much more! Plus, the first year or two can be such a blur with how quickly things are changing. Connecting with local parents who had a baby in the last year or two can help you find out about free or low cost programs that you can do with your baby, the inside track on used baby gear, and generally act as great sounding boards for navigating this new stage of life.
Buy second hand baby clothes too
When we think second hand, we often forget baby clothes. Here's the thing: they are SO tiny and SO cute, and SO easy to overspend on!! Used is your friend! Especially the first year when babies grow so fast. So many designer items are only worn once or twice before listed on Facebook Marketplace or stored away.
Put a price cap per item
This was a big one for me, particularly with clothes. I wanted to buy high quality organic clothing, but I did not want to shell out $40 for a onesie everytime. Instead, I decided I would spend no more than $10 on a onesie. This allowed me to stick to a budget while still getting high quality basics, and eliminate decision fatigue.
Communicate your wants/needs clearly and often
People LOVE to shop for baby clothes. Seriously, it's kind of wild how many people bought us baby clothes instead of more useful things. Here's the problem, in my opinion, baby clothing is SUCH a personal choice. From quality, to organic, to style preferences. So what ends up happening? A lot get donated or returned.
My suggestion is to communicate your wants and needs clearly and frequently. Either ask for books and tell people to skip the baby clothes all together or create a registry with clothing items for each size the first year or two. Make the registry public and searchable and send it to friends and family if they are asking.
Don't buy diapers before baby arrives!
I know, I know, this can be so tough! If you plan to deliver in a hospital, they will have diapers on hand you can try out and you’ll get loads of samples for diapers when you register for things. Here's the thing, some babies come out and are actually ready for size 1 diapers and skip the newborn ones all together! Others have a sensitivity and won't like certain diapers. Before you stock up on a ton, wait and see what size your baby is and what they like.
Repair your credit
A low credit score can cost you big time! The faster you can repair your credit, the better off you'll be. Credit repair is the process of identifying and addressing unfair, inaccurate or unsubstantiated negative items on a consumer's credit report. Lexington Law has a proven process that helps hundreds of thousands of people work to repair their credit every year. Negative items on your credit refer to anything in your payment history that could lower your score.
For instance, things like collections, late payments, charge offs, liens, bankruptcies, repossessions and more. If you believe any of these items are inaccurate or unfair on your credit report, give Lexington Law a call today for your free credit repair consultation. They work with clients to determine questionable negative items hurting their score, then address those items with the bureaus and creditors monthly, and work diligently to help their clients reach their credit goals.
Play the wait and see game
Every baby has different preferences, so play the wait and see game. We had a minimal registry and asked for diaper money instead. This allowed us to wait and see what she preferred and what we felt like we needed as things progressed. When we did buy things like pacifiers and bottles, we opted for boxes that allowed us to try out a few before committing to buying a larger pack of one brand.
Skip the shoes
Baby shoes are cute, but that's about it. Most will never wear them (except for a photo maybe). Even socks can be questionable since babies love to kick them off. You're better off get footie clothing to keep your little one's toes warm.
Opt for gender neutral clothing
We did this since we plan to have more kids. This way more of our daughter's wardrobe can be passed onto future children, no matter their gender. If you don't plan on having more kids, you can always sell your gently used clothing, and by keeping it gender neutral you've widened the audience you can sell too.
Don't waste your money on burp clothes
I know, they are so cute and small and you think you'll definitely use them since babies spit up! However, skip the burp clothes. First, many are a lot smaller than what you'll actually need, and second your baby may not spit up that much! We stopped burping our daughter a few days after bringing her home once I realized she'd burp herself if we just held her upright over our shoulder after nursing. Our bodies innately know how to do basic bodily functions, so there's no need to pat their back if your baby seems to spit up more when you do (our daughter did). If your baby does spit up a lot, an old t-shirt or large hand towel will work just as well for a burp cloth!
Keep backup diapering essentials in your car
I'll never forget the first time we had to leave the house with our baby. We were running late for our first pediatrician appointment, no diaper bag packed, and I scrambled and just grabbed the entire diaper caddy. Still, I didn't learn my lesson. Fast forward a few months later where my daughter had a blowout in her carseat. We pulled off to a coffee shop so I could go in and change her, only to not have any diapers left in my diaper bag!
My husband brought in a t shirt and said, “let's just bring her out and put her back in the carseat and drive and get diapers.” I said no, knowing a tshirt wouldn't be absorbent enough if she went again and sure enough… in the time it took him to go get a pack of diapers and come back, she went to the bathroom three more times!! After that, we started keeping a pack of diapers and wipes in the car. Emergency diaper pick ups like that can get quite costly in money, time, and stress.
Skip the official diaper bag
Diaper bags can be REALLY pricey and often aren't very aesthetically pleasing. Instead, opt for a backpack or bag you love and can use when your baby outgrows needing a diaper bag. They make tote purse organizer inserts to turn any tote size purse into a diaper bag. We use backpacks we already had which have a laptop liner that happens to fit the changing pad perfectly. If we need insulation, we have this little cooler bag that is the same size as the insulated pockets in a diaper bag. This keeps things adaptable to our lifestyle and cost effective.
Save water, shower together
Baby bathtubs can be so cute and tiny and enticing! There are some even shaped like flowers… that can only be used for a few months with whopping $40 price tags! EEEK! You can save money (and time) and just shower together. Babies do get a little slippery when you add soap, so use your best judgment on what you feel comfortable with. Regardless of what you're comfortable with, my suggestion is to skip the pricey baby tub inserts that can only be used for a few months.
Breastfeed as long as possible
Breastfeeding is obviously cheaper than formula. Although, there is still a cost (lots of time, sometimes doctor's appointments, nursing clothes, etc.). So my recommendation is to breastfeed as long as possible. Meaning, breastfeeding as long as it makes sense for you mentally and financially. If you are in your doctor's office or a lactation consultants office every week and you have to go back to work in a month, then it's probably not going to be a huge money or time saver to breastfeed. However if things are smooth sailing for you, or you'll be home with your baby all the time, consider going the distance and getting over the initial hurdles and you will likely save money on formula and bottles. Read more about my hurdles and breastfeeding journey here!
Formula can get expensive, so consider pumping. With that said, pumping can take a huge amount of time and if you get paid based off your time, it may make more sense for you to do formula.
Of course breastmilk is obviously amazing for babies so it is the best nutritional option. I also just want to remind mama's that fed is best and their sanity matters too! Forcing yourself to do something that's bringing you into a depression to save money can end up costing you a lot more. So make smart choices for you and your baby, both mentally and financially!
Get the insurance pump
Before you go and buy an expensive breast pump, contact your insurance company and see about getting a free pump. This can save you at least a couple of hundred dollars! Even if you think you won't pump regularly, you will most likely pump at least a few times throughout your nursing journey and you'll be happy you have it on hand! Some insurance companies have special time frames you need to redeem this within, so get a jump on it while your pregnant so you don't accidentally miss out because you waited until your baby was 4 months old!
Ask for formula samples
If you are formula feeding, ask for samples from everyone! Ask at the hospital, your doctors office each visit, lactation consultants, from the formula creators themselves! The worst anyone can say is no, and the best is you get a ton of samples to reduce the overall cost!
Starting solids? Make your own
The big world of starting baby on solids doesn't have to be scary overwhelming. In fact, there's no reason to buy speciality baby food. Many of these have added sugars or preservatives. Instead, just give baby what you're eating. For instance, I always cook up a little extra oatmeal in the morning, sweet potato or veggie at dinner time and she just eats that. If you're nervous about the size of food to give baby, you can always mash or puree the food – but baby gums can chomp on way more than you realize! Our little one was eating strips of toast at 7 months without a single tooth!
Skip the ______ warmer
Skip the bottle and wipe or any other type of warmer. These are unnecessary luxuries that often times go unused. I remember bringing my daughter home from the hospital and wiping her for the first time in the middle of the night. When the cold wipe touched her little bum she recoiled and cried! I panicked and looked into wipe warmers. I quickly realized they were just one more thing that I was going to need to clean and a hiding spot for bacteria.
Instead, I started putting a wipe on my chest/shoulder when I brought her over to the changing pad. By the time I took off her diaper and tossed it, the wipe had warmed up enough from my body temperature that it was fine. In a few days, she was used to the new sensation and I no longer needed to warm it up with my own body heat.
As far as the bottle warmer, I've been around babies my entire life and never used one. Just put the bottle in a hot cup of water to get it warm, or better yet, see if your baby will take the room temperature or cool milk early on so you don't need to stress when you're on the go.
Borrow or skip the bassinet
The bassinet was something I struggled with. Do I buy one? Get one that hooks onto the stroller? Skip it?! AGH!! Ultimately, I decided to buy a bassinet, only because we got the high end SNOO (a smart bassinet that had our daughter doing 4-5 hours from night one!). However, had we not bought it, I planned on borrowing a traditional bassinet from a friend and decided to skip the stroller attachment. Personally, if it's not the SNOO smart bassinet, I think it's a skip though. While it's nice to have something smaller when your baby is that small, a crib works just fine!
Buy a crib that converts to a toddler bed
A crib can be a big purchase, so buying one with the option to convert to a toddler bed is a huge money saver down the road. Most babies need that transitional bed before jumping into a twin bed. This will get you that extra year or two for not a ton of money!
Skip the fancy bedding
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies don't sleep with anything in their crib (pacifiers are okay, but not blankets, stuffed animals, etc.) to reduce SIDS. Babies won't be able to use the cute bedding so just get a few good crib sheets and call it a day.
Skip the expensive toys
Truthfully, most babies just love everyday household items. They want what you are using. Think kitchen cookware, remotes, all your delivery boxes, etc. Simple toys are not only great for your bank account, but can be great for babies imagination and focus too!
You'd be surprised what you can make with a roll of tape, cookie sheet, and other random items lying around your house! Spend a little time to get crafty by seeing what you have on hand and what type of sensory experience you can turn it into. If you want to flex your DIY muscles even more, I saw this cute idea on Insta-stories the other day that I'm thinking about tackling: take an old dry erase board (or something similar in sturdiness and size), cover it with felt, and make little animals out of felt. Attached some velcro on the back of the animals and you have your very own felt story board!
Skip the changing table and unnecessary furniture
We opted to put the changing pad on dresser and used an old shoe box to store and organize diapers and wipes in the top dresser drawer. Before we got a dresser, we just used a console table we already had on hand, and I got a hanging shoe rack for our daughter's closet to organize all of her clothes. Truthfully, the dresser still only has the diapers and then some clothes that she's still too small for so they haven't made it into her closet yet. We also skipped the nursery glider since she was in our room the first four months and I just got used to nursing her in bed. All of that led to major cost savings! In doing this, it also pushed us to opt for items that baby can grow with, instead of nursery specific items with limited usability.
Take advantage of tax deductions, FSA, and HSA's
Ideally, your insurance will cover most things like a pump or visits to a lactation consultant. However, if it doesn't, look into what tax deductions are available or if you can, set up an FSA or HSA to take advantage of tax benefits related to medical costs.
Look into college
I knowww you just had a baby (or are about to) and now I'm telling you to look into college?! WHAT?! Before you call me crazy, hear me out: looking into saving for college early on can save you a ton of money! Here in Florida, we offer Florida Prepaid Plan. This allows parents to lock in the cost of tuition at today's rate for the future. The earlier you do it, the better since college just keeps going up! Other states of the less time-sensitive (but still pays to do as early as possible) 529 plan which allows you to invest money tax free as long as it's used for education.
Keep an eye on your child's credit
Okay, so this isn't first year specific, but it's important to keep in mind throughout your child's life! It's no secret that identity theft has become more and more of the norm in our society. Identity thieves target children since their credit reports are generally clean slates according to this article. With today's “sharenting” (where parents share everything about their children online), the odds of identity theft may be increasing.
The article from Lexington Law suggests that it's likely less complicated to protect your child's credit if a credit report does not exist. So the author recommends checking with the credit bureaus regularly to ensure no credit report has been created in your child's name or using their social security number. If a credit report has been created in your child's name, consider putting a freeze on it. If your child has been a victim to identity theft, call Lexington Law firm for your free credit repair consultation today here.
What other ways have you found to save money when you have a baby?
Catch up on the Saving Series here:
List of 37 Ways To Save Money When You Have A Baby
- Get good insurance before baby arrives
- Take everything from the hospital!
- Second hand is a first class decision!
- Research, research, research
- Say “yes” to help
- Meal prep
- Prioritize your health
- Buy in bulk
- Visit manufacturer's websites
- Connect with local parents who recently had children
- Buy second hand baby clothes too
- Put a price cap per item
- Communicate your wants/needs clearly and often
- Don't buy diapers before baby arrives!
- Repair your credit
- Play the wait and see game
- Skip the shoes
- Opt for gender neutral clothing
- Don't waste your money on burp clothes
- Keep backup diapering essentials in your car
- Skip the official diaper bag
- Save water, shower together
- Breastfeed as long as possible
- Consider pumping
- Get the insurance pump
- Ask for formula samples
- Starting solids? Make your own
- Skip the ______ warmer
- Borrow or skip the bassinet
- Buy a crib that converts to a toddler bed
- Skip the fancy bedding
- Skip the expensive toys
- Get crafty
- Skip the changing table and unnecessary furniture
- Take advantage of tax deductions, FSA, and HSA's
- Look into college
- Keep an eye on your child's credit