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Having a baby on a budget can be really hard. I remember the anxiety when my wife got pregnant with our first daughter: not knowing if we could afford everything we needed, including maternity leave while still paying off the mortgage.
And then trying to get pregnant with our second daughter while raising our first baby. The financial pressure of having a kid and saving money for fertility treatment, and hopefully another maternity leave, at the same time. I hated it. I still do to a certain degree.
I am about to go back to work after a year off on maternity leave as I write this, and I must say I am a little bit relieved that I am going to start earning some money again. My bank account is dangerously approaching zero fast!
But, if there’s one thing I have learnt in these past 4 years of my life, is that having a baby doesn’t have to be that expensive! There are so many tips on how to save money while expecting and when the baby comes. I did manage to have a year off with my second daughter after all, and I was so stoked with how much I managed to save the two years prior to her being born.
It probably helped that I am almost obsessive when it comes to saving! I am definitely never the one going overboard in our family, and I can’t stand the idea of having the even tiniest debt. I tend to lead a remarkably frugal existence! 🙂
That said, even if you are not as rigid as me when it comes to saving, I am pretty sure these tips will help you with your family goals when it comes to the arrival of a new baby to the family.
Tips for Baby on a Budget
Here’s my list of all the best ways on how to prepare for a baby on a budget and financially survive life with kids.
Tip #1: Budget, Budget, Budget
This has to be absolutely your number 1 priority: find out how much you (and your partner) earn every month, and what your monthly expenses are.
There’s no way you can have a baby budget plan, when you haven’t made your own budget! There’s only one way to figure out if you can afford a baby. And that is to find out how much money you have left at the end of the month.
My wife and I were pretty cool with this one, as we are both quite OCD when it comes to budgeting, and we like to split family expenses evenly.
I swear I am going to share my own baby budget spreadsheet at some point here… But, for now, know that there are plenty family budget spreadsheets that you can download online without having to start from scratch. There’s an example here.
Also consider what your plans are for when baby comes:
- Are you going to take time off work? If so, for how long?
- Do you get paid parental leave? Is this just a portion of your salary?
- When you go back to work, how much is a nanny or daycare going to cost?
I personally live in New Zealand and parental leave here is not too bad compared to other countries. Both my wife and I got almost 5 months of paid parental leave from the government. At an extremely low salary compared to our normal income, but still better than nothing!
However, when I decided to take a year off for our second daughter, I had to save upfront the equivalent of at least 7 months of my salary to make sure we could get through it.
Tip #2: Create a Baby Shopping List
You also can’t budget for a new baby if you don’t know what you need to get for them.
I personally found this one to be quite overwhelming with our first baby. I remember we were looking online for some template lists to start with and our list on excel just kept getting longer and longer. My anxiety was going through the roof!
This will lead me to Tip #3 in a moment … but for now, know that it’s very important to find out exactly what you will need (or want) for your baby.
This is a great place to start for your baby on a budget checklist: Free Printable Newborn Checklist
Tip #3: Only Buy what you Actually Need
It can be so easy to go overboard when buying new things for your new baby! There’s the excitement of baby arrival that will make you want to buy any outfit you see, mixed with the nervous feeling of not having enough stuff.
Make sure to stick to the list you create when following Tip #2. And double check that what’s in there is absolutely necessary.
Also, remember that babies outgrow their outfits so quick. They’ll be out of newborn clothes in no time. So many parents end up giving away newborn clothes that are still new, because they didn’t even get a chance to try them on their babies!
Tip #4: Stick with Used Baby Items
Buy (or accept as gifts!) used items as much as you can! You won’t believe how easy it is to get newborn things in near new conditions (because people don’t follow Tip #3).
I honestly can’t even remember if we bought anything new other than the car seats for our daughters (my wife refused to buy used car seats for safety reasons). The only things that come to mind are a baby monitor and an activity play gym, but I am pretty sure we got those with some rewards point!
Oh, and baby bottles for formula. We didn’t want those used. Though we got the sterilizer for free from a friend 🙂
Here’s a list with some examples of things that we bought second hand and really helped us saving for a baby:
- Bassinet for the first baby (and co-sleeper for the second ) with mattress and sheets
- Crib with mattress and sheets
- Clothes (onesies, bodysuits, jumpers, socks, etc.)
- Sleeping Bags
- Rocking Chairs
- Maternity clothes (I refused to buy new clothes that I would only wear for like 6 months)
Plus we received so many hand-me-down clothes from friends with older kids.
Check for garage sales next to where you live, second hand shops, websites, and even Facebook groups!
Tip #5: Use Cloth Diapers
If you’ve never even considered using cloth diapers for your baby, please do! The idea can be a bit overwhelming and scary, but I promise you it doesn’t have to be hard at all. And if not cloth diapers, at least consider reusable swim diapers when going to the beach or pool with baby!
You’ll be saving so much money by using cloth over disposables: check out this article on Cloth vs Disposable diapers, including a cost comparison.
And for more information on cloth diapers for beginners, read these related article:
– Reusable Diapers: a Guide to Cloth and Swim Diapers
– How to Use Reusable Swim Diapers
If you decide that cloth diapering really isn’t for you, consider joining the Amazon Family and get up to 20% OFF diapers, baby food and more! You can Join the Amazon Family 30-Day FREE Trial here!
Tip #6: Meal Planning
Get used to meal planning while still pregnant! This will save you so much money on the grocery bill or takeaways. In fact, it is much more likely for a person to have takeaway or spend more on food at the supermarket if they haven’t planned their meals ahead.
This skill set (yeah, it is a skill set and you need to practice it!) will come in handy when baby comes as well. You will feel so much more organized and less stressed about cooking meals while looking after a newborn.
Also consider freezing as many meals as possible during the last weeks of pregnancy to prepare for baby’s arrival. Unless you have family helping you out during the first few days, it will be nice not to have to think about cooking when the time comes.
For more tips on how to meal plan on a budget, check out this awesome step-by-step guide by Mama Shark.
Tip #7: Start a Baby Emergency Fund
Put some money aside for a baby emergency fund it you can. No matter how much you have budgeted for baby’s arrival, it’s very likely that you are going to spend more than you anticipated. Having some extra cash aside will allow you not to panic if things don’t quite go as expected.
There is not set amount for you to put aside. It really depends on your situation and how much time you are going to take off work with no income. You can work out yourself the amount that makes you feel comfortable.
Tip #8: Look out for Deals/ Free Samples and Coupons
This is my rule for all things in life, but it’s especially true for babies! Free samples, deals or coupons are quite easy to find and will save you so much money: you just need to look for them.
When we were expecting out first daughter we went to a baby expo and came back home with enough diapers samples to last us a few weeks, baby shampoo and soap that lasted for months, and baby moisturizing cream that I am still using for my second daughter after almost 4 years!
I offer some great free items (you just pay for shipping) to all my readers. Just use the promo code MUMINTHEWOODS at checkout for all these different things:
- FREE Car Seat Canopy at www.carseatcanopy.com/
- FREE Baby Carrier / Sling at www.sevenslings.com/
- FREE Nursing Pillow at www.nursingpillow.com/
- FREE Nursing Cover at www.uddercovers.com/
- 2 FREE Belly Button Belly Bands or 1 FREE Belly Button Body at www.bellybuttonband.com/
- 5 FREE Baby Leggings at www.babyleggings.com/
- 10 FREE Washable / Reusable Breast Pads at www.breastpads.com/
- 3 FREE Ruffle Buns Diaper Covers at www.rufflebuns.com/
- 5 FREE Baby Board Books at www.babsybooks.com
- Super cute FREE hooded towel at www.hoodedtowels.com
- 2 FREE pair of shoes from Little Wanderers at www.littlewanderers.com
These other deals are not freebies, but you can still get some good savings by using the following coupons:
- MUMINTHEWOODS50 to get 50% OFF any pregnancy pillow at www.pregnancypillow.com/
- MUMINTHEWOODS10 to get 10% OFF at Woolino, selling sleeping bags, blankets, pajamas, bodysuits, gowns, socks, comforters, pillows and other accessories
- MUMINTHEWOODS15 to get 15% OFF at SwaddleDesigns, selling high quality baby swaddles, sleeping bags, baby bedding, baby apparel, bibs, burp cloths, bathtime accessories, etc.
- hypno1528 to get 15% OFF the Hypnobabies classes, a childbirth preparation course
- muminthewoods10 to get 10% OFF the She Births birthing courses
- MUMINTHEWOODS to get 10% OFF the Birth It Up Birthing Courses
- SAVE10 to get 10% OFF the Online Prenatal Class for Couples
For a list of my updated deals and coupons, click here.
Tip #9: Create the perfect Baby Registry
I so wish we had done this with our first baby! Instead, we let everyone gift us what they wanted… The result? We ended up with a thousand blankets, beanies and onesies. Most of which we never got to use, not even with my second daughter! It actually makes me so sad just thinking about it….
A Baby Registry is the perfect solution to let your family and friends know exactly what you need. And they will feel so happy knowing that they are actually contributing with something useful.
Amazon has an awesome baby registry, super easy to set up and it includes a FREE welcome box for parents, as well as a 10% completion discount on items left on your registry (15% off for Prime members). Create your Baby Registry on Amazon <- here.
Tip #10: Breastfeed if you can
Breastfeed if you can (and want, obviously). We gave formula to our first daughter, whereas I breastfed our second one. Let me tell you … between bottles, sterilizers, formula, bottle warmer, little formula containers … breastfeeding can save you quite a lot of money! And precious time, particularly when having to get up to feed at night.
That said, if you plan on using a breast pump, you still need to buy the pump(s), bottles, etc. So, really depends on what you are planning on doing 🙂
Side note: I think some insurance companies in the US cover the cost of a breast pump …? Worth checking!
Tip #11: Buy Reusable Items
Don’t limit yourself to cloth diapers! There are other reusable / washable items that you can consider for your new baby budget and that will save you some money compare to disposable items. Here’s two examples:
- Breast Pads: you can get 10 FREE Reusable Breast Pads at https://www.breastpads.com/ by using the code MUMINTHEWOODS
- Cloth Wipes: just buy super cheap cloth diapers on Amazon <- here, wet them with some water and store them in a plastic container. It’s that easy!
Tip #12: Have Baby sleep in your own room
This Tip works very well if you leave in a country with cold winters and hot summers, and no central heating in the house! Any kiwis out there who know what I mean? 🙂
We live in New Zealand and end up using a heater throughout the whole winter and a fan most of the summer to keep a comfortable temperature in the lounge and bedrooms. I can’t tell you how much money we saved on our energy bill by having our daughter sleep in our room for as long as possible. Heating or cooling an extra room would have been so much more expensive!
Tip #13: Keep everything from Baby n.1 for Baby n.2!
This tip might seem obvious, but I know quite a lot of people that gave away all of their first baby’s stuff thinking they weren’t going to have another baby. Until they had to get everything again when they were expecting baby number two.
Unless you are 100% sure that you are not going to have another baby, keep everything you can from your first baby! We had boxes stacked up everywhere: in the house, garage, closets and in the roof. It was taking up quite a lot of space, but saved us a lot of money when we didn’t have to start from scratch with the second baby.
Make sure to store baby clothes properly, so that they don’t get damaged and so that you don’t forget where everything is! There are lots of tips and ideas for storing baby clothes successfully here.
And, unless you are one of those parents that love to dress their baby in pink or blue, depending on whether they have a girl or a boy, try to buy some gender-neutral clothes. At least you can pass these on to your second child, no matter the sex.
What are your Tips?
Well, tip #13 concludes my list of Top Tips for having a baby on a budget! Now, can you think of anything else?
If you have other tips in mind, please share below! I’d love to hear other ways to save money for parents with a baby on the way.
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