Baby on a Budget

baby budgetYour new bundle of joy could make more than a significant dent in your finances. Establishing a solid budget for your baby can help you keep everything under control and leave you with enough money for your baby’s future.

You might be interested to know that according to the US Department of Agriculture, it can cost up to a quarter of a million dollars to raise a child through age 17! This doesn’t take into account children living at home past age 17, college costs or significant medical expenses that could arise. That is why it is important to establish a budget as soon as possible and find cost cutting ways to save.

If you have already established a budget without baby, it can make thing easier, especially if you can start to cut back on your regular household expenses in preparation for baby’s arrival. Find ways to reduce costs, such as eating out less, using coupons at the grocery store and eliminating unnecessary expenses.

As part of your budget with baby, you will have to plan to add in new expenses. Talk to friends and family in your area so you can get a handle on what things will cost. Browse stores for baby items and write down the prices. Figure out what you will need to budget for common monthly needs, such as diapers, formula (or breast feeding supplies), clothing and childcare. Also include one-time expenses, such as baby furniture and equipment. Remember that your goal is a zero-based budget. So, if you need to spend $30 a month on diapers, that $30 will have to come from somewhere else.

You can often save on some expenses if you think a little bit differently. It is so easy to get caught up on wanting the best of everything for your little one, from toys to those cute designer outfits, but remember that your money is a finite source. If you over spend in one area, there will be less money for your baby in the future.

If this is your first baby, you may get a number of items from doting friends and family. To maximize the practical value of these items, make sure that you or a friend lets everyone know exactly what would be most needed and appreciated.

Don’t be afraid to purchase used items or take hand me downs to save money. Always buy new when there is a safety issue, such as with a crib, a car seat or a breast pump, but choose second hand when you can. Babies outgrow those cute outfits before they can put any wear on them at all, so you can find plenty of high quality clothing for 50 percent off or better.

You also can save when you realize that your baby may not need as much as you might think. For example, you can easily skip many convenience items that don’t add much for your baby’s happiness, such as the wipe warmers, the changing table (get a pad that securely mounts to a dresser instead), the diaper disposal system, etc. Parents also tend to overdue it with the toys. Babies grow and their interests change so fast. A few nice educational toys should be enough. He or she will get more out of interacting with you and your environment anyway.

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