When it comes to planning for a baby, you want to give them the best of everything. However, your bank account might not agree with that plan. It’s a matter of fact that having a baby is expensive. Between the diapers, the crib, the stroller, the diapers (again), and the hospital costs, your new little bundle of joy can cost a whole bundle of money.
If you're a first-time parent, it can be tempting to buy everything. The truth is that most parents buy far more for their babies than they actually need. Talk to other parents about the practicalities of every potential purchase. When in doubt, err on the side of acquiring fewer things — chances are, if you’re wondering whether you’ll need it, you probably won't.
How Much to Save for a Baby
So where do you start when figuring out how much to save for your baby? It can seem overwhelming to determine an exact figure you’ll need. And as with all things financial, the exact amount you’ll need will depend on your personal needs and priorities. There won’t be an exact figure that will work for every single person.
However, you can look to research to get you started. One recent study found that health costs associated with pregnancy, childbirth and post-partum care averaged a total of $18,865. Most of this cost, however, will likely be covered if you have health insurance.
There are also a variety of resources out there to help you figure out what your personal costs will look like. The Bump has a great breakdown of the average costs associated with a new baby. You can also find some great advice for covering your expenses from Parenting.com.
How to Save For a Baby
Before the delivery, you’ll want to put together a plan for how much to save and how you’re going to save that money. Use the pre-delivery planning steps below to get started.
Understand Your Health Insurance & Anticipate Costs: Before the baby arrives, you’ll want to understand what kind of insurance coverage you have. Educate yourself on what is covered with your insurance plan and get estimates for how much you’ll pay out of pocket. Don’t leave anything to guesswork! If you aren’t sure about something in your plan, reach out to your insurance provider to get the answers you need.
Plan for Maternity/Paternity Leave
Both you and your partner will need to know how much time you can take off work and whether or not you’ll be paid during that period. Take the time to understand what options you have under your company's policies and what laws are in effect in your state. The time you get off will also affect when you may need to pay for someone to take care of your child while you’re at work.
Create A Budget For Before & After Labor
Where possible, you should plan for every expense associated with having and taking care of your new baby. Write down every expense you can think of. Then, create your budget for expenses before and after labor.
Choose a Pediatrician within Your Insurance Network
The mother and the baby will both need aftercare, so be sure to find doctors and clinics that are covered by your insurance. Once you know which places are an option, take your time to call around and find what works best for your family.
Monitor Your Emergency Fund
It might seem overwhelming to plan out the cost of everything associated with a baby. But there is one more account we need to talk about. Even with the chaos and cost of a baby, you shouldn’t neglect your emergency fund. You never know what may happen, so it's best to have a nest egg sitting off to the side for unexpected emergencies.
Buy Diapers In Bulk
As you might have guessed, babies go through lots and lots of diapers. Ask any parent and they’ll tell you that a baby’s favorite time to demand a new diaper is immediately after the most recent change. Look into bulk for items you will need a lot of. Diapers are a big cost, so it's best to be smart with them, plan to get them in bulk or look into reusable cloth diapers. Long term, both can save you a lot of money.
Get a Convertible Crib & Car Seat
Kids don’t just outgrow clothes — they get too big for toys, bassinets, cribs, car seats, and just about everything else. Regulations and product features relating to your child’s safety are constantly being updated, so it doesn’t always make sense to buy a used car seat or crib. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t shop around for something that your child can use long-term. Many car seats and cribs can adjust to your child’s ever-changing size, giving you a convenient and less expensive one-size-fits-all option.
Invest in a Quality Stroller
Saving money doesn’t always mean spending less upfront. At times, it pays to spend more money now, so you can save money later. Your child’s stroller is one item where it pays to think long-term and invest in quality. Inexpensive strollers (not unlike inexpensive cars) tend to break down at the worst times. Buying one nice stroller now is better than buying two or three lesser-quality strollers within the first few years of your child’s life.
Quick Money-Saving Tips After Delivery
Use Your Hand-Me-Downs
As fast as your little one grows, buying and rebuying brand-new clothes, shoes, etc. can be expensive. In some cases, your baby will wear a certain size or a specific outfit only a handful of times. Buying used and/or graciously accepting hand-me-downs from a family member or a friend is a great option when it comes to saving for a baby.
Ask Other Parents & Friends For Help
Don't be afraid to reach out to the people around you! They say it takes a village to raise a child and no one is expecting you to do this by yourself. See if your neighbors are willing to help with meals, ask friends and family to babysit, and always remember you aren't alone.
Bring Home Hospital Samples & Items
There’s a good chance that you’re paying for every little thing you get at the hospital. Even if you don’t technically see the free samples on your itemized list of expenses, your hospital bill more than justifies bringing home the diapers, bottles, baby formula, pacifiers, wipes, lotions, shampoos, etc. Doing so can give you a great start and save you some money while you figure out which products and brands work best for you and your baby.
Adjust Your Beneficiaries
Be sure to make your child a beneficiary for things like life insurance or IRAs. Keep in mind you may need to adjust how the money will be available to them should something happen.
Seek Disability Insurance
While life insurance is important to help those around you should the worst happen, you are far more likely to need disability insurance. Check that it is enough to meet your main expenses while you are unable to work, and double-check that it is still enough to cover everything now that there is a new member to the family.
Write or Adjust Your Will
For the same reason, it's important to have an emergency fund, it's important to have a will. You never know what may happen and it is the duty of the parent to protect their child. Designating a guardian and ensuring how any estate is to be divided up is a good place to start.
Keep Funding Your Retirement
Don't forget your other long-term plans and personal financial goals! Things like saving for retirement are very important and you need to keep on top of it so your child doesn't have to support you in your old age.
Save For Your Baby’s Education
While it is unlikely you will save enough to cover the full cost of your child's education, every bit helps to keep them debt free in the future! Start a savings account now and add to it when you can.
While having a baby may be expensive, you can put a plan in place to take some of the stress off your finances. Plan as far ahead as you can and do your research to see how much you should save before your baby arrives. Stick to a budget and take advantage of any money-saving tips you can find for new parents. Being financially smart for your new baby will help you focus on what’s most important – taking care of your new little one.