Parenting Under a Budget
I think one of the main things that most people consider when planning to have a baby is the financial side to child bearing. With that said, one of the best pieces of advice I’ve gotten is to the extent of, there is never financially a perfect time for a child. Even the wealthiest of people will have to change the way they spend their money when a baby comes along. Some of us, however, just need to change it differently! Being a mom of two, living and playing on a tight budget, I’ve found a few ways over time to be able to cut corners and save a few bucks.
First off, off brands ROCK! I have found off brands to be apples to apples of the name brand and at a fraction of the cost. Off brand formula is required by heath and food standards to be nutritionally comparable to the expensive brand formulas. As far as off brand diapers, I’ve never had a problem! Keep in mind though every kiddo has a different shaped rump so what works for your son, might not work on his little sister! Most baby essentials (pacifiers, bottles, medicine, soaps) can be found in an off brand of one way or another. Also check out subscription sites such as Amazon or Diapers.com. These sites offer great programs to sign up for automatic shipments of formula, diapers, baby food and more! You can often get name brand items for the same price as the off brand things and the best part, it’s shipped to your front door!
There are other ways to cut money down with just a bit of time and effort. Making your own baby food is a simple way to cut costs and it also ensures that you know exactly what is going in your little guy’s mouth! Most fruits and veggies can be baked or steamed and then pureed into the right consistency. As always follow your doctors recommendations before starting solid foods. Cloth diapering also making a comeback; your grandma’s would be proud! Most cloth diapers these days look just like a disposable diaper and have adjustable waists for the best fit possible. Cloth may seem pricey upfront, but in the long run it is cheaper than buying disposable diapers, especially if you can use them for more than one child! Don’t forget that breast feeding is nature’s way of making it cheap to feed your baby!
When planning on buying big ticket items, shop around to ensure you get the best deal. For the most part you’ll have roughly 40 weeks to buy big ticket items and as much as you’ll be excited and want to run out and buy everything at once, don’t! Shop around, watch for sales, and keep coupons! If you plan to have more children, even if not in the immediate future, try to keep your big ticket items gender neutral that way if you have a second child of a different gender you’re able to reuse your stuff. Stocking up on diapers is also a good way to help save on some money, buy them over time, they won’t go bad!
If you’ve decided that your little bundle is going to end up at your home college along with all the activities you joined as a young adult, time to start thinking about that. Yes folks, we need to start planning our children’s’ college funds long before they can even walk and talk. Rule of thumb is this: Open a savings account for your little bundle the day they are born. Start by putting a weekly amount into the account. Start with a reasonable amount for your budget and slowly increase it when you can. Even if your budget is $10 a week, not considering interest, you’ll have over eight grand by the time you shipping your rug rat off. Hey, that’ll at least cover the first semester! Even if you don’t plan to pay for your child’s college, a savings account is always a great idea to start for your children. Starting a savings account when you find out you’re expecting is also a great way to cover any unforeseen expenses during your pregnancy, during maternity leave or after baby arrives!
As always when it comes to your children you want what’s best for them. The market is constantly changing when it comes to baby products. Don’t forget about second hand shops though. Places like Ebay, Craigslist, Freecycle and even local groups on facebook are great resources! Events like the Just Between Friends sale is great too! Second hand baby products are a great way to save money on gently used items that are only used for a short amount of time. Make sure to ask around for hand-me-downs. Sometimes people don’t offer because they assume you wouldn’t want their old items, but my kids have grown up using hand-me-downs and every outfit is just as adorable as the ones I’ve purchased. It’s saved us so much money on clothing and toys for our children and has really been great!
Don’t think that because you’re trying to budget your pennies that you can’t do fun things with your kids! There are TONS of free things in your area, I promise, just look. Try places like museums, galleries or local mom groups. Libraries (and even Chick-Fil-A) often to story mornings or have free summer programs for kids of all ages. Even vacations are obtainable on a budget! Kids fly free until they are 2, but check options for train travel or even renting a car and driving! Most resorts let kids stay and eat for free! Sites like groupon.com are great for finding coupons for kid related activities at discounted prices. Use your resources! Check with your local park districts and they usually have lists of things to do in your area.