How to Have a Baby on a Budget
It’s no secret that having a baby can be very expensive. However, I take pride in being a penny pincher and we managed to make it through the first two years of Weston’s life without feeling like a baby was a major financial burden. On top of trying to raise a baby on a budget, we decided to up the ante when I quit my job to be a stay at home mom. We are not the kind of family that could easily cut one income, and I had to find some side hustles to make it all work, but over the last couple years, we learned a lot about how to raise a child without breaking the bank. Here are my biggest tips for raising a baby on a budget.
9 Tips for Raising a Baby on a Budget
Invest in a HSA or FSA
Health Savings Accounts (HSA) or Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) are offered by many employers. Check with your human resources office to see if your employer is one of them. These accounts are great because they allow you to put money away, tax free, to be used for medical purposes. Some employers will even contribute to the accounts. You’ll want to do your research to see how the accounts work, what is a qualifying expense, and what happens with unused funds.
Because we were planning on getting pregnant again this year, we made sure to put extra money into our FSA. My husband’s employer issues a debit card, and I can use it for copays, OBGYN visits, hospital bills, etc. Knowing that we’ve put money aside for prenatal care and child birth has been a huge relief.
Learn about your Employer’s Maternity Leave Policy
When I was pregnant with Weston, I worked full time as a salary employee for a nonprofit organization. I made sure to check out our maternity leave policy as soon as my employer knew I was pregnant. Because we had a small staff, there wasn’t an actual maternity leave policy in place. I got six weeks of short term disability with the option to use accrued sick or vacation time after that. Oh, and those six weeks of disability were only going to give me 66% of my regular pay.
Make sure you know what amount of time is available to you and how much pay you’ll receive while you’re out. If you’re going to be missing out on a percentage of your pay, make sure you can survive without it or create a plan to save up some extra money during your pregnancy.
Learn about your Insurance Policy
We made one major financial mistake when it came to the cost of bringing Weston into the world. My husband and I had both been on my insurance during the pregnancy. But, because we knew I wasn’t going to go back to work, we immediately switched our family, including Weston, to my husband’s insurance. Unfortunately, this created a new out of pocket maximum that we had to hit, even though we had already reached that number with the old insurance. All of this might sound a little confusing, but the point is, we weren’t thinking straight and ended up paying a lot more than we would have if we would have added Weston to my insurance plan and waited to switch until I officially quit my job. Make sure you sit down with an HR representative or someone from your insurance company so that you know exactly what your financial responsibilities are when it comes to coverage for you and the new baby.
Explore Payment Plan Options
Many OBGYNs and hospitals will offer payment plans for their services. My OB lets me pay a monthly payment throughout my pregnancy so that it’s not a huge expense all at once. Hospitals also offer payment plans and even financial aid services if you qualify. Don’t be afraid to ask about your options.
Create a Smart Baby Registry
If you’re expecting your first child and plan on having a baby shower, make sure you create a thoughtful registry. So much of the financial burden of buying all the new “baby things” can be taken care of by having a baby shower. Just make sure you’re registering for what you actually need. The big box baby stores will have you believing that you need every sleeper, bouncer, and rocker on the market, but I promise that isn’t the case. Here’s a complete list of everything we used (and didn’t use) during Weston’s first year.
Throw a Diaper Party
I’m going to keep talking about diaper parties because it was such a major money saver for us when Weston was born. I had never heard of them until my brother in law threw one and I thought it was one of the best ideas I’d ever heard of. A diaper party is basically the male equivalent of a baby shower. Instead of bringing gifts and playing corny games, each guy brings a box of diapers and they spend the day watching sports and drinking beer. Our diaper party resulted in enough diapers for the entire first year of Weston’s life. That’s right… I didn’t buy diapers until after his first birthday. It was a huge blessing and another small way we were able to raise a baby on a budget.
Accept Hand Me Downs
I know that there is something inside all of us moms that wants to put our brand new baby in brand new clothes and brand new baby gear. Trust me, I’m familiar with the desire to provide nothing but the best for my child. But, here’s a secret… babies grow out of clothes, bouncy seats, swings, and so forth, so quickly that those things barely have time to look used. If you have the opportunity to snag hand me downs from a friend or family member, I highly recommend you do so. You’ll be shocked at the great condition they’re in (most of the time) and it will give you the opportunity to take some things off your baby registry (which increases your chances of receiving everything on your list). You can even explore second hand stores and buy, sell, trade walls on social media. You’ll be shocked at what you can save by going the second hand route.
When I was pregnant with Weston, we were blessed by friends and family who gave us loads of clothes and nearly every big ticket baby item you can think of (car seat, stroller, high chair, bouncers, etc.). Nothing was new, but everything was clean and in wonderful condition. I couldn’t tell the difference and neither could my newborn.
Breastfeeding is not for everyone. I fully understand that some moms aren’t able to and some moms just don’t want to. But, on top of many other benefits, breastfeeding can be a huge money saver. Not having to buy formula was just another way we were able to cut costs when Weston was a baby. According to KellyMom, a year’s worth of formula can cost anywhere from $816 to $3,163.
If you are planning on breastfeeding your baby, I highly recommend you check out Milkology. It’s an online breastfeeding course that teaches you everything you need to know about nursing your new baby. It covers topics like the very first nursing session, milk supply, troubleshooting common issues, and more. I truly think it’s a game changer for any new mom.
And, don’t forget, you can get a breast pump for free through your insurance provider. Baby number two is due in four short weeks and I just ordered my new pump through Aeroflow. The process was so easy and took me less than 30 minutes. You can learn more about how to pick out the perfect pump and how to get it for free here!
There are plenty of ways to save money that have nothing to do with having a baby. When I quit my job to be a stay at home mom, I made it my mission to be more careful with our money and find creative ways to save. Here are a few of my favorite money saving tips:
- Every Dollar – Every Dollar is a budget app that allows you to make a monthly budget for your family. If you’ve never made a budget before, I highly suggest you give it a try. It will help you see where your money is going and find simple ways to cut costs and save.
- Ibotta – I absolutely love the Ibotta app. It’s a rebate app that lets you take photos of your receipts and gives you a rebate on items that you were already going to buy. I got the app a year ago and have already saved over $300. If you sign up and redeem one rebate, you’ll receive a $10 sign up bonus!
- Other Money Saving Apps – There are so many money saving apps out there. While I love Ibotta, there truly is something for everyone. I always make sure to download the apps for the stores where I do most of my shopping. For example, Kroger offers coupons and discounts through their app and I couldn’t live without the Target Cartwheel app.
- Grocery Saving Tips – I dedicated an entire post to how to save money on groceries. You can check it out here!
I sincerely hope this post helped you come up with some ideas on how to raise a baby on a budget. I don’t think you have to be rich to bring a child into the world and give it a wonderful life. You just have to be creative, willing to do some research, and willing to accept the occasional hand me down.
If you want to dig deeper into how to raise a baby on a budget, I highly recommend the course, Baby on a Budget. It walks you through how to create a family budget, how to reduce pregnancy and baby expenses, ideas for how to increase your income, and tips on how to save for the future.
If you have another great tip on how to raise a baby on a budget, drop it in the comments below for other moms to read!