Baby on a budget — sounds impossible, doesn’t it?
Well, it’s not. I had my last baby in 2015 and of course, things evolve rapidly. A quick walk through Babies R Us and it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all of the latest baby doodads. Sometimes I find myself laughing at some of the things they come up with.
We welcomed our son into our family and it didn’t strain our budgets because we knew exactly what we needed. I can honestly say we didn’t feel any strain at all financially because took the time to become financially prepared during those nine months of expectation. Knowing what we needed allowed us to create a budget that fairly accurate predicted our needs.
We didn’t experience a drastic change in our income prior to his arrival either. We worked with what we already had and consistently saved enough money for six-months worth of formula. I also made sure we had money to pay some of our medical expenses (we were surprised with an emergency c-section), and we even saved enough for me to take off an additional six weeks (unpaid) from work.
Plenty of companies make a killing convincing you that your baby needs all of the latest baby gadgets (like that baby boy pee catcher thingy). Since I already had a daughter, I pretty much knew what I needed and of course, there were a few extras I still preferred. However, with reasonable expectations, we kept a level head when it came to spending money on the baby.
Despite the fact I still splurged on a few wants, I didn’t go over budget accommodating them and we managed to have everything we need (which included enough toothpaste and toilet paper to keep me out of the stores, lol!) and more.
If you’re about to welcome a new baby or you’re planning to start a family in the future, read on for tips on how you can prepare for a new baby on a budget.
How to Prepare for a New Baby on a Budget
Let’s consider your needs first! We all know you want a cute diaper bag because you’ll be the main one carrying it, but hold on for just a second. There really is a way for you to get everything you need and maybe (all) some of your wants met as well.
With the first kid, everything seems like a need. You see all the cute baby stuff and completely lose your friggin mind. Little girl tutu’s, baby sunglasses – omg, break my heart. Seriously, I love all the baby stuff.
However, with baby number two, I decided there were only five things I needed to survive. Those things are – wipes, diapers, onesies, bottles, and baby formula. Oh yeah, and that stupid pacifier.
That’s it! Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to breastfeed. But if that’s an option for you, that’s even better! Savings!
So, how did we manage to have enough diapers and formula for the first couple of months of our son’s life? Well, we created a baby fund and we consistently saved until he made his arrival.
Instead of asking for stuff we didn’t need, we only asked for necessities. I know for some it’s not customary to have baby showers on the second child; however, we don’t get down like that where I come from.
Anytime the word baby is mentioned – nanas, Gigi, aunties, and godparents, lose their mind. The gifts are going to come whether you want them or not. So when folks ask what you want, tell them what you need!
My closest friends hosted a baby shower for my husband and I and we chose a diaper shower theme. We received plenty of diapers and wipes that covered us for months.
We used gift cards and cash to purchase ALL sizes in onesies. He was a summer baby so we purchased smaller sized short sleeved ones and bigger size long sleeves.
The only outfits our son had were the ones that his aunties and grandmothers spoiled him with. We didn’t buy clothes. We also used our gift cards to purchase bottles, diaper rash creams, socks, blankets and such.
How to Estimate Your Baby Savings Fund
To take care of our formula needs and medical expenses, we created a baby fund. To come up with a good estimate for formula costs, we went to the store to get an average cost of Gerber (our preferred brand).
Next, we signed up for coupons at Target, Publix, and the Gerber website so they would be there in time before his arrival. However, we ended up ordering his formula through Amazon’s Subscribe and Save Feature because it was cheaper to order it in bulk. Way cheaper than standing in line with a $3.00 off coupon. Plus, Amazon has coupons on formula too!
Last, we estimated we would go through one container of formula per week (I’m so glad we were spot on with this!). We added up how many containers we would need to get us through my maternity leave and multiplied it by the average cost. That’s the amount we saved for formula.
For medical expenses, we looked at the average costs of a normal delivery for our area. We used a tool provided by our insurance provider on their website. This gave us an idea of what our co-insurance would be.
We saved up the co-pay and a portion of the co-insurance in one of our savings accounts with Capital One 360. At the time, I had supplemental insurance that paid a benefit amount for hospital confinement that could use for a portion of the co-pay.
Unfortunately, the emergency c-section happened and my hospital bill was almost 3x’s what I estimated. Given my experience, I would recommend that you grossly overestimate the amount you will need for medical expenses.
Fortunately, we were able to set up payment arrangements with the hospital (without any added interest). As soon as we got the lump sum, we paid the remaining bill off in full.
Preparing for Extras and Wants on a Budget
Now, back to that amazing baby diaper bag that you want to get.
You can have it too! I know I did. Since you’re going to be carrying that bag around ALOT, I recommend getting a mama bag.
A mama bag is a versatile bag that you could easily carry when the baby is not with you. I picked up this Olivia and Joy shoulder bag in a teal color at Marshall’s. It cost me $40 bucks. My son is almost two years old and I can carry it long after the baby days are over.
There is enough room for bottles, all their other baby junk, and my stuff too. If you can’t afford to splurge on a mama bag, you can always use any leftover gift card funds or cash gifts to purchase one. Heck, take a few surveys and you could score your own with Amazon gift card rewards.
Another extra we wanted was a changing table. We always regretted not having a changing table when we had our daughter, so we knew we wanted one the second go round.
I found an amazing deal for one online (I can’t remember the cost) that was within our budget. We also used our daughter’s old crib and left over gift cards to purchase a new mattress for our little tater tot.
Well meaning people will always tell you what you do and don’t need for your new baby. However, you are truly the only person that can determine this. If there is something you must have for your baby, just get a little creative and don’t feel guilty for getting what you want!
Baby Items on a Budget
To help you out, I’ve scoured the stores and the interwebs for the lowest cost on most baby things you will need. I’ve even thrown in some of the wants too. I’ve compiled this into a spreadsheet and a printable list you can use to help you prepare for baby on a budget. To grab your spreadsheet and printable, click the image below.
To use these tools effectively, you should make note of the things you definitely will need. Account for your wants as well. If folks will be showering you with items that are on your list, you can mark those off your list. Add up the total cost and divide by the number of months until your deadline.
If you’re currently expecting, just divide by the number of months you have left to save. For those of you who are planning, divide by the number of months you expect to save beforehand. The number you get is the amount you will need to throw into your baby fund each month.
Some of you may account for your medical expenses separately, if that’s the case – do what you’re currently doing. However, if you haven’t accounted for medical expenses, please don’t forget to do that. This will definitely be your biggest expense!
Wrapping Thangs Up
I really hope you find the spreadsheet and print out helpful. This article was fun for me to write because I literally get excited thinking about babies. I’m trying my best not to catch baby fever for another two years, but it’s really hard not to get excited about how much of a blessing babies are.
With that said, don’t be overwhelmed with the cost of bringing a baby into this world. Everyone (just about) says it’s so expensive to have a baby, but really it’s only expensive as you want it to be.
If you want to go all out for your child, do you! Don’t feel bad about it. However, if you’re truly concerned about making things work financially when you’re already strapped for cash, it’s possible. You just have to do a little careful planning.
Just focus on creating a baby fund and not being afraid to tell others what you truly need. If you have well-meaning friends and family who want to spoil you and your baby, that’s one less expense you’ll find yourself worrying about.
So, I’ll end with this question — how do you prepare for a new baby on a budget?