The Most Overlooked Item When Preparing for a Baby

Today I have a special treat for you all! John (aka Mr. Frugal Rules) is guest posting. I hope everyone enjoy’s his post- which shouldn’t be a problem since they’re always great! Thanks so much John!!

ultrasoundI remember it like it was yesterday, (though it was sadly almost seven years ago) my wife and I found out that she was pregnant! We had been married for almost six years and the parents were starting to think we’d never be giving them any grandkids. Amidst the wave of emotions – from excitement to wondering if we were crazy for trying to raise a kid we knew that preparing for a baby would involve a lot of things. We had no clue where to start, but began reading books and websites that covered many of the things you need to do before you have a baby. Looking back, they did provide a lot of help but they all failed to mention one of the most important things about preparing for a baby – saving money!

Newsflash – Babies Cost A Lot of Money!

If you’re not a parent now, I’ll let you in on a secret, those tiny spitting up and constantly pooping bundles of joy cost a lot of money. After having four of them ourselves, I understand a little better just how much babies can cost. You have clothes, diapers, cribs, room decor, strollers, high chairs and so forth. All of these costs add up and can get away from you if you do not plan appropriately. While they can be expensive, there are many ways to cut down on the costs of having a baby. First off, your friends and family will instantly want to buy you things for the little munchkin – let them! I think my wife and I bought maybe two outfits for our oldest before she turned one because so much was bought for us. For the stuff we did have to buy beforehand we saved up our credit card rewards so we could get free gift cards to Target so we could buy things like diapers and other odds and ends we needed for the baby. If you’re a Costco member they also commonly send out coupons, which often include discounts offers for their diapers and wipes. The point is that while babies do cost money, there are many ways to keep those costs lower with a little creative thinking.

What Happened to Our Income?

By far the most overlooked issue in many resources on having a baby is what to do if Mom works outside the home. It’s likely, in most cases, that she does which begs the question of what are you going to do while she’s on maternity leave? In the States a decent employer will offer six weeks of Short Term Disability with varying levels of pay with that and I know it’s a bit different in Canada. The point is that there will be income you need to make up for. When we found out that my wife was pregnant we knew that we wanted her to be able to take the full 12 weeks that she was allowed. Not wanting to dip into our emergency fund, we knew that we would have to be able to make up for her lost income during those three months. Thus, we started saving early in the pregnancy so we could build up a cushion to help us make it through that time without having any issues. It was a good time as it allowed us to reprioritize some of our expenses and see where we could cut and be just fine. Not only did this saving allow us to eliminate any financial stress associated with having the baby, but it also allowed us to see if we could financially withstand having Mom stay home for good afterwards – which was good for us, and for you if that’s an option you’re looking at.

It Doesn’t Stop After You Have the Baby

Now that we’re hopefully done having kids, it means new expenses as they get older. I know it’s not really surprising, but kids grow – a lot and quickly! This all means you need to be managing the financial aspect of needing to provide for that. Shoes, clothes, activities all cost money, but there are many ways to cut down the associated costs – you just need to be creative and purposeful about it. If you’re planning on having multiple kids a great way to do that is simply by keeping a lot of the things from the first kid and your costs will go down significantly. Beyond the day to day needs, an often overlooked financial issue with kids is that they just might want to go to college some day or, at the very least, start out life on their own when they come of age. I know it’s easy to think your baby is still little and you have plenty of time to prepare for that. I’ll let you in on a secret though – time goes by VERY fast! By preparing now for their future you’ll be more effective in planning for their future. Whether it be investing in stocks or some other investment vehicle, by starting now (even in small amounts) you’ll serve the future needs of your baby much better, generally speaking.

Do you have children? What is one thing you wish you would’ve done differently in preparing for your child?

John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a finance blog that regularly discusses investing, budgeting, and frugal living. John is a father, husband, and veteran of the financial services industry who’s passionate about helping people find freedom through frugality. Visit him at frugalrules.com or follow him on Twitter.

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Comments

  1. Babies are expensive…but so worth it!
    I got six weeks of maternity leave at half but took ten weeks off work. (4 weeks complete unpaid) That coupled with my 4K hospital bill was by far the most expensive part of having both of my babies =/

    • That they are Holly. My wife usually got 6 weeks at around 60-70% and then took an additional six weeks unpaid. It was expensive each time, but much worth it. 🙂

    • Puke.

      This makes me sad for you. I couldn’t IMAGINE going back to work when my kiddo was 10 weeks old. I wasn’t anywhere near ready until about 9-10mos.

  2. This post makes me super nervous haha. I feel like there is really no way to prepare a dollar amount for bringing a kid into the world. I do think that people give way too much to babies these days. When I think of saving up to have a baby, I really just think medical costs and doctors visits. I figure the clothing, crib, etc. are minimal, not to mention my mother in law has a closet full of new baby clothes and no grandkids yet… haha so your parents aren’t the only ones who were worried about never having grandkids!!!

    • I can understand that nervousness Cat – it’s one of those things that is hard to appreciate until it happens. That said, they are expensive, though not as expensive as what many will tell you. That’s a great point though we do tend to give way too much to babies when in actuality they “need” very little from a materialistic standpoint.

  3. I have 2 kids, and my wife and I would love to have another one, maybe two. There is definitely a financial impact, that’s not debatable. What’s more impactful, though, is how much love, joy, and growth come into your home through having children. Looking back, even though my wife stopped working entirely to stay home with them and we pay hundreds more per month for family health insurance, we’d do it again in a heartbeat. Without question.

  4. Hey John good to see you over here!

    I don’t have any babies, but if I were able to afford it, the biggest expense would be paying the mother (instead of someone else) to raise her or him! 🙂

  5. Nice article John. I wish my wife and I would have sat down and tried to figure out a way to have her stay home with our son until he went to school. If we would have done that before she got pregnant, then we could have saved on daycare costs. Those are just ridiculous.

  6. You make an excellent point about saving in general, and especially for lost wages. When I coach people, I always ask if they plan to have kids and if they say yes, I encourage them to start saving right away. I figure if they have kids in several years, this will give them a great start. If they never have kids, they can put that money towards retirement, a house, or anything else. Most people haven’t thought of this, but love the idea when they hear it. After all, people constantly hear how expensive kids are, yet they rarely think to start saving in advance,. I imagine it’s easier in other countries where paid maternity leave is provided, but there’s still food, clothing, etc. It’s a good thing they’re so cute!

  7. Having a baby doesnt have to cost the earth. What does a baby need – diapers ( buy cloth and the expense is over) milk – breast is best!, clothes, stroller, bassinet – buy them from ebay, thrift stores, yard sales etc. You don’t NEED all the junk that the advertisers bombard you with.
    Use the cash to save for their education, if you save from birth, even a small amount will grow into a decent sum.
    I have 7 children and never understand this mentality of ” we can’t afford children” . Just don’t buy crap you don’t need!

    • I totally agree with you though the reason we couldn’t afford more than one right now is the fact that we need to focus on paying debt off which means we both need to work and daycare is expensive. Once our debt is paid off we could live on me working significantly less once kiddo is in school. Our daughter slept with us for 10 months, then moved to a crib, I use an antique rocking chair everynight for nursing and reading, she has clothes, diapers and breastfed for over a year. We save a little bit now for her education, will bump it up a bit when debt is paid off but not much more.

  8. I am thankful I am a Canadian! You never even think of how much it costs for the hospital/doctors when you have a baby, and our maternity/paternity leave policy is certainly something to be thankful for.

  9. Thanks for sharing. We don’t have any kids but the more I read about them on my own site from guest posts and other sites the more we need to be prepared. I think that for some they play it by ear but we like to plan as much as we can although we know that not everything will fall into place. Still not sure about the cloth vs disposable diaper debate but judging by Katrina’s post on my blog she wishes she used cloth. I dunno, so much to think about when it comes to babies. Cheers

    • Honestly, you can only be so prepared. There will always be something. The diaper thing isn’t a one or the other either, buy both and see what you prefer. Cloth diapers have a great (used) resale so you wouldn’t be out much if you didn’t like it and sold them.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Having a baby is very expensive! They need a lot of things like a crib, clothes, diapers, and much more. Plus the medical costs of having a baby aren’t cheap either. That’s why you need to start saving up money from the moment you find out you are expecting, if not sooner. […]

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