Is budget baby shopping possible? Is it possible to have a child and stay debt free? According to the USDA, the average American family spends over $14,000 on their new baby within the first year of life. Reading information like this is probably why many couples wonder if they can even afford to have children and live debt free in today’s economy.
I have had two kids, and I can guarantee I didn't spend anywhere close to even $7,000 on them in the first year of life (or before they were born.) Here are some things to remember when planning for a baby:
First, if you do not have health insurance, please see if you qualify either through your job, or for children’s health insurance through your state. Having quality health insurance coverage takes a huge chunk out of the cost of having a baby—and ensures that you have a healthy pregnancy.
Do not feel that you have to buy every baby product marketed to you. Expectant and new parents are a marketer’s dream.
All sorts of products are designed each year that supposedly make your baby smarter, develop faster, etc. Just go to yard sales, and you will find almost everything you need and more at very low prices. Yard sales, garage sales, and consignment shops are a cheap baby shopper's dream-come-true.
Also, check out Craigslist for Infant/Children’s items.
Consider borrowing baby items from a friend or family member. If you have a sister or friend who wears the same size of maternity clothing as you, ask to borrow some of her clothing. Remember, you only wear maternity clothing for fewer than nine months, so spending $400+ on a new wardrobe is not a wise move for your finances. Budget baby shopping means using any resource you can, especially for items you will only use for a short time.
Breastfeed your baby if you can. Regular formula averages a cost of $100 a month. Breastfeeding can potentially save you $1,000+ a year. If you are unable to breastfeed, store brand formula is subject to the same strict USDA guidelines as the name brands, so consider using a store brand.
Decide whether it makes financial sense for you to continue to work after
you have your baby. If you are bringing home a salary of $300 a week,
and you have to pay over $200 in childcare expenses (plus gas, career wardrobe,
etc), it may not be worthwhile for you to consider working.
Subsidized child care may be available through your state or province. This means that depending on your income, you may qualify for the state to pay all but a small fee for your child to attend daycare. In-home providers or family caregivers can also qualify in most states. Some families pay as little as $5.00 a week per child for care.
Having a baby does not have to be stressful to your families’ financial situation. Through budget baby shopping and careful planning, you can enjoy your new arrival and still live within your means.