10 Ways for New Parents to Save Money
Finding out that you are expecting a baby is one of the most exciting and happy events in life! And even when you find out how much this little bundle of joy is going to cost you—the average cost of raising a child is about $245,000—it is still worth it because nothing compares to holding that sweet little baby in your arms. There are some things that you can do though, to save a bit of money:
1. Don’t buy a diaper bag. You won’t need to buy a diaper bag. Seriously, you won’t. Diaper bags can be very expensive, usually starting at about $30 and ranging up to several hundred dollars! And trust me, if you buy one, you are going to be sorry that you wasted your money. There are several places that will actually give you a diaper bag for FREE:
- your obstetrician’s office often has free diaper bags (with formula samples inside!)
- vendors at baby fairs hand out diaper bags, among other samples
- the hospital also gives out free diaper bags and other samples
I learned about all of these free diaper bags after I had already purchases a diaper bag, which I ended up not liking as much as the free ones! If the doctor’s office or hospital are busy or forget to offer these to you, make sure you ask for samples, coupons, or a diaper bag.
2. Don’t stock up on diapers. Ok, if you are a planner, like me, this one is going to be tough. Yes, you will need some diapers to get you started the first few weeks, but don’t buy a bunch of size 1 and 2 diapers until you see what works best for you and your baby. Some brands of diapers that my friends said worked so well for them—never had a leaky diaper—just didn’t prove to be the same experience for me and my baby. You will probably want to test out a few brands until you see what works for you the best, and trust me, it isn’t always the name brand, sometimes store brands are just as good (maybe even better!).
3. Don’t stock up on formula either. Start out using just one type of formula, don’t test these out initially. But you should not buy several bulk cases of it until you know that your baby will be ok with it. You don’t want to find out that you’ve spent hundreds of dollars on a formula that your baby won’t be able to use because of lactose intolerance or acid reflux.
5. Sign up for store rewards programs. Many stores offer rewards programs, such as Babies’ R Us. You earn points for each dollar spent that will earn you coupons for future use in the store, so you can save money on future purchases for your little one! You may also notice codes on products that you buy, such as Huggies and Pampers. Those points can be entered online to earn items, such as a free photobook from Shutterfly!
6. Use cloth diapers. If you really want to save money on diapers, you may want to opt for cloth diapers. Of course, there are some up-front costs for this, but considering that in one month’s time, a newborn will go through about 300 diaper changes (a bigger baby will probably use about 150 diapers a month), you will probably end up spending about $35-75 per month on disposable diapers!
7. Choose breast milk over formula. If you choose to nurse your baby, you will be taking advantage of a free source of food! Besides the antibodies and health benefits to your child, the money savings are a very nice benefit.
8. Use store apps or price matching. It can take a bit of planning to search for sale items ahead of time, but many stores will give you discounts on baby items. Target has created the “Cartwheel” application for smartphones, which offers different discount on items each week. You can typically save 5-10% on store brand baby items, including diapers, wipes, and baby food. Another great way to save is to price match; stores such as Walmart will accept competitor ads on any item in there store, including name brand baby products.
9. Utilize a flex spending account for medical bills or childcare. If your employer offers a Flex Spending account, take advantage of it for medical expenses or childcare for your baby. Money comes out of your paycheck, pre-tax—so you will reduce the amount of taxes withheld from each check, which will increase your spendable cash each month! You should be able to find several free income tax calculators online that can take the guesswork out of the entire process.
10. Buy gender neutral items. As tempting as it is to run out and buy everything blue that you see as soon as you find out that you’re having a boy, try to restrain yourself if you plan on having more than one child. It can be very expensive to purchase everything that you will need for a baby when you are expecting your first child… and it doesn’t get any cheaper if you need to replace all of these items when your second child is a girl. Items such as strollers, receiving blankets, sleepers, even nursery decorations, can be gender neutral so that they could work whether you have a boy or girl. A little thinking ahead can save you big bucks!