Well congratulations if you've recently found out you're expecting to have a child! Assuming you're having a child for the first time you may not know what expenses to expect or how to save for your child. That's okay. Having children does impact your wallet, but it's well worth it. Children are a blessing and as you pay for your little one you won't think anything of the expenses as long as you've done some planning and preparation and spend smart.
What Expenses To Expect For Your Child
There are a number of expenses you're not used to paying or accounting for in your budget. It's a good idea to talk to family, friends and reach articles such as this one to get an idea of such expenses.
- How do you plan to feed your child? Will you breast feed or use formula? Breast feeding isn't for everyone, but it will save a ton of money as compared to buying formula (even if its bought in bulk).
- Clothes and blankets are essential for a newborn. You'll want to make sure you have blankets for swaddling and keeping your baby warm at night. Just remember your baby doesn't need designer clothes. Nice, but not super model fashion is the approach I would recommend.
- You'll want to furnish your nursery. This will include a baby crib, changing table or dresser, rocker, lamp, etc. Read below for tips for such one-time expenses.
- Diapers can be quite costly. Some people use cloth diapers, but we couldn't do it; we didn't even go there. You'll want to buy diapers in bulk each month, but make sure you check unit prices as bulk isn't always cheaper.
- Medical supplies and other products. These are tough to plan for, but make sure you have a thermometer, nail clippers, baby bath tub, etc.
- We quickly learned it was better to spend more on a few high quality bottles rather than buy the cheapos. The more expensive bottles simply work better and tend to leak less.
- You'll want your little to have some little toys to play with. Rattles are good for babies and most of these types of products can be found at your local Wal-Mart or Target. I recommend doing a bit of research on baby toys because you want to make sure you buy safe products.
- A stroller with car seat attachment can be costly, but make sure you get something that is going to be safe! These are not expenses to skimp on, but you also don't have to buy top of the line.
- Doctor and hospital expenses for having a child can differ so you need to make sure you have a good understanding up front as to what your insurance will cover.
How To Save For Your Child
Once you're expecting you'll want to start setting money aside for these expenses. There are one-time expenses and expenses that will occur each month. The one-time expenses mainly consist of the nursery furniture, stroller and costs associated with the hospital and doctors. The recurring expenses include all the monthly purchases such as diapers, food, etc to help provide for your child.
Head into your local baby furniture store and you'll find you can easily spend a few thousand dollars on one-time expenses. Rather, be smart about how you're spending money and buy some things used. For most furniture you can get away with buying used, but don't buy a used baby crib or a stroller that has a car seat attachment. These are important things to insure safety and you need to make sure you're getting a reliable product that isn't damaged (if used) and well manufactured.
Make sure you buy your one-time items without financing them or using a credit card. You may need to sacrifice some spending if you don't have any extra income. You may also want to take up a part-time job if you need money to buy supplies. Can you sell furniture or other things you don't use? And don't forget work bonuses, tax refunds or even a family loan are all better options than going into debt to plan for your new child.
A great way to get some of the essential things you need is through baby showers. Many families and friends host baby showers. Don't use this as an opportunity to go overboard and request every gadget at Babies r Us to furnish your nursery. Rather pick out the essential things you need at moderate prices and most people will be happy to help you out. This is, of course, a wonderful occasion that you can celebrate with those close to you.
Plan ahead and carve out room in your budget. Since you now have a list of some expenses you can expect within the first year, visit some stores such as Target with a list of the items and write down the prices. Compare with a few other stores too. I've made a line item in our family budget that includes expenses for baby supplies. These are normal monthly expenses for diapers and baby food. It may take you a few months to know how much you need to spend, but the important thing is to have some money set aside each month.
Don't forget Health Care FSA's. Most baby related medical expenses can be purchased through your FSA. This can definitely help as babies and young children tend to need over the counter medicine and other supplies from your local pharmacy often.
The most important thing to remember is you are not the first person on the planet to have a child. Remember, others have saved and provided for a child and you can do it too. Sure, it may take some sacrifice, but it's worth the blessing.
What tips do you have to save for your first child?