Babies, as much as we love them, are incredibly expensive. The cost of a “routine” hospital birth with no complications averages around $3500. When you add in the cost of months of prenatal care and complications during the birth (like having to have a Cesarian or other issues that might extend your hospital stay), you could be facing $10K or more–and that’s just to grow and birth your child! Next, you have to figure out how to pay for all of the stuff that they will need as they grow up.
According to Baby Center’s “Cost of Raising a Child” Calculator, the cost of raising a child who is born today to two parents who live in a rural area will be around $145K. If you live in a city or suburban area in the Western US, that number goes up to $191K. The midwest and southern regions are only slightly cheaper at $174K and $165K respectively. And if you live in the Northeast, that number jumps up to $212K–and that’s without contributing to your child’s education! Yowza!
Obviously, finding ways to reduce those expenses is important, especially if you’re already trying to pay down debt, save for retirement, etc. Here are some of the most popular methods for doing that.
Hand Me Downs
Do not scoff at the time honored hand me down–especially when it comes to clothing for babies and toddlers. Babies and toddlers grow so fast. You’ll be lucky if they wear something a few times before they’ve outgrown it. Hand me down baby and toddler clothes from friends and family members can be a godsend for a tight budget. It is also seen as something of a kindness to the person who is handing them down. That person is desperately trying to clear up space for the new clothes his child is going to outgrow. The least you could do is take them off of his hands, right?
One money saving technique that is growing in popularity is the subscription box. You create a membership with the site, enter your and your baby’s demographic information, select a few preferences and then, every week or month, you get a box in the mail filled with goodies and supplies for you and/or your child. Some subscriptions, like Bluum Boxes and Citrus Lane, are really great and help you save tons of money, while others mostly send out sample packs of things that you won’t ever actually use. Spend some time learning about them and try out some free trials to find the ones that will work for you.
Like with many things, shopping for your baby’s supplies online can save you a lot of money. Unlike a lot of other markets, though, baby sites definitely have parents’ budgets in mind and, if you opt-in to their mailing lists, you can get lots of great subscriber-specific discounts that aren’t available to casual shoppers. Some, like The Baby Cubby, offer discounts just for registering with the site.
PRO TIP: Sign up with your favorite brick and mortar stores too. You’ll get coupons you can print (or load into your phone) to use at local shops as well as online.
Wants Vs. Needs
There are some things that your baby is going to definitely need and some very specific safety concerns that are going to dictate how much you spend. For example, you don’t want to scrimp on the crib or the car seat–especially for newborns. You want your child’s clothing to be well made and soft for his or her skin.
Once you’ve met your baby’s real needs, the rest is just gravy. Quick savings techniques include:
- Skipping the shoes. Why are you spending $30 on real shoes your baby will lose two minutes after you wrestle them on?
- Plain white wins the day. When buying undershirts, socks, etc–cute costs extra…a lot extra when you think about how often you lose baby socks and how easily they get dirty.
- Buy diapers in bulk. Trust us. Those huge cartons of diapers from Costco might be awkward to lug to and from the car but they can save you hundreds of dollars a year.
- Unisex is best. Unisex clothing, particularly for newborns and very young infants is a huge money saver, especially if you hope to have more than one child. They are also easy to hand down and cost less than gender-specific clothing.
Have you found a great way to save money on your baby’s gear? Share it with us! We’d all like to come up with ways to save more money–especially since we’ll have to pay for college tuitions soon!