Hoorah! I’ve taken care of a baby for a whole year. I feel like birthdays should also be a celebration for the parents. I can’t believe Tom and I survived this year! We did it and we didn’t go bankrupt.
I remember being very overwhelmed by the idea of spending money on a baby. When you do a Google search on how much babies cost, it is very scary. Most websites will tell you that babies cost at least $10,000 a year. That thought alone was enough to make me consider not having children. While I agree that babies do cost quite a bit, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to cost you $10,000 a year if you watch what you spend.
Then again, an economist might argue that me quitting my job to take care of our son cost us $47,000 and lots of potential retirement investments. I’m not going to lie, I miss my salary, but I love having the opportunity to stay home with our son and I know that if you pinch enough pennies you can ensure that a baby won’t cost you too much. Here are some of my favorite ways to save money with a baby as well as some tips from fellow moms who follow my Facebook page.
- Cloth diaper. This has been the absolute biggest way we have saved money. We don’t have to run to the grocery store to pick up diapers and we don’t have to shell out cash for them. To make things even better, we live in a condo and water is included in our rent.
- If you don’t cloth diaper, subscribe to a diaper delivery service. There are tons out there such as Amazon Mom, diapers.com, and The Honest Company.
- Coupon for diapers, wipes and other baby supplies. Get on mailing lists from your favorite grocery stores. Publix has a Baby Club that gives you coupons every month.
- Make your own wipe solution and baby oil. We use cloth wipes with a solution of Dr. Bronners and water in a spray bottle. We stopped buying baby lotion and baby oil and use straight apricot oil on Robert every night before bed.
- Buy everything you can used. This is one place where we messed up. We bought our swing, crib, and stroller brand new because we had no idea how cheap items could be at consignment stores. Before having a baby, I didn’t frequent children’s consignment stores and I had no idea what kind of deals I could find. If I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t by any of our baby equipment (except car seat) new. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked into a consignment store to find something I bought new at less than a quarter of the price.
- Borrow instead of buying! You are bound to know someone who has a kid. If so, see if they are willing to let you “store” their stuff at your place until they have another baby and want it back. Remember to return the favor!
- Cash in on your baby registry discount. Most registries allow you to get 10-20% off remaining registry items after a certain date. We added all sorts of stuff to our registry in order to get that extra discount. I even got my favorite Illy espresso from Amazon this way.
- Make your own nursery artwork. This can save you tons of money and it ends up meaning so much more to you.
- Go to free events with baby. There are so many options out there! You can go to the library, park, grocery store, play groups etc. Don’t feel like you have to pay for something in order to entertain your child. Don’t get sucked into spending $5-15 every week for baby activities such as Gymboree or My Gym. Don’t get me wrong, it is fun every now and then. We have certainly enjoyed events at those types of places, but you don’t have to pay for it weekly in order to entertain your child. Robert has just as much fun at the library, park, or beach as he does as those pricy gyms. I even consider the grocery store to be a fun outing for him. I try to go to grocery stores with free samples to make Robert even happier.
- Buy books for baby used. We get most of ours from Goodwill and the library. Our library has a section where they sell books for $1. Checkout books from the library instead of buying them.
- Breastfeed! If you breastfeed, you don’t have to pay for formula. Some insurance companies will even reimburse you for a breast pump.
- Make your own baby food. This has saved us tons of money. I am always shocked by how much baby food costs. Buy a baby food maker such as this Baby Brezza, or use your food processor. All you need to do is steam the food and blend it. It really is that simple.
- Buy REAL food instead of processed junk. Surprisingly, most moms who helped me with ideas said that fresh fruit and veggies ended up being cheaper than processed snacks when they compared the servings.
- Use Cheerios instead of Gerber puffs. We loved the puffs until we went through 3 containers in a week, I knew it was time for a change and we switched to Cheerios. Much cheaper!
- Make your own toddler meals. I can’t get over how much Gerber charges for their prepackaged toddler meals. I almost picked one up the other day and realized I could make a whole weeks worth of food for the same price. One ravioli meal was $2 at Target. You can buy a big bag of frozen ravioli and a bag of frozen veggies and get the same thing for less. It may be a little more work, but it all adds up!
- This is a personal one that I know not everyone will agree with. Don’t have multiple photo shoots unless you can get a good deal. If you really want one, try to save up and get one big one instead of multiple ones. We opted to buy a nice camera instead of spending money on a professional photographer. I’m sure we will get family portraits one day, so I’m not knocking professional photographer all together. I just wouldn’t advise spending too much when it is fun to take your own.
- Here is another personal one, don’t have a first birthday party if you can’t afford it or don’t want to do it.
- Limit Christmas and birthday gifts. It is easy to go over board when you want your child to have everything they want. Just remember that children really want your time, not your money or gifts. A bunch of moms recommended giving 3 gifts since baby Jesus only got 3 from the wise men.
- Another popular suggestion from the Facebook moms was to give experience gifts instead of material gifts. They suggested trips such as Disney or the zoo.
- Remember that babies and kids don’t care about your money, they want your time. Save your money for when your kids will need it, like when they are in high school, college or post grad. Our time with our kids is fleeting and before we know it they will prefer our money over our time. Let’s enjoy this time with them now instead of wishing to turn back time later.
What tips am I missing? Please add your favorite tips in the comments! And don’t forget to follow the blog if you like what you see.