How To Fiercely Prepare For A Baby On A Budget

Smart financial preparation will help you avoid having a baby on a tight budget. Stop living paycheck to paycheck so you no longer stress about money.

how to fiercely prepare for a baby on a budget

Have you been trying to find the “perfect time” to start your family? 

You’ve gone through your mental checklist of things you want to have accomplished before your life is consumed by all things baby.

  • Married
  • Stable income
  • House
  • Car

But now that you’ve laid the foundation, you start second guessing if you really are financially stable enough for the extra expenses.

Yeah, you both have paychecks coming in every 2 weeks, but is it enough for a baby? 

Are you living paycheck to paycheck?

Should you get out of debt before you bring another life into this world? 

So many financial decisions need to be made if you want to have a child without going into debt.

My husband and I waited until our checklist was completed before having our daughter and I’m so glad we did. 

I’ve seen my siblings have kids before their finances were in order and I made a commitment to myself that I would wait. 

They’re great parents, but I watched how they struggled to pay their rent or put food on the table. 

And when things got really bad they would pack up all of their kids and move back in with our parents. 

I didn’t want that life. 

I wanted to pick a color scheme for our nursery in our house. And have the option to be a stay at home mom without being forced to go back to work. 

As hard as it was, we waited. Not until the “perfect time” but until we felt stable enough to start a family. 

To prepare financially, we needed an estimate of how much of our income would go towards the baby.

How much does a baby cost per year?

During my Google search, I stumbled upon this handy baby calculator

It gives you the option to keep things simple or go deluxe. After years of hard work putting the puzzle pieces of my life together before having a baby, I knew I wanted everything deluxe! 

And it’s better to over plan than under plan

Once I finished the quiz our estimated annual cost was about $17,000. 

I divided that by 12 to get our estimated monthly expenses. 

After having our daughter and being more conscious of our budget, I get almost everything secondhand. 

The only “deluxe” items we have were bought from our baby registry by our amazing family.

It’s been a nice surprise that we aren’t spending nearly as much as we’d anticipated. 

The only physical monthly expense for our daughter is diapers which we buy a box of 168 diapers each month. 

We buy her wipes every other month which is a box of 9 packs

I stocked her up on clothes from a consignment shop starting with size newborn all the way to 12 months. 

She has everything she needs so anything I buy is something I want her to have like toys or a cute holiday outfit. 

Another helpful quiz I found was the “Can you afford a baby?” quiz by US News. 

This quiz helped us determine whether I would stay home or return to work. 

Once you’ve estimated the costs to see if you can afford a baby right now, here’s how to further maximize your money so you can afford a baby on a tight budget.

How can you afford a baby on a tight budget?

couple planning for a baby

1. Consider breastfeeding

According to The Bump, “Buying an electric breast pump will run you anywhere from $150 to $300, compared to the $1,000 to $2,500 spent on formula for a whole year.”

Most insurance companies cover breast pumps. The easy way to find out if you can get a free breast pump is through Aeroflow

They will do all of the behind the scenes work for you. 

If they aren’t able to get you a breast pump, ask your doctor’s office because they may know of other programs in your area that can help.

3. Network through Facebook 

Facebook groups are a great way to connect with moms and get tips and advice on anything you need to know. 

Of course, use caution and don’t believe everything you read. 

This is how I find out how other moms are saving money or making extra money from home

Search Facebook for mom support groups or saving money groups. Anything you want help with you should be able to find at least one group on Facebook.

4. Don’t buy baby wipes 

You can save a few hundred dollars every year by making your own baby wipes. 

This simple recipe requires only 5 ingredients!

5. Cloth diapers

Cloth diapers require an upfront investment but can potentially save you a lot of money. 

I say potentially because you will have to wash them frequently depending on how many you have so that’ll put more wear and tear on your washing machine. 

As a family of 3, my time-saving laundry hack is setting aside one day to do laundry. With cloth diapers, I would have to do laundry at least every 3 days. 

That means an increase in our water bill, more laundry detergent, and our washing machine would most likely need to be replaced sooner. 

We decided to stick with disposable diapers since we get 20% off through Amazon Family.

6. Loyalty programs 

When you sign up for programs like Amazon Family and Target Circle you get awesome  discounts on everyday products. 

Target Circle will give you access to deals and perks before the rest of the world knows about them. You also earn 1% on every shopping trip. If you have the REDcard you’ll earn 5%! 

Amazon Family is a perk of being a prime member. You get exclusive deals on family-oriented offers, coupons, and recommendations. 

My favorite part is the money I save on diapers and wipes! But you also get a 15% baby registry completion discount.

7. Baby registry welcome box

Amazon, Walmart, and Target provide a free welcome box when you create your baby registry. 

Take advantage of the great samples to figure out which products you like. 

Put as many items as you could possibly want on your baby registry. You never know what someone is willing to buy. 

Plus you will get a discount for completing your registry.

8. Stockpile samples 

Companies love to give away free samples so you will eventually become a loyal customer. 

Create a new email address (they will bombard you with emails!) and Google search “free baby samples”.

You’ll get sooo many awesome products to try out.

9. Buy second hand 

There’s no need to buy any new baby clothes. 

90% of my daughter’s wardrobe for the first year was bought at a consignment shop for less than $5 per outfit. 

If you have friends and family that are done having kids ask if they have any clothes or baby items you could have. 

The quickest way is to make a Facebook status asking if anyone has any baby items they no longer need. Most of us need to get rid of that stuff to clear up space for more things we don’t need. 

These apps will help you find baby clothes locally. Make sure to meet at a public location and take someone with you.

10. Discount stores 

Places like T.J. Maxx, Ross, and Burlington will help you save money on name brand items. 

If you want your baby items to look expensive without going broke, check out these stores. 

Most of the clothes are less than $10 and the big ticket items are significantly marked down.

11. Buy in bulk

A great way to save money is by buying items in bulk. 

Get baby items like soap and lotion, baby food (if you’re not doing baby-led weaning), and diapers and wipes in bulk. 

Stores like Sam’s Club and Costco have a lot of awesome baby items you can get for a lower price. 

When you buy diapers in bulk make sure you get a size that your child will be in for a while so they don’t outgrow them before you get a chance to use all of them.

12. Use coupons

Couponing is now easier than ever since most of them can be used right from your phone. 

No more stockpiling the Sunday newspaper and spending hours clipping and organizing your coupons (unless you want to). 

My favorite place to get coupons is The Krazy Coupon Lady. She keeps me up to date on the best offers and savings.

13. Gender neutral 

Whenever you find out you’re having a baby boy you may start buying everything blue you can find. 

But not so fast! 

What if your next baby is a girl? That means you’ll need to buy everything all over again if you don’t want your daughter’s items to be blue. 

Instead, stick to gender neutral colors like green and yellow especially for expensive items. This way you won’t have to buy a new one depending on the gender of your next baby.

14. Convertible baby gear

The best way to save money is to buy things that will grow with your child. 

A convertible car seat starts out as rear-facing and when the time is right can be converted to forward-facing. Meaning you won’t have to spend money on a brand new car seat.

Another convertible baby item to consider is the crib. Our crib can be converted to a toddler bed, day bed, and full-size bed with a few extra accessories. 

Unless you know for sure you’ll be having your kids about a year apart you may not want to buy a convertible stroller since they are about 10 pounds heavier.

15. Garage sales

Waking up super early on a Saturday morning may sound dreadful. But once you buy a $150 stroller for only $10 it’ll be so worth it! 

Garage sales are mostly during the summer and can be found by following the garage sale signs. 

People also post them on Facebook and sometimes in the local newspaper.

How to financially plan for a baby 

Preparing for your baby before you even get pregnant will help you avoid having your baby on a tight budget.

Insurance policy

Go over your insurance policy to find out how much extra you’ll be paying to add a dependent. 

You’ll also need to consider if you and your partner will want a life insurance policy. 

Start saving that amount each month to see how tight your budget is without that money.

Estimate costs 

You usually have a preferred brand of diapers and wipes that you think you may use for your baby. 

Expect to use about 200 diapers each month since babies use about 6-8 diapers per day. 

With each diaper change estimate you’ll use 2 wipes. So that’s about 400 wipes. 

If you plan on formula feeding add in the cost of about 6 regular size containers of formula each month. If you buy large containers you’ll use less but it’s better to over budget than under budget. 

Set aside that amount each month to get a feel for how your finances will be with that amount gone.

One income family

Call and speak to Human Resources (HR) at your place of employment to get an idea of their maternity leave requirements and how much you will make during this time. 

Do you qualify for the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)? 

How many weeks are paid and how much will they pay? 

This list of questions to ask HR will help you decide if maternity leave is the best option. 

My husband and I decided it would be best for me to leave my nursing job and become a stay at home mom. 

Once we added in childcare and the extra gas, it would be like I was making $5-$7/hr which wasn’t worth missing out on time with my daughter. 

We cut unnecessary expenses and started using Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps to avoid living on a tight budget.

The bare essentials for a baby

Babies don’t require much. Here’s a simple list of the basic necessities you’ll need for your baby.

Pro mom tip: Put as many things on your registry to get as a gift so you won’t have to buy them!

1. Pack n play

A pack n play is a very versatile baby item that can be used for a few years. 

I use this one because it has a detachable bassinet as a sleep area for when your baby is small plus a changing table. 

When your baby gets older you can use the pack n play as a safe play area and safe sleeping space that doesn’t take up a lot of room.

2. Convertible car seat

This will grow with your child instead of you spending money buying a new car seat when your child gets older. 

A convertible car seat starts as rear-facing and converts to forward-facing when your child meets the safety requirements.

3. Stroller 

When your baby starts getting heavier and you’re going to be out and about you’ll most likely want to use a stroller.

4. Travel system 

A travel system is when you get the car seat and stroller as a set. This is the route I chose because it was financially appropriate for us. 

They easily fit together making them simple to use. 

The only disadvantage to this option is that you will have to buy a forward-facing car seat when your child gets older.

5. Breast pump

If you plan on breastfeeding, a breast pump is a convenient breastfeeding supply to have on  hand if you have to be away from your baby at any time. 

Luckily, most breast pumps are free through Aeroflow.

6. Formula 

With all the different types of formula available, your best option may be to get free samples from Everyday family to see which brand your baby tolerates. 

This will save you from stocking up on a specific brand and having to spend even more money trying to figure out what your baby likes.

7. Bottles 

Whether you’re breastfeeding or formula feeding it’s a good idea to have bottles on hand. 

Again, don’t stock up on one brand because you don’t know which kind your baby will like.

8. Diapers and wipes 

You may get plenty of diapers and wipes at your baby shower to last a while. 

Have a variety of options in case your baby has sensitive skin or one brand leaks more than expected.

Pro mom tip: To get more free wipes at your baby shower, have a raffle where people bring a pack of wipes to get entered for a chance to win a prize!

9. Clothes

A few versatile clothing options for your baby are:

  • Onesies
  • Pants
  • Socks
  • Zippered pajamas
  • Hats

10. Blankets 

Receiving blankets are great for swaddling. They’re so thin we’d also use them as burp cloths. 

This is definitely something you always want to have in your baby’s diaper bag.

11. Grooming kit

A simple grooming kit will have necessities like a nail file, comb, and brush. 

It’s a good idea to save money by buying them in a kit rather than individually.

12. First aid kit

Accidents happen. And when they do you want to be prepared. 

This first aid kit should have everything you need for small injuries.

13. Bouncy chair

As much as you don’t ever want to put your baby down, you need at least one safe place to sit them. 

The optimal option is something that moves like a bouncy chair or swing so they still feel like they’re still being held.

Famous last words…

It’s possible to have a baby while on a tight budget without being stressed about money. 

Stick with the necessities and get as many free items as you can get your hands on. 

Weigh your financial options about maternity leave or staying home with your baby to see which will be the smartest option. 

And remember, there’s no perfect time to have a baby!

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how to fiercely prepare for a baby on a tight budget
how to prepare for a baby on a tight budget (the bare essentials)

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