Prologue: Alex discovered our blog while helping a friend research their family tree. She wanted to share her specialty with us and wrote this article to help prospective parents align their finances to their new lifestyle. It’s a little different than our usual content, but well worth a read for our younger audiences.
by Alex Hall, guest writer
Preparing for a new baby can trigger serious financial anxiety. Between buying everything you need for the baby to shopping for health insurance and child care, there’s a lot of money going out. If you have maternity leave on the horizon or plan to leave work after having your child, there might be a lot less money coming in too. It’s enough to cause any new parent to worry, but there are lots of ways to save money when preparing for parenthood.
Why Are Finances so Important?
Financial responsibility isn’t just about keeping your bank account in the black. Living according to your means is also important to your mental health. Constantly worrying about money is stressful. While it might not feel like a big deal in the day-to-day, over time, that chronic stress takes a serious toll on your mental well-being, including increasing your risk of postpartum depression.
Budget-Friendly Tips for New Parents
These money-smart tips will help you get ready for parenthood without the financial stress.
Practice living on a smaller budget
No matter how frugal you are, babies cost money. Make a budget reflecting your finances after your child is born, including additional expenses and lost income due to unpaid leave or a stay-at-home parent. Then, practice living on your new budget. Doing this as early as possible gives you time to make adjustments if you realize the budget is unsustainable.
Pad your savings account
Living on a smaller budget has another benefit: It forces you to save money. Even with a meticulous budget, you’ll be glad to have a healthy emergency fund when unexpected expenses inevitably arise.
Buy some things secondhand
Babies grow at breakneck speed, so it doesn’t make sense to buy dozens of brand new outfits and toys your baby will only use for a short time. Don’t stop there; you can also buy changing tables, baby baths, and other baby gear from friends, yard sales, or thrift stores. Just don’t buy breast pumps or car seats second-hand, and think twice before buying a used crib.
When you have to buy new, shop smart
Trips to the mall are fun and a great way to try before you buy, but when it comes time to make a purchase, you’re better off doing it online. When you shop online, you can do product research and hunt for sales, promo codes, and third-party discounts that you’d never find in stores. Check department stores like Macy’s first, as that’s typically where you’ll find the steepest discounts. When you’re in the third trimester, doesn’t shopping from your couch sound way more fun than dealing with mall parking anyway?
Outsource what you can
When you’re a new parent, you discover that you suddenly don’t have time to do all of the things you used to. So, if you can find ways to outsource some of the chores that once consumed a large portion of your day, don’t hesitate to do so! For example, if you’re having trouble keeping the house in great shape after your baby arrives, set aside a little money to hire a maid service to do the job for you. However, keep in mind that in The Colony, you’ll pay between $128 and $200 on a house cleaning, though this number will vary depending on the size of your home. Also, if a friend or relative offers to make you dinner, don’t be shy — take them up on the offer!
Don’t overdo the nursery
It’s tempting to go overboard decorating your child’s bedroom, especially if it’s your first baby. But kids outgrow their tastes quickly and designing with pastels and baby animals will have you redecorating in a few years. A budget-friendly approach is painting in neutral colors and relying on temporary fixtures like pictures and stuffed animals to add a theme. If you’re concerned about replacing furniture as your baby turns into a preschooler, look for multifunctional furniture like convertible cribs (you can find these on buybuyBABY starting at $129).
Think twice before upsizing
Bigger family, bigger home — right? Not so fast: Unless your budget supports a larger house, you’re better off staying put. It’s a risky move to spend more than 30 percent of your income on a house, and bigger homes not only come with bigger mortgages but also higher utilities and property tax bills. On top of it all, that’s more square footage to clean when you’re sleep deprived caring for a newborn. Young children don’t mind living in tight quarters, so skip the upsize and save that extra money instead.
Anxiety and self-doubt are common in new parents, especially when it comes to money. You worry about your ability to provide for your children, to save for college, to help them achieve their dreams. Before getting overwhelmed, take a deep breath: You don’t need to have it all figured out right now. But by getting your budget in order before your child arrives, you know you’re on the right track.
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