Expecting a baby? Be prepared for a lot of advice from well-meaning friends, family, and strangers. They’ll be more than happy to share ideas about planning for a baby financially, educationally, and in any other way you can imagine.
It’s fair to say one of the things you’ll hear the most from other parents is: “You have no idea how your life is about to change.” It’s true. There is no way you can perfectly prepare for a baby if you’ve never had one before. Still, it may grow tiring to hear after a while. The best you can do is realize that you’re about to experience some major lifestyle shifts, and know you’ll do the best you can. No parent is perfect, despite what the glossy magazines and instagram accounts would have you believe, and adjustments along the way are part of the process.
With that said, there’s a lot you can do when you’re planning for a baby financially. There may be no perfect parents, but neglecting to prepare at all will will add stress at a time when you’ll already be stretched for time, sleep, and just about everything else. For your sake and the sake of your little one, don’t put yourself in that category.
Three crucial considerations to make while planning for a baby financially
Make no mistake, there are far more than three considerations to make when you are planning for a baby financially, but these three are what most parents would agree will help the most.
1. Maternity leave – Both men and women are entitled to parental leave, but it’s rarely paid. In many cases, you can use accrued sick leave or vacation time during your maternity leave to get paid while you’re away. If you don’t have enough time accrued, be prepared to go without your regular paycheck while you take your leave.
Also, consider the possibility that your baby comes early, or spends some time in the NICU. Most parents prepare for a planned three-month leave of absence, but sometimes things don’t happen as you expect, and you may end up on maternity a month, or two, or three early, and bringing your baby home right when you’re supposed to go back to work. This scenario isn’t as common as bringing home a perfectly healthy baby right on time, but it happens!
Taking a maternity leave is essential for mom and baby. You’ll take this time to adjust routines, bond, and create a new normal. Forcing yourself to go back to work quickly can add undue pressure. Do your best to build a comfortable amount of savings for this period, even if that means putting off decorating the baby’s bedroom. Trust me, you won’t need it for a while anyway.
2. Breastfeeding versus formula – Neither is the right answer. Some women cannot produce enough breast milk to fully nourish their infant, and others can’t breastfeed at all. “Fed is best” as they say. However, financially speaking, there are different costs associated with each of these methods of feeding, and the unplanned cost of formula adds up quickly despite the numerous coupons you’re bound to get from every formula company who knows you’re pregnant.
In terms of cost, when breastfeeding, your insurance provider usually covers the entire cost of a breast pump. Your options might be limited, but a pump provided by insurance is sure to be high-quality. Other than that, it’s free outside of parts and freezer bags if you’re storing. Buying formula will be more costly over time, but you may not have any other options. Even if you don’t expect to use formula, planning for a baby financially means you should prepare for the event that you may have to supplement your breastfeeding with some formula, and the burden of this cost can be stressful if you were hoping to breastfeed full-time.
3. Diapers and clothes – Babies grow fast. Before you know it, they are out of their newborn clothing and require larger diapers. Overbuying for an infant photoshoot might be tempting, but those clothes won’t last long, and the thing about kids is they keep growing, and growing, and growing!
Of course, you don’t want to have your baby in the same outfit every day, but you may be able to save yourself a lot of money by getting fewer clothes and washing more frequently. Creating a “capsule wardrobe” is one technique used by minimalist parents, where they only ever have one week of clothes in a given time period, and some of the items can be reused throughout the week. It’s actually pretty helpful if the whole family creates a capsule for themselves—a savings on clothes, detergent, water, and time!
When it comes to babies, you can save a lot of money by enthusiastically accepting hand-me-downs, creating that capsule wardrobe, or simply buying on sale. Save the full wardrobe purchase for when the clothes will last a bit longer, and your pockets will thank you down the line.
There’s little chance that you can prepare for everything perfectly. Still, the better you do at avoiding spending traps, the more money you will have to save for the future and spoil your little one as he or she gets older.
Are you planning for a baby financially for the first or second time? What considerations have you made already?