How do expectant parents budget for a baby? If there was ever a time to get your finances in order, it's when you're planning for a family.
First, you must take a close look at your monthly budget. Remember all the extra coffees and lunches out you've taken at work? Time to cut back and put that money in the bank. Scale back discretionary spending wherever possible.
The early years of a baby's life is only the beginning of the cost of raising a child, when you consider future costs such as braces, shoes and clothing, computer and school supplies, car insurance and college tuition. A 2008 report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that the cost of raising a child from birth to age 17 is over $200,000 for a middle-income family. This should give you some kind of idea of costs you incur when raising a child.
With the birth of a new baby, you will need a hefty savings account. Don't overspend on items for the new baby, since you may receive some items from your baby shower. Remember to register for your baby shower and list specific items you are interested in for the baby. There are baby items you may be able to buy second hand, borrow from friends, or shop in the off-season for your baby's needs without breaking your budget.
When budgeting for a new baby, keep in mind your current physical needs, as well as future needs. What's most important is to have a realistic view of what you might spend every month once the baby arrives on items like clothing and supplies, a crib, baby carrier, car seat and stroller, formula, food and toiletries. Keep the amount of new toys and extras to a minimum, because you will need to invest in new clothes for your child often as they grow. Focus on what your child really needs, as opposed to the fun things you want to buy for your child.
Buy your big budget items over your nine months of pregnancy, so you don't have to purchase your crib, stroller, baby carrier and car seat right before the birth of your child. Stretching out the cost of these items over time will help keep your budget under control:
Diapers and Toiletries
Have a supply of diapers, first aid kit, baby medical supplies, washcloths, wipes, diaper pail and towels available.
Have baby bottles and accessories, including baby formula (if needed), bibs, a breast pump, and later baby food, a cup, bowl and utensils in place.
Moms should have appropriate maternity clothes and nursing clothes, beginner baby clothes and a few items for your growing child. Avoid buying too many clothes in one size.
Have a crib and/or bassinet with mattress and bedding, receiving blankets, changing table and dresser in place.
Have a high chair, baby carrier, diaper bag, car seat, stroller, baby monitor, bouncy chair, swing, toys and books in place.
Find out which of the parents' medical plans have the best health benefits for a child and add your child to your health plan.
Find out about tax deductions and pre-tax plans at work, in order to help offset a portion of your future childcare costs.
College Savings Fund
Start a college savings fund as soon as your child is born. A little saved every month now will go a long way when your child is ready to go to college, where there are always extra unforeseen items that need to be paid for.
Learn about child tax credits and flexible spending plans, which may be subtracted directly from parents' tax bills.