Welcoming a new baby home is exciting. It’s also expensive. In fact, it costs upwards of $245,000 to raise a child from birth to age 18 in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And that doesn’t include college costs.
While this seems overwhelming, you can get a jump start on saving by curbing your spending and making some smart money moves. Here are our top five tips to help you save money during Junior’s first year:
1. Go back to budgeting basics
A newborn means new expenses and costs that you likely didn’t factor into your monthly nut before. Although your days will be spent diapering, feeding and squeezing in sleep, you can also make time to track your daily spending. This way you can determine where to cut back or if you need to find less expensive shopping options. Since you don’t have a lot of time on your hands with a newborn at home, it’s a good idea to use a budgeting app. Some top picks for managing your money on the go include Mint, PocketGuard, and You Need A Budget.
2. Curb your spending enthusiasm
In other words, resist the urge to buy everything you think your baby needs and stick to the necessities. Better yet, don’t be shy about telling friends and relatives what you need for Junior’s first year, like a stroller, crib, and high chair. Once you get into a groove and discover other baby items that you might want or need, try shopping at secondhand stores, on local Facebook yard sale groups or buying and selling apps like Close 5, OfferUp and LetGo. You can search for items and if you find something that looks good, you can make the seller an offer. Typically you’ll purchase new or used items at a fraction of the retail price. Another tip: In a few months time, you can put the items back up for sale and essentially score some great items for free or next to nothing.
3. Save on extra space
When you have a baby, you often think your one or two-bedroom apartment isn’t big enough anymore. Not true. A newborn takes up almost no space. Even when Junior hits a year old and starts walking, he still doesn’t need oodles of room to move around. Middle-income families spend about 30 percent of their total child-rearing costs on living quarters, making housing the single largest expenditure when it comes to raising a child, according to the USDA. Why not focus on your baby’s immediate needs and save your pennies for a bigger house down the line?
4. Share childcare
Childcare costs are a fact of life for many American families. Although you may be taking time off to care for your baby, you may also need to return to work. This often means you’ll need to find quality day care in the way of a group setting, child care center or one-on-one caregiver — all of which are costly. But, depending on your childcare needs, you may be able to save money by taking your friends and family up on their offers to babysit. You can also consider participating in a babysitting swap club or co-op in your neighborhood. You can start your own through a local playgroup or check out babysitterexchange.com to get ideas.
5. Make baby food
Even if you’re not a cook, making your own baby food is easy, healthy and will save you money. If you don’t have time during the workweek, you can make batches of food on the weekend in mere minutes and then freeze it for the next couple of weeks. All you need to get started is a blender, some vegetables and water. To learn more and find recipes, check out wholesomebabyfood.com and babycenter.com.