Babies cost money. Lots of money. Are you really sure you can afford to have one? You should think about remortgaging your house and maybe actually being a little closer to retirement before you contemplate how to get pregnant.
This message appears in many forms, from many different sources, and perhaps a bit too often. Of course raising children costs money, and how much exactly depends on a huge number of factors. The good news is that you can usually cut costs, with a little creativity.
Saving money in the first year of your baby’s life
Whether you are a shopaholic or a thrifty mom at heart, that urge to create a comfy nest for your baby is completely natural. It is entirely possible to spend several thousand dollars on baby stuff. Shopping for your new baby is also the area in which saving money is easiest. How?
Babies only really need a few basics. They are:
• Season-appropriate clothes.
• Cloth or disposable diapers.
• A stroller or good baby carrier
• If you drive or ever use a car, you’ll also need a safe infant car seat.
• A safe place to sleep.
• A place to get clean. Baby baths are handy, but not necessary.
Does this basic list sound like it’s going to break the bank? Don’t worry, as it doesn’t have to. Expectant parents who have friends or relatives with slightly older kids may well get more hand-me-downs than they will ever need pushed into their hands. Those who don’t can turn to thrift stores and Craig’s List.
Natural parenting practices like breastfeeding, co-sleeping with your baby, babywearing and using cloth diapers all save huge amounts of money too. You can even buy cloth diapers second-hand, by the way. Many people think of all this baby gear when they say babies are expensive, but this is truly something you can make as cheap or expensive as you like.
One last tip — don’t be tempted to buy items you don’t know for sure you will need before your baby is born. If the need arises, you can always go shopping.
Prenatal care and birth plans
Nobody wants to cut corners to save money on healthcare. Yet prenatal care, labor and delivery and pediatric care can quickly make you lose financial control — particularly if something unexpected happens, like a c-section or a sick baby.
Researching your insurance options before trying to get pregnant is the frugal thing to do, in this case. Pregnancy is a pre-existing condition for insurance purposes. Unless you are going on Medicaid, this is something to get in order well in time.
Have in mind that family doctors, midwives, and obstetricians/gynecologists can all provide prenatal care. Consider all your birth options as well. Of course, nobody is suggesting that you make decisions about what kind of care to get solely by looking at what is cheapest, but it is always wise to keep an eye on the price tag as well.
Back to work, or staying at home?
Would you like to stay at home with your baby, or to return to work? Statistics show that an increasing number of mothers are staying at home to raise their children — right across the socio-economic spectrum. Perhaps women are changing their minds about feminism, or perhaps the recession that is really still around (no matter what they say) is forcing mothers to stay out of the workforce.
No matter what your view, you may come to the conclusion that the infamous “mom wars” are over, because not many women really have a choice about whether they work or stay at home any more. Get your short-term and long-term financial planning in order as much as you can, to make the best out of whatever work-life situation you end up with.
Olivia is a frugal work-at-home mom of two. She blogs about fertility and pregnancy at Trying-To -Conceive.com.