First thing’s first… you’re PREGNANT! Congratulations! This is an incredible time in your life and your body will amaze you. You’re nauseated, but so excited! If you have the opportunity, you should enjoy your sleep now before it becomes sparse.
Soon everyone will start in with the “babies are so expensive” talk. But what they don’t tell you is what exactly is so expensive. They bring up diapers and such… but what about birth? That’s another expense that you will want to prepare your family for. Unless you have a baby unassisted in the living room during family dinner on Sunday, you should expect some medical bills resulting from childbirth. Read on for some tips on how to prepare!
Let’s talk diapers
Diapers are a huge expense that you may not expect. You can lighten the load (pun intended) with Amazon’s Subscribe and Save feature. When purchasing diapers at the store, buy them in all different sizes for your baby (who will grow way faster than you’ll think). There are a variety of diapers available, so make sure you find one that suits both you and your baby’s needs. There are also some higher-quality subscriptions you can use if you want the best diaper available for your baby’s tooshie.
Although cloth diapers aren’t as widely used, they’re an eco-friendly and cost-effective alternative. There are systems for managing cloth diaper use, as well as services available that come and wash them for you. It’s worth looking into.
You will likely have a ton of bills related to your pregnancy, childbirth, and newborn appointments. It’s important to read the available literature concerning your health insurance plan, which is normally located on their website. You can find things like deductible amounts, covered services (and those that are not), and co-pay/co-insurance information.
Pro tip: Call the hospital and ask for billing so you can give them your insurance info and ask for cost estimates based on your insurance ahead of time. This will allow you to talk through situations with the billing department and get a better grasp on the overall cost.
Once you start shopping, you’ll realize that there are SO MANY baby items you can buy! Don’t get duped into thinking you need every gadget designed to prevent your baby from accessing the pantry, puking on their clothes or dropping a pacifier. There are millions of random gadgets that can kill your checking account and probably take the savings account with it. Talk to your friends and family who have had a newborn and ask them what is actually important. They will give you much better insight than that Amazon ad or commercial you saw at 3am while sobbing in your bed.
Take time off for that new baby!
Next, learn about paid time off, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and paid family bonding. Talk to your company’s HR staff and fill out paperwork early. If you are in the early stages of planning and aren’t pregnant yet, it would be wise to research this ahead of time. You can also start saving your own vacation/sick time to ensure you have a little wiggle room. Lucky for you, it’s 2021 and many employers allot specific time off for having a baby. This is often applicable to both the mother and father and will vary depending on your employer.
Whatever you end up doing, make sure you have some time away. Staying with a newborn 24 hours a day is stressful, and taking time to wind down is key to staying healthy. Don’t underestimate the value of a spouse, family member, or friend giving you even a couple hours of free time. Take care of yourself!
Ways to save
There are many other random ways to save money while still providing for your baby. Buying second hand clothes or accepting hand-me-downs is a great way to avoid buying that expensive pair of shoes from Baby Gap, especially since babies don’t wear clothes for long so items are generally in good condition. In fact, you can likely pass them on to another new parent in need in the future.
Making your own baby food is another way to cut costs. You can blend your normal dinner for the baby, which can often be healthier and more cost-effective than baby food, and also promotes healthy eating habits at a young age. (Expert tip: don’t try to blend a t-bone steak with the bone in, the end result isn’t edible). There are several free recipes online and instructional videos on YouTube to help you out along the way. Breastfeeding can also save money, but if formula is your jam, check for sales and try to buy in bulk.
If you plan on going back to work after giving birth, get used to the idea of childcare! In some cases, childcare facilities have waiting periods of at least a year, so it’s best to formulate a plan early. In fact, Wealthy Idiots co-founder, D.C. Poc had his children on a waiting list as soon as they were conceived. CRAZY! But effective.
One cost-saving option for childcare is to open a dependent care flexible savings account (FSA) if your employer offers it. This plan, much like a healthcare FSA, can be used to reimburse allowable child care expenses and is tax-free. Consult your plan for specific rules regarding its use.
This is last on the list for a reason: You should be focused on caring for the new baby before anything else and presumably, you have 18 years to save for college education. And truthfully, you should ensure your own retirement savings is healthy long before you save for your child’s college – they can borrow for college, but you can’t borrow for retirement. But once you reach the stage where you’re ready to start a college fund, be sure to research your state’s 529 plan, as there can be tax breaks associated with contributing to these types of plans. Wealthy Idiots don’t miss out on tax breaks!
This is just the start of your new journey but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming with the right planning. I wish you a healthy pregnancy and an easy birth.