The average cost of raising a child, born in 2013, from birth to age 18 in the U.S. is estimated at $245,340 according to the "Cost of Raising A Child" report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And this price goes up every year and increases with the rate of inflation. Babies can be expensive and it can be especially daunting if, like many pregnancies, they come as a surprise.
As a thrifty living, penny pinching person, I spent extensive time researching and figuring out ways to save money in our baby's first year and I would love to share my findings with you.
○ Get baby items for free. There are a few ways to get free items for your little one. One was is to have a baby shower. If you have someone willing to throw you a baby shower, then make a practical registry that includes all the necessary items for your baby with a range of price points and avoid registering for non-necessities. If you don't have someone who can throw you a baby shower, or don't get every necessary baby item, check sites like the free section on Craigslist.com and Freecycle.org. Also, look for local Facebook groups that offer items for cheap or free. Check the pages often and be ready to pick up items asap to get the best deals. Between the generosity of our family members and scoring lots of free items locally, we were able to get all of our necessary baby items, and more, for free. Total savings: $1689.99
○ Buy Used. Baby items are the perfect items to buy used. Especially things like clothes. Babies grow so fast that they often only get to wear clothes a couple of times (if at all) before they're on to the next size. New baby clothes are often ridiculously expensive for the amount of use they're going to get. We were even able to find some new with tag baby outfits at the consignment shop for a fraction of the price. Throughout the first year we saved approximately $340 by buying used clothes and shoes.
○ Breastfeed. Not only is breast milk the best option for babies, but it's the cheaper option as well. While breastfeeding isn't always technically free, it can still come with quite the savings. Your health insurance should cover the cost of a breast pump. Here's a breakdown of my breastfeeding costs for the first year: $25 brand new manual pump on sale which included bottles, nipples and extra parts, $33.98 for two nursing bras, $12.99 for shipping and handling on FREE washable breast pads (click here to see how to get yours for free), for a total of $71.97. A quick google search puts the average cost of formula for baby's first year at $1,733.75, making my total savings $1,661.78.
○ Sell old items. If you're not planning on using items again, because baby has outgrown them, you don't plan on having more babies, baby doesn't like them or for whatever reason, try selling them. You can sell to local consignment shops, but I've found selling on Craigslist or Facebook groups yields the most profit. We sold items like our mint condition bassinet (baby girl never would sleep in it), a stroller we didn't ever use, an extra baby carrier, and other items for a total profit of $170.
Overall, we saved about $12,717.33 in our daughter's first year of life using the above tips. Quite frankly, that's $12,717 that we didn't have. I'm sure I could find the 33 cents in my car's cup holders along with some cheerios and an old coffee cup though, haha. There are a number of other ways to save money as well.
Stick to the bare necessities. You don't need that wipes warmer, name brand diaper bag, diaper disposal system with expensive bag refills, etc. Baby needs to have a safe space to sleep, be clean and be fed. That is what's necessary.
Consider being a stay at home parent. Day care can be expensive. With my meager salary at the part time job I was working before our daughter came along, I would have only been making about $0.02 per hour. So becoming a stay at home parent was the right move for us. Consider cutting child care costs by staying home part or full time.
See if you qualify for government assistance. While it's not ideal to live off handouts from the government, programs like WIC, SNAP and Medicaid are there for a reason- to help families who need them. It can't hurt to see if you qualify. Even if you don't qualify for regular Medicaid, you may qualify for pregnancy Medicaid which can cover the costs of prenatal care, delivery and postnatal care, as well as health care for your child for their first year.
Find free fun. Having fun doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. Find out about free events and things to do in your area. Explore your local parks. Find out if your local museums have free or discounted days.