6 ways to budget for having children

There’s an old adage that says if you wait to have children until you can afford them, you’ll never have them. While it’s true that raising kids in today’s world costs a pretty penny, it’s also true that making some budget cuts and reallocating funds can make it possible to survive without breaking the bank. If you’re thinking about making your first addition to the family or have recently learned about a surprise bundle of joy, here are a few tips that can help you save money on the earliest baby expenses.

1. Take Your Income Changes into Consideration
Before you can make a budget for your household that includes room for a new addition, you’ll have to figure out exactly what you’re working with as far as money goes. If one parent will be staying home after the birth of a child, Mom will be losing a bit of her earning power during maternity leave or someone will be taking on a second job, you’ll need to factor those things into your new budget. The first step to making your new budget baby-friendly is to determine where you stand and how the changes that a baby will bring to your lifestyle will affect your income after she’s born.
2. Consider the Basics
You can’t leave the hospital with your new baby unless you have a suitable car seat installed, and you can’t keep her warm if you don’t have clothes. You may be surprised to realize just how many of the other “must-have” baby items can wait for a while, or even be skipped altogether. When every penny counts, you may find that it’s more cost-effective and convenient to keep Baby in her own bassinet in the master bedroom for a few months before springing for an expensive, full-sized crib. Opting for cloth diapers over those of the disposable variety may also save you a bit of money in the long run, especially if you wash them yourself rather than sending them out to a diaper service. Formula can be expensive, but breastfeeding is essentially free. Look at all of the “essential” basics with a critical eye, determining what can be safely purchased more frugally.
3. Work Out a Childcare Plan
In some cases, forgoing daycare in favor of having one parent stay home with a new baby can be less damaging to the family budget than having two working parents. Other times, a private nanny is more cost-effective than center-based care. In order to determine what the best course of action is for your family so that you can budget accordingly, you’ll need to take a critical look at your finances and the costs of each option.

4. Explore Your Health Insurance Options
According to CostHelper.com, a birth in a hospital setting can cost the average uninsured family between $5,000 and $20,000. One of the most important steps that a couple considering the addition of their first baby to the family can take is the acquisition of quality healthcare coverage. If you’re still in the family planning stages, it’s wise to start shopping for the best coverage now.

5. Remember the Unseen Expenses
You know that you’ll need diapers, clothes and plenty of gear to navigate modern parenthood, but you may not be taking the less obvious expenses into consideration. Obtaining or increasing the pay-out levels of parental life insurance policies and the legal expenses associated with estate planning and will creation can be expenses that add up quickly, too.
6. Eliminate Non-Essential Spending
Cash-strapped young couples that are starting their family may be surprised by how much money they can save by cutting out the non-essential spending on small items each day. Try dropping an expensive coffee habit, packing a lunch instead of buying it and dropping some little luxury items from the monthly budget. Those “little things” can add up in a big way over time and can help you save up more money for the expansion of your family.
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