Your bundle of joy has arrived! You are settling into a new routine with your newly expanded family. The first few months can be hazy with round-the-clock feedings, and sleep-deprived parents can blow their budgets on things they think they need to have. So, let’s talk about ways to save money during those first years of life.
1. Baby Clothes
The cute onesies, the sweet sweaters and the sassy little shoes can sure be tempting! It’s so fun to dress up your little one in new outfits, but it can be a huge waste of money. Don’t buy clothes too far in advance because it’s impossible to predict how your baby will grow. He may hit a growth spurt and not even need most of those six-month clothes in the closet!
You may also consider buying secondhand clothing. Babies who grow quickly may not get a lot of wear out of their clothing, so parents will often turn to consignment stores to get some of their money back. A quick online search will likely turn up several of these stores in your community.
Online resale sites are also becoming more popular. Thredup (www.thredup.com) is the world’s largest online kids’ thrift store with thousands of quality used kids’ clothes. The company says its prices are up to 90% off regular retails. You simply send in the clothes you don’t want and earn money towards your purchases on the site.
Ebay (www.ebay.com) is also a great source of kids’ clothing at reduced prices. Look for listings with NWT (new with tags) or NWOT (new without tags).
Facebook Marketplace continues to grow with new users every day. It has replaced many of the swap sites in local communities. You can now click to see what items are for sale in your city, and even post what you’re looking for to see if there’s a match.
You may also be able to score a great deal on sites like Zulily (www.zulily.com). It offers new sales daily at prices up to 70% off retail.
If you need clothing for a special occasion, such as a wedding, you may consider renting through sites like Borrow Baby Couture (www.borrowbabycouture.com). You can rent a fancy dress for that one-time wear, then send it back.
2. Baby Gear
Strollers, high chairs, and play mats can cost a pretty penny, but again, your child may not use them for very long. Ask family and friends if they have something they’re no longer using. You may want an infant carrier, and it’s possible a neighbor down the street has one that was only used once!
SwapMamas (www.swapmamas.com) is another great site that lets you sell your stuff, then buy items others post. You can even arrange to swap items with no money exchanged!
Diapers can be another big expense when it comes to baby gear. The typical baby goes through 100 per week. TheBump.com reports a typical family can spend between $2,000 and $3,000 per baby for two years on disposable diapers. On the other hand, cloth diapers plus accessories can run about $800 to $1,000 if you wash them yourself. Some parents are comfortable with the cost of disposable diapers because they are more convenient, so it’s really about finding the best option for your family. If you do go the disposable route, look for coupons and consider joining a warehouse club like Costco or Sam’s Club to enjoy additional savings.
Parents may have lined up childcare before the baby even arrived, only to find that it’s too much of a strain on the budget when it comes to actually paying for it. Consider alternatives: a childcare center instead of a nanny or an in-home daycare instead of a center.
Parents wanting a babysitter for a date night may consider setting up a co-op with friends. Everyone takes turns watching the kids so parents get a night away.
If you have trouble getting one started, Babysitter Exchange (www.babysitterexchange.com) is an option to try.
Doctors say breastfeeding is best, and it’s also the cheapest way to feed your baby during the first year. When she’s ready to start solid foods, try making your own baby food instead of buying the jars at the grocery store.
It’s also worth noting that you may save on groceries for the entire household by ordering online. You can avoid impulse purchases and the hassle of getting to the store with a newborn or toddler. Many stores now let you build a list online and place the order for pickup or delivery. Amazon Grocery (www.amazon.com/grocery) will even ship free for orders that total more than $25.
New parents may want to dive right in by investing money in music classes or mommy-and-me yoga. Instead, check out your local library for story times and other free activities. Many also offer puzzles and puppets to bring home. Meetup (www.meetup.com) can also be a way to find and connect with other parents for playgroups or outings.
Baby won’t go to school for a few years, but it’s not too early to start saving for their education. You can start a 529 college-savings plan with as little as $25. Earnings grow federally tax-deferred, and qualified withdrawals are tax-free. Money in a 529 can be used for any educational expenses, including religious or private school tuition. If your child qualifies for a scholarship, you may withdraw the amount of that scholarship for other uses without penalty.
Babies and kids get sick. During the first few years of life, you may find yourself calling the pediatrician with questions about fevers, bowel movements or strange rashes on the body. A Health Savings Account, or HSA, can be a handy way to save for medical expenses. Typically, people enrolled in a high-deductible health insurance plan can qualify for an HSA. You can decide how much to contribute, though you cannot exceed government-mandated maximums. In 2018, it is $3,450 for an individual and $6,900 for a family. HSA contributions are pre-tax and tax-deductible, and you can use the funds for medical expenses including deductibles, copays and prescriptions.
There you have it: seven ways to save during your child’s first few years. As with any life change, it’s important to have a budget, stick to it and save money for those unexpected expenses.
Prior to investing in a 529 Plan investors should consider whether the investor’s or designated beneficiary’s home state offers any state tax or other state benefits such as financial aid, scholarship funds, and protection from creditors that are only available for investments in such state’s qualified tuition program. Withdrawals used for qualified expenses are federally tax free. Tax treatment at the state level may vary. Please consult with your tax advisor before investing.