Congratulations – you’re having a baby! Now get to work! … Just kidding. You may only have a few short months to get ready for that bundle of joy, but this time should be fun, pleasant and downright enjoyable. Not just for you and your spouse, but for the baby too. Studies have shown that newborns are heavily affected by their parents’ stress levels. Even when they’re in the womb, a baby can hear what’s happening around them, and you don’t want them to hear you arguing or stressing. So, with the emotional wellbeing of your child in mind, below is a list of easy things you can do to alleviate one of the most stressful parts of being a parent – finances.
1. Wait before Buying in Bulk
When my wife and I were preparing our home for baby, we wanted to have enough of everything. We didn’t want to be without baby Tylenol or a thermometer or a diaper in the middle of the night when we needed it most. As a result, we bought a lot of things up front, and we had to donate or get rid of some of it. A great example of this is the pacifier. We bought about a dozen and were gifted another dozen more. The only problem is, our baby doesn’t use a pacifier. Oh well, at least we have little baby shower gifts for our friends over the next few years…
Bottom line: there are certain staples that will never expire and you can never have enough of, for instance baby wipes or formula, but a lot of items are time sensitive. Diapers and clothes, for example, won’t always fit. Be wary of overbuying every little item just because you want to feel prepared. Buy enough for the first month, and then once you have a better sense of your needs, continue to shop.
2. Bottle it Up
We were concerned that our baby wouldn’t take a bottle unless it was the exact right shape and size, so we bought about 9 different types. This wasn’t a bad idea, but it was a little overkill. We’ve come to find that our daughter doesn’t care what kind of bottle she drinks from, and we actually prefer the cheapest one on the market because it fits with my wife’s breast pump.
Bottom line: grab a few different kinds of bottles to be safe, but wait to see what your child prefers before buying more.
3. Learn to Share
I was SO excited to become a dad that I started stocking up on my gear immediately. I bought my own diaper bag and filled it with blankets, a changing pad, baby shampoo, ointments, etc. My wife did the same, and now we have 2 fully-stocked diaper bags. This sounds good in theory but, since we don’t have twins, we only ever take 1 diaper bag out at a time. The other one sits at home.
Bottom line – communicate with your partner to share the essentials. You don’t need 2 of everything.
4. Shop Early and Shop Often
My wife is brilliant. Let me tell you why. She started shopping for clothes as soon as we got pregnant, up to 12 months. When our daughter was born, she had all the shirts, pants, onesies, mittens, hats, jackets, sweaters, socks, and swimsuits she would need until her first birthday. Because we spaced it out over 9 months, we only shopped in the clearance sections of baby stores. Did you know winter outfits are 60-90% off in the Spring? Now you do.
Bottom line – Go ahead and buy the clearance clothes 6-12 months early and not only will they be much cheaper, but chances are your baby will be the only one with that cute Christmas outfit since they stopped making it. #win
P.S. Look online for items too. We buy formula and baby wipes in bulk online and end up saving a pretty penny.
5. Find the Free
I looked it up, and the number one financial regret of newborn parents is wasting money on toys and presents the baby can’t appreciate. Avoid the same mistake! If you want to give your baby a 6-month birthday present, give them a box. If you want your baby to have an awesome experience, don’t take them to Disneyland. Take them to the park. It’s free.
Bottom line – find all the free things you can and live it up with baby. Many libraries and bookstores have story time. A place in our neighborhood offers a free music class for babies. As your children grow up, they may want more and more expensive things. Enjoy this sweet time when they have no idea what’s going on.
6. Baby Swap
Not that you don’t love your baby, but there will come a night when you and your spouse need a night out. When that time comes, don’t waste money on a babysitter. Find a friend or family member you trust to watch your child for a few hours. It’s even better if they have a baby themselves. That’s why I like to set up Baby Swaps. Take turns with other parent couples watching each others’ babies. When you and your spouse are watching your friends’ baby, your baby will get to work on their social skills. When you and your spouse want to go on a date, you’ll be more comfortable leaving your baby with a trusted friend than a hired hand.
Bottom line: babies always seem to come in waves. In the last year, 8 of my close friends have become pregnant. Find those friends with a child about the same age as yours and ask if they want to trade off with you.
What’s been your experience when budgeting for a new baby? Share your experience in the comments section!
For more tips on finances and relationships, follow us on social media @familybridges.