Budgeting For A Baby
Do charts proclaiming the average 6-figure costs associated with raising kids make you nervous? Don’t worry. For every smart phone-toting, designer clothes-loving, new car-driving 16-year old, there are dozens of well-adjusted kids who grow up in hand-me-downs with no cell phone or set of wheels (other than a dirt bike) to call their own. While preparing for your bundle of joy, consider the following myths debunked.
Myth # 1: Babies are Expensive
The biggest costs in the beginning are: diapers, formula and the loss of potential income from the caregiver (typically, the mother).
To save on diapers, consider “going green” and using cloth. You can purchase used cloth diapers on ebay, or use flat diapers with plastic covers (these cost about $1.00/each and you can use them again and again). Look into diaper services in your area if you don’t want to wash them yourself.
To eliminate the cost of formula, consider breastfeeding. If you are able to do it, you will be passing on natural immunities to your child and saving big money.
Loss of Income
There’s not much we can do about this category other than recommend that moms and dads look into their work benefits, maximize paid maternity and paternity leave time and apply for disability, if eligible, to cover lost wages.
Myth #2: You Need a Lots of Baby Gear
Anyone who says you have to head to Babies ‘R Us and buy $1000 in gear lacks creativity. A bed can easily double as a changing table, garage sales are bursting with strollers, cribs, bouncers, swings, etc. at a fraction of the price. Services like Freecycle can help you with many of these items for free. Just be sure to check consumer sites to make sure older items have not been recalled for defects. Ask around and see what you can get from friends and neighbors. These are items that have a short lifespan in most people’s homes, becoming garage clutter until donated.
Myth #3: I Need a Bigger House for My Baby
For the first six months, babies can barely move from where you set them down. You do not need to buy a new home for a baby. You may need to buy a new home for all the baby stuff you think you need (crib, changing table, swing, bassinet, bouncer, stroller, etc), but certainly not for the baby itself. If you don’t have a nursery for your baby, don’t worry. Babies are safer when sleeping in the same room with their parents. You may not get as much rest, but you will certainly know if your baby is distressed in the middle of the night.
Myth #4: I Need a New Car for My Baby
If you don’t have the money, DO NOT buy a baby mobile. As long as you have a backseat where you can install a proper car seat, you are fine. Remind other drivers to be careful by putting a “Baby on Board” sticker in your window. If you think your current car is too small for “the gear” (stroller, etc), get a smaller stroller, not a bigger car.
Myth #5: I Can’t Deny My Baby Anything.
The only thing that your baby wants is you. Don’t bother with expensive Baby Einstein CDs (research shows exposure to these videos before 2 years old delays language development), or fancy electronic toys. Play with your baby. Use your whole body and voice. Your baby doesn’t care what it wears (this will be evident once he or she starts eating solids) or what kind of car you drive. The best way to show your baby that you love it is to get your financial house in order so that you can provide long term financial security and the “perks” that go with it: a safe home, reliable vehicles and a college savings account, not to mention parents that are not stressed out about money all of the time.