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As a new parent, you’ve probably spent the last 9 months of your life listening to advice from family and friends about how to care for your baby. “Sleep when the baby sleeps! These diapers are the best! Treasure each moment because they grow up so quickly!” – Now all that advice is great and all, but one of the most challenging aspects of parenting – at least in my opinion – is adjusting to the fact that BABIES ARE EXPENSIVE!
Again, as a new mom, I welcomed all the advice I could get, but one of the things I didn’t get enough of was financial advice. As soon as our baby girl entered this world, a huge reality hit us – we now had a huge extra line item in terms of our budget, and on top of that – we went from being a two-income household to living off of one.
It hasn’t been the easiest 8.5 months, but these days, my husband and I are doing just fine. We’ve really taken a long hard look at our finances, implemented systems and strategies that keep us in a good financial position, and at the end of the day, we’ve adjusted. So today I thought it’d be fun to share a few tips and tricks that you can use to help you save money once your baby’s arrived.
Because believe me, stress is inevitable as a new parent, but one of the things you don’t want to be stressed about is your finances.
1. Clean Up Your Credit
Joe and I are super fortunate. Neither one of us have student loans, so essentially, we don’t have any other debt besides our mortgage and my car that I’m almost done paying off. We do use credit cards, but we pay them off at the end of every month, and given the fact that we’re both super OCD about our finances, our credit score is amazing. However, I know that’s not the case for everyone. I’ve seen it first hand – friends that can’t afford to pay their student loans – family members struggling to make ends meet – and as a result, their credit has been destroyed. It’s not a pretty situation, and it’s definitely not a position you want to be in as a new parent.
As a new parent, before you implement any of the other things I’m about to mention later on in this post, you really ought to focus on cleaning up your credit and essentially starting off your parenting journey with a fresh clean slate.
So how do you do that, exactly? Well first, you seek help from professionals who deal with this on a daily basis – people like my friends at Lexington Law. The staff at Lexington Law focus on credit repair and their number one goal is to get your credit back on track.
Now here’s something that’s important to understand – everyone’s financial history is different, which means that everyone’s credit issues are different – that’s why I really love that Lexington Law is known for their personalized services. Like I said, credit repair is not a one-size-fits all solution, so when they take a look at your credit, they really focus on helping you based on your specific needs.
They’ve got what they call Focus Tracks, and one of the focus tracks a lot of people will fall into as new parents is the “Medical Expenses” focus track. Not-so-fun fact, more than 15.5% of working Americans live without medical coverage these days and health-related debt is one of the leading causes of bankruptcy.
And even if you have health insurance, btw, the costs associated with labor and delivery can be really expensive.
There may be costs that aren’t covered – like NICU stays, for example. I know this myself because unfortunately, when Riley was born, she wound up in the NICU for a few nights. When we finally got home, we were hit with a $500 medical bill and although it could have been much worse, these unexpected expenses can be totally crippling for families who don’t have an emergency fund of sorts.
So as new parents, take a look at your credit and talk with the pros at Lexington Law if you need some help. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – you can have the tightest budget ever, but if you’ve got bad credit, it can really hurt your family down the road. Bad credit can get in the way of things like buying a home and buying a car, things that you’ll eventually need as your family grows.
2. Revisit/establish your budget
Once your credit’s been taken care of, you’re really going to want to revisit your existing budget or finally establish one if you don’t have one in place yet. Having a budget is absolutely essential as new parents because trust me, if you just spend freely and never track your money, it’ll all be gone and you won’t realize it until it’s too late. Between diapers and formula and all the essentials you need for your little one, you definitely need to budget some extra money every month for the new tiny human in your life. If money’s tight, that might mean cancelling your Netflix account or having one less date night a month. However you want to redistribute your money, that’s totally up to you, but the point is – you need MORE stuff these days and chance are you’re working with the same amount of cash that you used to.
In my case, we had to downsize BIG time. Since I quit my full-time job to stay home with my baby girl, my hubby and I really had to look at our spending and create a totally new budget that took into account our decrease in income.
Was it fun? Heck no. Did it make me really sad that I couldn’t just walk into Target and buy whatever the heck I wanted anymore? Yea. It did. But we now have a budget that helps guide our purchasing decisions, keeps us from going broke, and makes sure that we’re able to buy everything we need for Riley.
3. PSA – You don’t need every single baby gadget
Here’s a huge tip, guys. You don’t need every single baby product you see on tv. You don’t need every swing, baby carrier, baby wrap, bottle warmer, etc. that all your mom friends have. Believe me – I have a ton of baby products that I regret purchasing, and if I could do things over again, I would have bought a LOT less stuff – especially before Riley was born.
See, first of all, every baby is different. They’re not all going to even LIKE the products you buy, because they’re very particular.
Riley, for example, hated being in the bassinet. And of course, like typical new parents, I wanted the best for our baby girl and had bought the fanciest most expensive bassinet I could find. Total waste of money, if you ask me. Instead, I should have bought a cheaper alternative to test the waters, in a way. To figure out if she even liked it, and then if I really wanted to buy the expensive one, I could have done so later on down the road.
Other things we never use? A wipe warmer. A bottle warmer. Baby socks and baby hats- because we live in Florida and it’s way too hot for them. We also hardly ever used those pretty burp cloths because even though they were more expensive, the cheaper plain ones worked way better.
See where I’m going with this? Don’t get duped into thinking you need to scan 500 items at the store when creating your baby registry. I know the little scanner they give you is exciting to use, but chances are, you can do just fine with so much less. Once your little one’s born, again – don’t feel the need to buy a million things. Really think about what the essentials are and make smart purchasing decisions.
4. Take advantage of coupon programs
But even if you just stick to the essentials, though, things like diapers and formula and baby wipes can really add up and make a huge dent in your budget. My recommendation? Take advantage of coupon programs that different brands put together to help you save some money. Similac has one (click here to sign up), and I’m pretty sure they’re not the only one. I know about Similac’s because I’m a member, and every month or two I get some $15 coupons in the mail and hey – every little bit counts.
If you’re really trying to save some money in this department, it also makes sense to do some sourcing.
Instead of just buying these things at your local baby store or grocery store, do some research and compare prices. Look on Amazon, look at buying things at wholesalers like BJs and Costco. Do some actual cost comparisons, and figure out where it makes most sense to buy each of these products.
5. Find a system that helps you spend less
Now I’ll be honest – even though Joe and I have a budget in place – there are definitely months where we spend WAY MORE than we should. Luckily, we have some savings to tap into, but we’re trying really hard to control our spending.
I know we’re not the only ones, so I think it’s important, especially as new parents, to find a system that helps you spend less.
Maybe it’s leaving your credit cards at home when you go to the mall. Maybe it’s having a money-tracking spreadsheet printed out in your kitchen that you update every day. Maybe it’s even something like using the envelope method where you only use cash (Joe and I are actually going to start trying this sometime next month). Whatever it is – find what works. Discuss your financial challenges and opportunities for improvement with your partner and figure out what makes the most sense for everyone involved.
So that’s it! Those are my financial tips for new parents! As new parents, you’ll inevitably be stressed out making sure that your little one is happy all the time, so the last thing you’ll want to deal with is financial stress. By implementing these tips, you’ll be a few steps ahead of the game, and remember – there are people out there who are ready to help you get your finances in order, like my friends at Lexington Law.
If you liked this article, it would mean the world to me if you’d share it! Share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, send it to a friend who’s also in the same boat – let’s help get the word out there! Also, let me know if there are other strategies you’ve implemented to help you save money as a new parent down below in the comments!