One of the most expensive decisions you could ever make is to become a parent. Some experts say that the cost of a child is approximately $250,000 from birth to age 17. And that doesn’t include the eventual college tuition!
Needless to say, having kids is both the best decision ever and the priciest.
When my wife and I had our first child, no one really told us about financially planning for a baby or about money-saving tips that would be helpful to a new family.
We just had to wing it.
Dads, I don’t want you to wing it. I want you to be prepared as possible for life with a newborn. If you already have a little one… or little ones… at home, I want this to be the motivation you need to get your finances in check.
How can you afford a baby? Check out these 9 money-saving tips for new dads.
Save money BEFORE the baby is born
This is one of those “learn from my mistakes,” money-saving tips for new dads. Before we had our first child, I did what any dad is supposed to do: I sold off my man toys – sports car, my collection of random sports memorabilia. But I didn’t realize there was more that could be done.
The truth was that before we brought our newborn home, we should have set a budget – the same budget we would have to stick to as new parents – so that we wouldn’t have to sort it out in the middle of learning to be parents.
So, make sure you do what we didn’t do. Spend a few months living with the new budget before you have to. Trust me, it will save you LOTS of headaches and heartbreak.
(BONUS TIP: Instead of birthday and Christmas presents, ask family and friends to give money to invest in your child’s college fund. We tend to buy too many toys for our kids anyway. So, what does it hurt to have fewer princess costumes and a fewer action figures?)
Nurse instead of formula
If it’s physically and emotionally possible for your wife to nurse, I highly recommend it. The baby books and blogs might say that it doesn’t matter, but from a financial perspective, you will thank me later.
It’s estimated that families spend $1700 on formula during the first year of their child’s life.
A child costs approximately $250,000. Think about the other important places you could spend that money!
Make your own baby food
Have you ever read the label on a jar of baby food? If you have, you know that this is actually much easier than it sounds. The baby food companies make money because they make it convenient for parents.
The reality is that you can do it yourself. What are the benefits of making your own baby food?
- You will know exactly what’s in the food that you’re putting in your child’s body.
- You will spend 1/3 the amount of money that you would spend on pre-packaged baby food.
- You will learn the names of all of those vegetables you hated as a kid.
If you’re interested in DIY baby food, this website is a great place to start.
Get hand-me-down clothes and toys
I’ll be honest. Before I had a child, I swore up and down that I would never let him play with toys that belonged to another kid or wear clothes that had already been worn.
But I was quickly hit in the face with the sheer cost of baby toys and clothes. Along with that, I realized that a newborn grows so fast, it’s nearly impossible to keep up with.
Because of the savings, I took all the hand-me-downs, from friends and siblings, that I could get my hands on.
Podcast Ep. 156 – Money-Saving Tips For New Parents
As I said, I was hesitant to buy used clothes or let my child play with toys that weren’t new. If you’re similar to me in that regard, I suggest you do the math. Your kids won’t care that they are playing with someone else’s John Deere tractor and your pocketbook will thank you, too. Here are some great places to utilize for quality used toys and clothes:
Go to the library
Walt Disney once said, “There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.”
A parent’s job is to open his child’s mind to the world’s treasures that can only be found in books.
One glance at Barnes and Noble and you’ll see that buying just a few children’s books can cost you over $50.
When you compare $50 with the library that is… well… free… the choice gets pretty clear. The question is why would you spend all that money on something that you could just get for free?
Eat at home
In the last two decades, people have become more ambivalent about cooking and eating at home. In fact, one study discovered a family that had unknowingly accrued $30,000 in credit card debt JUST from eating out.
Along with a decrease in cooking at home, people are increasingly eating out for lunch every day. And if a person were to eat out every day for a year, spending $10 each time, they would spend a minimum of $2,500.
Don’t fall into the same trap as a large portion of Americans. Just like you could spend 1/3 less on baby food if you make your own, you would spend 1/3 less on food if you eat at home.
And, on the plus side, your savings will outweigh the annoyance of having to do dishes!
Buy in bulk
Finally, if you have the resources and access to a Costco, you can cut the cost of having children by saving at least 20% on your purchases. How? Buying in bulk. In addition to financial savings, there are other benefits:
- Less packaging means you don’t have to manage as much waste.
- Collecting a lot of the essentials means you are prepared for an emergency. There’s no need for extra stress in the face of an emergency when there’s a newborn at home.
- Buying in bulk means fewer trips to the store. Enough said.
Children are expensive blessings. They bring joy to our lives while, at the same time, costing us around $250,000. If you do the math, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and think, “How will I afford a baby?”
I’ve been there before and I know that just thinking about bringing home a newborn can bring stress into your life. But, trust me. If you can put some of these money-saving tips for new dads into practice, you can take hold of what might feel like something out of your control.