Being a parent is one of the biggest blessings in life but it also entails a huge responsibility: you have to take care of a tiny human being that will rely on you completely for the next (at least) 18 years in his life and you need to make sure that you have the means to do so.
If we focus exclusively on the basics of a baby/toddler’s life, a parent has to be able to provide for food, protection (a roof to live under) and love. It is common to see multiple blogs and forums discussing about the “love” aspect (and how to take care and raise your child) and the food aspect (breastfeeding vs. formula – pros and cons, baby weaning, healthy eating for toddlers, feeding patterns and schedules, recipes, etc). However, not that many people talk about the “roof to live under” aspect, which is basically us being able to provide for our children financially speaking… and that’s because talking about finances might not be as fun and fascinating but it’s definitely necessary.
I know a lot of people that have decided not to have kids because “babies are too expensive” and they cannot afford it or others that have kids but are seriously struggling with the everyday associated cost. For those of you that still don’t know me, I work as a Proposal Manager in an international multi-billion company so reviewing numbers and preparing budgets and financial plans is part of my everyday responsibilities… and I have to admit that I love working with spreadsheets so that’s why I’m the one taking care of the finances at home 🙂
With all this in mind and taking into consideration that I was going to be a full year in maternity leave (meaning that we would have my income reduced to almost a quarter during that period of time) I started doing some research about ways to save when you have a baby and I want to share with you some of the tips and tricks that I’ve learned. Obviously not all of them will fit your lifestyle or parenting principles but I’m sure some of them will be useful and (hopefully) will save you some bucks:
- Stack up on diapers (but don’t overdo it!): Your so perfect, cute, loving, little bundle of joy is a “poop machine”, specially the first weeks of his life. Just to give you an idea, a newborn baby will approximately need between 8 to 12 diapers a day for the first month. That is over 200 diapers just from the very beginning. Diapers and wipes are therefore one of the biggest expenses that you will have with your baby from the very beginning so make sure that you buy them in a smart way. All the stores have sales on diapers every so often so keep an eye on that every time that you get a flyer or every time you go to the store. But BE CAREFUL! Your baby will grow exponentially the first few months so don’t buy tons of diapers of a specific size or you will end up stranded with diapers that no longer fit! ** Note: I recommend you to calculate the cost per diaper or per wipe when comparing prices at the store. In Canada I never buy anything that is over 20 cents per diaper and I’m usually able to find sales around 17-18 cents per diaper. (Walmart online is a good place to look for sales).
- Use cloth diapers: Using cloth diapers instead of disposable ones can save you hundreds of dollars in the long term. I have to admit that this one piece of advice didn’t work for me and I’m actually using disposable ones but if it does work for you, don’t think twice!
- Breastfeed (if you can): If you have the option to choose between formula and breastmilk, DON’T HESITATE! Breast is best in every single sense! Breastmilk is not only excellent from a nutritive perspective for your baby but it is perfect financially speaking because it’s free! I know it sounds frivolous and I should be talking about bonding and the baby immune system instead… but it’s true and this post is about saving money so… voilà!
- If you can’t breastfeed then stack up on formula: If you are (unfortunately) like me and cannot exclusively feed your baby with breastmilk then do the same thing with formula as I suggested with the diapers in the first bullet. Good news is that you can buy as much as you want (taking the expiry date into consideration, of course!) so you can take advantage when yours is on sale!
- Join Rewards programs: Rewards programs or Savings programs are excellent to help you save some money. I have saved over $50 in the first few months just by joining some of them. Most of them will send you free samples and/or coupons and others will provide you with points that you will be able to exchange for products or other services. Here you have some links of the most popular ones: Huggies, Pampers, Amazon Saving Program, Similac, Enfamil, Nestle Baby.
- You don’t need most of the baby items that are advertised: We, parents, are the big suckers for the baby industry. I’m sorry, but this is the reality. There are two factors that make us buy absolutely everything we see for our babies: The “you-want-the-best-for-your-baby” factor and the “OMG-this-is-so-cute” factor. I found a post in Pinterest not too long ago that was called “24 of the Most Life-Saving Baby Products to Order on Amazon“. Obviously that name got my attention right away but as soon as I read the article I was really disappointed. To be honest, not even half of those items were really life-saving products… most of them were very expensive and they were not even useful! Do you really need a stuffed animal to store your pacifiers, a palette that is a “diaper cream applicator” or an appliance to automatically mix your formula? Give me a break! So, long story short, try to be cold-headed when heading to the store to buy stuff for your baby. I’m planning to write a post about the baby items that you DON’T need and alternatives suggestions (wait for it!).
- Second-hand websites (Kijiji, Craiglist, etc.) are your best friend: Most of the baby items that I’ve purchased are used ones. I obviously keep safety and hygiene in mind every time that I have to buy something used and I buy it new instead when necessary (i.e. car seat). However, there are tons of items that have been used but are almost like new that you should definitely consider. I can give you some examples: Diaper genie ($60 new, $10 used), Books ($15-20 new, $2-5 used), bottle warmer ($24 new, $10 or less used), baby k-tan carrier ($80 new, $35 used), diaper bag ($80 new, $30 used), change table ($200 new, $40 used), Toys ($25 or more if they are new, around $5 when they are used), among others. It’s very easy to find toys and other stuff unopened in their original box (I’m sure everybody can relate with buying baby stuff and never get to use it…) so go for it and save some cash!
- Your baby will outgrow his clothes in the blink of an eye: Dear pregnant mama, stop buying super cute tiny outfits for your newborn baby because I can tell you today with 99% confidence that your baby will outgrow them in less than a month and you will end up with piles of outfits that he won’t be able to use. Considering that every new baby outfit costs between $15 to $25 (if you are lucky), just by following this advise you are saving hundreds of dollars. You’re welcome!
- If you don’t mind second-handed clothes for your baby, go for it!: In Canada there’s a store called “Once Upon a Child” in which I’ve bought most of my baby’s outfits. I’m a very careful here because of the hygiene so I exclusively buy items that have been clearly never used or very slightly used. Some of the typical offers that you can find in there are 5 onesies for $5 dollars or buy 3 pajamas and get one free (amazing, hey?). By the way, this post has no affiliated links whatsoever. This is just me giving you honest advise and hopefully helping you save some dollars.
- Invest in your child’s Education – This last suggestion is oriented to people living in Canada. For those parents living in Canada like me, you can get money from the Government if you open an RESP for your child and you contribute to it every year. Just by opening the RESP account you will get $50 and you can get up to $500 per year depending on how much you contribute. Basically for every dollar you put in, the Government will provide 20 cents (a 20% grant) up to $2,500. So go ahead and open the RESP for your child and invest every dollar that you save by following the previous suggestions. You will invest in his future education and get some extra money from the Government. You just killed two birds with one stone! More information here.
If you have other tips and tricks to save money when you have a baby, please share them in the comments section!