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Planning a Budget for the New Baby

by Katlyn Joy | December 10, 2012 8:11 AM
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During those nine long months of waiting for baby, you have an ideal time to sit and contemplate exactly how you are going to stretch your money to accommodate a new little being. While estimates range from 4,000 up to over 0,000 to raise a child to adulthood, depending on family income, any way you slice it your budget is about to take a huge hit. But rather than panic and rush to ill-informed choices, or go the opposite direction and decide to stick your head in the sand and pretend nothing is changing, use the time of the pregnancy to weigh all options.

Where to Start

The first step in planning your post-baby family budget is to take a realistic and all-encompassing look at your present situation. Just how well are you living within your means now? If you have already sliced the extras and still are struggling, you will need to find a way to actually increase income, a daunting task with a new baby in the house.

Look at the family leave policies, maternity options and your health plan at your jobs.

- Do you plan to take an unpaid leave after baby arrives?

- Does your husband's work offer a better leave policy than yours?

- Should you take off only 6 weeks and then go to work part-time while hubby stays home fulltime for another several weeks?

- Do you have vacation or leave time accrued which you can use after baby arrives?

- What happens if you can't work til you deliver, because you are put on bedrest?

Once you know all the choices and arrangements available, sit down with your spouse and develop a game plan. If you think you can swing living on just his income, then give it a trial and stash all your earnings away during the pregnancy and try to live on just the one income. If you find it's not possible, you've found out early and you have the money from your work saved up at least.

Have Solid Back Ups

Big decisions await you as parents. Start with solidifying the future by getting a good life insurance policy for you both. Consider getting a term policy that will replace not only the deceased's income, but also will cover paying off the mortgage and maybe college as well.

Choose the child's guardian and get the will prepared. Putting it off will likely lead to it not getting done at all. No one enjoys it, but you need to ensure your family's security from the start because no one knows what the future holds.

Inventory and Price Checking

Next you need to get an idea of what baby items you need and what ones you can borrow or will get as gifts. Some items are not recommended as hand-me-downs, such as old cribs or car seats. If you absolutely know the car seat is newer, never been in an accident and not in a recall, then it can be fine. Never use a crib that's an heirloom. This may be rude to some family members, but safety is a much greater issue. For any borrowed items, make certain they are not recalled items.

Another way to save on baby gear is to try consignment shops, and buying from big retailers with big sales. Costly gear makes perfect gifts from groups of family members or friends, so when you do your baby registry, do some research and choose only items you know you NEED not just want.

When people ask what you need, practice this word: d-i-a-p-e-r-s! Ask for a variety of sizes as well. Nothing will be more appreciated over time, trust me.

If you can, breastfeeding will save you loads of moolah. Plus it's healthier for baby and will help you regain your shape more quickly.

Baby clothes can be purchased but keep in mind that if you buy a lot of gender neutral items for the early months especially, you will be able to reuse them for later babies. Another clothes strategy is to take those outfits that are unstained and not worn out and trade them in at a consignment shop for bigger sizes. This can really stretch your clothes dollars for baby.

Don't believe you need every baby gadget in existence. Honestly for the first few years, you will be baby's favorite toy. A crib, car seat, high chair and feeding and bathing accessories will suffice for the most part. Sure, a swing, play yard, stroller and bouncer are nice too. But if you look, chances are someone will be finished with theirs just in time to let you borrow them.

Plan for the Inevitable Rainy Days

Experts advise having several months income stashed in savings for the unexpected. This may seem a tall or impossible order. However, don't let that scare you off. Even if you just hoard coins, save with coupons or hang on to birthday cash it's a help. If you get a raise, don't let that money even enter your account. Immediately siphon it off into savings, so that you don't just elevate your spending to reflect the increase. If you've been paying on a bill and it's paid off, take that same amount and plunk it into your savings now. You won't miss it and eventually those little bits can add up to some help during dark days.

Budgeting for baby is scary, but you can manage to stretch your dollars with some work and planning.


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