If you’re expecting a baby or just beginning to think about expanding your family, it’s an exciting time, full of new experiences and lots of love to be shared. Oh, and new responsibilities and expenses too.
From diapers to childcare, from toys to medical costs, there are myriad costs associated with parenthood. There are many ways you can plan and get on track for affording these costs. Here, you’ll learn some of the best techniques to make your money go further and pay for the expenses that go along with welcoming a baby.
The Costs of Having a Baby
The exact cost of having a baby varies depending on health insurance, state and local cost of living, level of prenatal care, and a number of other factors. But according to the most recent report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), a middle-income family in 2022 could expect to spend between $15,438 to $17,375 per year per child.
For couples who conceived naturally, without the added costs of fertility treatments or adoption, that first expense might include a trip to the pharmacy for a pregnancy test. From there, they grow to include prenatal care for mom and baby and an ever-expanding checklist of purchases, to-dos, and decisions—all within the next nine months or so.
Here’s a look at some of the common expenses that can crop up, from pregnancy through baby’s first birthday.
Parents-to-be may find that some of the biggest costs of having a baby happen before the baby is born. Prenatal care, for example, can begin within weeks of conception. It can bring associated diagnostic tests. Regardless of health insurance, extra services like 3D ultrasounds may not be covered.
A typical parent-to-be might also have a shopping list that includes a car seat, stroller, crib, diapers and wipes, more diapers and wipes, a changing table, clothes, toys, a baby monitor, bottles, and more diapers and wipes.
Depending on mom’s preference for breastfeeding or formula feeding, the list might also include a breast pump and related supplies or formula (or sometimes both).
When it comes time to welcome your new bundle, the average cost is reported, on average, to be around $18,865. Natural, vaginal births are usually the most affordable, with costs increasing alongside complications or procedures like c-sections, and actual costs swing widely by state.
Once mom and baby leave the hospital, they start to create a new normal for two. For mom, it can include postpartum doctor visits to monitor healing or remove stitches, and for baby it can include regular, frequent checkups, starting within three to five days of birth
If both parents decide at some point to return to work, the cost of daycare might be the next large, recurring expense. Combined with groceries, bills, and other aspects of pre-baby life that still go on, the thought of managing it all might feel overwhelming.
Here are some ways it’s possible to cut corners, get creative, and save money.
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Finding Extra Money for Baby
More and more employers are offering paid maternity (and paternity) leave, but beyond 12 weeks of unpaid leave offered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), receiving pay while caring for a newborn isn’t guaranteed.
For many Americans, that means saving up for a baby is more important than ever. Some people take out adoption loans to help cover costs for a new baby.
Facing a heap of new expenses while at the same time losing income may be a scary thought, and getting through it could require a heart-to-heart between partners and a lot of teamwork. But here are some strategies that may help budget for a baby.
1. Starting a Stockpile ASAP
One way to save early and often is to think of those nine months between the start of a pregnancy and the due date as time to stock up and save. Consider the financial difference between adding one box of diapers or wipes to a regular grocery trip vs. waiting until the baby arrives.
Adding items to your inventory a bit at a time—especially when they’re on sale—could be a lot easier on the wallet than an emergency trip when they’re needed ASAP. The same strategy could be used for cash, too. Every day, week, or month, parents could set aside as much as possible in an emergency fund. Having a specific account dedicated to baby’s needs could mean that the regular budget for paying bills and other grownup expenses isn’t as heavily affected.
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2. Cutting Extra Costs
If a new, baby-friendly budget is in the works, parents might want to consider ways to cut costs — starting with areas that are the least painful. Take fees, for example. Eliminating credit-card fees, ATM withdrawal fees, or late-payment penalties are some of the easiest ways to improve cash flow. If bills tend to be incurring late fees, automatic drafts or reminders are potential ways to help make sure they’re on time.
Some other, not-so-painful ways to cut costs might include looking at where unused subscriptions can be canceled and valued ones can be lessened but still exist. For instance, there are ways to save on streaming services, and you might also look into new ways to shop. Consignment and second-hand stores are often filled with gently used baby items, from outgrown clothes to books, which can yield savings.
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3. Opening a Health Savings Account
A health savings account (HSA) is usually offered alongside a high-deductible health plan (HDHP), and when used how it’s intended could bring new parents some significant perks: Money that’s placed into the account is pre-tax (and can include employer contributions), and it can be used to cover out-of-pocket medical expenses, such as office copays. If the HSA provider issues funds via debit card, it’s one easy way to keep health expenses entirely separate from the day-to-day budget.
But it’s not just doctor’s visits that are covered by HSA funds. Depending on individual plans, some can also be used to pay for health memberships, chiropractic treatments, breast pumps, and other items not covered by regular health insurance.
And, although HSAs are traditionally offered through employer health plans, freelancers and other self-employed workers may be eligible to open an account, too.
4. Getting Creative
A newborn’s essentials list may be significantly shorter than mom and dad’s: They need diapers, clothes, food, a safe place to travel and sleep, and parent cuddles — that’s about it. The rest? The fancy diaper bag, the 100-in-1 stroller, the matching outfits, even shoes before the baby leans to walk, can be more like nice-to-haves.
To save money on needs vs. wants, parents could consider putting “gift” items on a baby-shower registry — if they’re purchased, great! No unnecessary strain on the budget.
5. Putting Your Savings to Work
One way to afford a baby is to make your money work harder for. For instance, pay attention to where you keep your savings. When comparing traditional vs. online banks, you may see that online ones can offer a better deal. Since these institutions don’t have brick-and-mortar locations to staff and maintain, their operating budget may be lower. They can pass those savings on to their clients in the form of higher annual percentage yields (APYs) and lower or no fees.
One way to make your savings work hard for you is to open an online bank account with SoFi Checking and Savings®️. There are no account fees and a competitive APY to help your money grow faster. Plus you’ll spend and save in one convenient place, which can make life easier for busy parents.
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