According to a report by Bloomberg, inflation in the U.S. reached a high of 9.1%, the highest seen in America since 1981. This is affecting people of all lifestyles, especially families. Raising a child is costly with or without astronomical inflation levels, and the pandemic only adds to the issue. In fact, Fortune reports that child care is 41% more expensive than it was pre-pandemic. With this in mind, it may be overwhelming to think about how you will afford to care for your baby and yourself during and after pregnancy. Luckily, there are strategies you can use to make these costs more manageable. Here are a few tips you can use to help financially prepare for the arrival of your child.
1. Determine Your Needs
A good first step for keeping your finances on track for the arrival of your baby is to figure out exactly what you need. Take time to check what you already have and determine what you’ll need to buy. Ask yourself these questions:
- Is this my first child, or do I have some of the essentials from a previous child?
- Do I have family members or friends who have children that have baby gear hand-me-downs?
- What will I put on a baby shower registry?
It may be helpful in this stage to reference guides and checklists to ensure you’ll be ready to bring your baby home. This helps you cut out any unnecessary spending on items that you may receive as a gift or that you have collecting dust in your home. At this time, it may also be beneficial to factor in the cost of pregnancy check ups, ultrasounds and having a baby shower. If you are a new mother, you may even opt to take parenting and birthing classes during your pregnancy. These are all considerations to make when deciding which expenses are absolutely necessary and which are more of a splurge.
Aside from anticipating what you’ll need to buy before the baby arrives, consider the expenses that will arise months after birth. Postpartum and baby check ups, child care, and any activities you and your baby participate in (e.g. Mommy and Me) will be costs that recur after you give birth.
2. Total the Costs
Once you have an idea of what types of expenses you’ll be taking on, it may be a good idea to tally up the costs:
Nursery Set-Up: If you are in the market for a crib, expect to spend anywhere from $100-3000. (The price that you pay for a crib is highly correlated with its quality; mid-priced cribs are fully sufficient options for your baby’s safety.) You may also consider purchasing furniture like a chair to sit in while nursing or holding your baby, decor, toys, or supplies for a changing station. Prices vary widely depending on how lavish you decide to make the room, but setting up a nursery costs parents $2,000 on average.
Food: Formula, baby food, bottles and bottle cleaning instruments are necessary to have to support your baby’s nutrition. Breast pumps and nursing clothes can also help you relieve any discomfort that comes with breastfeeding. Although less financially tolling on average, breastfeeding may cost mothers more than just money. If you have the time and ability to produce and properly store milk, this option is far cheaper. According to Healthline, buying formula costs around $250 per month, whereas breastfeeding costs are usually limited to one-time supply purchases.
Clothing: Aside from maternity clothes, you will use a portion of your budget to build a wardrobe and stock up on diapers for your newborn. Because infants grow rapidly, it is crucial to account for the many size changes your baby will go through in a short time. This is a game of balance; while it is smart to have options, it is also easy to buy too many pieces ahead of time in one size. Plan on keeping a separate budget for clothing purchases that you will need to make throughout the year. Gerber reports that families spend an average of $60 per month on clothing.
Transportation: In order to be able to drive with your baby in the car, a baby carrier and car seat are essential. There are even options for convertible strollers that double as a car seat. Like cribs, there are a variety of options for car seat stroller combinations, typically ranging between $200-$400.
Medical Bills: Baby check-ups, as well as your visits to the doctor throughout and after your pregnancy, will be another cost to consider. Insurance companies cover certain costs, but others may still require out of pocket payment. Even with typical insurance coverage, women spend an average $3,000 out of pocket for delivering their child alone. Mothers can rack up medical bills that are upwards of $30,000 on all prenatal, delivery and postpartum care they receive. Any complications during pregnancy, delivery, or healing can also add more onto the total medical costs. This does not include any additional midwife or doula services that mothers opt to hire for assistance during birth.
Child Care: One of the higher costs of having a child will undoubtedly be the price of child care. If you are a working mother, you will likely have to dedicate a large portion of your budget to this expense. The Economic Policy Institute reports that child care for an infant in the U.S. can cost up to $24,000 in a year.
Non-essentials: You may want to celebrate this time with friends and family. Baby showers and gender reveal parties are a great way to share the excitement with your loved ones. You may also choose to hire a professional photographer to capture your little one as a newborn or beyond for photos to send to family and friends. Some moms-to-be have maternity photoshoots, as well. While these events do not always have to be expensive, the larger and more luxurious these parties and photoshoots are, the more they will cost.
Being aware of the price that comes with each step of the journey, from pregnancy to postpartum, can help you be more prepared to take them on.
3. Know Your Options
Expecting a child is nerve racking in itself, but it can be more overwhelming to see a grand total of the expenses to come. The key here is to be aware of the options you have to help financially adjust to raising your child.
Making a budget can be easier said than done. If you are expecting a child, it is vital to be disciplined with your finances. To financially prepare for your baby’s arrival, create a spending plan. Cut back on non-essentials and pleasure spending. The extra costs you cut out will save you money that you can start saving for emergencies or unforeseen expenses that arise.
Once you identify areas where you can eliminate excess spending, you may be able to form a clearer idea for just exactly how much you can afford. Using this information, determine how you will follow the budget—in other words, how will you pay for everything? The money you begin saving as a part of your spending plan can be the start of a good foundation for financial stability. If you already have a savings account, you may decide to dip into that to cover larger costs.
If you prefer to keep your savings untouched throughout the process, don’t worry, there is another avenue to take. For those with high credit scores, using a personal line of credit may be a smart decision. With a personal line of credit, mothers can draw money from the credit line as needed, and interest will only accrue on the amount of money drawn. It is important to note that different financial institutions have different draw periods, so be sure to check your bank’s policies.
Also, don’t forget that you can work with organizations like The Source to access free and low-cost options for both healthcare and baby supplies. While you may have to buy many baby and parenting essentials, there is free help available.
With having a child comes more responsibility—especially fiscal responsibility. Considering the current economic conditions in the U.S., it is more important than ever to have your finances in order, especially with a baby on the way. Determine what you already have, what you need, and how you’ll get what you need to prepare for your baby’s arrival. Having a financial plan for tackling these costs will pay off in the long run for you and your new family.