Part 1: Having a baby on a budget
Raising a child can be one of life's most rewarding experiences - as well as one of the most expensive. Although the cost of raising a child can be daunting, with a little planning and creativity you can save a lot. Here are some of the ways that I have found to help you save.
The hospital stay alone can be expensive. Make sure that you plan ahead for any expenses that may be related to the delivery itself. If you have insurance, find out what you still owe on your insurance deductible. If you don't have insurance, or if your insurance doesn't cover maternity, speak to the hospital ahead of time. Often, hospitals will give a discount to patients paying in cash or even work with you for payment. If you know ahead of time how much you will be needing to pay out of pocket then you can begin saving ahead of time. In addition, plan for things that may be unexpected such as a C-section or even, if you are having a boy, the circumcision.
Utilize formula programs - even if you plan to breastfeed.
I had planned to exclusively breastfeed my son. Therefore, I disregarded most of the offers and coupons that were sent to me by the formula companies. Unfortunately, after my son was born he was never able to latch on. I used a pump (which you can often rent for about $20 a week from the hospital you deliver at) for about 8 weeks, but after that I switched to formula feeding. Luckily, I was able to sign up for Similac's program.
I recommend signing up for the programs ahead of time. That way if you need formula after delivery then you will have some samples handy. I got lucky and my son was able to use the first formula I tried, but some babies require several tries before they find something that agrees with them. The most popular programs are:
• Similac (www.strongmoms.com)
• Gerber (www.gerber.com)
• Enfamil (www.enfamil.com)
I suggest signing up for all three programs. Then you will receive not only samples, but checks to help pay for formula as well as coupons. Also, when you take your child to pediatrician visits as the office for samples and coupons as they usually have a lot to give away. Even sites such as Coupons.com will sometimes have formula coupons.
In addition, if your child decides that they like one brand of formula but you still have checks from the other companies, you can always trade with friends or on sites like The Bump.
Look for coupons.
Another great way to save money is to use coupons. Coupons for diapers and wipes are usually pretty plentiful in the Sunday coupon inserts, but coupons for things like baby food are a lot harder to come by. I have found if you go online you can find a lot of good coupons that you might not be able to get otherwise. Coupons.com often has a lot of great coupons for Gerber baby food. When you pair these coupons with store specials you can often get the food for close to free. These types of coupons often go fast so be sure to print them right away.
Of course there are many other ways to save when you have a baby. In my next section, I will discuss how to save a ton of money while decorating a nursery as well as when buying baby equipment.
Rachel is a stay at home mom who blogs about saving money and raising children at Third Stop On The Right.