According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, raising a child today from birth to 18 years old, without college, will cost the average American family $226,920. That’s a 40% increase over just 10 years ago. Everything costs more today—a lot more. Groceries and transportation costs have hit family budgets the hardest as the markets wreak havoc on corn, wheat, and oil commodities.
How can a new family survive? Planning is key. Review your current finances. Can one parent stay home? Daycare is usually the biggest monthly expense in the early years. Weigh the benefits of working with daycare costs against not working. Look at medical insurance costs from both employers if it is offered. What kind of increase should you expect when you upgrade to family coverage? Is it cheaper to carry individual policies at both employers and just add a child to one policy. Examine all the possibilities.
Once the baby is here, be savvy about where and how you spend your money. If you prefer a well-known daycare center over in-home child care or a babysitter, you may need to cut expenses elsewhere. Remember that you can save money in other areas…like avoiding baby name brands. Babies grow out of clothes and toys too quickly to sink money into endorsement marketing.
Invest in the equipment that you will depend on: like a car seat that can grow with your child; a crib that can convert to a toddler and youth bed; or, a stroller that can adjust from baby carrier to all-purpose, canopied stroller. While versatility and price are important, safety should always remain first and forefront on certain items. Choose the things that you can cut corners on, while reserving your budget for items that require no shortcuts in quality.
Both price and safety comparisons can be found on many useful websites:
Thinking about a new house or car? Don’t trade up just yet. Unless you are having quadruplets, your current living situation and vehicle are probably sufficient. Too often, couples increase their largest expenses when they may have a reduced income or underestimated the cost of baby. Stay put and wait until you’ve actually outgrown the space you are in.
A baby is definitely an expensive proposition. However, with a little pre-planning and some determination, your bundle of cash will also be a bundle of joy.
Sources: US Department of Agriculture; Findthebest.com; nhtsa.gov; consumerreports.org; parenting.com; and, PSB our valued partner.