Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Baby on a Budget

saving money, baby on a budget, pregnancy savings, baby budget, save on baby

I've always heard that baby's are expensive but I didn't realize just how true that was until I experienced it for myself. Diapers alone can drain your bank account, not to mention the cost of everything else you need to have a baby. It adds up fast and trust me I know. I may not be the most experienced mother but I recently went through it all back to back, having two babies under the age of two. Here are some ways to help cut back on all those cost from being pregnant to buying things after the baby is born, after all, every penny helps.

Saving During Pregnancy

Pregnancy Test: Whether you've been trying to get pregnant or missed your period and are just curious you will most likely need to take a pregnancy test at some point in your life. Don't waste your money on all the expensive pregnancy test they have out there. Just buy the cheap ones. They sell them for $1 at Dollar Stores and I believe .88 cents at Walmart and YES they work. Pregnancy test essentially all do the same thing and test for the same hormone in your urine so there is no point in spending the big bucks on something you are just going to pee on and throw away.

Prenatal Vitamins: If you are pregnant or trying to conceive, doctors will recommend you take prenatal vitamins before, during and after (if breastfeeding) pregnancy. Prenatal vitamins can be expensive and they add up fast if you aren't careful. Some prenatals cost $20-$30+ for only a few pills. That can add up to $200-$300 easily over the 40 week span you are pregnant. Yes I get that some prenatals contain different vitamins and others can make you sick but that doesn't mean you have to go broke buy them. I recommend buying the Spring Valley Prenatals. It cost around $7 at Walmart and has 240 pills in the container. I used it for both of my pregnancies (technically never stopped using it being that my babies are 17 months apart) and both of my babies were born very healthy. They are cheap and they work. I have also heard that the off brands work just as well as some of the expensive ones but I haven't tried them. You can also ask your doctor if they have any free samples of prenatal vitamins the first time you visit. It may not be a lot but it will get you started until you can get to the store.

Insurance: After your doctor confirms that you are pregnant, try to see if you qualify for Medicaid. This will most likely act as your secondary insurance and cover all the copays and delivery fees that aren't covered by your main insurance. Although everybody doesn't qualify it is definitely worth applying for and seeing if you do (If you are not married or unemployed you will most likely qualify). If you have any form of Medicaid and receive a bill, call the number on the bill and inform them that you have Medicaid and you shouldn't have to pay it. They will bill Medicaid then send you another if you owe anything. Companies will bill you without billing Medicaid first so make sure to read everything first. Also don't be afraid to ask questions and say NO. My insurance for my first pregnancy only covered one ultrasound and I didn't have the money to pay for another so I made sure they knew that because sometimes they will do it and you'll get billed for it.

Health Department Programs: See if you qualify for WIC (Woman, Infants and Children). WIC is supplemental nutrition program out of the health department for pregnant/breast-feeding mothers, babies and toddlers up to age 5. Working families can qualify for WIC and if you don't qualify, it doesn't mean that your child won't. Although WIC doesn't give you enough food for the entire month it still helps out a lot and supplies you with healthy food choices for both you and your baby. WIC lets you get fruits, vegetables, milk, beans, eggs, peanut butter, cheese, whole wheat breads and cereal free of charge. WIC can also supply you with formula, baby cereal, and baby food depending on your package and what you qualify for.

The Health Department also usually has a program called HANDS (Health Access Nurturing Development Services) or at least they do in the state of Kentucky. This is a free program offered to first time parents. You must sign up for it while pregnant or before your baby is 3 months old. The program goes until your child is 2 or you don't want to do it any more. A worker will come to your house each week and teach you about what is going on at that stage of pregnancy or your child's development. You will set goals, talk, make crafts, etc... every week is different. Try it out and if you don't like it you can always quit it.

Maternity Clothes: Maternity clothes are expensive, even the clearance maternity clothes can run you $20-$50 an item which doesn't seem like much of a clearance price to me. Maternity clothes are usually only worn for a few months and several people save them just incase they happen to get pregnant again so check with all your mommy friends and see if anybody is willing to let you borrow their maternity clothes for a few months. Also you can check and see if there is a Pregnancy Help Center in your neighborhood, they will help supply you with a few maternity clothing items free of charge. You can also find cheaper maternity clothes at yard sales and church consignment sales; kid-to-kid and once upon a child usually will have a rack of maternity clothes as well...I bought a pair of almost new maternity jeans for $2 at church consignment sale... I also recommend forking out the $15 at Target and buying a Belly Band. This will allow you to wear your jeans longer during your pregnancy and if all else fails, wear your husbands clothes. It will save you money and they are super comfortable.

Baby Registry: I hate to break it to you but you don't need everything they put on the baby check list. Half of the items are on there as a way to make more money. You can do without the wipe warmer, Sophie the Giraffe teether and the $300 video baby monitor, the $20 baby monitor works just fine. Only register for things you need, that way you are more apt to get them. If you are planning on having more than one kid, register for things in gender neutral colors that way you can save them and use them for every kid. Also I recommend registering for items that grow with your child. They sell highchairs, car seats and strollers that all grow with your child, yes they may cost more but they will save you money in the long run because you will only have to buy one carseat instead of three or four. Also don't forget to pick up your gift when you register!!! (see Freebies below)

Baby Showers: I recommend having a Baby Shower/ Gender Reveal Party instead of just a baby shower. No not just because I had one, but because you will actually get things you need. I have been to several baby showers after the gender of the baby has been revealed and all they got was a ton of clothes because everybody loves to shop for baby clothes because it's so cute. They didn't get anything they needed like a carseat or baby lotion. By having a Baby shower / gender reveal party in one you are forcing people to buy the items you actually need instead of getting just clothing.

Another idea for the baby shower is to have a diaper raffle. Tell everybody to bring a pack of diapers to get their name entered into a drawing to win a price. My friend did this and she got a ton of diapers. Plus the benefit is stores let you exchange unopened diapers if you get to many of the same size.

If your husband and his friends are feeling left out you can also throw him a diaper party. Have everybody meet a a place like Hooters or Buffalo Wild Wings and tell them to bring a pack of diapers for a guys night out. This way you don't have to worry about supplying the food and drinks and you get diapers out of it.

Freebies: You can get free baby stuff if you look in the right places. Sometimes companies are willing to send you free samples of their products if you just ask. If they don't have any samples they will usually mail you some coupons. Sign up on all the baby brand sites like Pampers, Huggies, Luvs, Gerber, Enfamil, Similac, Nuk, etc... that way you will be in the loop about all the new baby items and you will receive coupons in the mail or on your e-mail. Pampers and Huggies allow you to enter their codes and redeem prices and Enfamil and Similac will usually send you free formula around your baby's due date as well. Don't forget to pick up your free gifts when you create a baby registry. Places like Buy Buy Baby, Babies-R-Us and Target have free goodie bags, all you have to do is got to the customer service counter and say you made a registry to get the goodie bag. They come with diaper and wipe samples, a rattle, pacifiers, a bottle, formula etc... it all depends on what companies are advertising at the time.

Saving After Baby

Breastfeed if you can: Breastfeeding is healthier for your baby, helps you lose weight and helps form a special bond between a baby and it's mother; plus it's free for the most part (besides nursing bras, breast pads, and milk storage bags). Formula can cost you well over $200 a month. If you have to use formula make sure you sign up online for Enfamil and Similac. They will usually send you free formula around your baby's due date and send you $5 off coupons every month. If you qualify for WIC, they will also supply you with some formula but you will still need to buy some of your own.

Free Breast Pump- DO NOT buy a breast pump until you check with your insurance first. I made the mistake of buying one then after my baby was born I got a call saying I could get a free one. Most insurances will supply you with a FREE $300 breast pump if you are planning to breastfeed.

Diapers and Wipes: You don't need to buy the most expensive brand of diapers, the cheap ones work fine. Everybody prefers different brands to others so to each their own but whatever brand you do decide to buy, make sure to use a coupon and shop sales. There are so many diaper sales and coupons out there that you shouldn't have to pay full price for a pack of diapers. I also recommend buying the boxes of diapers because you will be spending less per diaper than if you buy individual packages. You can also order diaper boxes online using online codes and get them shipped to your door for free if you spend over the limit. This saves you gas and the hassle of getting the boxes in and out of your car. Another way to save is by switching to cloth diapers. I personally don't use them but I've been told you can save money in the long run by using them.

As far as wipes go, I prefer the Pamper's Sensitive wipes because they are thicker than all the other wipes I have tried. I have been going through wipes like crazy having two kids under the age of two and sometimes I feel like I am wasting wipes when it is just a wet diapers so I have just recently started to tear them in half and only use half a wipe for the wet diapers. This way I'm getting more use out of the one wipe. Another way to save on wipes is to make your own. I have not tried this yet but there are several tutorials on Pinterest on how to make your own wipes using paper towels.

Baby Food: If you qualify for WIC, they will supply your child with baby cereal and baby food, but you will still need to buy some of your own. When buying your own, buy the cheaper brand. Yes it is only a 3 cents difference between Gerber and Beech-nut baby food but 3 cents can add up fast when buying 60+ jars a month. Another way to save on baby food is to look for it for free or cheap on yard sale sites. When somebody's baby has outgrown the baby food/formula or just doesn't like it, they will sometimes post it to a yard sale site on Facebook for free or super cheap. You can also make your own baby food;it is very easy to do, after all, all baby food is is processed food. Buy fruits and vegetables (in bulk if possible) then use a Baby Bullet (you can find these cheap at yard sales sometimes) or a Food Processor to mash them all up. Divide it up and freeze it!

Baby Clothes and Baby Items: NOT EVERYTHING HAS TO BE BRAND NEW!!! Yes new stuff is awesome to have but if you are on any sort of budget then you should be shopping for used items instead. I recommend waiting until after your baby shower to start buying a lot because you never know what you are going to get at your baby shower. NEVER pay full price for baby clothes. Babies grow so fast that they hardly wear their clothes. Places like Kid-to-Kid and Once Upon a Child sell gently used baby clothes and baby items. Be careful though because sometimes their items can be overpriced; I have honestly had better luck shopping at The Children's Place. I have bought several brand new items at The Children's Place for .79 cents. Just wait until they have one of their huge sales and use a 20% off coupon (usually find one online) on top of the sale price to get super cheap items. Also keep watch for bag sales. I paid $15 at Kid-to-Kid and filled a huge bag full of clothing. I came out of there with well over 50 items of clothes. You can also find really cheap baby items at yard sales, yard sale sites on Facebook, and church consignment sales (Churches usually have a sale in the fall and spring). Since babies grow so fast a lot of baby items barely get used and several are in very good condition. Also let your friends know that you will take hand-me-downs if they have any available because for "some reason" everybody wants to give stuff to a baby.

If you are buying new items, shop the sales and bring a coupon with you. Buy gender neutral items such play gyms, swings, pack and play, carseats, etc. Gender neutral items will be easier to sell in the future plus you can save them and reuse them for future children if you are planning on having them. I also recommend buy 2-in-1 items and items that grow with your child. They may be more expensive at the time but you will save money in the long run. We got a bouncer/swing from Target at our baby shower and I don't know what I would do without it. Both of my babies have loved it, it takes up less space than the two individual items would of and it was cheaper than the bouncer and swing would of cost separately.

Do It Yourself (DIY): If you are a crafty person like me then you can make some of your own baby items. It's crazy to pay a fortune on items like a baby mobile or toys when you can just do it yourself for a lot cheaper. I have made a variety of items for my children from toys to wall decor to taggie blankets and crib mobiles. I have even been taking their pictures and editing them myself since they were born. If you aren't that crafty, it's ok because there are tons of tutorials out there on how to do things. You can refurbish old furniture for the nursery, make your own wipes, baby food, baby soaps, toys, etc... you would be surprised on what DIY baby tutorials you can find.

Coupons: You should never have to pay full price for anything. I have yet to come across a baby item that I needed that didn't have a coupon I could use. Stores like Buy Buy Baby and Babies R Us will mail you store coupons every once in a while for discounts on there items. If you search the internet you can usually find coupons for diapers, wipes, and other baby items as well. Another way to get coupons is to contact companies and ask them to send you coupons. I have gotten coupons from telling companies how much I liked there products and have gotten coupons for telling them what was wrong with there product. Also take advantage of stores that have coupon apps like Target's Cartwheel app and Kroger. Some stores like Target and Kroger will also have deals where if you spend so much in baby items you will get a $5 -$10 coupon/gift card to use on your next purchase. Stock Up on sales. This will save you money in the long run. If you wait until you run out of diapers you will end up paying more for diapers because they will most likely be full price and you will of forgotten a coupon.

Day Care and Babysitters: Day care and babysitters can be expensive. I have heard of people paying upwards of $80 just to go to the movies which I think is crazy. Parents need a night out here and there but they shouldn't have to pay a fortune for it. To save on babysitters, you can set up a rotation with other couples. Basically each couple takes a turn watching the other's kids for free so they can have a night out. Another way to save on a babysitter is to ask your parents or a close relatives because they will most likely do it for free, after all Grandparents are usually excited to see/watch their grand-babies. Finding a full-time babysitter that comes to your house or watches a few kids out of their house is going to be a lot cheaper than daycare but if you have to go with a day care then look around and read reviews on them. You can also get government assistance based off your salary for daycare if you make under a certain salary.

I hope this blog helps you when it comes to saving money during your pregnancy and after your baby arrives. A lot of people don't realize just how expensive a baby can be until they have one of their own, after all, every penny counts!!!

saving money, baby on a budget, pregnancy savings, baby budget, save on baby

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