Having a baby can feel like a financially monumental event. There are many ways to cut traditional costs from baby-having and baby-raising to help cover other items, such as hiring a doula! Here are some of my favorite suggestions:
1. Ask friends to chip in for big-ticket items and make smaller purchases yourself. A great example of this is car seats, which are absolutely necessary and can be very expensive. $100 to one person is a lot of money, but split between multiple people it becomes doable! If you have lots of friends and family, asking each of them to chip in $5 or $10 to your doula fund might get the full cost covered. If a gift certificate is an option (click here to see mine), that is another way to let friends/family share in the cost.
2. Buy used where you can. This is NOT a safe suggestion for certain things, such as car seats (which are considered unusable after a car accident and have expiration dates for safe use) or cribs older than a few years (safety regulations change often). When buying used items, it is generally a good idea to check for recalls. A quick google search should suffice, or you can check the CPSC. Some items that are easy to find used: clothes, cloth diapers, carriers, strollers, blankets, bouncers and swings.
3. Hold off buying items your baby may not like. Many, many babies do not like swings or bouncers or certain types of baby carriers. This can also be said for cribs, as many mamas find co-sleeping (safely, of course!) to be better for both, especially when breastfeeding. Wait until after baby is born and try out a friend or neighbor’s item before you buy!
4. Use cloth diapers. While not for everybody, I have found cloth diapers to be a major saver…both for my finances and my sanity. No midnight dashes to the store because someone didn’t notice the diapers were almost out. There is a bit of a transition with laundry, but I quickly found that I didn’t notice or feel as though I was doing lots more laundry. Buying used or accepting hand-me-downs from friends can reduce this cost even further. I estimate that I spent less than $500 diapering my FOUR kids. If you’re feeling really bold, check into Elimination Communication, which will further reduce your costs and encourage you/baby to follow baby’s cues for pottying.
5. Accept every usable hand-me-down that comes your way. Invest in a few sturdy tubs and store those items until baby grows into them. I haven’t needed to truly buy my oldest clothes until the last year or so, which is THIRTEEN years of practically free (I’m sure I bought some things!) clothing, bedding and more. At the very least, accept the items and sort through, keeping what you like and donating or passing to another mama what you don’t.
6. Breastfeed. Feeding baby artificial food, formula, is usually the largest expense (second maybe to the actual birth, depending on care provider, setting, interventions and insurance coverage) and one that can often be completely avoided. To learn more about breastfeeding and its benefits for both you and baby, check out this page on my site, visit a La Leche League meeting in your area or talk to some breastfeeding moms. Breastfeeding is FREE, although having a quality pump for a full-time working mom may be a bit pricey (still cheaper than formula and many insurance companies are now covering them!).
7. Forego any unnecessary, but often absolutely adorable, baby items. There is a plethora of items geared at your baby, 99% of which are just not necessary. Your baby needs you and very little else.
8. Start planning and saving now. This isn’t so much a way to cut costs, but if you’re planning to have a baby in the near future or planning to try to conceive, start saving for necessities now. Having money put away for that time will help ease the financial burden as well as provide you the opportunity to have some wiggle room should you decide you want to be home with your baby after he/she is born (assuming, of course, that you’ve been in the workforce). **Disclaimer: I am HORRIBLE at planning and have never managed to accomplish this goal, so no judgment on my part! ;)**
9. Have a regular swap with friends. This has worked well for my group of women. Once a year, or whenever you choose, we get together and make a huge pile of things we want to get rid of in the middle of the room. Sometimes, we make a game out of it and everyone gets to choose, then “steal” from others. Get creative and have fun!
10. Check with your insurance company and/or HSA to see if any service you are looking at is covered. Some companies are now covering or reimbursing midwives, doulas, chiropractors and more. HSAs are sometimes a little more flexible on where the money goes, so be sure to see if your funds can go toward any of those.
All of these ideas are small, but each *small* saving can add up to an overall substantial amount! Where have you been able to save while having kids? What purchases could you simply not live without?