Have a baby or planning to have one soon? Your little bundle is going to cost you a bundle — $241,080 to be exact. That’s what the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates it will cost a middle-income couple in the U.S. to raise a child to the age of 18. And that doesn’t include college tuition!
Diapers, formula, baby gear, clothing, medicine, food and childcare — the list is as long as a night with a crying baby. By finding some simple ways to save money now, you can save yourself a lot of stress down the road.
Here are 8 useful tips to help you be more resourceful:
- Get couponing: While your little one is napping, check out these 9 easy steps to using coupons for great mobile apps, websites and tips that can help save you money and time (always in short supply as a parent!) again and again.
- Stock up on sale items and buy in bulk: Let’s face it. There are certain things you’re going to need a lot of when you have a baby. Diapers, wipes, cereal — you’ll burn through these items faster than a wild fire. So ensure you’re prepared (and frugal!) by buying in bulk at a warehouse store or purchasing them when they’re on sale at your favorite local retailer.
- Comparison shop: If you’re not too fussy about brand names, you can save more by choosing generic (or house) brands, which are often just as good. Mobile price comparison apps for your iPhone or Android offer side-by-side comparisons to help you find the best deals online and in stores. Websites like WeeSpring offer reviews and comparisons of baby gear from people you know in your social network, or you can see what the experts say at BabyBargains.
- Get on the email list: Have a favorite shop where you buy toys or clothes? Is there a grocery store you visit frequently? Most stores will ask if you want to be on their email list, which is a great way to be among the first to find out about upcoming sales and promotions, as well as receive exclusive discounts and coupons.
- Take seconds: There are many items that are great to buy secondhand like clothes, change tables, strollers and portable play pens. You can often find them at garage sales, consignment shops or online swap sites for a fraction of the price they would cost new. Items you should consider buying new for safety reasons include cribs and car seats. Additionally, if you’re lucky enough to have a friend or relative who has older kids, ask if they’re willing to pass on their hand-me-downs. And when you’re done with items, you can make some cash by selling them to a consignment shop.
- Host a swap: Most parents have a few barely used — or even never-used — baby items hiding out in the back of a closet. Hosting a swap is a great way to trade items with other parents, and can also be a social event where you swap stories and advice, as well. If you’re not sure how to go about inviting people, try posting it on Facebook or emailing a few friends asking them to spread the word. After all, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.
- Join a babysitting co-op: Every parent needs a break now and then. But finding someone to watch your kids for a few hours can really add up. Babysitters cost an average of $14 per hour. A babysitting co-op is a great alternative. It’s a group of parents who agree to trade babysitting duties with each other when needed — and it’s a great way to save money. If you can’t find a group, try starting your own. Everyone in the group will benefit by saving big bucks on babysitting expenses.
- Make your own baby food: When you make your own baby food, not only do you save money, but you can also monitor exactly what your baby is eating and ensure that he or she is getting safe, healthy food. This doesn’t have to mean hours slaving away at a stove. With just a pot and a simple hand blender, you can boil and puree almost any fruit or vegetable for instant baby food that has no preservatives. It’s better for your baby, and your bank account.
As they say, a penny saved is a penny earned, and saving now will help you start putting your pennies toward that college fund.
We have more information to help — including a USDA calculator that will help you estimate costs specific to your family, as well as resources featured on MSN and Chicago Tribune.
1The survey referenced herein was conducted by Pollara Strategic Insights (“Pollara”), an independent research firm, at the request of BMO Harris Bank. Pollara is not affiliated with BMO Harris Bank, either by common ownership, management, control or otherwise. Results cited above are from an online survey conducted between February 3, 2015 and February 5, 2015, by Pollara. Interviews were conducted with 1,501 individuals, selected at random from an online research panel. A probability sample of this size would be accurate to ± 2.5%, 19 times out of 20. Data has been weighted by state, based on Census information, to ensure regional proportions match those of the actual U.S. population.
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