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Essential Money Tips for New Parents

by Ryan Guina

babyAs I’ve mentioned several times on this site, my wife and I are expecting our first child. As we get closer to D-day, we are receiving more and more questions, comments, and unsolicited advice. I know that some people get tired of hearing it, but I don’t! Becoming a parent is one of life’s greatest gifts, and I welcome it. But I also know that it will change our lives in ways I haven’t even imagined yet, and these tips have been invaluable.

It isn’t possible  to be fully prepared for all the little changes that come with a new baby, but I have found the tips from friends and family, as well as the following articles, very helpful. It would probably take a book to share each tip my wife and I have received, which isn’t something I can do at the moment. But I found these articles helpful, and hopefully you will find the same. My wife and I would also love to read any first time parenting tips you have to share with us. Just leave a comment at the end of the article!

Preparing your finances for a new child

Babies are very expensive, especially when you consider that often times one parent stays at home – meaning income decreases, while expenses increase. This can be a recipe for disaster if you don’t plan for it. One of the most important things you can do before having a child is get your financial house in order. This includes buying life insurance, increasing savings, decreasing debt, having a financial fallback plan, and other financial preparations. Here are some articles that will help you prepare your finances for a new child:

Should you be a stay at home mom or working mom?

My wife and I decided she would become a stay at home mom. We are blessed to have this opportunity, and we know that our decision does not work for everyone. These articles may help your decision become a reality.

Newborn baby expenses

baby-2Babies are expensive! But they are worth it! These articles shed light on some of the associated costs of raising a newborn.

What Should You buy for your newborn?

Companies that produce baby products want you to believe you need every item they produce, which is far from the truth! Don’t give in to the desire to give your children “the best of everything” when “everything” isn’t needed. Instead, go out and buy Baby Bargains, which is probably the best single resource for baby products. You’ll love it! My wife and I used that book and it helped us to avoid the temptation to spend money on unnecessary baby items. Here are some tips on what you should consider for your child:

College Savings Accounts

I know this isn’t a priority right away, but it never hurts to start thinking ahead – especially when you or your family members may wish to make contributions toward your child’s education.

This is not an all encompassing list

My wife and I have received a lot of great tips from friends, family, and acquaintances and I’m sure I left out some great tips in this article.If you have anything to add, my wife and I would love to read it!

What are your tips for new parents?

photo credits: baby1, baby2

Published or updated June 2, 2009.
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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Four Pillars

Thanks so much for the links. Good luck with the new baby.

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2 DDFD at DivorcedDadFrugalDad

Great recap post.

I really enjoyed my kids as babies, but I really love them as older kids– my daughter and I hit tennis balls yesterday– it was fun. Both my son and daughter helped me with our veggie garden yesterday as well.

I often look at them now and remember their first steps, but know that we are still creating memories every time we are together.

My point, as I have said before, is savor every moment– it goes so fast!

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3 Ryan

The other day my neighbor told me that his children were more fun at age 1 than as newborns, and more fun at age 2 than 1, and so on. His daughter is now 26 and he maintains that being a parent is better each year. Although, I’m sure it seems more exciting now that she just finished grad school and he is no longer paying for it! ;-)

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4 Kristen

Thanks for all of the great links, Ryan! Since my husband and I are also expecting our first baby, I’m trying to get as much advice as possible. This is really helpful.

We have started slowly stocking up on essential items like diapers, wipes, baby wash, lotion, etc. We figured it would be easier to buy a little each time we went shopping to spread out the cost. Hopefully by the time our little girl arrives, we’ll have months of supplies ready to go. Since I was the last girl born in our family (and I’m 32!) the grandmothers and aunts are already buying baby clothes. She’s going to be well outfitted before she ever makes her arrival!

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5 Ryan

We’ve got a few of the essential like diapers, wipes, etc, and our friends and relatives have given us some clothes… but we’ve got a lot more to buy before we are ready.

My wife and I are planning on hitting the summer yard sale circuit to buy used baby clothes. They are generally only worn a few times before the baby outgrows the clothes, so they can usually be found in great condition. :)

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6 Rosa

That’s a great idea.

I got enough clothes in sizes 0-2T the first summer, that when we added in hand-me-downs and gifts we didn’t buy any more clothes til our son hit 3T. It can be a little hard to guess size/season but garage sales are so much cheaper even than thrift stores, even if you guess wrong you’re saving money.

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7 Ryan

Rosa, that’s my thought exactly. If we don’t use the clothes we can save them for our next child or pass them along to a friend, family member, or coworker. I look forward to being as generous to other new parents as others have been to us. :)

8 FFB

Great resource. We’re counting down the weeks ’till our family addition joins us. I have some reading to so now to make sure we have everything in order!

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9 MLR

Not planned for the near future… but bookmarked nonetheless :)

This is a good roundup of posts! Thanks!

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10 Miranda

What great resources! And congrats on getting closer to your latest family member! One of the best things we did was to get involved at a consignment shop. We got good clothes, toys, books and more on discount, and then were able to sell back our gently used items when we were done. We went for the store credit. There were times when we didn’t have to spend any money at all for our monthly baby needs. And when they’re newborns, they grow and develop so fast that it always seems you need new things!

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11 Ryan

We’re definitely planning on hitting consignment shops (my wife has already purchased most of her maternity clothes from consignment shops). We also plan on making the summer yard sale circuit. Hopefully we can find some good deals. :)

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12 Million Dollar Journey

Thanks for the mentions Ryan. Good luck on the little one Ryan. Just be prepared for one thing at the beginning…. lack of sleep. :)

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13 Bargain Babe

Thanks for linking to me! I’ll return to these resources when I have my first child. :)

Good luck with parenting!
Julia
aka Bargain Babe

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14 FrugaltoRich

Congratulations on the impending birth of your baby! That is fantastic!

As the mother of 2 terrific grown children, I can tell you that the time goes so very fast as they grow up. I am so very grateful that my husband and I planned ahead, saved and were very frugal, so that I could stay home with the kids.

No amount of lost wages could ever replace the priceless time spent with our kids. I have asked the kids and they both said they are SO glad I was home with them so they could be home after school, in the Summers, when they were sick etc.

There’s no better reason to be financially smart and frugal than that! It buys you time with the people you love! Soon they are grown and on their own!

A tip we can share-we started saving and investing ALL the money the kids would receive as gifts. We also encouraged them to save when they started working and we matched what they saved. By the time each graduated from college, their funds had grown to over $ 25,000! That’s a nice way to start your adult life!

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15 MikeS

Ryan, just 2 quick things.

First, if your medical plan has a deductible, you’ll have to satisfy it for both the mother and the baby. That one caught my wife and I by surprise. We anticipated the deductible for her, but did not see it coming for the baby.

Second, my wife and I buy our diapers at BJ’s wholesale club, we’ve found it’s even cheaper than diapers.com.

Lots of luck, the first couple months were a blurr, but it’s well worth it. My daughter is 19 months now and its fantastic.

Mike

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16 Ryan

MikeS, Thanks for the tips! We’ll look into the health insurance. I will also need to add our baby to the plan within 30 days. We don’t have a BJ’s Wholesale Club near us, but we will look into inexpensive locations to buy diapers. We’re also considering using cloth diapers (and having disposables as a convenient backup and for traveling).

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17 Wealth Pilgrim

Ryan,

My experience is that parenting does get better by the year and as the family grows.

I have 3 daughters and feel like the richest man in town…

Congratulations!!!!!

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18 Ellen K.

Congratulations on your little one! My husband and I have nearly-7-month-old twin girls. The medical bills were probably the biggest hit. Save all receipts and don’t hesitate to argue claims. Also, be sure to add your child to your insurance within 30 days — and follow up again at the 31-day mark to make sure that the child has indeed been added.

I did not breastfeed; we use Target’s most basic powdered formula (Up and Up) and save approximately 60% from name brand. I look for free shipping online and buy it in 6-packs.

Try to rent a breast pump rather than purchase one.

We joined Costco when I was pregnant, only to find that they carried just one name brand of diapers (Huggies, which seem to work better for boys) and only in sizes 2/3 and up. I’m not going to bother to renew our membership. Because of the difficulty of carting around huge boxes of diapers while maneuvering a double stroller, I use diapers.com, and I only buy Luvs, which work great for our girls.

One thing that a lot of stay-at-home parents forget is that your time is money, too. Find out what baby-sitters in your area charge, and mentally pay yourself that rate. The $12.50 delivery charge for groceries is worth it, especially if I buy huge bulk items. Amazon’s Prime shipping deal — $70 annually for 2-day shipping — might be worthwhile rather than running all around town to find an item. And try to squeeze some money out of the budget for an IRA or Roth IRA contributions for your wife. I consider it a very small salary. : )

Not counting health insurance and college savings, I estimate that we spend about $60/week on formula, wipes, food, and diapers for twin infants. Not bad. These costs could be lower if breastfeeding had worked out for all of us or if we were using cloth diapers, but again, my time is money, and stay-at-home parents also have to find a balance between work and quality of life.

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19 Ryan

Thanks for the tips, Ellen. My wife plans to breast feed, and hopefully that will work out. We are also planning on trying cloth diapers, but realize we will still need to keep disposables around for convenience, travel, etc. We’re going to start small scale with the cloth diapers and see how it works.

I agree with the time is money factor. My wife will be staying home, but has plans to help me with my websites and a few other things. I plan on using profits to fund IRAs, college savings, etc.

We’ll be sure to check out the big box retailers and wholesale clubs (they often times allow non-members a trial shopping day to scope it out). We’ll be on the lookout for deals!

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20 Dan

A stupid thing I did when our daughter was born was to immediately switch over to family coverage on our dental plan – duh, she didn’t have any teeth yet!!
Don’t make the same mistake!

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21 Kristy @ Master Your Card

Yard sales are your friend – at least that’s what my sister tells me. So many parents, especially the first-time ones, overbuy and things go to waste. My sister bought all my nephews clothes through yard sales (ok, me and my parents paid, but she picked them out) and the clothes were ALL brand new with the tags still on them. Even if they’re gently worn, it’s a definite cost savings. And my sister even found a diaper bag she absolutely loved for well over half what it would have cost her to buy in the store. She used the same one through her second child and it’s still in great condition.

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22 Sustainable PF

AWESOME collection of resources. Our first is due in 4 weeks and this will add to my nightly reading/prep! Thanks!

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