According to data from the Census Bureau, from 2006 to 2008, 82% of women employed during their first pregnancy worked up until one month or less before they gave birth. Between 2005 and 2007, 59% were back at work three months after. Even if you have health insurance, out-of-pocket expenses for having a child can cost as much as $3,000. Add in the cost of prenatal and postnatal doctor visits, maternity clothes, baby gear and diapers, and the bill grows even larger. When you couple a loss of income along with these expenses, it becomes apparent that saving money as early as possible is vital. Fortunately, there are several simple ways to save money and ease your financial burden.
SEE: Buying Private Health Insurance
Save on Groceries
Now that you're eating for two, grocery expenses can quickly go through the roof. Buy local produce whenever possible at a farmers' markets or through a local CSA. Local produce can be cheaper, especially if you buy in bulk. Plus, these fruits and veggies are often more nutritious than the store-bought variety because they're picked near peak ripeness and don't have to travel long distances.
Also, try generics over brand name items. Brands like Kirkland Signature often meet or exceed the quality of name brands, but cost less. Next, start clipping coupons. Pick up an extra copy or two of the Sunday paper and put together a simple filing system so you can use your coupons before they expire. Do your shopping on the days your grocer doubles manufacturer's coupons, and sign up for loyalty rewards programs to receive additional coupons.
SEE: Coupon Shopping: Clip Your Way To Savings
Reduce Personal Spending
If you're lucky, you may get all the baby gear and clothes you need for your newborn at your baby shower. Even if you do, it won't be long before you have to buy new gear and clothes as your child will ultimately grow out of them.
In order to afford these items, get in the habit of reducing your personal spending. In other words, don't buy items you want but don't need. For example, do you really need haute fashion maternity clothes? If you determine that you do, buy them second-hand. Also, cut out convenience purchases like magazines, snacks, sodas and lottery tickets. Budget a small amount per month for these expenses if you find they're just too much to sacrifice. Whenever you go to make a purchase, ask yourself if you should instead keep the money for your baby's expenses. This little trick will steer you away from plenty of unneeded purchases.
Save on Utility Bills
Get ready for your utility bills to increase when you have a baby. Expect to run more loads of laundry and dishes. When you have a newborn, everything gets dirty. However, that doesn't mean you can't reduce these expenses where possible. For example, commit to only running full loads of laundry and dishes to save on water and energy. Get in the habit of turning off lights around the house before your due date. This way it will come naturally and you won't have to think about it when you're busy parenting an infant. Also, consider adjusting your thermostat by three degrees to save up to 20% on your home energy bills.
SEE: Ways To Slash Your Home Energy Bill
Save on Monthly Services
Check your cell phone plan and downgrade if possible. If you plan to use a lot of data sending baby pics, don't limit your data plan. The same goes for texting and minutes. Review your TV package and cut there as well. You could even replace it entirely with a paid movie service, such as Hulu, Netflix, or Amazon Prime. Which service you choose depends on your viewing habits, but you can stream directly to your television for a fraction of what most cable or satellite TV packages cost. You can also save on your Internet service. Reducing your connection speed can save you approximately $10 a month. That's an extra $120 you'll have at the end of the year to devote to your newborn.
The Bottom Line
Instead of haphazardly tracking your savings, put yourself on a budget and contribute what you save to a separate "baby fund." Keep in mind that you may want to prepare for some debt by signing up for a credit card with an attractive 0% APR introductory rate. The Citi Platinum Select card currently offers a 0% APR for the first 18 months. Be smart and use it only for baby-related expenses. Then, as your baby outgrows gear and clothes, sell these items (and your maternity clothes) on eBay to help pay off your debt. With some planning and a little sacrifice, you can pay off all your maternity expenses without incurring any interest.
SEE: 6 Months To A Better Budget