How to Budget for Baby: 5 Mistakes You Need to Avoid
Creating a baby registry or a “baby budget” for the first time is confusing, exciting, and a tad overwhelming.
I made more mistakes on mine than I can count. Some mistakes were innocent new-mom blunders. Others were downright embarrassing fiascos. And not surprisingly, I’m still not in-the-know on everything yet! Thanks to that continued frustration (ha, ha!), I can now share five baby budgeting details with you that I really wish I’d heard about and actually embraced prior to having my baby.
Whatever you do, don’t make the same mistakes I did when learning how to budget for baby!
These mistakes cost us hundreds (possibly thousands) in that first year alone. If I’m honest, we’re still having to fix a few of those mistakes 18 months later. Learn from my pain, new mommas. Here goes!
Forgetting to look up products for reviews, recalls, and newer models of the same product.
I had the reviews side down. Amazon is basically my personal BFF, trucking tons of gifts to my doorstep without even charging me shipping, so I looked up basically everything prior to registering for it or buying it that first year. (I got most of my baby stuff from my Amazon Baby Registry, which was one of the best things I did!) That still wasn’t enough, though.
These mistakes cost us hundreds (possibly thousands) in that first year alone.
For instance, I bought what I thought was the rock star of all diaper pails. We’re talking bells and whistles, convenient, and sporting 5-star ratings from thousands of users. Turns out, the manufacturer actually discontinued it either the same month we bought it or shortly thereafter, though. That meant you couldn’t find pail refills later. That is, unless you special-ordered them at triple the original price, direct from an off-brand dealer in China. We were forced to pay the premium or purchase yet another pail less than six months later. We chose the latter. What a waste!
Not considering must-have items that will work for baby for a long time.
Long story short, don’t register for or buy a million different products when you can get one that’ll do it all.
The priciest blunder I made in this category came via my baby’s car seat. I registered for an infant car seat and a separate “toddler” seat with booster. I discovered later that the toddler seat only lets you front-face, though. So, rather than buying a solid convertible seat that lasts from 5 pounds to 65 or more and would let you rear-face until age two, I ended up choosing between buying another car seat or front-facing Scarlett too soon.
We chose the former, of course. In June of 2017, I ordered a safer rear-facing convertible option that’ll follow my baby into school years. It cost another $300, of course. And naturally, the return period for the toddler seat I purchased earlier expired almost a year ago. Ugh. Hindsight really is 20/20!
Only opting for name-brand items for baby – especially formula and diapers.
When we first announced our pregnancy and were getting tips from friends, one man said in a very concise way that we only needed two things.
“Diapers and formula,” he said with a curt nod.
That was the extent of the baby talk that he wanted to participate in, so that was that. I thought he was being silly, but he was so right. Those two costs will add up so fast and haunt you longer than any other cost. So register for them! But when it’s all just coming out of your wallet later, don’t cling to name-brand-is-best mode.
I had a really hard time giving up my dream of breastfeeding exclusively. So I was obsessed with buying brand-name formula at first to help alleviate my guilt because I was sure it was “better” than store brands. I made that mistake until Scarlett was around six months old, a few months after I’d quit my job. We were starting to feel the slight twinge of a tighter budget, and the formula cost was getting ridiculous.
So we switched to the Member’s Mark (Sam’s Club) version of the same formula. I ended up with a product that had the exact same nutritional components and ingredients, saw an even better tolerance from my baby, and paid less than half the price of the name brand (even with coupons). Helllooooo. And yes, breast is amazing (and cheapest!), but if that’s not an option for you, fed really is best. Don’t be afraid to opt for a store-brand formula. It’s not cheaper because it’s inferior; it’s cheaper because the cost of hardcore advertising and fancy packaging isn’t built in.
And as for diapers…well, a good diaper makes a world of difference. But does your baby really need that biodegradable, essential-oils-infused diaper? Probably not. And for lack of an even better way to describe it – you shouldn’t be okay with spending 35 cents every time baby poops or pees in a day. I pay less than 15 cents per diaper when at all possible. (And it is possible, especially if you’re not brand-loyal!)
Not considering completion discounts when choosing a baby registry – and then not using them!
Shop around for baby registries. They’re not all created equal! Look for ones from stores that have reasonable prices, give you a great completion discount to use within a sensible timeframe after baby’s due date, and offer a low-hassle returns policy. You could save lots this way!
Update: I created another Amazon Baby Registry for our second little lady coming November 2018, and I really put the program to the test this time! It’s the only place I registered since I knew we likely weren’t getting a baby sprinkle or even a diaper drive with this one, so I created this registry specifically for my own savings and perks. I just finished getting in on a number of the exclusive registry perks with Amazon Prime (like a free parenting ebook) along with the welcome box, completion discount, and Baby Bucks perks that come with the registry. When coupled with the hundreds of dollars we’ve saved on nearly-unbeatable pricing via Amazon, it’s been amazing. I’ve saved an additional $300 via the completion discount and even got another $100 in free diapers via the Baby Bucks perk. The welcome box came with what I’m estimating is easily worth over $75, too. That’s nearly $500 in extras, y’all! Seriously…don’t skip the Amazon Baby Registry.
Avoiding gently-used consignment items.
For Scarlett’s newborn stage, I wanted tons of name-brand, brand-new clothing. Naturally, you’ll want this too – until you realize that baby will only wear anything once before outgrowing it and will only keep it on for an hour at most between spitting up and blow-outs. (Consignment clothes suddenly have a million different appeals once you embrace these facts.)
Consignment doesn’t end at clothing, mind you. I bought two $50 floor toys in like-new condition for $20 total. I snagged a new-in-box Bumbo set worth $65 for $20. Heck, I even purchased my amazing white changing table for $25 when it retailed for at least $200! That’s a savings of $300 just with a few of the deals I’ve gotten by seeking out second-hand items to purchase. (And guess what? You can’t tell I didn’t pay full-price.) You just need a few tips to find consignment items like this.
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And finally, when wondering how to budget for baby, it’s always best to try and curb your emotions…at least at first!
It’s so easy for you and the hubs to get swept up in the excitement of adding to your flock. Keep a level head and think through your purchases first, though. I suggest even waiting before clicking to buy something that seems like an amazing deal! It might be – or it might be a mistake. Do your research, and then consider the alternatives. You’ll likely thank yourself later!
If you loved these common baby budget mistakes, you’ll adore my upcoming online course, titled Money by Mom: Your Personal Finance Solution!
I’ve designed this course especially for fellow moms overwhelmed by their personal finances. It features a straight-forward, simple, no-stress plan that will help you budget your way to fast personal-finance success!
Best of all, I’m including a special list of 10 Things You Don’t Need to Buy for Baby within the course’s exclusive digital swag bag! You’ll be able to access this in the variety of BONUS materials you’ll get with the course. I’ll have more information about it all soon. Sign up for my mailing list below to stay in the loop! You won’t want to miss out on this simple way to transform your family’s finances.
I hope this list helps y’all make a few less mistakes than I made!
Happy baby budgeting,
Other posts you may fancy…
Being a new mom is confusing. Arm yourself with five simple truths that’ll help you create a baby registry with items you really need!
It’s truly the only online baby registry you’ll need. See why I adored my Amazon Baby Registry – AND how you can get the most out of yours, too!
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