Who isn’t in debt these days? Most people I talk to are in some kind of debt whether it is student loans, mortgages or credit card debt and one thing they all have in common is stress about the position they are in.
Now add a baby to the mix and this can create anxiety for a lot of people. Let’s face it, this is supposed to be a happy time and for many people it is not because they don’t know how they are going to give their baby everything they deserve. You are likely already trying to get out of debt by saving and making as many payments as possible but now things get interesting when the idea of a baby come into play. The best thing I recommend is to plan. Planning and budgeting helps reduce stress because you can see the bigger picture and you can see what you have to work with.
The first thing to do is make a list of your existing income and expenses. This will give you an idea of what extra money you have to use right now. If you don’t have any extra money, you need to decide what you can cut out of your expenses that are not necessary. When you know how much money you will have left over see what you can start to buy that you can stock up on. Diapers are a good one, because they don’t go bad. A good goal is to try and try one pack of diapers a month, minimum. In the first few sizes because babies don’t stay in the small sizes for long. I found my son was in size three for much longer than one and two.
Next you should try and calculate what your income will be on maternity leave, this will help you plan for the time you are taking off so you know what you will have to work with and if you need to try to put in extra hours now so you can bank some money for your time off.
Here is a link for an example of a budget template you could use
Needs vs. Wants
Now that you have figured what money you will have to work with you need to come up with a list of baby essentials that you will need, the wants can come later.
Really to start off you will need:
Clothes (Remember they grow out of the small sizes really fast, so you won’t need to overdo their first outfits)crib or bassinet (unless you decide to co-sleep), stroller, car seat (unless you use public transit exclusively), diapers, wipes (which can be made), bum cream, baby wash, moisturiser.
Anything else is really extra. You will find there are many unnecessary products out there. It is a good idea to research what you need to get by. Speaking to another Mom you know may help you decide what to add to your list.
Once you know what you need to get, figure out what you can acquire and what you will have to buy. Some of the ways you can acquire your baby items is to borrow or get hand me downs from a friend. You may have a friend or family member who has had a baby in the last year and is in-between children. Talk to them and see what you can borrow while they are not in use.
Ways to save on purchases
These days there are so many people trying to reuse and save it is amazing how many resources there are to buy new (but unused) or gently used baby items. There are many consignment stores you can shop from that have high standards in items they take and re-sell. I have found they are slightly higher in prices and then there is taxes on the items you buy. Some consignment stores have loyalty programs so if you think you will be shopping there often, you may end up getting a discount down the road. Other options include; Mom-to mom sales in your area, buy and sell groups on social media websites, and Kijiji. Please remember to have a safe meeting point or go with someone if you are making private purchases. Lastly there are garage sales, but you may need to carefully inspect these items to make sure they are in good condition.
For the bigger items you cannot get your hands on that you need to purchase. You may want to do a baby registry and you can ask friend and family to go in together on group gifts for your baby shower.
Tips for when the baby is here
It is important to remember that you don’t need to have everything your baby will ever need ready right when you are expecting your baby. Most people don’t have the money or storage for that!! You need to remember there is time to get everything and you don’t need to let other bills and debts suffer in lieu of your new arrival. If you are working on saving money to get out of debt you need to keep that focus so you don’t get off track.
When you get into a routine where you know what brand of diapers work or what formula you may need for your baby, keep your eye out for sales and coupons and try to combine and stock up on those items when you can get them the cheapest. Price matching can always come into play to save you time and money. Store brands of diapers, formula and medications are generally much cheaper for a very similar product.
Lastly, it is very cost effective and healthy to make your own baby food. A good time to do this in bulk is in the late summer when fruits and vegetables are in abundance. You can find all kinds of free recipes and meal plans on line. Use the free resources you have to mix things up and keep them interesting. No on wants to eat the same thing every day – regardless of your budget. A good way to prepare and store these little tiny meals is to go to the dollar store and get some ice cube trays, when you have made your purees, portion them out in the trays and freeze. Once they are set pop them out of the try and store the frozen food cubes in zip lock bags or in your food saver. As your child gets bigger you can use more cubes at one sitting. Generally one cube is one ounce of food.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to make this special time as stress free as possible. Don’t be shy about wanting to save money. Ask other Moms you know what they do to try and get the most bang for your buck. It is a great way to get new ideas and share your own. If you can stay on track with your budget it will help you get out of debt and become debt free in no time.
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