How to have a baby on a tight budget

One of the first things that comes into new parent’s minds is, oh crap, how am I supposed to afford this baby? Or at least that was my thought with our first pregnancy.

Having a new baby is life changing in many ways, but one thing it changes radically is your budget. No more are the day’s of living just the two of you or just yourself!

When we got pregnant with my daughter she was a little bit of a surprise. I had just started my first real full time job after college three month’s prior and my husband was still at a very low paying job that he really enjoyed.

Financially we were doing fine without a baby, but when that little test said pregnant my mind was moving a million miles a minute. How much do diapers cost? Can we afford a nanny? Who the crap is going to watch my kid?

Eventually through trial and error we worked this out. We even ended up working towards being debt free the year after we had our daughter and paid off $32000 worth of debt.

So these are my best tips for how to raise your baby on a budget and thrive as a family!

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Massive post all about raising a baby on a budget! This guide to saving money when you are pregnant and have a baby will help guide you through the crazy financial changes that having a baby entails. Figure out your budget for baby while you are pregnant and save money for those big expenses.

Know what you are spending by making a smart budget

When we first started planning for our daughter we had no idea what we were spending each month. We didn’t live by a set budget, at all. This is one thing that has to change if you are going to have a baby.

By knowing what you spend where each month you can plan a course of action. Knowledge is power people!

You have to make sure that you have enough for their needs first, and then throw in yours.

I have a post here that explains how to set up a budget that is perfect for your family. But you’ll be at a disadvantage here because as a new parent it’s not possible to know exactly what you’ll need to spend on baby each month.

Things like diapers, wipes, and possibly formula will always be a cost. Then there are big one time costs like your crib or an unexpected doctor’s appointment.

Kids will through your budget for a loop every time, so work as hard as you can to be prepared.

raising a baby on a budget and saving money

A few tips for getting financially ready for baby:

  • Try to have an emergency fund of at least $1000 saved. This may be impossible, but if you can manage to get this together it will help you immensely in a pinch.
  • Budget for the unexpected; try to set aside $100-$200 per month for costs that you might not anticipate.
  • As soon as you have an estimated budget for when baby arrives try to start living by it now. Use the extra money to buy bigger things you may need, pay off debt, or to save up for maternity leave.
  • Make sure to do the math and see if it’s still financially reasonable for you both to work vs paying for childcare. Sometimes it makes more sense to stay at home and pick up a side hustle (this is exactly what I’m doing.)

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Estimate the cost of diapers and other needs

In order to help you out a little bit in the estimation of cost, I have come up with this rough guide. I would highly recommend you make your own version of this based on the products you want to use with your baby.

Here are your estimated expenses for one month for basic needs for a newborn: 

10 diapers per day/300 diapers= $60 

20 wipes per day/ 600 wipes= $18 

1 tube of rash ointment= $7 

Options for feeding: 

Formula (prices can really vary here) 20 ounces per day/ 600 ounces= $95 

Disposable Breast pads 2 sets per day/ 60 sets= $13 

I absolutely encourage you to apply this method to anything you’ll need regularly for baby to aid your budget preparation.

Pro tip: start stocking up on diapers and wipes now. Buy them on sale and slowly start stockpiling so you don’t have to pay for them later when you have many other expenses.

If you want to go a little more in depth on preparing for your little one to get here, I have an eBook that is available for free! Check it out below.

FREE eBOOK: A Frugal Mom's Guide to Getting Ready for Baby 

This eBook covers the most essential aspects of getting ready for your new bundle of joy. From finances to decor to essential classes this eBook is packed full of the info you need to know. 
GRAB IT NOW
Save money raising baby by meal planning!

Spend less on food

One of the biggest life style changes that anyone can make while preparing for baby is spending less on food, and there are so many great ways that you can do this.

We have saved a ton of money on our food costs by cutting down on eating out and meal planning. These two things cut our food spending by 60%.

Meal Planning

This is the first step in making a radical change in how you spend your money on food. Plan all your meals out for the week, and only buy the food you need.

There is also strategy that you can use when meal planning as well that helps you get the most bang for your buck.

I have an in-depth post on meal planning here that you can check out to really get into the nitty gritty of it. Plus it has a free printable 😉

Meal planning is the key to eating out less. Once you know what you are eating each night you are prepared and have a lot less of a need to run out for dinner.

Stopping your eating out habit wont come over night, it is a hard transition! My best advice for how to implement this is start slow then eventually get to the point where you are good eating at home most of the time.

It is really hard to make this life change suddenly and if you go too hard too fast I guarantee you will burn out and fail. Give yourself a little grace!

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Save money with your new baby by learning how to raise a baby on a budget

Try to utilize coupons

When J and I were in college and freshly married we went through some really hard financial times. One of those was when he lost his job.

I was working two part time jobs and going to school full time, but it wasn’t enough. In the meantime I started couponing.

I am going to be really upfront with you here. Couponing is time consuming, and super strategic.

Without having kids I did really well with it, but now I have not tried to coupon again because I know I would not do well.

This absolutely does not mean you can’t do it. When I did coupon I was able to get things we needed for super cheap or free even and it was a God send.

I taught myself how to coupon through the site Krazy Coupon Mom and I would highly encourage you to check them out if you are interested.

Even if you don’t coupon hardcore, you would be remiss to not check for coupons on your store’s app! It literally takes seconds, just search for the things on your list and save the coupon.

Where I always use coupons is when I shop online because it is just so easy! I use Honey and eBates religiously to catch good deals and make a little bit of money back.

buying used baby clothes to help raise baby on a budget

Don’t be afraid to buy used baby items

We got really lucky with my son and had two really good friends let us borrow all of their little boy clothes. This small act of kindness helped us immensely!

Finding used items to buy for baby will help save you a ton of money. Baby items get used so fast and so little usually buying them used gets you a mint condition products at half the price.

I will warn you things with an electronic component to work, like swings, are more risky to buy used. These will break eventually and you never really know when.

Things I’ve bought used in the past:

  • Crib
  • Clothing
  • Swing (only lasted through 1 kiddo)
  • Sheets/Blankets
  • Bouncer
  • Walker
  • Toys

Literally you can buy almost anything used. Now where do you find these things? My favorite is Facebook Marketplace, local consignment shops, and yard sales.

Are you ready?

A new baby is a complete lifestyle change but you’ve got a decent amount of time to get yourself and your finances ready. Take calculated steps now to get yourself ready!

Need more new parent info? Check out our Best Ever Parent Resources page to see all our posts on living parent life on a budget.

A Frugal Mom’s Guide to Prepping for Baby (Free eBook!)

I go over the most important aspects of getting ready for baby along with some great tidbits on what you need for baby along with a printable checklist with all the new baby must-haves.

Other things included are getting your finances in order for baby (even if you don’t have a lot of money), getting your home ready, some great classes that helped me a ton, and more!

Sign up to get your free eBook below. 

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