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First baby money anxiety

January 18th, 2008 at 11:37 am

My hubby and I are expecting our first baby April 4. It's causing a bit of anxiety. We've always been somewhat conservative financially. As in, even though we both have held full-time jobs, we have always lived on one income only and saved the rest.

This has worked out well. However, our plan for when a baby came along was for me to go from full-time to freelance. After child care costs, I'd have next to no take-home pay so it wouldn't really be worth it. It'd just bump us into a higher tax bracket.

But freelancing isn't easy. It's hard to plan when you don't know what projects will come your way or how long it'll take to get the check.

Right now, I'm having a bit of anxiety. We simply don't know how much this little one is going to cost us.

Maybe I shouldn't worry, because even without my freelance income we are managing to pay bills and sock a little bit away. The savings account balance isn't growing as fast as it used to, but at least it's still growing.

And, even pre-baby, we've been rather thrifty. We've used second-hand stores to get a lot of what we need for the little one. We've only spent about $120 so far and we have the crib, stroller, play mats, blankets, toy chests, and a large laundry basket full of clothes.

We're using a Xmas gift certificate for the car seat, and we are going to use gift certificates from last year's credit card rewards for the crib mattress. We're planning to use cloth diapers, which will save $ in the long run, but require an up-front investment.

We've also put $2,000 into a 529 plan for junior, to get a jump on college savings.

Still, even though we're thrifty on this front, we have no idea what it really costs to have a baby.

We still want to meet our other goals: Starting a business, investing more in the stock market, maxxing out our retirement accounts. And we'll need a new car in two or three years.

Can we keep our expenses low even with a baby or is there something we just haven't thought of yet?

9 Responses to “First baby money anxiety”

  1. V Says:

    I think you can keep your expenses low even when having a baby, I did it as a single mom with no support from anyone (parents passed away, deadbeat dad)and had to pay for fulltime childcare, in order to work. I dont make a sustantial amout of money and am paying on student loans.

    If you are going to breast feed thats a big help, and I think people tend to go baby shopping crazy when they have a little one after all there is so much out there for babies now a days when you really dont need all the stuff. If you have family and they plan on giving you a baby shower I would wait to purchase more stuff. Also baby clothes etc dont have to be brand new , mostly the babies just spit up on it anyway. A big help to me was 2nd hand items and hand me downs from friends. Honestly most babies only get to wear things once or twice before they out grow it so you get some realitively new stuff at a bargin.

    I think the biggest expense comes in the form of the parents wanting all the bells and whistles in the begining. My daughter is now 7 and I try and teach her that she cant have it all. Of course its not that she never gets but she tends to value it more when she does, hopefully that will carry through to the teen years! lol

  2. thriftorama Says:

    All good advice. I've reluctantly agreed to have a shower, but I only registered for things we really need and would have to buy anyway, like bottles and pacifiers and little odds and ends. Most of my registry items cost $3 to $13. I guess that's weird, considering most of my preggo friends' registries had an average item cost of well over $100. Highway robbery!

  3. mom-from-missouri Says:

    My costs were low. Breast feeding helps not only with keeping down food cost, but medical bills also. Most states have county offices now that give free inunizations, take advantage of that also.

    If someone has a shower, I'd ask for things like diapers-(DONT get the prefolded ones, baby just out grows them quickly, and clothes that are in larger sizes if you already have enough little sized outfits.

  4. scfr Says:

    Let friends and familiy members know that you have no problem with hand-me-downs!

    My former community sponsored a giant indoor tag sale that was all baby and kid related. Great way to buy things 2nd hand and sell things you no longer need. Perhaps you could see if there is something similar in your area?

  5. merch Says:

    MY wife can't breast feed. So, formula is about $25 a week, disposable diapers are pretty expensive, clothes (every 3 months), furniture (crib, dresser, rocking chair).... My wife may have gone a little nuts.

    I would save like mad until the baby is born. I have insurance but my son had seizures a week after he was born. It was his calcium being low (very rare) and he's ok now. But it cost me about 18k after insurance. So save up and then once the baby is born and everything is ok then use the money.

  6. monkeymama Says:

    I have to disagree a little. We don't spend anything on bells and whistles. With breastfeeding and hand-me-downs we didn't spend much on the basics.

    BUT our health insurance went up from like $100/month in 2002 to about $725/month today.

    You'll probably want to start saving for college, and maybe orthodontics.

    Kids are just plain expensive. (I mean people have told me to drop the insurance but I think that would be insane).

    However, we did it much the same way as you and it hasn't been a huge adjustment. The good news is daycare is insanely expensive for only the first 2-3 years. Then there are much more affordable options, then on to public school. Phew. I can see the light at the end of the insanely expensive tunnel. Our kids are 2 & 4. One goes to public school in the fall. Yay!!! (So the really expensive part - lost income and/or daycare - is only in the beginning).

    With the 2.5yo this is the first time working has made any sense for my spouse. It was just too cost prohibitive before, and we wanted to have him evenings and weekends. (Which is always an option if money is tight). But now he has 2 free days a week and he is actually taking on some paid projects. Which is awesome.

    & doing it your way you are well prepared. It is not the norm. Most of my friends with 2 working parents gripe what a hit having kids has been to their budget. Going down to one income was pretty easy since we weren't use to that income, and we had a lot of savings, etc. It's certainly the way to go. I think you'll be fine.

    The biggest disservice people ever did to me was tell me "kids are as expensive as you make them." & then our health insurance has just been such a bane. I just wanted to add another perspective so you are prepared. I just don't like it when people gloss over how expensive it can be to raise a child.

  7. thriftorama Says:

    I really appreciate all of your input. I am concerned about the health insurance cost. We have our policy through my hubby's work, but we still don't know how much it will go up every month once we add the baby. We've already started saving for college, to the tune of about $200 a month.

    There are definitely costs that can't be controlled-- like those. And that's what worries me.

    I'm sure all the silly people feeding you the "children are as expensive as you make them" are talking about the controllable expenses. We've done a good job with those so far, but that certainly isn't going to be everything.

    I'm going to try to breast feed. But I'm alrady losing out on career opps because of the pregnancy, so of course I'm worried what long-term impact it's going to have on my earning power.

  8. denisentexas Says:

    I think your concerns for your career are valid. Our society as a whole still doesn't quite grasp all that motherhood entails! Congrats on the baby, though, and try to relax some. This is a time to enjoy. Trust me, there's plenty to worry about later, in the financial and other realms. Just enjoy the rest of the pregnancy and enjoy the baby when you have him/her in your arms!

  9. Anonymous Says:

    I only had one baby because that seemed more affordable -- I did not want to have to scrimp and save or have the baby go without. Once people stop asking, "When are you going to have another?," one child is very do-able. We rarely needed a babysitter because it was pretty easy to just take the baby with us. My insurance covered all the baby visits and vaccinations; I did have a prescription for flouride for the baby but that was because my water is not flouridated (your pediatrician can write you the Rx if needed but don't forget to bring it up if your water is on a well or not flouridated).

    As for braces, my ins paid for 1500 and I made monthly payments of $100 to pay the remaining balance of 2900$ with no interest charges. But that is many years into the future for you.

    Mainly, make friends with someone who has kids a little older so you can get the hand me downs, esp things like rain boots, winter coats, and seasonal wear.

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