So you just had your first baby — congrats! Now, we should tell you that according to a report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a middle-income family will spend about $12,980 per year on a single child. Hope you have that budget all set up and ready for the challenges ahead! If you don’t, here are some tips to help make your finances as kid friendly as possible.
Don’t Go On a Shopping Spree
When it comes to having a newborn, it’s tempting to buy every gadget in sight that you think will make life easier. As the father of three, let me tell you: That’s a mistake. Babies, quite simply, don’t need a lot to be happy. Literally everything is new to them. Resist going on spending spree and instead get as many hand-me-downs — not just clothes but items, too — from friends who’ve already been there and done that. Odds are you have many people just waiting to get rid of their stroller or even a baby swing. Let the dust settle after the little one arrives home and then assess what you actually need to buy new.
Start Meal Planning
A newborn demands a lot of attention, so do what you can to maximize time with him or her. One trick is to start meal planning. Each weekend, plan out your meals and cook — then freeze — what you can ahead of time. Not only does meal planning save you cash at the grocery store (no more impulse buys!) but it will also increase the time you can spend with your baby during the often fussy evenings.
Check Into Daycare Options Immediately
Finally, it’s not easy to find a great daycare at a great price, so start exploring options right away. Many of the best daycares have long waitlists, so you have your work cut out for you. As a starting point, ask parents who you admire where they send their kids. Also, as US News reports, ask your employer if they offer a dependent care savings option that would offset the cost of daycare. These accounts allow workers to deposit pre-tax money for use on approved care costs, like daycare.