The expression goes, “baby needs a new pair of shoes.” And pacifiers. And sippy cups. And diapers. And mom-tot classes. And strollers. (Yes, plural.) Oh, and by the way, a college savings fund.
That new bundle of joy of yours is about to cost you a bundle of cash. But how much, exactly? That was a question I sought out the answer to when I first became pregnant. I found some online information helpful, but there’s nothing like hearing from a source who’s “been there, done that.” So I’d like to share where the dollars really go, based on my nine years of experience, and breaking it down into four general categories. (In certain cases, the costs vary so greatly that I will not provide actual numbers. Wherever possible, I will share what the expected expense actually is.)
1) Initial upfront costs
Labor and delivery: It is wise to get a good understanding from your insurance company of what your out-of-pocket expenses will be as it relates to labor and delivery. Be sure to have a grasp on what fees will be incurred from both the hospital and the doctor or midwife, and how many days in the hospital your insurance will cover.
Baby gear: You will need to purchase the “outstanding” baby supplies that you did not receive from your baby shower.
Transportation-related expenses: Some couples choose to buy a different vehicle to accommodate baby better. And of course you’ll need to make sure you’re equipped with the right carseat, and in some cases carseats if both parents are going to be transporting baby.
Hosting company: This goes in the category of “nobody tells you this stuff.” You’ll likely have family or friends coming to stay to help. My guess is these will be real human beings who eat real food and use real toilet paper. You get my drift. Be prepared to spend a little extra for all of those visitors the first several months.
2 Ongoing monthly costs
Here’s what our household budgets for, in real numbers –
Diapers: $33 gets us a box of Pampers with our Amazon subscription. In earlier months, when you go through more diapers, the cost is closer to $55. If you buy name brand at the store these costs can potentially double.
Wipes: $15 for Huggies wipes with our Amazon subscription.
Baby gear: $45 for items like pacifiers, baby toys, carseat adapters or whatever the needs of the month are.
Babysitting: $100/month gets us about two hours of babysitting every Wednesday afternoon at a rate of $12/hour.
Date night babysitting: Then, because we are Type A, we have a separate category for hiring a “date night” sitter once/month…. so we can remain the lovebirds that we are and go out to dinner and try to discuss things other than how stinkin’ adorable our baby’s double chin is. We spend $48/month on this.
Baby clothes: $40/month covers our needs, but I rely heavily on shopping secondhand. Keep in mind you will need a new wardrobe twice/year as the seasons change and baby grows…and every wardrobe needs another round of pajamas, pants, tops, and shoes, not to mention specialty items like winter coats and swimsuits.
Entertainment: $40/month covers things like admission to a pumpkin farm, going to a few playlands and having lunch at Chic Fil A.
Formula: $40/month got us two large canisters of Costco brand formula. This is on the low end and can easily jump to well over $100 for name brand. Breastfeeding exlusively, of course, is free. Though you’ll need to factor in items like nursing pads, nursing bras, and breastmilk storage bags.
Medical copays: $30-60/month covers office visits to the doc.
Medical “other”: We keep $30/month for things like Ibuprofin, Aquafor, diaper rash cream, or whatever the medical need of the month is. Keep in mind this may increase considerably if your baby has a special condition, such as requiring a special skin cream…or needing to eat a certain formula (can be upwards of $26 for small can)…or needing glasses early on.
Solids: If buying from the store, plan to spend approximately $65/month.
Utilities and groceries: This also goes in the category of “nobody tells you this stuff.” Especially if you are leaving the workplace to stay home full time, your grocery budget will suddenly take a hit, along with your electric bill because you will be in the home more.
Daycare or childcare: Costs vary so much on this, I encourage you to do your own research on the topic.
Think college and general savings plans. This is so personal. I will just tell you that I know of families who save nothing and also families who save “what they are supposed to” and families who simply say “whatever $100 per child per month” will get us by the time they’re 18. I personally think there must be a blend of expertise and reason, which is why I love this article and the chart it provides you near the end: The College Investor.
In addition, some couples choose to increase their general savings once their brood has expanded, in case of emergency or job loss.
Christmas: We spend approximately $100/child at Christmas.
Classes: One class/month runs anywhere from $75-$150.
Vacation: Take in any associated costs of traveling with baby, or the cost of childcare if you and your partner plan a getaway sans-baby. ($100/day is conservative but doable.)
Photography: We get in on a 30 minute session for $150, which is on the low end.
Swimming lessons: Plan to spend between $60 and $90/month when you enroll your child.
Birthday parties: At home birthday parties will run you around $100 and a playland party will run you around $250. Of course these costs can vary greatly.
House cleaner: If you choose to keep your sanity and hire a cleaner (hint, hint, wink, wink) factor in the going rate for a house your size in your neighborhood.
In conclusion, once again, say it with me – “costs vary.” This is just meant to give you an idea of things to think about during those first couple of years. This list is of course, not comprehensive, because remember Junior will soon need haircuts, dentist appointments and preschool. I hope the article at least provides a jumpstart for you. It does take effort to figure out the new budget, but there’s no better reason to crunch the numbers.