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Babies can be so expensive! With limited maternity leave or being a single income family, saving money can be even more important.
When I found out I was pregnant, I initially had planned on continuing to work. However, after finding out that my company was only going to allow 6 weeks of maternity leave along with the knowledge that we were going to get orders to PCS when the baby was 5 months old, I decided it may be better for me to stay home at first.
With this in mind I tried everything I could to save money for the new baby before he was born and through his first year and have outlined my biggest money saving tips below to allow me to cut out my income and stay home with him.
Make a list of everything you want for baby and then cut out the things that are non-essential or that you don’t have to have. I know this is hard because baby things are so cute and you can be tempted to buy all of those nifty gadgets but there are many that are not necessary. I cut out many things from my list and I am very glad I did because there are so many things that you will not even use.
There are also several things I bought that I wish I hadn’t. Some things I can’t imagine living without (see my post about my favorite things here). And others like my heart-rate monitor or that fancy large combo swing I wanted, we hardly ever used. Write down all those things you want and then go through it several times to see what is really needed. Look online at what other people really liked and ask advice from other Moms on what they wish they had’nt bought.
2.) Research your insurance
Before you go buy a breastpump, check to see what your insurance covers. Many insurance companies now cover the cost of your breastpump and supplies. For other military wives out there, Tricare covers your breastpump, accessories like extra flanges and tubing, and even all of your breast milk storage bags. This saves you quite a bit of money!
3.) Buy second hand
Try to buy everything you can used. I bought many items for my baby used and very inexpensively off buy/sell/trade sites on FaceBook or at garage and consignment sales. I’m so glad I did this too because there were several things that I didn’t end up using for various reasons.
Many baby items you can find in almost new condition because they did not get a lot of use out of them. Consignment sales are great because the items are already very clean and in great condition although they may be a bit pricier than garage sale prices. The diaper bag, bassinet, swings, and strollers I bought were in excellent condition and did not even require heavy cleaning.
The only thing I am really glad I bought new are his car seats: I bought the infant car seat with click in base (super convenient so that you can carry baby into the store etc. without waking him) and the Graco 4ever Car seat that can stick with him for seven years. I love the Graco 4ever All-in-One Convertible Car Seat because you never have to purchase another car seat if you do not get in an accident.
Buying on buy/sell/trade sites also allows you to buy cheap and then sell the items you no longer need once baby grows out of them. Many items I bought for a great deal and was able to sell for the same price or slightly more after I was done using them.
4.) Find used clothes
Buy all of the baby clothes used off of buy/sell/trade sites or find friends or family members who had babies in the same season. We saved a ton of money here because both of my nephews were born in the winter season (as is my son) so we had a good bit of clothing for the first year given to us from them.
Babies grow so quickly that you will be shocked how little use you get out of some outfits. I actually only paid for two or three outfits myself and he never even was able to wear any of them because they were fleece. Even though it was chilly (we lived in Kansas at the time) I hardly ever left the house with him and if I did he was in his car seat in a heated car, or for the brief time we were outside, covered in a blanket and a car seat cover. Do yourself a favor and instead invest in one piece footie sleepers with a zipper all the way up for convenience (these were our favorite!).
5.) Breastfeed if possible
Although this is not a possibility for everyone, you can save a substantial amount of money by breastfeeding. Formula is so expensive that can add $35 a week to your grocery bill depending on which formula you choose. We did have to supplement with formula, but saved quite a bit on formula because I pumped and gave my son as much breast milk as possible.
6.) Use formula samples and coupons
Formula companies are quick to send samples in the mail and coupons throughout the first year to get you to purchase their formula over a competitor. I gave away the samples from the brand I did not use for free to other military spouses and used the other that sent coupons as well. I got coupons in the mail for $3 or $5 off any Enfamil formula product every month.
While it would not have been enough to get a discount every time I bought formula if I were not also breastfeeding, in my case I was able to save $5 on a value size box of formula once a month for the first 5 months and still have coupons left to take with me when we move overseas.
7.) Make your own baby food
Baby food can be so expensive. While we will still buy some baby food when we are traveling, I will make the majority of our baby food by hand myself.
Baby food is so easy to make. All you have to do it steam veggies like carrots and use a food processor or blender to purée. For softer foods like avocado or banana you do not even have to steam, just purée with a small amount of breast milk to get the consistency needed. You can then freeze them in ice-cube trays and put in baggies in the freezer to save time.
You can also buy reusable pouches to make your own food pouches to take with you on errands. Even if you do not make your own food all the time, these reusable pouches can allow you to save money by buying bulk sugar free applesauce or organic yogurt instead of spending a ton on separate disposable pouches in the store.
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