When I first found out I was pregnant with my oldest son I heard a lot of comments like "sleep while you can" or "it's going to go by so fast" or "be prepared to have no money."
And while it is true that babyhood goes by in the blink of an eye and that sleep is a commodity more precious than coffee or chocolate, the last one I have to disagree with.
Yes. Babies can be expensive. Childcare is astronomical and hospital bills can be outrageous, but a lot of the expenses of a baby are far more manageable than people realize. The key is getting started before your baby is born.
1. Sock away as much as you can.
Now remember, when I was pregnant with my first child my husband and I were still in debt. So we didn't have a lot of money to play with.
But I just started cutting back where I could and I started putting more and more money into savings each week. It started with just $50 and by the time my maternity leave was wrapping up almost my ENTIRE paycheck went into our savings account. This was especially good since our health insurance was garbage and we ended up owing the hospital $11,000!
2. Get all your insurance information together.
Like I noted in point 1 our insurance was garbage and we ended up paying for most of the expenses out of pocket. I sat down with the insurance person at my doctor's office when I was just a few weeks along.
I am the type of person that needs ALL the facts up front and this helped me make a plan. I was able to work out a payment plan with my doctor and then get a good picture of what kind of bill I would get from the hospital after Ryals was born.
I also learned that the hospital would take 20% off my bill if I paid if all at once rather than in installments after the baby came.
Also, get everything prepared in advance to add your child to your insurance as soon as possible after he or she is born. Heaven forbid your child need extra care and you miss this step and are then stuck with a HUGE out of pocket bill because your child was not added to your insurance.
3. Borrow don't buy.
Register for the things you KNOW you are going to need like a car seat, clothes, bottles and diapers. The bigger items like a crib and pack-n-play can be borrowed. As the need for larger items arise swap with a friend or ask someone to borrow them. Do not purchase a bunch of things you think you need.
You can read this post about baby items you will need and a few you won't.
4. Keep it simple.
Understand that all your baby needs is diapers, something to eat and your love and attention. Don't go crazy buying every clothing item, toy, DVD, swing, chair, wipe warmer people tell you you need. Less is more. Trust me.
Babies are a blessing. Cherish the time and make wise financial decisions.
What about you? How are you preparing for baby?