When you’re having a baby, it seems every other person wants to tell you how expensive it is. You look at nursery pictures and shopping
lists and get overwhelmed. How can you afford it all? What do you actually need? All the onesies and baby toys are adorable, but daycare and medical costs can make anyone a little nervous.
But you can take a deep breath. Because we’re going to walk through some key things to know to save money as a new mom!
Best Tips for Saving Money as a New Mama
This is such an incredible time (incredible, overwhelming, exhausting) and making the choice to set aside some time and energy to make a financial plan will relieve so much stress going forward. Which means more time and energy to love on your little one and adjust to motherhood.
Know What Matters to You & Your Priorities
Want limited clutter? No plastic? Natural or organic? Gender neutral toys and clothing? When you have a baby a lot of stuff comes into your life. It helps to know what your boundaries are early on, communicate them to your people, and use that knowledge for your own budget.
Try These Mom-Tested Tips to Save Money
Experienced moms have been there, done that. And they have a few tricks up their sleeves to help new moms save money:
- Avoid impulse buying: Impulse buying can blow your budget. One way to control impulse shopping is never to shop hungry. Shopping hungry can even trick you into spending more online.
- Plan your meals: Meal prepping lets you eat what you love, even when you are too tired to cook. Get creative with kitchen essentials by using SuperCook to make recipes based on the ingredients you have.
- Buy in bulk: Bulk shopping at membership warehouses can save you hundreds of dollars over the year. Also, shop generic products, and buy groceries online to save time and avoid buying things you don’t need.
- Take advantage of HSAs and FSAs: Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and dependent-care FSAs (Flexible Spending Accounts) can lower your taxable income and save you a significant amount of cash throughout the year.
But remember: It’s okay to ask for (and pay for) help. Trying to do it all is unrealistic. Ask family to pitch in around the house, order groceries online, pay for delivery to your door, or hire a house cleaner or laundry service.
Remember What Your Baby Really Needs
Marketers know new mamas want the best for their children—they’re especially good at pressuring you into thinking you need things you don’t.
The best advice is to keep it simple: What does your baby really need?
- A way to feed the baby
- A safe place for baby to sleep
- Clothes to keep them warm (doesn’t have to be fancy or more than 4-5
- A safe place to put them down (so you can do things like brush your
teeth or eat a snack)
- Some kind of diapers to keep them clean and dry
- A safe way to transport your baby
Everything else baby lists say you need may be helpful or add convenience, but they aren’t strictly necessary.
So, rather than buying “wants” ahead of time, wait until it makes a difference for your child. After all, your baby may not even like the swing or swaddle you buy!
Build Savings to Prepare for the Unexpected
Experienced moms will tell you: There’s no such thing as saving too much before having the baby. Sit down to review your budget and goals to find new ways to cut back expenses and increase your savings rate.
It also helps to estimate how much the baby’s needs will cost. But when it comes to childcare, don’t bargain shop—you want a network of trusted people and quality centers to rely on to care for your baby.
If you have a short-term disability policy, you’ll have some financial support to take time off as a new mama. Make sure to ask how much you can expect from the policy, and be prepared to save as much income as possible to fill the financial gap.
Prepare to Return to Work (or Not!)
Some employers offer maternity leave. If yours doesn’t, you may qualify for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). With that, you don’t need to worry about losing your job when taking time off after the baby comes.
Besides budgeting for your maternity leave, make a financial plan for returning to work. For example, your budget may include childcare expenses, new clothes for you (you may not fit into your old sizes right away), and other necessities.
Of course, staying home is an option, too. Many moms feel drawn to stay home and not return to work. Others stay home because childcare is cost-prohibitive.
If being a stay-at-home mama is your dream, explore whether it is possible. You might start a side hustle if you need some extra cash to make ends meet.
If you must return to work, talk to your boss about possible flexibility in your schedule. Will they allow you to return to work part-time? Or maybe you can work from the office three days and from home two days each week?
Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. And don’t hesitate to look for another job if your employer won’t support you as a mom. Plenty of employers will value your skills and potential while allowing you to be present for your family.
Saving Money is Important, But It Isn’t Everything
Your first two weeks with your new baby are a crash course on parenting. You’ll learn about your baby, their preferences, and the best way to care for them.
While your focus will be on your new bundle of joy, don’t ignore your financial picture. Find new ways to save money, do what works for you when it comes to returning to work, and don’t give in to the pressure to buy, buy, buy.
Above all, focus on your values and what your child really needs—your love, care, and comfort. Because at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.
How do you plan to save money in this season?
Meet the Experts
Scarlett Cochran is an attorney, personal finance expert, and co-founder of One Big Happy Life, teaching millions of people how to build wealth while creating a life they love along the way.
Bethany Bayless is a public speaker and professional emcee known for her unique comedic style and high-energy presentations. Most recently, Bethany gave birth to her son Caden in the midst of a global pandemic.
Kristin Stones is a wife, mother of two, and the owner of Cents + Purpose, a digital community dedicated to sharing practical personal finance content in an effort to help women win with money and live a more purposeful life. Her mission is to equip women to take back control of their finances and achieve financial wellness using her simple approach to managing money.