The new moms guide: Preparing for a baby on a budget

Having a baby is one of the most fantastic life-changing events you can go through. However, preparing for a baby on a budget can be one of the most stressful times of your life.

There are so many baby items to purchase and it can be hard to determine what you need or have the willpower to hold back from buying all the cute baby outfits! Let me tell you, there are so many cute baby outfits!

That’s why I today I’m writing about preparing for a new baby on a budget to help you get organized and prepare for the financial aspect of having a baby. Hopefully, you can use this guide to reduce your stress and spend more time dreaming of life with baby.

Saving money when having a baby on a budget is a must! Frugal parenting is an art when preparing for and raising a newborn. This article provides you with must-have pre-baby parenting tips, your checklist and shopping list, and ideas to get your nursery done on a budget.
The New Mom’s Guide Preparing for baby on a budget

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How to save money for a baby on the way, the new moms guide

Are you financially prepared for a baby?

What does being financially prepared for a baby look like? While it may never seem that you’re financially ready to have a child, a few considerations include:

  • Having money for the pre-baby doctor’s appointments
  • Having money for the babies delivery
  • Being somewhat prepared for any additional costs that aren’t normal, such as, labor complications
  • Having enough money for all the baby items before baby arrives
  • Money for doctor visits after the baby arrives
  • The normal costs of adding an addition to your family such as food, clothing, college, etc.

At the very least, you should have the money to cover the must-have baby items. Not everyone has the money to pay for all your baby expenses in cash and that’s ok. Hospitals are usually pretty good about working with you and can help you come up with a payment plan.

The best thing you can do to financially prepare for a baby is to start saving as much money as possible. You’ll want to get your budget in order, reduce your expenses, earn more money if possible, and save money.

You should do your best to get an idea of how much the doctor’s visits, delivery, and needed baby items will cost. Once you have a rough idea, you should set a savings goal and work towards achieving as much as possible.

If you have money left after the baby is born, great! If you don’t have money left over then at least you set aside as much as possible.


Always get the call reference number when dealing with insurance or hospital claims

Hopefully, you have good insurance to help cover the medical expenses. If you communicate with insurance or the hospital billing department over the phone, always ask for the call reference number and write it down!

For legal reasons, your calls are usually recorded and the call reference number is the number associated with that recording so they can pull it for future reference.

I know a couple who had a sticky situation with the insurance company. The insurance company agreed to pay for some expenses on one call and later denied to pay. Fortunately, this couple had the call reference number and told the insurance company that they agreed to pay per the call reference number. Reluctantly, the insurance company listened to the recording and was forced to pay because the previous customer service representative had already agreed.

Had this couple not had the call reference number, they would have had no proof. They would have had more frustration as they attempted to work with someone else over the phone. Don’t let this happen to you, get the call reference number!

How much does a baby cost per month?

There is no doubt that babies cost money and they will continue to be an added expense as they get older. There are many different factors for how much that baby will cost you, but here are a few important factors that you’ll need to consider when going over your families budget:

  • Are you going to start a college fund? Not required, but nice to do if you can afford it. One of the most popular options is to start a 529 savings plan early in your child’s life. Please see our guide on how to save money for your child’s college education.
  • The baby will continue to grow and need more clothes. Buying brand new clothes can be expensive. Second-hand stores are a much cheaper alternative, but the best thing you can do is find someone who has had a child older than yours that can pass you hand-me-downs.
  • Your child will increase your grocery budget. If you start with breastfeeding, your expenses will be next to nothing for food, but eventually, the baby will need to switch to solid foods.
  • Cloth vs. disposable diapers and wipes. Going with cloth diapers and wipes is way cheaper than the recurring cost of disposable. If you’re worried about the cost of a baby it may be worth going all cloth. I recommend going cloth diapers regardless of your income because it saves money and is better for the environment. Please see our guide on choosing cloth diapers and our guide on choosing baby wipes.

For your babies first year, your baby will cost you about $50 per week in diapers formula, and baby food according to That $200 per month can easily be avoided by making the decision to breastfeed and use cloth diapers.

How much money should you have saved before you have a baby?

The same article estimates that your delivery on average costs about $9,700 if normal and $12,500 for a cesarean section. In addition, first-time parents tend to go a bit crazy and spend nearly $6,000 on baby items when they could do it for around $2,000.

From these numbers, you should try and have anywhere from $12,000 to $18,000 saved up before having your baby, without doing any additional research for your situation.

Your hospital should be able to give you an estimate on how much your birthing process will cost you with what you currently have for insurance. You should also find the items that you want for your baby, determine how much they cost, and assume that no one buys you anything.

The important thing to remember when trying to save money is that you don’t need the latest and greatest, you can find items from friends or craigslist for cheaper, and try to not get caught up in all the cute baby items!


In network vs out of network expenses: watch out and don’t overpay

Watch out for in network vs out of network expenses. My wife and I made the mistake of going to an out of network ultrasound which cost us an extra $500!

My wife and I made the mistake of going to an out of network ultrasound which cost us an extra $500!

We didn’t know that hospital department was out of network because that’s where the hospital told us to go and they obviously had our insurance information. We thought they would tell us if they sent us out of network!

Big mistake.

The sad part? If we would have walked down a flight of stairs we would have been considered in-network and the ultrasound would have been covered.

The even sadder part? The hospital billing staff had seen this happen time and time again! You would expect the hospital to have some sort of responsibility to schedule you at in-network locations, but they don’t.

I hope you don’t have this happen to you. Don’t be afraid to ask if you’re being sent to in or out of network.

The baby items you’ll need for the parent on a budget

Here are the baby items you’ll need to get for your baby:

  1. Cloth diapers
  2. Diaper inserts for cloth diapers
  3. Cloth wipes
  4. Diaper pale
  5. Wet bag
  6. Diaper bag
  7. Rash cream
  8. Crib
  9. Mattress for the crib
  10. Crib sheets
  11. Dresser
  12. Changing pad
  13. Changing pad cover
  14. Onesies
  15. Baby pajamas
  16. Car seat travel system
  17. Light stroller
  18. Burp cloths
  19. High chair
  20. Baby plates
  21. Baby silverware
  22. Breast pump
  23. Baby bottles
  24. Bassinet
  25. Pack and play
  26. Swaddle
  27. Baby blankets
  28. Audio or video baby monitor
  29. Baby bibs
  30. Bath tub
  31. Baby body wash and shampoo
  32. Teether

Make a list of the baby items you’ll want to purchase

The above list of baby items are the essentials, but you may want to add other items or go with a different brand than what is listed. The important thing is that you make a complete list of the items you’ll need and make note of the cost of all the items.

Hopefully, you’ll receive most of the items through a baby shower, but chances are that you will need to purchase some of the items. Having this list handy will make it easy to purchase the items once the baby shower is over and you can see what is still needed.

Create a baby registry or two

Always create two baby registries. I recommend creating an online baby registry, such as Amazon, and a physical store registry, such as Target.

I love Amazon for baby registries because so many people already use Amazon. Amazon is like the universal go-to spot for just about anything, so you’ll make it super easy for 80% of your baby shower guests.

I always add a second physical store registry, like Target, because there are still some people that love going into the store and hand selecting your baby items. While they pick out your registry items, they might run across some cute baby items to give you as well!

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How to get people to stick with your registry list

You put all your hard work into creating the perfect baby registry. You take the time to carefully select the items you want, love, and trust. Inevitably, there are always those people who decide to deviate from your carefully crafted list and buy the items they think your baby can’t live without!

While they may be thoughtful for sporadically getting you a random gift, it can often leave you asking, “what am I supposed to do with this?” Or my personal favorite of getting lavender baby products when you’re allergic to lavender!

If you want people to stick to your list then you can consider asking for cash only so that you can purchase what you want. The other option is to ask people on the baby shower invite to strictly stick to the products listed as you have carefully selected the items.

While most people will respect your request, there’s always that one person who slips up!

Focus on refining your families budget and start saving money

The most important thing you can do is to get your budget in order and plan for the expenses you’re going to incur. You should do what you can to stock up on cash while you have the time and energy.

You can take my free budgeting and money saving course, which is aimed at helping people build an amazing budget that actually lets you save money. You’ll also get great money saving tips to help you reduce your expenses.

Summary for preparing for a baby on a budget 

We covered a lot of material in helping you start your life with baby in a financially positive manner. To summarize, you should:

  1. Talk to your hospital to estimate your expenses
  2. Make a list of baby items you’ll need and want and include how much those items cost
  3. Set your savings goal. A good target is your hospital expenses plus baby items or $12,000 to $18,000.
  4. Make two baby registries, making sure one has a physical store location
  5. Refine your families budget and reduce expenses

In addition, you should always get the hospital or insurance call reference numbers when talking with the billing department. You should also do what you can to stay in network and don’t let the hospital “accidentally send you to an out of network ultrasound technician that happens to be on the floor above the in-network technicians!

Are you looking to save more money? Consider joining our free course for budgeting and saving money. The course is aimed at helping families save more money so they can live financially happier.