This post was written by Kimberly Studdard, a regular guest writer here at Life And My Finances. Enjoy it! I know I did!
A recent study has shown that more people are waiting later to have children. Between college, starting your career, and working your way up, most people don’t think about having children right away. However, there are a few that still have children earlier rather than later, and I consider myself one of those people. I’m going back to school, I have a good job, and guess what? I have a little girl who will be two this year. We didn’t plan to have her so early, but of course life doesn’t always go the way you plan.
Financial Survival Tips for the Young Parent
These are my financial survival tips to help new young parents navigate life after the birth of their baby.
1) Start Early
This should go without saying. The earlier you start to plan for what is to come, the better. As soon as I found out I was pregnant, my fiance and I started looking into what our insurance would cover, what most newborns needed, and how much we could save before our daughter’s birth.
I would read books and online blogs on how many diapers babies went through on a day to day basis, the necessities for babies and anything else I could get my hands on. We started putting away a certain amount of money each paycheck so that when the time came, if we needed to go into our savings for any reason, we could.
This is one of the most important financial survival tips that I could give you, because it is what saved us from a ton of headaches once our baby girl was born. We were prepared for just about everything, and in the end it paid off for us.
Looking into our insurance was a tip that we followed, but didn’t follow very well. Let me explain. When I first looked into our insurance plan, EVERYTHING related to birthing was covered. We were told, multiple times, that we wouldn’t have to pay a dime out of pocket. Imagine our surprise when after I gave birth, we were told that our insurance covered everything except for $1500.
After a lot of phone calls and transfers, I was finally told that halfway through my pregnancy my insurance plan was switched to a different type of coverage. I was under my parent’s insurance (Tricare) and they didn’t cover all bills for dependents having dependents. When I asked why they didn’t tell me that, I was told that the address I had on file is where they sent the information regarding my new plan. The address in question was all the way in Alabama since we had lived there while my dad was still in the military.
As upset as I was about it, we were able to pay off our hospital bills due to tip number #1. If I could go back, I would have made sure my information was up to date, and I would have gotten the “you’re all covered” in writing so that I could have disputed the extra charges.
While on the subject of hospital bills, we got good news after finding out that we owed $1500. Due to the fact that we paid cash for the remaining bills, the hospital gave us a steep discount for paying them upfront. Instead of $1500, we were able to pay just under $1000. If you have very little coverage, or no coverage at all, looking into this option may be very beneficial for you.
Every hospital is different, so it will be important to ask those questions when visiting. Also, if you are a low income household, most hospitals will work with you as far as your bills go, such as setting you up on a payment plan, or even forgiving some of your bills up front. All it takes is a few questions and a little paperwork.
As your baby gets older, make sure to always ask for a discount, or negotiate the payment of your bills to fit your family, not the doctor’s. They are there to perform a service for you, not the other way around.
4) Don’t Tell Anyone The Gender of Your Baby
For some of you, this is going to seem like an odd tip. For us, we wish we would have kept this detail a secret. After our gender reveal, we planned our baby shower, and guess what? Everyone brought clothes. Pink clothes. Clothes with ruffles, and bows, and tails on the butts. And not just that, they all brought newborn clothes.
Our daughter was a healthy 8 pounds when she was born, and she outgrew newborn clothes in less than a month. So all of the clothes we got as gifts for her, went into the donation bin or up for sale, because she never got the chance to wear them. It’s okay to share the gender if you’re super excited, but if you are going to share, at least specify the gifts you would like to receive from friends and family. We could have used a lot more diapers, and a lot less ruffles.
This was one of the best financial survival tips I ever received from anyone. We saved so much money by shopping second hand. While I was pregnant, we were able to get all of our baby supplies and necessities all under $200, including a car seat!
We scoured multiple thrift stores for clothes, checked out websites like Varagesale and Freecycle, and even went to a few store close out’s to get our deals. Some of our best purchases were a car seat from a well known friend for $40, a baby bathtub with a “shower head” for $5, and a baby bouncer that rocked and vibrated for $10.
Our daughter outgrew her infant car seat, bathtub, and bouncer in less than a year. Since we didn’t spend a fortune on those items, we weren’t sad to get rid of them. We also got most of her clothes from the thrift store, or online through sites like Varagesale and Thredup. They’ve been a godsend for our tall, super slim one year old. She outgrows most clothes in less than a few months, and those savings have added up over time.
Just last week I got her a brand new wardrobe for $50. Talk about a steal! Another tip would be to stockpile items like diapers, wipes, baby wash etc. when they are at rock bottom prices. Although I rarely couponed, I normally got diapers for less than $15 for an entire box due to promotions and sales.
6) Follow Your Instincts
Look, you know your baby best. Don’t ever let anyone tell you differently. While my fiance and I followed some advice, for the most part we did what we felt was right for our child.
How does this fall under financial survival tips? When you are constantly listening to other people, you may be spending money on things you don’t need, are not a good fit for your baby, or just items that will cause problems down the road.
My mother told me I needed a wipe warmer because “wipes are too cold for a babies bottom.” When I asked her if she bought one for me, her answer was no. So why would I need one for my child?
Also, while most people said not to waste time on making baby food, I gladly took out an hour or two every week and made her food from scratch. Not only did she enjoy it, but I was giving her just fruits and vegetables, and I knew we were saving a small fortune. For $10 a week I could get fruits and vegetables on sale that would be pureed and eaten then, or saved for later in the freezer. If I had bought prepacked food, I would have been lucky to get ten meals, or three days worth of food.
Due to a scare after her birth, and me working full time, my daughter and I never got the hang of breastfeeding. I wanted to make it work more than anything, but I realized I would rather have a healthy and happy baby, so I decided to put her exclusively on formula. You would not believe some of the comments that I got on a day to day basis, and frankly, it started to bother me.
During one of Gabi’s check ups, I was asked if she was breast fed or bottle fed. Due to all of the comments I normally got for formula feeding, I shamefully said bottle fed. The nurse practitioner looked at me, said it was a personal choice to do that, and then offered me three containers of formula. Had I not spoken up, or lied to avoid embarrassment, I would have missed out on a huge blessing for my family.
Gabi’s formula cost us $30 every one to two weeks, so having three containers meant that we had six weeks of nourishment for her. Friends and family would also help out, like letting me know about deals online, and bringing over extra things that they had on hand (like brand new in the package teething toys!) Although we never wanted anyone to just give us things, knowing we had a support system really helped us when we needed to ask for help.
While we still have a lot of growing to do (16-19 more years for us!) these financial survival tips have been beneficial in us keeping our savings in order, keeping our sanity, and making sure that our baby girl is well taken care of. Having a baby may seem expensive, but it doesn’t have to put a hole in your wallet. Keeping these financial survival tips in mind can help you enjoy your little one more, and keep the stress at bay.
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.