Real Life On A Budget

Babies and Budgets on My Mind!

Babies have been on my mind a lot lately. After all, I’m pregnant, plus I just became an aunt for the fifth time! So with all this talk about babies, I want to know what questions you have for me about babies and budgeting. We always hear how “expensive” it is to have a baby, but is that true? Send me your questions, and let’s find out together!

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  • Christina

    My one and only is almost 7 but I’m super excited for you. I’d watch a baby-focused vlogs just to pass on money-smart tips to my expectant friends and family.

  • Jennifer Duncan

    Tip: If you plan on your child going to daycare when you return to work, research daycare facilities as soon as possible. There are a lot of choices out there and each comes with its own price tag. Make a decision on where you want your child to go, find out how much it will cost for them to go there, and start putting that money aside during your pregnancy. Then when that first bill comes due and you are 7 weeks post-partum, you won’t be having a major heart attack.

  • We are expecting our 3rd baby due in May. I will love to watch vlogs on budgeting for babies.

  • Lauren Bartlett

    Biggest money saver for children….. Hand me downs and thrift/consignment shops! They are only in the clothes/shoes for half a second, DON’T PAY RETAIL!nnAlso – babies are pretty much adorable lumps for the first few months. Every newfangled toy will never replace solid time with human interaction and lots of love. If you’re looking to buy, buy new pits and pans and a few wooden spoons. Will entertain baby now and cook dinner later! ;-). Congrats Cruze family, you are blessed!

  • The lactose free formula I must use for my almost 8 month old costs $38 per can that lasts me only 5 days at this point (about 24 oz per day). I’m grateful I breastfed until she was 6 months, but when she was given regular formula she developed a body rash, indicating allergy. Do THAT math!

    • Brad

      I feel your pain. We had two babies on this at the same time. One never was able to breastfeed. The other made it about two months. I figured that we spent about $50 to $60 per week just for milk.

  • Jon Van Dop

    Our son (16 months) has a line item in the budget. So when our November blizzard hit yesterday, I knew that it was ok to go ahead and get him a sled because we had that money designated for him and all his/our other needs were taken care of. Good times.

    • Hannah Reid

      I love this idea!

  • Katherine

    Did you save up for having children, pre-baby? How can couples know when they are really “financially ready” for children? Thanks!

    • Tyler S Hardy

      No one is ever really “ready” so to speak. If you’re waiting for the right time, you’ll never find “the right time”. When we found out my wife was pregnant, we stopped the debt snowball and started saving all that extra that was going to the snowball. If something happens during birth or during the pregnancy, we have a little cushion. If not, we have some money to buy a crib and some essentials, then throw the rest back into the snowball.

  • Lesa Brackbill

    Besides the initial equipment costs, most of which were bought for us, we have spent very little! In fact, we spend less than $10 a month for our baby! We do this by cloth diapering (which is so easy and not like it was 30 years ago!), using cloth wipes, and breastfeeding. Sure it takes more time to wash diapers than to just buy them, but it is free and it is so much better for the baby’s skin! We also never buy new clothes or toys – consignment shops and sales are the way to go! When she can eat solids we will make our own baby food, too, saving money. It is all about your priorities, and our biggest priority is to keep me at home with the baby which means watching our budget very closely.

    • Katy Peternel

      That is exactly what I would do if I could start over. A baby doesn’t even require much equipment, a crib maybe at the most. Put all money into college funds while the kid is cheap. Then spend money on extras when they are old enough to ask but not until then. Most activities for young babies/ kids are really for the parents. Start your own playgroups at home with your friends. Drink coffee and let the kids play.

    • Tyler S Hardy

      This is what we will be doing as well! Cloth diapering is amazing for the budget, the baby and the land fill!

  • April

    Another financial expert once said if you can afford an extra $1300 a month and on one income, you can afford to stay home. We do NOT spend $1300/month. We hardly spend any extra. Breastfeeding, Cloth diapers, baby led weaning (ie no buying baby food), and finding deals on clothing or hand me downs. We spend maybe an extra $50 per month now that he’s eating more.

  • Christine

    I would to hear how you decorate your nursery on a budget!

  • Karen Baines Hobson

    My children are grown now – ages 27 and 22 – but what I did was gave each of them 3 jars and labeled them ‘quick cash’ – this was for whatever they wanted at anytime – ‘medium savings’ – this was for their wants (movies, games, toys etc) and ‘long-term savings’ – this was to never be touched and when the jar was full, we deposited it into their bank savings account. The money that went into these jars came from grandparents, and other people for birthdays, Christmas, etc. Depending on how much money they received, we split it between each of their 3 jars…with the long-term jar getting the most of it. This allowed them to see where their money was going and how it was adding up.

  • MuddPie

    How about baby items you actually “need” as oppose to “want”. I am having our first in march and the budget is squeaky tight just with paying the extra medical bills. My husband has had to take a second part time job. Sometimes its hard to tell if something is a want or a need. I’m sure I’ll get lots of “want” things for the baby shower, but we have to make sure our little girl has what she needs first. I feel so unprepared. 🙁

    • Hannah Reid

      One suggestion: be very upfront with friends and family about what you need (diapers, carseat, baby carrier, etc…even keep a running list of small things, like baby socks). Most people would rather give you something you genuinely need and will appreciate. Sometimes they are more than happy to go in together on larger items like a car seat or stroller. If you don’t feel comfortable telling lots of people what you’d like, let the word out to few select friends and family who may be asked for suggestions. Let people know if you are open to hand me downs as well (but don’t feel guilty for only keeping things you need).

  • Ashley

    I am getting invites to baby showers almost every week!! How do I support my family and friends who are expecting and celebrate their new baby without busting my budget!

    • Heather Van Iderstine Bateman

      So much of the gifty stuff is just crap. It really is, and so many duplicates or unnecessary clutter. My twin girls rec’d so many cutsie clothes that many went unworn with tags still on. Now that Its college time, I sure wish $25 into their 529s at that time would have been MUCH more useful. Another super thoughtful gift would be to prepare a freezer meal or two as one less thing fro a frazzled sleep deprived mom to fall back on once babies have arrived. Or perhaps some “coupons” for laundry help or cleaning help or babysitting for the new parents. As a new mom, there really wasn’t too much help that I needed with my baby twins, but I absolutely needed help in the less glamorous, supporting roles as mentioned above.

    • Sarah McKay

      I 2nd what Heather Bateman said, giving them “coupons” for helping with housework would have been my favorite new-mom gift. I had postpartum depression for about a year and some of it was due to feeling lonely in a new town and few people came to help me. I felt like everyone had forgotten me and left me with this very needy baby whom I was learning how to take care of while he screamed at me. I will ALWAYS remember the friend that came to do some laundry while I took a quick shower during baby’s nap. So housework, freezer meals, making an errand to help a new mom, picking up an Rx at the pharmancy for her, holding baby while mom goes for a short walk outside…all those just take a little time and a little money.

  • Karen Baines Hobson

    Another thing we did was – once our children got to the ages where they weren’t really getting money for Christmas, birthdays anymore (they always had a wish list of other things), their savings account just kinda became stagnate. So, my husband and I started putting $10 per child, per paycheck into each of their bank savings. This jumpstarted it again and got them excited about watching their money grow and adding to it themselves as they could. Now, we have an 8 year old granddaughter that we’ve just started a savings account for and she does ‘bank at school’ every other week. We give her a small amount of money and she takes it and her bank book to school on ‘bank day’ and makes the deposits herself.

  • Homebirthingmother

    Hire a midwife and have your baby at a birthcenter. Healthier, safer and much, much cheaper!

    • golfingprincess

      To each their own, but it’s not safer. That’s a biased thing to say. There may be more complications at hospitals because any (intelligent) midwife says no to high risk cases. I would never make a decision about where to have my baby based on cost savings.

      • Homebirthingmother

        Yes, it is safer. I have a BS degree in Respiratory Therapy and I worked in the NICU for years and chose to have my babies at home. The research has proven that for low risk, healthy women it is safer. The studies did not include high risk women because those women do need to be in the hospital. I did not make my decision based solely on cost. My first priority was health and safety (which is better with a midwife at home or at a birth center for low risk, healthy women.) Then the cost came into play as midwives charges different amounts, birth centers charge different amounts, insurance coverage is better with some than others etc. Instead of just making blanket statements, like you did, why don’t you actually try to educate yourself and look at the actual research and educate yourself more than just your opinion.

  • Lauren

    Congrats again on your baby!nMy husband and I are beginning the talk on starting our own family soon so I would LOVE to hear how you are doing to do all of this with a budget, everything from buying new maternity clothes to preparing the baby’s room. Thanks!

  • Elena Spraguer

    Our goal is to be debt free and have a fully funded emergency fund before we have kids so I can stay home and we can continue to have financial peace. We are about 2 year away from that goal at which time my husband and I will both be 30 years old. We have had so many people tell us that you’ll never be financially ready for kids. I can’t wait to prove them wrong! I’d rather be an older parent than be a young one stressing about being able to pay the bills. I don’t want to still be paying on my student loans when I should be saving for my child’s college education!

  • Charity Klein

    My husband and I are just a couple weeks ahead of you with our first baby girl (due March 27!) and are so excited you are going through this with us! I laughed out loud with one of your first vlogs about being soooo tired all of a sudden. We are about to purchase our first home. We have MOST of the bigger baby items via resale outlets but we’d love any tips and tricks you pick up along the way. One thing I found out is… car seats expire and aren’t valid if they’ve been in an accident, so those may be better purchased new or from a known source. Registry? Also, HOW MANY BABY HOLDERS does one woman need?! Bouncy seats, exer-saucers, bumbos, johnny jump-ups, carriers, car seats, walkers, strollers, cradles, bassinets… oh my stars! Our whole house would be completely covered if we bought one of each. We’re trying to fit most of our reasonably priced needs on registries: cloth diapers, teething rings, diaper rash creams, bottles, books on parenting, cute outfits, etc.nHere are some questions I would love responses on!n1. How do you turn down hand me downs from everyone who has once had a child? n2. How do you budget for hospital expenses in advance? Our insurance covers a lot, but not everything. How do you find out?

  • golfingprincess

    Baby stuff: Just. Don’t. 😀 I’ve got 3 and there is just so much junk out there. Seats, and toys and carriers, and clothes and blinky things… just. don’t. If you don’t buy it, you don’t have to get rid of it!


    Rachel, I need vlogs on inexpensive Christmas ideas. Our budget is close to non-existent and I’m panicking about how to make both the food traditions and the gift traditions work. 🙁

  • Nicole Peach

    I love babies and am excited for you. I have a ton of friend around me that are all pregnant as well. So I am used to getting to hear everything, but not about budgeting and how much things cost. I would love to know what the average amount people spend on getting ready for a new baby, and also what the average amount is spent on a single baby family in the first year. (The added cost only).nn~ Thanksn(preparing for when I also have a baby, way down the road hopefully, but congrats rachel, so excited for you and your hubs).

  • Amber

    Babies are cheap. Breastfeed, cloth diaper and buy used at consignment shops.

    • jamie

      Took the words right outta my mouth!

  • Angela Bailey Coffman

    Get thyself to Target and get a belly band. You can wear your jeans unzipped and pull that up over it to make room and hold your pants up. With my 6th baby I was still wearing my cute jeans at 28 weeks because of that miracle thing.

  • Amber

    O and use a midwife that’s a cheap too 🙂

  • JTravis77

    Suggestion: When deciding what to buy and where to buy stuff for your first baby, get advice from people who have done this for a 2nd or 3rd baby rather than couples having their first. There is so much that you don’t need and that you can get free or cheap second hand for baby’s first year or two.

  • delicatefade

    I’d love to hear your baby stuff, even though I’m done with that :). Here is my one bit of advice though… Please don’t buy a Baby Bjorn carrier! They are terrible ergonomically for your baby. Look for a carrier that has a proper seat in it, so baby can sit with her knees a bit higher than her bottom. An example is a Boba or Tula. Your back and your baby will thank you :). Oh, and mind the expiry dates in car seats. It might look like a good deal, but if it expires in a couple years, walk away!

  • Tammy Brown

    I have 4 I don’t really have any questions, but I can offer a lot of advice. Have the baby shower first and see what you get. Then get the essentials if they weren’t given to you. The carseat, the stroller (the kind that the carseat snaps into are the best), the high chair can wait, and a changing table is nice, but most of the time you’ll use a bed or a couch or even the floor. Your nursery doesn’t have to be fancy it’s really just a place to sleep. Hand me downs rock! No sooner do you have them in an outfit and then they’re growing out of the outfit. Of course with your first child all of the decorating the nursery and such is nice, but it’s over rated.

  • Loren

    It would be great if you could look into the asking of money parents can save by cloth diapering!

  • Ali

    The biggest budget consideration for me has been related to staying home/working from home/paying for childcare/etc. In our area, daycare for my kids would be about $4,000/month, which is why I’m staying self employed and working from home at night (and during naptime!). Most baby things can be obtained secondhand (not car seats!!) or free from family and friends. My biggest “find” has been our local Virtual Garage Sale group on Facebook. Much easier and safer than Craigslist, and less expensive than consignment stores. I once got a year’s worth of clothes for my toddler for $20—a gigantic bag that was more than I could use, and I ended up re-selling later. Having kids doesn’t have to be expensive; you just have to be creative.nnnI’m actually really glad my home is small, because I’m not tempted to buy unnecessary stuff that would just take up space. (We’re making room for baby #3 in about 2 months!)

  • Whitney

    I would LOVE to see info about cloth diapering! I’ve heard so many moms doing it recently, it’s definitely making a comeback. And for us soon-to-be moms, we’d love to know if it’s worth the extra effort and yuckiness! =)nAlso,

  • ABabysMomma

    1. Remind people to take into account hospital/medical costs! My husband and I were just doing our December budget and were looking at what categories to save for. We’re hoping to get pregnant with our second child next year and with our first child we paid for hospital costs up front (which gave us a little discount I believe). So we’re not really thinking of saving right now for clothes/diapers/etc., but having a baby does cost money and if you can get those medical bills out of the way it is a huge help! 2. What you want for your baby vs. what you need, like others said. You DO NOT need to buy a house if you’re not financially ready, you DO NOT need a crib right away (we got one at 3 months) Clothes/toys/gadgets DO NOT have to be new. But a few things that you REALLY WANT to be new, but be ok with hand me downs or consignment stuff too. No one will notice! 3. Someone said they are waiting to be financially ready for a baby. You won’t beu2026it’s true! But you fit everything into the budget and do your best, even if you’re still working on your baby steps. The blessing of children and being open to them in marriage is far greater than being “ready” financially. God does provide.

  • ABabysMomma

    PS Some people have mentioned breastfeeding to save money and just beware that breastfeeding can become HIGHLY political and people get angry. If you decide to delve into that topic, the comments could get a little crazy! (I am breastfeeding and it’s been great, but I’ve known several women who haven’t been able to).

  • Jillian Ryan

    I just found out we’re having a baby! We had a high deductible health insurance plan and were looking at paying about 6400 for the birth, then we found a birthing center for half the price! Just something cool we found out and helps with our budget 🙂

  • Katie

    I’d love to hear your opinion on how much you should save before the baby comes. Also, is there a financial checklist future parents should meet before trying to get pregnant?

  • Laurel

    What baby items would you recommend buying used and which items do you suggest to buy new if on a strict budget with baby on the way?

  • Shannon

    I would love to see a cost comparison between disposable diaper and modern cloth diapers. We use primarily cloth to save us money becaus disposables are insanely expensive but I would love to see your thoughts on the subject as it related to a budget. Thanks and happy baby!

  • Megan

    What are your thoughts on having one of the parents stay at home with the baby versus going back to work? How much should you budget for a baby per month on average? I love that you are digging into this content!! As a first timenMom, it’s hard enough not worrying about every little thing that I think more education on this would be awesome to lighten to worry level for all gazelle mommas out there!! Congratulations on your pregnancy and can’t wait for your input!

  • Hope

    My husband and I are not able to have children so we are trying to adopt an infant domestically… Years of fertility treatments left us broke and adoption is not cheap. Any advice? We have already had garage sales as a fundraiser but it only made a small dent. I’m not real comfortable with other fundraisers because it’s hard to ask others to help pay for this.

  • Kate

    I would love to hear more about this! I love the suggestions you mentioned (nursery on a budget; maternity clothes on a budget). I’d also love to know what items you think/hear are the most essential, and what’s not really needed. Anything else related to preparing for baby/costs of a baby would be great! Thank you!

  • Glory

    Hand-me-downs are always awesome. Babies grow out of stuff so fast and a lot of the clothes you get they sometimes only wear once. Think about it, you only have a new born for about a month if your lucky by that time they have out grown all the baby shower gifts and you didn’t even get to use some of it.

  • Jenny Brown

    I want to know about buying cars! Any words of wisdom?

  • Jodi

    I am thrilled for you and would love to hear any and all advice as to prepping for a baby while not busting your budget. I’m looking to hopefully be pregnant in the spring but already trying to plan budget wise for changes.

  • FW Mom

    You might want do a vlog on ways to find affordable maternity clothes and nursing tops- some can serve both purposes so you get more use out of them. It can get expensive! We just had our little girl a month ago.nnAlso, we registered for and bought a bunch of things that really weren’t needs and we really don’t use.nnAlso, be forewarned they grow so fast- so onesie extenders come in handy so they can wear some of their onesies longer. nnCongrats on your little girl! You are going to love being a momma!

  • Brittany

    As far as Maternity clothes on a budget go, RESALE!! I’m close to where you are in terms of when my first is due, so I’m in this position right now as well. Also, I’ve been shopping my closet – a lot of what I already own should work at least for a little while 🙂 Congrats on your little girl and I look forward to hearing your tips on budgeting, nursery, and registering!

  • Calc

    Two Cents: Mention baby stuff occasionally, but don’t turn this into another baby website. Your purpose and mission will get lost in the off-topic chatter.