Baby on a Budget - Having a Baby When You're Broke
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Pregnancy on a Budget: How to Have a Baby When You’re Broke

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Surviving pregnancy on a budget can be stressful.

Between the medical bills, baby gear, maternity leave, and essentials necessary to help you survive pregnancy, consider your wallet adequately drained.

During my pregnancy, we lived just outside of Seattle, where the cost of living gets higher by the minute. We planned on living on one income, but we hadn’t planned on a bunch of surprise doctors visits.

These financial setbacks stressed us out. We hadn’t even purchased all of our baby essentials and our funds were draining fast. As a matter of survival, we learned how to cut expenses and save big on the things we needed to buy.

During this time, I discovered that I have a passion for saving money and finding the best price for all things baby. I’d love to teach you these tips in my online course, Baby on a Budget.

For now, here are some quick and easy (and FREE) ways to cut costs during pregnancy.

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It may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase from one of the links I will make a small commission at no charge to you. Blunders in Babyland does not diagnose, treat, or give out any professional advice for any medical conditions.

1 Maternity Clothes

With so many medical bills and so much baby gear left to buy, it’s hard to whip out your wallet to purchase anything for yourself. 

Don’t feel bad about buying maternity clothes, but DO be strategic about it. You have two goals when buying maternity clothes: 1. Make sure they last well into the FOURTH trimester. 2. Never buy anything that’s not on sale or discounted in some way.

Clothes you actually need to buy:

  • 2-3 Maternity Shorts (if your third trimester is in the summer)
  • 2-3 Maternity Pants 
  • 2-3 Maternity T-Shirts
  • 2-3 Maternity Dress Shirts (if absolutely needed)

Most people will tell you to wait as long as possible to purchase maternity clothes.

I tend to disagree with this strategy.

If you wait until you actually NEED your maternity clothes, you’re going to spend so much more money because, chances are, it won’t align with any sales. If you’e worried that you won’t actually need maternity clothes or you’ll grow to big for the sizes you buy, you can play it safe and only purchase one item of each during a sale. Then, as you begin to grow (say, in your 2nd or 3rd trimester), you’ll have at least one pair of maternity pants you can wear until the next sale.

(Motherhood Maternity has a great style guide that explains how maternity sizes work.)

The rest of your wardrobe can be substituted by clothes already in your closet:

  • Leggings
  • Cardigans
  • Your husband’s t-shirts
  • Your husband’s belts
  • Sundresses/pullovers
  • Loose button-ups

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    Places to Shop for Maternity Clothes

    Motherhood Maternity or Destination Maternity is probably your first go-to for maternity clothes. You should be shopping there if–and only if–they are having a fantastic sale. Sometimes I’ve seen maternity bras as cheap as $9 or t-shirts less than $7. If you catch them outside a sale you will bleed money. 

    When they aren’t having sales, check out these other retailers:

    • Consignment Shops (be careful though, sometimes they are overpriced)
    • Old Navy (Also during sales)
    • Ross
    • Marshalls
    • TJ Maxx
    • Burlington
    • ThredUP (spectacular online resale shop)

    Also make sure you hit up your mommy friends. Most of the time, they will totally be willing to let you borrow their maternity clothes. Facebook shout-outs usually produce amazing results!

    2 Save on Childbirth Classes by Going Online

    Maternity classes might be another “luxury” you decide to skimp out on because you’re low on cash. And, honestly, you’re gut feeling is probably right. You actually may not have enough money to attend a traditional labor class.

    Thanks to the internet, labor classes are totally affordable.

    If you’re having a baby on a budget, I highly recommend signing up for the Birth It Up Class by Mommy Labor Nurse. She offers two courses, one for moms that want to go natural and another for moms that want an epidural. Both classes are less than $80 and will teach you everything you need to know about labor.

    It’s the best investment you can make. 

    I also recommend taking a breastfeeding class if you’re even curious about breastfeeding.

    I loved the Ultimate Breastfeeding Class by Milkology because it’s quick and literally walks you through every step of establishing your milk supply, getting your baby to latch, and maintaining a healthy breastfeeding relationship for as long as you want to. It’s also less than $20. 🙂

    RELATED POST: The Birth It Up! Class Natural Series Review

    3 Create a Registry and Get Free Baby Stuff

    If done correctly, your baby registry can invaluable way to prepare for baby on a budget. But, just like maternity clothes, you should be strategic. 

    Focus on the registries that offer completion discounts and freebies, such as Welcome Boxes. 

    Welcome Boxes often offer pregnancy and baby samples that can actually get you buy for a while. These “samples” often include full-blown products, such as swaddling blankets, bottles, pacifiers, and diapers.

    Completion discounts usually go live after your baby shower date. You’ll receive a 15% discount coupon (valid for one purchase) to use on your remaining registry items (like a car seat or crib, *hint* *hint*).

    My favorite baby registries are:

    • Amazon – Offers a GREAT welcome box + 15% completion discount
    • Target – Another amazing welcome box + 10% completion discount
    • Walmart – Welcome box 

    Read more about getting pregnancy freebies here!

    What to Put on Your Baby Registry

    Short answer: only the absolute essentials and big ticket baby gear items. Most attendees will buy the smaller items, so you need to be really strategic about which items are on there. Avoiding putting variations of the same item on different lists (i.e. asking for 7 different sheets between your Amazon and Target registry.) If you’re still looking for ideas on what to put on your registry, I loved this post from Very Well Family that highlights the bare essentials you need for a baby). 

    Adding your big ticket items (like a crib, car seat, etc.) is still essential. While most people will not buy the bigger items, adding them allows people to contribute to the overall cost (for Target’s registry) and it allows you to receive a completion discount later. 

    budgeting for baby - save money on baby stuff -having a baby on a budget (1)

    4 Maximize Baby Showers

    If someone offers to host a baby shower for you then CONGRATULATIONS you’ve just saved a couple hundred dollars. 

    A good hostess will ask for your desires and needs.If she gives you the option, I would suggest having a diaper raffle: essentially asking your guests to bring a box of diapers in order to enter to win a cute little prize. It’s a fun activity for your guests and it ultimately helps you build up your diaper stockpile. 

    Don’t get me wrong, I love the “Bring your favorite book thing”, but when you’re having a baby on a budget, you need to limit your expectations.

    A baby shower is also a fabulous time to receive baby hand-me-downs as well. You can even have your hostess request hand-me-downs or old baby toys instead of diapers for the raffle.

    If no one is hosting the baby shower for you, I would still consider having one. If enough people come, you can come out on top. Just consider these tips: 

    • Provide light snacks vs. lunch
    • Host in your own home or in someone else’s home
    • Purchase decorations/plates/silverware at Amazon or Dollar Store
    • Prizes bought at Dollar Store

    5 Diapers

    Most babies will use around 3,000 diapers during their first year. Of course, that number definitely depends on your baby, breastfeeding vs. formula, and how often you change your baby’s diaper.

    But, let’s just say your baby uses 3,000 diapers a year and you pay around $.28 per diaper. That’s $840 a year spent JUST on diapers! 

    Many parents shrug their shoulders and move on with life. If you’re having a baby on a budget, that’s just not an option. You need to either move to cloth diapers or get those costs down. Since I’m not really a cloth diaper kind of gal, let me tell you about how I saved on disposable diapers.

    Just a FEW of my favorite ways to save on diapers are:

    • Signing up for Pampers or Huggies Rewards
    • Using Amazon’s Subscribe & Save
    • Buying Diapers at Target and Getting a Gift Card
    • Using Ibotta for Cashback
    • NOT Stockpiling Diapers (This leads to waste)
    • Signing up for Amazon’s Gift Registry and Receiving a Diaper Discount Afterwards

    I love finding creative ways to save big on diapers. I just hate the thought of spending an arm and a leg on something that just goes into the trash!

    If you want to learn more about saving on diapers, it’s a hot topic from my course, Baby on a Budget!

    6 Labor and Delivery

    C-Sections vs. Vaginal Births

    According to the Cut, the out-of-pocket cost for a c-section tends to be around $400 higher than a vaginal birth (although that cost rises steeply when you’re not insured). When you factor in other costs, such as time away from work or extra childcare to help with recovery times, vaginal births are definitely less expensive.

    Of course, most women can’t choose how they’ll give birth. Still, you can stack the odds in your favor by focusing on a healthy pregnancy, regularly practicing baby positioning exercises, and increasing your knowledge of the labor process.

    Talk to Your Insurance Company

    You need to have discussions with your insurance company immediately after becoming pregnant. Your goal is to find the best treatment and provider for the best prices. In order to do that, you need to know who is in your coverage network and how they rank against competing practices.

    The type of provider also matters. For example, if you choose to go with a midwife instead of an OB-GYN, you can significantly save on your office visits. You just need to make sure that a midwife is covered under your insurance!

    budgeting for baby - save money on baby stuff - baby on a budget (1)

    7 Creating the Perfect (Budget-Friendly) Nursery

    Look, mama, you may be having a baby when you’re broke, but you absolutely still can create a beautiful nursery. You just need to find creative solutions. 

    First, let’s talk baby furniture. Here are the items that you actually need:

    • Convertible crib – Does not need to be new, but does need to be up to code.
    • Chair- Rocking chair, sitting chair, something comfy for those late night feeds
    • Diaper Pail – You can buy this used but I would rather have something new when poop is involved.

    Everything else, such as a dresser, diaper changing station, or decorations, you can get creative with. The picture above was my daughter’s actual nursery. I furnished it for about $250. The crib was given to us new, but everything else we purchased at Target or refinished old items. We purchased the decorations at Home Goods, Hobby Lobby (for DIY items), and Amazon.

    Your nursery may be simple, but that’s okay. It just needs to be soothing for you and baby.

    8 More Income, Less Expenses

    Medical bills can be crushing when you’re going through pregnancy on a budget.

    If you’re really struggling to keep up with all of those medical bills, taking on a temporary (easy) part-time job just to cover additional expenses and build up your emergency fund can really help. However, if you’re already overworked as it is, there are ways to earn extra cash.

    Sign Up for Reward Programs

    From now until your baby gets a job, you need to use Ebates. 

    Ebates is a program that allows you to earn cashback (real money, not reward points) on your purchases online and even in-store. 

    Best of all, credit isn’t involved. Basically, Ebates is an affiliate for several large brands. Meaning, when you buy things with their app, they make a small commission and share a small percentage of it with you. If you’re making any purchases online (including at big retailers like Target, Wal-Mart, and Amazon) you can earn anywhere from 1-10% cashback.

    Plus, with my link, you’ll automatically earn $10. 

    Side Hustles

     There are plenty of side-hustles you can pursue from home as well, such as filling out surveys, working as a virtual assistant, blogging (my personal favorite, although it does take time to get established), and even freelance writing. During the entirety of my pregnancy, I actually worked a few hours a week writing articles for Textbroker. I earned around $400 extra a month, which paid for those extra expenses and baby gear! 

    This probably goes without saying, but if you’ve been considering reworking (or creating) a budget, now is the time. I absolutely love the budget system Dave Ramsey created and would recommend it to anyone!

    If you’re having trouble keeping track of this extra spending, you can always start a separate account just for baby. Make a list of all the items you need and gradually add to that list. If you don’t already have one set up, speaking to your insurance company to open an HSA or FSA is extremely important. It allows you to spend pre-tax dollars on your medical expenses!

    Pregnancy on a Budget - Having a Baby When You're Broke

    9 Baby Gear

    Feel free to buy cheap baby carriers, high chairs, and swings, but ultimately, you need a good car seat. (I opted for an infant car seat for maximum protection). 

    Having said that, you NEVER want to buy a car seat at full price. Just like your crib and rocking chair, add it to your baby registry so that if no one buys it for you, you can at least get that completion discount. 

    Also, when you sign up for Buy Buy Baby’s mailing list they offer a 20% off coupon for a single purchase. We just discovered this deal and saved $40 on a new car seat!

    Facebook marketplace, consignment shops, and occasionally garage sales are great places to find smaller baby gear items. Consignment sales, typically local events advertised on Facebook, are also great for finding inexpensive baby clothes and toys.

    10 Breastfeed

    I know you’ve probably heard this before, but breastfeeding can save you so much money that’s definitely worth mentioning again. 

    Parents spend anywhere from $800-$3100 on formula alone during baby’s first year. Breastfeeding, however, is incredibly inexpensive and comes with tons of additional benefits. Your only costs are really any extras you decide to purchase (such as a nursing bra, any supplements, teas, pumps, etc.).

    If you’re totally freaked out by breastfeeding and don’t know where to start, seriously try out the Ultimate Breastfeeding Course by Milkology. That class will take out all of the unknowns of the experience and will give you the confidence you need to start right!

    When Preparing for a Baby on a Budget, Do Not Compromise Your Health

    When the going gets tough, you may be tempted to skip a doctor’s appointment, eat less expensive junk food, or skip out on expensive vitamins. This is a totally counterproductive approach to saving money. Those expensive vitamins deliver nutrients that are essential for your unborn baby’s development. Great food can help you have an easier labor, sustain your mental health, and give you the energy you need to survive pregnancy.

    Failing to take care of yourself will only result in more doctors visits and a less than pleasant pregnancy experience.

    Instead, reduce grocery costs by meal planning and spending smart. Meal planning does not have to be time-consuming or expensive, especially when you have a guideline. Personally, I love the Pregnancy Cookbook by Mommy Labor Nurse, because it gives you practical and inexpensive meals that deliver the nutrients you and your baby need. 

    As someone who has gone through the inner turmoil of preparing for baby on a budget, I hope you’ll believe me when I say, this does get easier. You learn to adjust and these sacrifices that feel hard today will be a natural part of your life tomorrow. Some of these methods won’t work for you and that’s okay. Start out small, giving up one or two things gradually, and implementing the techniques that make sense for your lifestyle. I think you’ll be surprised by the results!

    Learning how to have a baby when you’re broke is not easy, but I promise you can do it and it’s SO worth the effort. If you need some help, don’t forget to snag your copy of the Baby on a Budget Planner!

    By the way, I’d love for you to tell me what strategies are working for you and what’s not. Let me know in the comments below!

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      One Comment

      1. Hi! I love this list! As a financial analyst and a newer mom (I have a 14-month-old), I have always been budget conscious and I just wanted to add a couple of things to what you wrote:

        1. Maternity clothes: Definitely do NOT wait until you need them!! I found after baby all my clothes were stretched out because I waited too long and now need to buy a new wardrobe. Waiting definitely does not save you money, but as you said above, be strategic about what you buy. Lesson learned there!

        2. Diapering: Cloth diapering is another option that can save you tons of money and isn’t difficult at all! In fact, I made my own wipes too and while they aren’t pretty, they cost less than $10 and will last all the way through until my child is out of diapers. They also clean better than when I was using the disposable wipes.

        3. Labor and Delivery: If you know that you are pregnant during enrollment for your health insurance, seriously consider putting money into your healthcare FSA. Because the FSA is pretax dollars, you can save the 10%-30% that you would pay in taxes (depending on your income, tax filing status, and state). And, those FSA dollars can be used for a number of baby related items such as pregnancy tests, prenatal vitamins, sunscreen, milk pumping bags, and so much more! It is also important to know that the care that is for your baby after birth is a separate deductible so that you can plan accordingly.

        Danielle from Whether the Storm Blog

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