How to Prepare for Baby on a Budget

Welcoming a little one to your family can be both an exciting and overwhelming time for parents. In addition to wondering whether you’ll be a great mom, you might also be concerned about how that little bundle of joy will fit into your financial situation. Follow along as we walk through some easy and effective ways to prepare for baby on a budget.

Start with a Budget

You can’t stick to a budget if you don’t already have one in place. That means, if you don’t you need to put one together right now. Use this resource to help you do so.

If you already have a budget in place, it’s time to insert a line item for baby. This is where you’ll place a little money each month for items that baby will need. It’ll also allow you to categorize any money that comes in (think gifts, etc.) for baby as well.

Now, while you can set this up as simply money that gets used each month, I prefer to add it as a savings fund. A savings fund is simply a line item that carries over from month to month, with the money accumulating until it’s needed. That means, if you set aside $50 each month for nine months, but didn’t use it – you’d have $450 in the “fund” for use when baby comes.

A savings fund is simply a line item that carries over from month to month, with the money accumulating until it’s needed.

Not only is this line item in your budget good for now, while you are prepping for baby, but it gives you practice for when baby comes and has needs to be met. Depending on your situation, those monthly expenses might include:

  • Diapers
  • Formula
  • Clothing
  • Childcare

…and anything else that might be unique to your own family needs. So, don’t wait to implement this line item in your budget and start practicing!

Ask Others for Recommendations

Part of sticking to any budget is knowing what you need and don’t need. The same thing rings true when it comes to preparing for baby. Take the time to reach out to other parents and find out what they used and didn’t.

Often, you’ll find that the highly coveted item that everyone talks about isn’t actually as useful as a less expensive option. OR you’ll hear that no one uses their wipe warmer, so it’s not something to invest in at all.

While you’ll think about this with equipment purchases, also consider doing so with clothing. I took my sister shopping with me one day, and it’s amazing what she knew about baby clothing that I wouldn’t have considered. It’s definitely changed our perspective and allows us to focus on just the items that we will be happy to have.

Note: Often when you ask for recommendations, it’ll lead to someone saying, “I have this, that, or the other that you can have”, so don’t hesitate to reach out!

Create a Priority List

Once you know which products are worth having, it’s time to create a priority list. Order the items you need from “most important” to “least important”. If your budget is small, you’ll want to focus on ensuring immediate baby needs are met. Those include:

  • Sleeping
  • Clothing
  • Food

Everything else can be addressed as additional funds come in or can be added to a baby registry in case friends or family want to purchase something.

Shop Used

One of the best ways to extend your budget is to shop thrift or consignment stores.

Clothing: Babies grow quickly. That means that quality and like-new clothing items can be found in nearly every size for a fraction of the cost you’d pay at a retail store. Even if you do choose to purchase a few clothing items brand new, you never know when you’ll need a sweet blue onesie to complement those overalls that didn’t have a matching top.

Equipment: In addition to growing out of their clothing, babies also grow out of equipment relatively quickly. That means you are likely to find great deals on items such as:

…and much more.

Note: The key to finding items that fit your needs is to check back frequently. My favorite consignment store is between our home and a few other places I regularly visit. That means that when I drive by, I check in to the store to see if there’s anything on my “must-have” list that is a great deal. Sometimes I walk away empty-handed, but many times I come away with a stroller or another piece of equipment having saved hundreds of dollars.

Watch for Sales

There are items you will not want to purchase used, including car seats, crib mattresses, and possibly even the crib. In that case, it’s important to watch for sales to help stretch that budget.

Personally, I have yet to buy anything at full price. Instead, I placed all of my desired items on a registry. This has allowed me the opportunity to keep my list all in one place and check back frequently for any changes in price. To date, every purchase I’ve made “new” has been 30% to 50% or more off of the retail price.

My new purchases include:

Of course, your purchases may look different based on your desires, budget, and needs.

Note: Having a registry in place is great for tracking purposes, but it also makes it easy to share with family and friends when they ask what you still need or want.

Borrow When Necessary

Still not able to stretch the budget to cover all of your needs? Take the time to reach out to others that might have items they are no longer using. In my experience, people love to be generous with their gently used baby clothes and the equipment that’s still taking up room in their closets or garage.

Church groups, no sell Facebook groups, and your friends, family, and coworkers can be great sources of gently used items. Of course, make sure to send a thank you card if they do give you something and let them know how much it meant!

Prepare for Baby on a Budget

This time of expectation and preparation should be a fun one, but it starts with a plan in place. So, don’t wait! Start as soon as possibly preparing for the effect that little one will have on your finances and you’ll eliminate a good amount of stress during those first few months.

P.S. Don’t forget to grab my Family Budget Worksheet. It’ll be a lifesaver for your finances in that first year – trust me!