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Can You Afford To Have That Baby?

Contributor
Family, Self

Here are a few of the expenses associated with raising a baby and some steps to take to prepare.

It is often said that "some moments in life are priceless"--graduating from college, getting married, and having a baby are treasured moments that money just can't buy. Horse pucky. Your education came with a hefty price tag. That wedding cost tens of thousands of hard-earned bucks. And your bundle of joy will run you approximately $242,000 over the next eighteen years. Yes, everything has a price.

You may need a few moments to recover from that last tidbit of information. Splash some cold water on your face, take a deep breath, and read on. These are a few of the expenses associated with raising a baby and some steps to take to prepare.

Welcoming Baby into the World

Giving birth is an expensive endeavor. According to CNBC's "Why the Cost of Giving Birth Could Make You Cry Like a Baby," the cost of a vaginal birth has increased from $4918 to $9294 over the past fifteen years, while C-sections cost a whopping $14,055. And, a vaginal delivery with complications can cost significantly more.

While many recommend opting for the lower-priced home birth or birthing center option, it is important that you check with your health insurance policy first. A hospital delivery may still be your cheaper option. And, if you expect complications, it is likely your only one.

Junior's "One-Time-Only" Expenses

The delivery went off without a hitch. Phew! You're new baby is here. You likely have a nursery prepped and waiting to welcome him home--and everything in it came with a price.

  • Furnishings. If you are looking for a basic nursery, you will need a crib and mattress, bedding, a dresser, change table, and a rocker. Most parents also opt to add a mobile, diaper pail, baby monitor, some pictures on the wall, and, of course, an entourage of plushies.
  • Mobility Gear. Unless you lead a hermit-like lifestyle, you will need some equipment to keep you and your little one "on the go." Car seats, strollers, slings, and a tricked-out diaper bag all cost money.
  • Play Things. A happy baby requires toys and gadgets to stimulate his mind and make him giggle. Playmats, swings, bouncy chairs, and other infant-entertaining equipment do not come cheaply. Even rattles and rubber ducks can add up.
  • Feeding and Bathing Tools. If you have opted to breastfeed your baby, you will need a breast pump and milk storage bags--but you will also save a fortune in formula. Other expenses include a high chair, bottles, bibs, burping cloths, and kiddie utensils. For clean-up, you will require a bath, towels, and baby hygiene products.

A great way to save on the above listed items is to borrow them from friends whose children have outgrown them, shop yard sales, and online auctions. Borrowing is also a great way to test out products before you purchase them. If Junior hates the mechanical swing, there is no point in investing in one.

Plus, you may acquire a treasure trove of useful items at your baby shower. So, get out there and make some great friends with deep pockets.

Junior's Ongoing Expenses

Junior is home safe and sound, nestled nicely in his new abode. What now? Well, now you must prepare for seemingly never-ending rounds of feedings, diaper changes, and laundry. Tons of laundry. And electricity and detergent are not cheap.

  • Diapers. If you opt for disposable diapers, you can expect to pay more for the convenience. "Cloth vs. Disposable Diapers: A Comparison" examines the costs associated with both disposable and cloth diapers, finding that the bill for disposables is a whopping $800 per year, while washing your own cloth diapers will only set you back $584.
  • Food. Junior cannot survive on love alone--and formula is not inexpensive. It is estimated, in fact, that formula will cost you an average of $105 per month. And, if your little one suffers from a milk allergy, that price could skyrocket. Again, breastfeeding is the cheaper option--not to mention its health benefits. If you are using formula, opt for powdered varieties as they are more cost-effective. You could also opt to make your own baby food.
  • Childcare. If you are a working mom, childcare costs may prove staggering. According to the "Parents and the High Cost of Child Care Report, 2013" published by Child Care Aware of America, the average yearly cost of full-time childcare for an infant in a daycare center runs from $4863 to $16,430 depending on which state you live in. "Adoption Questions about the Cost of Raising A Child" points out that opting for one parent to stay home with the child can save money in child care costs, while also putting you in a lower income tax bracket.

As you can see, there are many costs associated with becoming a parent. And, your child still needs to be clothed, entertained, and educated for the next eighteen years. But don't lose hope. You can purchase outfits and toys cheaply. There's nothing wrong with hand-me-downs. And your child's grandparents will likely enjoy spoiling your little one rotten.

These costs may seem overwhelming, but you must remember that people on meager incomes of been raising families for years. With careful planning, some cost-cutting measures, and a whole lot of imagination, you can give your child everything that they will need to become a happy, healthy, and productive grownup.

Did you raise a family with limited funds? What tips can you offer an expectant mom with a tight budget?