Ah, the joys of having a child. There is something indescribably wonderful about bringing life into this world. The mother glows; the father beams with the possibilities his child will bring. Your friends and relatives are as excited as can be. Then, just as you are settling into the warm thought of child rearing, you are hit with the harsh reality of caring for a child – the diapers, daycare, formula, doctors’ visits, private schools and the fashion trends that your kid will con you into buying.
You know that you are going to have to be smart if you want to provide the best for your child without ending up in the poor house. Here are seven tips on saving money for new parents.
1. Don’t Be Too Proud to Beg
There is nothing wrong with groveling if it gets you free things. There is a good chance you might know someone who has already had a child. These people have a ton of reusable items that you might be able to get for free or next to nothing. Everybody wants to give their first baby a new everything, but it’s a waste of money. We’re not talking cloth diapers or used baby powder; we’re talking about expensive cribs and overpriced changing tables. If you can get them free or at a discount then you should. No one has ever seen their baby pictures and asked “Was that changing table new?”
2. Get a 529 Education Plan
There is a misconception that paying for college means you have to save what the price of tuition would be at a four-year school 20 years from the birth of your child (e.g. $150,000). The best route is to contribute to a savings account over the years and let the compound interest help you. . A 529 saving account works very much like a Roth IRA. You put money in, that money is invested and earns interest, and in 20 years your child has a rather sizable chunk of money saved for college. Hopefully you have taught him well enough that he doesn’t end up with jet skis and the latest in robot technology instead.
3. Online Discounts
There are two types of online shoppers: fools and you. You are the type of shopper who is going to go to the makers of the diapers and formula to see when there are discounts on these products or when they are doing free giveaways. The foolish shopper just spends their time ordering through a website without bargain hunting. A pack of diapers here, a can of formula there, can all add up. When your child turns out to be president….or the night manager at Costco, they’ll have you and the amazing opportunities you were able to give them through your cost cutting measures, to thank.
4. Buy Bonds
Here’s a little tip that you might not have been aware of: bonds are a great investment in the future. Why? The government guarantees them. This beats a broker in a suit telling you you’ll have fame and fortune if you invest in a pager company in India. You can purchase up to $30,000 a year in bonds, which the government guarantees, will be worth $60,000 in 20 years. Even if the market is bad the government will back them. It is worth given them a second look.
5. Make Sacrifices
I’m hoping no parent has ever said “I want to give my kid the world…as long as it doesn’t interfere with the NFL Sunday ticket.” You brought a child into the world with the acceptance that they come first, so if you are serious about saving to take care of them then you need to cowboy-up and get rid of some creature comforts. Getting rid of your cable and your home phone line can save you over $2,000a year. This could be the difference between adequate daycare.
6. Clip Coupons
Coupon-clipping is fashionable again. Coupons may seem time consuming to scan, but the savings for smart shoppers can be enormous. Saving $0.40 on toilet tissue might not seem like much, but that’s an extra $20 a year just from that. You have to be willing to win the small battles to end up ahead.
7. Consider a Second Job
This might require more energy than you can muster, but it can really pay off when the baby comes. Picking up an extra shift or working from home on the side can be extremely helpful for your pocketbook, even if it’s just for a few months.