This guest post is from Amy Greenhouse, a children’s book writer, a public school teacher, a good friend, and most recently, a new mom! Here she gives the skinny on how to prepare yourself for the addition to your life.
Babies are warm, squishy bundles of joy that require some serious, cold hard cash. Spend time while pregnant figuring out your finances so after the birth you can devote yourself to important parenting tasks, like posting pictures of your baby on Facebook.
SAVING FOR BABY: START SAVING NOW!
Use the next nine months to bulk up on your emergency fund. Even if you plan to go back to work soon after you give birth, realize you will not be going back to the office for at least six weeks. Few employers provide paid maternity leave, so you will need to cover expenses during that time period. Investigate what options your employer does provide. Also be realistic as well as kind to yourself and your baby. The birth of your baby will rock your world and you might find yourself not ready or willing to return to work so quickly. The more you saved before the baby’s birth, the more options you will have after the baby is born.
If you are planning to go back to work, start looking for child care now. Investigate all options from full-time day cares to babysitting shares to family member’s offers to babysit. Price is a factor, but you also want time to make sure you place your baby in a safe, loving atmosphere.
OUTWIT THE BABY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX
Don’t make any purchases for your baby until you have let the word spread among your family, friends and colleagues that you are having a baby. Inevitably, people will come forward to pass on their baby clothes, toys and nursery items. You should not have to purchase even one item of clothing if you know enough people. If you are eager to buy something for your little one, purchase one pair of clothing that your baby will wear home from the hospital. Make sure hand-me down items are up to current safety codes, especially items like cribs, car seats and strollers.
When you do decide to go baby shopping, remember that giant baby goods store, like Babies R’ Us and Buy, Buy Baby, are dangerous lairs that are best entered with a frugal mother friend who lives in a small apartment. She will tell you exactly what items you need and what items are a waste of money and space. Under no circumstance should you take a friend or family member who will coo over every adorable mobile and blanket. Let them save the loving for the baby.
Thrift stores and consignments shops also are great places to shop. If you live in New York City, check out Jane’s Exchange on the Lower East Side.
Shopping For Yourself
You also should not need to buy much maternity clothes. Find a friend or family member in your height range who recently had a baby and ask for their hand-me downs. Do buy one or two dresses that will make you feel pretty. There are consignment shops that supply maternity clothes. Do buy some well-fitting bras, but realize that your size will change throughout your pregnancy. Buy one or two nursing bras but realize that after your baby is born your body will change once again.
Also, you can look on freecycle.org, Jane’s Exchange and Clementine in NYC are maternity consignment shops.
If you have very little experience caring for babies, take away some of the anxiety by educating yourself about these little babes. There is a whole industry out there designed to make money off your anxiety. Choose carefully. Start off with a visit to your local library. Take out the books that seem interesting and then you can decide later on if you feel the need to own any of them. What to Expect When You’re Expecting is a necessary classic to have at home throughout your pregnancy. Ask around and you are sure to find someone who wants to pass it on to you.
Childbirth classes: Ask your OB/GYN to recommend classes or check at your local hospital. These classes are a good way for you and your spouse to get yourselves mentally prepared for the next phase in your life. You can visit the bank before or after each class to make a major deposit in the bank.
Newborn care classes: Do not waste your money on these classes that basically let you diaper dolls. You will learn a lot more by offering to help care for your relative or friend’s baby. Ask lots of questions and observe a lot. New parents love to share what they have learned.
Breastfeeding classes: These classes are also a waste of money. You cannot learn breastfeeding from a doll. While pregnant watch videos online and attend a La Leche League meeting where breastfeeding moms will give you advice for free. If you have trouble breastfeeding your newborn, hire a lactation consultant. Their visits are not cheap, and insurance rarely pays for them, but successful breastfeeding will save you from having to spend hundreds of dollars on artificial formula. Also, breastfed babies are healthier meaning you will have to take less time off work to care for a sick child.
CPR/Safety Classes: Essential but will only work if you review what you learned in the class on a monthly basis.
Making a Nest
Towards the end of your pregnancy, you might feel the need to “nest.” Go easy on the potpourri satchels and invest in an Internet radio, a blue ray DVD player that streams Netflix and an E-reader. You will be spending a lot of time at home, sitting on the couch feeding your baby, so make yourself comfortable. Don’t sweat the entertainment investments because once the baby is born for a while you won’t be spending money for a while on movies, concerts, and other outside entertainment. Remember the public library and that for free you can borrow DVDs and download E-books.
If you need deeper work around healing your relationship with money or overcoming your blocks and fears, maybe it’s time for some money therapy.