Babies are expensive. There is no way around that…however, you can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars during your baby’s first year by following these three tips.For being such little people, babies sure cost a lot of money. According to a 2010 USDA report, families spend an average of $12,000 on child-related expenses in their baby’s first year of life. What?! That’s almost twice the cost of my first car!
When I had my first child, I knew it would cost a lot. But holy cow! Between the hospital bill, all the baby gear, and going through an obscene number of diapers each week (seriously, why do they always poop right after you change them?), I was shocked by how much we spent. You don’t have kids because they’re a good financial investment; that’s for sure.
The good news is that if you’re savvy (and frugal), you can spend far less than the national average. I’m always on the lookout for ways to save money, and I’ve happened upon a few great tips that provide a lot of bang for your buck. Here are three simple ways I saved over two thousand dollars on basic baby essentials.
3 simple ways to save money when you have a baby
1. Pay your bill before you leave the hospital.
Did you know that many hospitals offer discounts if you pay your bill before you leave? At our hospital, we saved 10% off of our total bill by paying upfront. That’s not a lot when you’re buying a $10 shirt, but it’s serious money when you’re paying thousands to have a baby!
If you can save up the money ahead of time, it’s one of the simplest things you can do to save a significant chunk of money. Simply call and talk to your hospital’s billing department and ask if they offer any kind of discount for paying upfront. Our hospital didn’t advertise this deal, but by asking a few questions we saved several hundred dollars!
2. Get a breast pump for free through insurance
Somehow, I missed the memo with my first two kids that many insurance programs will actually pay for 100% of the cost of a breast pump. I bought one myself with my first baby, and it lasted me through most of my time with baby #2 as well. It started to lose power at the end so I knew wanted to get a new one for baby #3. My best friend had mentioned to me how she had gotten hers free through insurance, so I decided to look into it.
A quick call to my insurance company gave me all the information I needed. Mine does cover pumps 100%, and they explained two options for how to get a pump. First, I could order a pump myself through Amazon (or any other major company…not Ebay or second hand stores) that met the insurance requirements (under $470 dollars and not classified as “hospital grade”) and get reimbursed. Second, I could work with a third party company that specializes in coordinating the details between insurance, doctors, and patients to order my pump and have insurance pay for it directly.
I eventually decided to use a third party, mostly because by working with a third party I could be sure the pump I chose was covered by insurance, and it didn’t require any out-of-pocket expense. I have trust issues with insurance, so I didn’t want to deal with having to submit a reimbursement form. Two of the most well known companies that provide this service are Aeroflow and Edgepark. I used Edgepark, just because they responded faster to my initial email.
Different insurance companies have different policies, so be sure to check with yours before you assume anything, but it’s pretty common now for pumps to be covered 100%, which can save you $100-400 depending on the pump you choose. Oh, and FYI, this is the pump I got this time around, and I LOVE it. Super powerful and amazingly quiet.
3. Buy second hand
I’ve written before about why I buy almost everything for my kids second hand, and I stand by the advice. Whether you shop Craigslist, garage sales, or consignment sales, there are great deals to be had. Baby items are almost always outgrown before they are worn out, so you can get almost-new items for a fraction of the price you’d pay new in the store.
I saved over $1200 on items that I bought for my first baby’s first year…things like a high chair, exersaucer, swing, Ergo carrier, snow clothes, etc. There are some things I wanted to buy new (car seat and crib), but mostly we bought used items, and no one would ever know, least of all our baby.
Using these three tips alone (not counting all the money I saved by breast-feeding instead of using formula, making my own baby food, etc.) I saved almost two thousand dollars! It didn’t take a lot of extra time, but the pay off was well worth it!
What are your best money-saving tips for having a baby?