The Guide to Budgeting for Baby

Karen Carr, CFP®

The average cost of raising a child to is now $245,340. Keep breathing. Whether you're already budgeting with ease or a single mom who's trying to make it all work, we’ll show you how to pull it off without going broke.

Budgeting can be hard with a new baby on the way. It’d be easy enough to write off the exercise completely. That said, a good budget doesn’t just affect how you spend your money today, it affects the options available to you--and your growing family--tomorrow.

With a new baby on the way, it may feel like there are more questions than answers. All the same, don’t panic. First, we’ll start with your current situation. Next, we’ll help you anticipate your new baby-related expenses and help get you on the right track in no time.

1. Categorize the Money You’re Already Spending

The first step to creating a budget is understanding where you’re starting from. Download your credit card and bank transactions for the last three months and put them into a spreadsheet. If you prefer a less manual approach, you might try a free personal finance app like Mint, Level Money or Albert.

Next, bucket your spending into 10 or fewer categories. Here are some examples, but feel free to tweak based on your lifestyle:

  • Housing (rent, mortgage, property taxes, maintenance, homeowner’s association fees)

  • Utilities (electric, gas, cable)

  • Auto (gas, insurance, maintenance)

  • Food (groceries and dining out)

  • Entertainment (music, movies)

  • Clothing

  • Insurance (medical, dental, life, homeowner’s)

  • Debt payments (student loans)

  • Savings (rainy day fund, investments)

  • Miscellaneous (date nights, movies, gifts)

Averaging your total spending for each category over the last three months will help to smooth out any out-of-the-ordinary transactions that happened in one month or another. This is your starting point.

Avoid the urge to do this in your head. After all, the numbers don’t lie. As a result, we suggest you spend a little time and embrace it.

2. Add New Baby Expenses

Whether you’re preparing for your first child or expecting another, your spending is going to change. List all of the new expenses you expect to incur. Include both the big and the small: diapers, formula, childcare, strollers, cribs and clothing.

At a loss for what’s to come and how much it’s going to cost you? We’ve pulled together some of the biggest one-time costs. Here’s a rough sense what people tend to spend:

  • Infant car seat ($60 - $150)

  • Stroller ($70 - $900)

  • Baby carrier ($25 - $120)

  • Diaper bag ($25 - $200)

  • Changing table ($80 - $250)

  • Crib ($120 - $850)

  • Baby monitor ($40 - $60)

  • Bouncer or baby seat ($30 - $70)

  • Highchair ($60 - $250)

Don’t forget to include recurring monthly costs, as well. We’ve listed some examples below, but costs vary widely by location. You’ll likely need to do some research to understand what you’re likely to spend in your area.

Do your best to allocate the money you think you’ll spend on each. After all, you can always update your budget later.

  • Daycare center, nanny, or daycare ($300 - $3,000 per month depending on type of care)

  • Food ($0 for moms who choose to breastfeed to $100 per month for formula)

  • Diapers ($20 per month for cloth diapers - $80 per month for disposable diapers)

3. Compare Income to Expenses

How much income you expect to receive on a monthly basis? Subtract your total expenses from your total take-home pay. This determines if you have a surplus or deficit.

If you have a surplus, that’s great! You can use this extra cash to up your savings or increase payments on your debt.

On the other hand, if you find that you’re running a deficit, you’ll need to start making tradeoffs to make room in your budget. (Here are some money-saving tips!)

4. Revisit Quarterly

Going forward, set aside time each month to revisit your spending over the past 30 days. You can use this opportunity to see how you stacked up against your budget and financial priorities.

The objective is to evaluate your budget and make sure it’s working for you. You made your best guess, but you can always reevaluate and revise. As a result, adjust accordingly.

No one can steer a parked car. To get things rolling, start by understanding your pre-baby spending. Then layer in your anticipated baby-related expenses. Check in with your budget once a month to see how your actual expenses stack up.

Sometimes we all deserve a little splurge. All the same, keep weighing tradeoffs to ensure that your money goes toward what’s important, and not the unnoticed extras.

Fabric exists to help young families master their money. Our articles abide by strict editorial standards.

Got room in your budget to check life insurance off your list? See how easy Fabric has made it.

This article is designed to provide general information on the subjects covered and the views represented herein belong to the author and are not intended to be used in the making of any financial decisions.

Fabric Insurance Agency, LLC offers a mobile experience for people on-the-go who want an easy and fast way to purchase life insurance.

Karen Carr, CFP®

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