Worried about twin expenses? Learn how to beat the cost of twins — a must for the twin mom who wants to save money with two babies!
I won’t lie: Having twins can be financially challenging.
The first time I heard I was expecting two, one of the first thoughts I had was: How in the world will I afford the expenses?!
I’ve found myself feeling strapped, especially in a high cost-of-living city. Preschool tuition cost more than our rent, and buying essentials like two cribs, two car seats, and even a minivan took its toll. I worried about the impact that having twins would have on our jobs and our savings.
Still, despite the costs, those dire predictions of not affording anything never came true. Money somehow arrived in one way or another, and we managed to survive the average cost of twins (and their older brother).
12 ways to beat the cost of twins
Perhaps the biggest reason? My husband and I were actively looking to beat the high cost of twins.
We knew we had to make some changes, and that we needed to be creative and non-traditional during the several months before the twins arrived. We became more practical in our decisions, and thought about everything we bought.
Thankfully, it all paid off. Take a look at the tactics we tried that allowed us to keep the cost of twins low:
1. Don’t buy two of everything
With twins, you might assume you need two of everything, but for many items, you’re fine with just one. Yes, you’ll likely need two cribs, car seats, high chairs, and infant seats (and a double stroller). But for most other baby gear, you can likely get away with one.
For instance, you’ll likely be bathing and changing each baby one at a time, so you’ll only need one tub and one changing table. Baby items like swings, a baby wrap, and even toys don’t need to be purchased in multiples.
And if you’re not sure whether you need one or two, you have a few options. You can buy one at first to see if you truly need two of them. Or you can buy both to save a trip to the store, but open only one in case you realize you don’t need two.
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2. Buy reasonably-priced baby gear
The ever-excited first-time mom I was, I bought my singleton a $600 crib from a specialty boutique. I wanted the best of the best for him, and nothing else.
The crib came in useful when the twins came, since one of them was able to use it. But then, we needed to buy another crib for the other one. This time around, we bought the second crib online for $120, far less than the other one, without too many differences.
Splurge where it matters to you, then choose the lower-priced deals where it doesn’t. Maybe you’ll buy clothes from thrift or consignment stores, but spend money on eco-friendly cloth diapers. That way, you’re pooling your resources toward purchases that are important to you.
3. Hire a nanny
Hiring a nanny to care for your twins is usually less expensive than enrolling them in day care. While some day care centers offer sibling discounts, the savings aren’t usually as much as you’d have with a nanny. After all, they only have so many open spots available.
But nannies are more flexible in accommodating twins. While they’ll be caring for two, they’re not working double the hours. You might be able to negotiate a rate with your nanny that’s more reasonably-priced than a day care.
Extra perks with hiring a nanny include:
- You won’t burden yourself with lugging two babies, a double stroller, a huge diaper bag, double the supplies, and change of clothes every day… and back to your home at the end of it.
- Since your nanny comes to your home, you won’t disrupt the twins’ schedule or wake them up to get out of the house on time.
- You can negotiate your nanny’s pay depending on her duties. For instance, some nannies are willing to clean your home or offer to drive your babies around. You can reduce or cut these duties to lower her rate.
4. Change your work schedule
Whether you hire a nanny or sign up with a day care, consider changing your work schedule to lessen your childcare needs. By changing your work schedule, you might be able to cut the time your twins are in the care of other people.
As I say in my book, Expecting Twins:
“Save money after the twins arrive by changing your work schedule or arrangement. See if you or your partner can work a flexible schedule to lessen childcare hours, or ask Grandma to care for them a few days a week to reduce childcare costs. It’ll also give her an opportunity to spend time with the twins.”
For instance, you might start work at 7am in order to leave by 3pm. Meanwhile, your partner can start work at 10am and come home later in the evening. That way, your twins are only with child care from 10am to 3pm.
Similarly, if Grandma can be with the twins one or two days a week, that would cut down on the costs of hiring a nanny or signing up for daycare.
5. Be a minimalist
I was head-over-heels about a wagon I so wanted for the twins. I knew they’d love their outings more in a wagon instead of the double stroller. Plus, we could go to the beach more often! I rationalized. I talked about it so much that my mom slipped me $100 to help out.
But then… I thought about that $100 and how useful it could be toward something else. After a few days of mulling it over, I remembered our needs and wants. The twins needed a way to get around, and the stroller did the job just fine. I socked that money toward their savings instead.
Think about each purchase you make and whether you can get by without it or by using an alternative. It’s easy to fall for conveniences and fun, but at what cost? Some are worth the sanity-saving convenience even if they’re not a “need,” but most others aren’t.
Don’t fall for gimmicks and instead learn how to budget expenses like groceries, clothes, and entertainment. Use coupons and free samples. Live like how you did when you were in your early 20s starting out.
Similarly, if you truly do want that splurge, see if you can get it for free. Ask your local Buy Nothing Group on Facebook if anyone has that item and don’t mind parting with it.
Looking back, I was glad we didn’t buy the wagon and saved the money instead.
6. Start saving now
With the twins still in your belly, now is the time to save as much as you can while you have fewer expenses and still earning a full-time income.
Sock away as much as you can toward your retirement as well as easier-to-access accounts like online savings. Should you ever find yourself strapped for cash, the savings account is there to keep you from going into debt.
Down the line, you might have extra expenses you’re not be able to fit into your usual monthly budget. Your savings can come in handy, allowing you to still maintain a decent lifestyle without feeling too much of a pinch.
7. Don’t feel guilty for not saving for college
On a similar note, don’t feel bad if you can’t save for everything you’re used to. With our eldest, my husband and I were able to save six times as much as what our twins currently have in their college savings. After all, saving for one child’s college is much easier than saving for three.
Not until a year and a half later did we finally open up 529 college plans for each twin. And even then, we only put the minimum amount into each child’s savings each month.
As important as college is, focus on your own retirement savings as well as your day-to-day and short-term expenses for now. Now that my kids are older, I’m able to save more aggressively, but that wasn’t the case when they were just born.
8. Shop at bulk stores
Check to see if your local bulk store sells the same items you’d normally buy elsewhere. Diapers, wipes, formula, and baby soap are cheaper when bought in bulk than buying in smaller amounts. And with twins, you’ll likely go through these items pretty quickly, too.
Another option is to buy bulk items online, or through a monthly subscription. Online stores might offer better deals if you buy a large amount at one time.
9. Use your work’s flexible spending account
One of the benefits offered in many workplaces is a flexible spending account, or FSA. Using your FSA card can save you a huge percentage of the cost because you’re using pre-taxed money. For instance, if you’re in the 30% tax bracket, that’s like getting 30% off your expenses.
Calculate how much you’d need for medical expenses like hospital bills, prenatal visits, co-pays, and medicines. You can then add this amount to your FSA card to save.
Besides an FSA account, you can also take advantage of your partner’s insurance if that’s an option. I relied on my husband’s insurance to cover the costs that my primary insurance didn’t. Depending on how much it costs to add yourself to your partner’s plan, you may be able to avoid more out-of-pocket costs.
10. Ask for help and hand-me-downs
I’m lucky that both mine and my husband’s families all live nearby because I had extra help and hand-me-downs.
We saved money on groceries thanks to the food that friends and family brought. We hardly paid for a babysitter because of willing relatives to watch the kids. And cousins and even friends of friends have been generous with their hand-me-downs, so much so that I didn’t buy any new clothes for almost two years.
The best part? It’s all a cycle: I continue to give things away to friends and family, from books to furniture and of course, clothes.
Don’t have family and friends nearby? Join a local parents of multiples group—many moms are willing to part with old clothes and gear (or sell them for a steal). And check your local Buy Nothing Group for items people are willing to pass on (or make an ask yourself for specific items you need).
11. Return non-practical gifts for purchases you want
Have you received gifts from friends and family that, in all honesty, you likely won’t use or need? Consider returning them to the original stores for more practical or pressing purchases.
For instance, your twins might not need fancy outfits, but they sure do need onesies. You might trade two cute outfits for several bundles of onesies that you’ll probably need. Or maybe they already have cute sweaters, so returning the extra ones they received as a gift would allow you to replace old, filthy bath toys.
Be grateful for the thought put into the gift, but also acknowledge that you can still direct that gift toward something you need or want.
12. Let the twins share a room
If you’re considering upgrading to a bigger home because you’re now expecting two, see if you can get by with your current situation at first.
Just because they’re twins, doesn’t mean they need their own rooms, at least for now. Not only did my twins share a room, they also shared it with their older brother. Their bedroom was big enough to fit both cribs and a twin bed with plenty of space to play.
Only within the last few years did we decide to purchase a new home, allowing our eldest to have his own room. But even then, we stuck to a three-bedroom home, since the twins can still share a room.
As overwhelming as having twins can be, know that you can find a way to make it work, as you always have.
For starters, don’t feel like you have to buy two of everything, and if you do, buy reasonably-priced gear. Consider hiring a nanny, as well as adjusting your work schedule to cut down on day care. Think about each purchase, and pad your savings now before the twins arrive.
That said, don’t feel too guilty if you’re not saving for their college funds, and shop at bulk stores to save even more. Explore your work’s FSA benefits, and accept hand-me-downs and help. Return gifts you won’t be using, and have the twins share the room.
Even now, all these years later, we’ve learned to manage well. By staying smart with our expenses, we’ve been able to live a comfortable and happy life with our twins.
Get more tips:
- Surprising Costs of Raising Twins You Never Knew
- Children’s Books about Twins
- How Caring for Newborn Twins is Different from Singletons
- Interesting Facts about Twins You Probably Didn’t Know
- How to Be Out with Twins Alone (And Actually Survive!)
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