Parenthood can wipe out your finances. Learn frugal tips for new moms to make sure that doesn’t happen. Perfect for thrifty moms to save money!
You’ve heard the horror stories.
How raising a child from birth to 18 years of age will cost the average family $245,000. The expensive gear you “need” to keep your baby safe and comfortable. The childcare, the formula, and the zillions of diapers.
Is there a way to avoid the financial trap of raising kids?
Frugal tips for moms
I had already been frugal even before my kids were born, and even I was frantic about all the expenses that were adding up. When my twins came along a few years after my eldest, I felt the same anxiety about how this would all pan out.
Thankfully, it always does, but sometimes that means changing a few habits to make things work.
You might even see that being frugal isn’t about sacrificing so much as it is changing what you value in life.
This is especially important during those first few months before and after your baby is born. With the onset of parenthood and one-time (but expensive) costs, this is when you need frugal tips the most. Check out these 11frugal tips for new moms that actually save you money:
1. Forget themed nurseries—go for practicality
A coworker asked me what the theme to my new baby’s room would be.
“Um… beige?” I replied.
I eschewed the firetrucks and the safaris and the Winnie the Poohs. Instead, I bought a good-quality mattress and a tight-fitting beige sheet. No paintings, special blanket, matching diaper bag, or decals.
Unless you enjoy decorating rooms, don’t worry about fixing your baby’s room with themes. Babies won’t notice them, and most moms I know have had to re-do the room once the baby outgrew the decoration.
Instead, buy what’s necessary: a crib, a mattress, and a changing table so you don’t break your back with every change. Diapers can go into cubbies and shelves, and your baby won’t need bumpers or blankets just yet. (They’re safety hazards anyway.)
Once you’ve got the basics, buy as you go along. Maybe you realize your baby would like a mobile, or that feedings are easier with a rocking chair. Point is, don’t buy these all at once. You may find you’ve instead avoided buying another “must have” that you didn’t need.
Free printables: Plan ahead for your monthly expenses once the baby comes! Join my newsletter and grab your Printable Monthly Expenses Worksheet. Now you can estimate recurring expenses and typical costs of raising a baby. You’ll have a better sense of how much to expect to spend:
2. Use hand-me-downs
One way to avoid buying new items is by using hand-me-downs from friends and family. Once you’ve announced your pregnancy, fellow parents will unload gear their kids have outgrown.
I received a baby carrier, baby chairs, books, toys and clothes among other things. And I’ve given away a bathtub, maternity clothes, baby food storage and more. These things add up! For two years, we didn’t buy clothes for my eldest thanks to generous hand-me-downs.
If family and friends don’t live nearby, find a “Buy Nothing” group online. You can ask for specific items you need that others will gladly give you. When you’re ready to part with them, you can return the favor for other new moms.
3. Get cloth diapers and reusable wipes
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Babies go through a lot of diapers and wipes that many parents have to replenish every month.
Instead of assuming you’ll make monthly expenses of these disposable items, invest in reusable ones. Think reusable, not disposable. Your one-time investment of cloth diapers and reusable baby wipes will be more expensive at first, but over time, you’ll save so much money.
4. Save now before going on maternity leave
If you’re like most of us, you’ll have reduced pay when you’re on leave. The figures vary, but expect to receive less than your normal pay for a chunk, if not all, of your maternity leave.
Secure yourself a nice cushion by saving as much as you can now while you’re still working. For instance:
- Pack your lunch to work.
- Borrow books from the library.
- Set a budget for flexible purchases like clothes and entertainment.
- Slash your grocery budget.
- Start a savings account to dip into during your maternity leave.
Read 8 effective tips to save for maternity leave.
5. Save gift cards for later use
Did you receive gift cards during your baby shower? Before running to the store and buying everything now, save them for after the baby is born. Pace your spending so you have some cushion after delivery when you may be more strapped for cash and time.
Place them all in the same envelope so you don’t forget you have them. When the time comes to buy six-month-old clothes or you need a high chair, they’ll come in handy.
6. Stock up on food now
With little inclination to cook, you’ll order food pretty often during those first months. Unfortunately, those restaurant meals add up!
Beat the cost by freezing meals now and storing them for later use. Invest in reusable and freezable containers to dip into when you don’t have time to cook.
Or, if your family is like mine, expect to receive a lot of food during those first few weeks. This saves you the time, money, and trouble of finding your next meal. When people ask how they can help, bringing food is often on the top of the list.
7. Open a savings fund
Get a head start on your baby’s savings fund and open one up now, however small the amount. Any monetary gifts he receives can go into that fund.
While this tip doesn’t reduce your spending, it increases your opportunity to save. Child-related costs will tie up your extra cash, but at least you can still set aside a few dollars here and there for your child’s long-term goals.
8. Shop at consignment stores
I know, I get it. They’re used clothes, and you have no idea what kids have done to those clothes before. But having sold and bought clothes at consignment stores, I can tell you that they only take the highest quality. If you sell items, you can even use store credit (which is often worth more than cash) to purchase new ones.
Sure, some things aren’t sold at consignment stores, like socks and underwear. But you’ll find some great picks at much lower prices. This is also a fantastic option for items like snow clothes or heavy coats you won’t use often.
Find out how many clothes to buy before the baby is born.
9. Buy life insurance
Not the most exciting tip, but probably the most money-saving of them all. You should buy life insurance for both you and your partner to cover the remaining spouse or children should one or both of you die.
Ideally, you’d buy life insurance before you even decide to have kids (since the premium does go up once you’re expecting). But life insurance at any point in your life is still better than not having one at all.
I’ve breastfed and formula-fed my kids and crunched the numbers. Even with a hospital-grade breast pump, breastfeeding was more economical than buying formula. This includes buying formal at discount prices, too.
And like I mentioned earlier, think reusable, not disposable. Reusable nursing pads that you can wash over and over will be much cheaper in the long run than having to buy them all the time.
Learn the breastfeeding secrets all moms should know.
11. Make your own baby food
Once your little one is ready and able to eat solid food, save a ton of money by making your own. It’s so easy to prepare and store baby food than it is buying their jarred or packaged versions. Plus, they’ll be fresher and healthier (just compare jarred peas to freshly pureed and you’ll know what I mean).
Save jarred food for when you really don’t feel like cooking or when you travel and can’t. The baby food cookbook I used was Petit Appetit by Lisa Barnes, and for storage, these reusable food containers will do the job.
Here’s what I learned: financial doom isn’t inevitable just because you’re going to be a new mom. You can still spend where it matters and save on those that don’t.
Go for a practical nursery, not one with themes that you’d have buy and replace anyway. Hand-me-downs will save you from having to buy new items. A one-time investment in cloth diapers and wipes means you never have to buy them again.
Save money now while you’re still working and don’t have as many expenses yet. Stash a few gift cards for future use. Stock up on food now, whether frozen or relying on people’s generous donations. Save your baby’s monetary gifts in a savings fund.
Shop at consignment stores where you can grab quality clothes for much less. Buy life insurance and protect your partner and kids from a heavy financial burden. And finally, breastfeeding and making your own baby food means you won’t have to buy formula or prepared food.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money now that you’re a new mom—certainly not $245,000 outright.
Get more tips:
- What to Do when You’re Stressed about Money
- Essential Breastfeeding Supplies You Need to Have
- Surprising Costs of Raising Twins
- 8 Misconceptions about Parenting First Time Moms Make
- 7 Unique Ways to Care for the Environment as a Family
Don’t forget: Join my newsletter and grab your FREE Printable Monthly Expenses Worksheet to estimate recurring expenses and typical costs of raising a baby:
Breastfeeding and cloth diapers are big money savers, not to mention being better for baby. I’ll second the making your own baby food, although, we’d just grind up whatever we were having for dinner that night.
Nina Garcia says
Absolutely, Jessica! And yes, after a while once the babies were old enough to eat table food, I’d literally also just grind up whatever we were having for dinner as well. Saves money AND time 🙂