How To Prepare for Baby on a Budget
Learn how to prepare for baby on a budget with these tips and free baby budget worksheet!
Pregnancy is a beautiful time of growth and transformation, with a dash of stress. Preparing for parenthood, coupled with the new expenses can be overwhelming!
Don’t worry, though! Take a deep breath! There are plenty of ways to make it all work without going bankrupt.
You can score free baby stuff from stores and giveaways, shop for secondhand items, and create a budget that allows you to live comfortably while preparing for your little one.
If you’re looking for how much money to save before baby arrives, that’s a post for a different day. This article is all about budgeting for the items you’ll need when you bring your baby home.
Baby budgets vary from family to family. With my first son, our budget was TIGHT. It was less about planning and budgeting, and more about scrambling to even make it happen in time. With my second pregnancy, we’re much more financially stable, thankfully. I’ve seen both sides of the coin.
And through it all, I’ve gathered a lot of knowledge on preparing for babies within our means. I’ve set up a nursery and welcomed our baby boy home for a few hundred dollars thanks to generous people in my community, and my ability to find great deals on secondhand furniture. After that, I felt like anything was possible!
It’s always best to start buying your baby stuff in advance. The more time you have, the less money you have to spend each month, and the less stressed you will be. Regardless of whether you have six months to plan, or two, I’ve got you covered with some tips that got me through both rough times and good times.
How To Prepare For Baby on A Budget
1. Create A List of Things To Buy
Check out my baby checklist post if you’re not sure where to start or what your newborn is going to need. I give a few of my personal recommendations in the post, and I even provide free printable versions in pink or blue.
Of course, there will always be a few things you might want that aren’t listed, which is why I left blank spaces for you!
2. Create A Budget For Everything You Need
You might not know which exact crib or diaper bag you want yet, but you should try to narrow it down to a few options, or at least do a quick Google search to check out prices. Get a general idea for the cost of each item, and overshoot a little bit if you’re unsure.
3. Divide The Total Amount By The Number of Months You Have Left
Add up the total cost of everything you need for the baby, and divide it by the number of months you have left. If the number you see scares the living crap out of you, cut back where you see fit.
You can still leave it on your list, just keep it as a reminder for later. Remember, your baby only needs so much when you first bring him/her home!
4. Start With The Necessities and Work Your Way Through
Begin planning out which items you’re going to buy each month, and always start with the necessities! For example, I’m starting off by buying a car seat and crib.
Nothing is worse than the anxiety of getting close to your due date and realizing you’re missing big, expensive necessities. It’s much better to save the fun stuff for later. You’ll feel more secure, and you won’t worry about your budget nearly as much.
5. Every Month, Make It Your Goal To Stay Under Budget
It feels good to stay under budget! The money you save can be rolled over into next month’s budget to get ahead on your shopping. Let’s say your crib budget is $250. Before running out and buying a brand new crib for $250, try looking at cheaper options first. This leads me to my next tip…
6. Buy Secondhand
You can score some awesome baby items on the Facebook Marketplace and Buy Sell Trade apps like 5miles an Letgo. For my firstborn, we bought pretty much everything from those apps, and we put together my son’s entire nursery (and a ridiculous amount of clothes) for a few hundred dollars!
There may also be secondhand shops in your area, like Kid To Kid. Why pay full price for brand new items when you can buy the same thing for half the price (or less).
7. Compare Prices
If you don’t find what you’re looking for at secondhand shops or Buy Sell Trade apps, you can at least compare prices from different outlets to make sure you’re getting the best deal. If you’re dead set on buying from a specific store, most places price match!
8. Adjust Your List as You Go
Hopefully you’re able to stay under budget, because it allows you more wiggle room. And being able to finish purchasing everything on your list early is a huge relief!
However, things happen. I recommended starting with the necessities first for a reason. If things pop up (as they so often do), and you find yourself needing to cut your budget back a couple of months in, don’t feel pressured to buy every single thing on your list. It’s okay to knock off a few of the non-essentials.
9. Print Wall Art From Etsy
Decor is not a necessity, but we all want it, right? Nesting urges, coupled with access to social media and Pinterest makes us want to go overboard on the cute nursery decor.
I get it! But if money is tight, just print off some wall art from Etsy and frame it yourself. It’s unique, and there are plenty of adorable designs available for pretty cheap! It will save you money doing it this way, instead of buying pre-framed nursery decor from Target or Hobby Lobby.
Not to mention, you can really make it your own. Some shop owners even offer customized designs!
10. Don’t Go Overboard on Items Your Baby Might Not Like
We already know to start with the necessities and work our way down to the fun items. But it’s also important to remember that there are some items that your baby might not ever use!
Sure, stock up on diapers and little onesies, but don’t buy too many of the newborn size. My son only fit in them for a week or two and we had tons leftover. Some babies never fit in them at all!
Another example would be bottles and pacifiers. Some babies never take a pacifier, or they’ll prefer a certain brand of nipple. There’s no way to tell until they’re here, so it’s best just to get a couple and wait it out.
11. Stick To Convertible Furniture
Convertible furniture is undoubtedly more expensive, but it’s worth it in the long run. A convertible crib or car seat can last years, whereas an infant carseat or crib will only last about a year or two.
And if you can’t afford these items brand new, look for gently used options. Many people will advise you to never buy a used car seat for safety reasons. However, you can definitely find well-made convertible cribs that were gently used for cheap!
12. Return Unwanted Gifts ASAP
Don’t feel bad! People are buying you gifts to help you. If they give you something you have no use for, don’t feel bad about returning it or swapping it out with something else from your list. It’s another great way to cut your costs down.
Or, if you’re comfortable, simply ask for donations from friends and family, or set up an Amazon baby registry. They’ll even send you a free welcome box!
13. Don’t Be Ashamed To Ask For Help
Babies are expensive. And even though every single one is a blessing, not all babies are exactly planned. If you find yourself in a position where you don’t think you can even get the necessities together, look to your friends, family, and community for help. You’d be surprised what others will do to help you.
Other moms in your area may have furniture and toys that they want to get rid of anyway, and it would be a win-win situation if you could go take it off their hands for very cheap or even free. It does take a village, after all.
If this is what you’re currently facing, you’re not the first one, and you won’t be the last. Other people can be so understanding and helpful! All you have to do is ask! (Or join local Facebook mom groups and keep your eyes peeled for free baby item postings.)
Baby Budget Worksheets
These baby budget worksheets are available in blue and pink, and match my baby checklists! Every month is available, just print the ones you need!
I hope my tips help you prepare for baby while staying within your budget! It’s easy to go overboard, which is what makes it so hard. If you’re pregnant, congrats!
All the stress of preparing for your little bundle of joy will melt away as soon as they’re here, only to be replaced with the stress of keeping them alive, and being ‘good enough’. Isn’t parenthood fun?
Are you preparing for a baby on a budget? Which tips do you think are most important for being able to stay within your set budget? Let me know in the comments section below!
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Hi Victoria! Fantastic tips!
I know that everything regarding finances can be so stressful and overwhelming for so many people, especially when they aren’t ready for it. Costs just add up and add up, it can really scare a lot of people. The tips mentioned here will help for sure.
One thing I’d add is to audit the list of things you need as a new parent, particularly after you’ve purchased the true essentials first as you smartly suggest. The truth is, there’s a lot of fear-based marketing from a lot of big baby product companies, pushing products that aren’t always necessary at all. Even for products that are essentials, a lot of companies prey on people’s fears and bump prices up for the illusion of safety, even when the cheaper brand products are made in the exact same factory, from the exact same materials.
This isn’t always the case and sometimes there is a true need, or at least an improvement in actual safety metrics. However, if people knew how shady some players in the baby product industry are, a lot of parents would save a lot of money. This is coming from somebody who manufactures products in this space, and hears information from the factories directly.
Anyway, great tips again and I’ll be sure to share this article the next time the topic comes up in conversation. Thanks!
I love the framing printed art from Etsy tip! That is such a good idea and nice to support those small business crafters. I had planned on getting a couple cheap canvases and doing some simple paintings to hang up in my baby’s nursery but I never got around to it. Thanks for the tips, great post!