Money Issues You Might Not Anticipate When Having a Baby - Live Like a Mensch
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Live Like a Mensch

Money Issues You Might Not Anticipate When Having a Baby


As of this writing, I'm am eagerly awaiting the world debut of our second baby, Thing 2.

It's fairly common knowledge that parents are better prepared and more relaxed by the time their second kid arrives. (There were even some hilarious commercials recently that showed the difference between parents of first and second children). Of all the ways I feel more ready for Thing 2 than I did for LO, the finances of having a baby is a big one

Now, I'm not talking about the enormous insurance copay we're going to owe the hospital after Thing 2 is born, which could be its own post. (And I remember a friend telling me about how long it took her grandparents to pay off the bill for her father and uncle's [twin] birth. The boys were about 7 when their parents told them they were finally theirs, free and clear). No, I mean the costs associated with having a baby that no one ever thinks of. Things like:

The Mohel Okay, this is only an issue for Jewish parents of sons, but it was still pretty surprising. Our mohel charges $700 for a bris (circumcision ceremony), which feels like paying someone a large amount of money to punch you as hard as he can in the stomach, after which you all eat bagels and smoked salmon. (That's not to say that covenant of brit milah is not a beautiful part of my religious tradition. It's just that no matter how many times I might go through this, it's never going to be easy seeing any part of my tiny son's anatomy in close proximity to a sharp knife).

Clothes for Mom Before LO was born, I knew that I would still look about six months pregnant as we were taking him home from the hospital, so I knew that I could just keep on wearing my maternity clothes for a little while. What I didn't anticipate was the in-between phase when I hadn't quite gotten back to my pre-pregnancy weight but the maternity wear was hanging off of me. (And this is where the stereotype of the mom in yoga pants comes from, of course). I think life for new moms would be a lot easier if it were socially acceptable to wear bathrobes in public. In any case, I found that I had to make several unplanned clothing purchases in the six to nine months after LO was born, just to keep from running errands stark naked.

Food There are two sides to this. First, there's the fact that cooking while parenting a newborn is a nearly-impossible task--which is why good friends and family bring over meals for new parents. But eventually those meals do dry up, and cooking generally hasn't gotten a great deal easier by the time that happens. So you end up eating a lot of takeout.

The other part of the food issue is the unrivaled sense of ungovernable hunger nursing moms will often feel. Plan on Mom eating like a truck driver, and adjust the food budget accordingly.

Batteries As an infant, LO lived in his baby swing, because the stubborn little cuss would not otherwise consent to naps. We ATE batteries. We finally bought some excellent rechargeable batteries, pretty much just in time for LO to outgrow his swing.

Laundry Detergent/Bleach I don't think I need to elaborate on this one.

Always Buying the WRONG Product It took a bunch of trial and error before we figured out what kind of pacifier/bottle/swaddler/soap/ointment/baby grand piano/etc LO would tolerate. And if you know of a new, sleep-deprived parent who is capable of holding onto (and then finding) the necessary receipts for returning the WRONG product once it has become clear that the child is moments away from declaring international war over just how WRONG the particular product is, then I would like to know where you live and if the unicorns are as beautiful as has been reported. Basically, I made regular pilgrimages to Goodwill to drop off the WRONG products that I foolishly bought.

Even though I feel more prepared for all of this for Thing 2, I also know that he's going to be his own person and this experience will be different and unique. Which means I will certainly discover other financial stumbling blocks that simply haven't yet occurred to me.

What financial issues took you by surprise when you had a baby?



haverwench said:

I notice that your list did *not* include diapers, by which I infer that you're cloth diapering. (The bleach was also a tip-off.) So this is one area in which you are definitely saving a ton of money. The baby cost calculator at babycenter.com estimates the cost of disposable diapers at $72 per month, while cloth diapers washed at home cost an estimated $19 a month (in water, detergent, bleach, and electricity, presumably). So that's a difference of $53 per month, and if your kid stays in diapers for 30 months, it adds up to $1590. Yow.

September 12, 2013 11:38 AM

Emily Guy Birken said:

We're still up in the air about cloth diapers for Thing 2. We cloth diapered LO for about 18 months, at which point we had trouble getting the fit right on the FuzziBunz diapers that were supposed to grow with him. That coincided with when my mom got sick and I was traveling back and forth to Baltimore quite a bit, so we ended up just doing the disposable route afterwards.

I'd like to try cloth for Thing 2, but J enjoyed the convenience of disposables. (So did I, for that matter). But, I really am committed to reducing my diaper footprint (I still, ahem, shake the solids from disposable diapers in order to minimize the impact of using them even though I don't know anyone else who does so), so I think I'll try LO's old FuzziBunz on Thing 2. We'll see how it goes.

September 12, 2013 2:03 PM

bobi said:

Clothes for mom suggestions: bathrobes are totally acceptable (see peopleofwalmart.com) but, seriously, when you are dropping off your mistakes at Goodwill, check out their fashions: good stuff, cheap!

September 12, 2013 6:43 PM

hhctnhim said:

Thanks for sharing your light, you also have to think about additional baby.

My son is 3.5 years old, naughty or sick easily.

But still try to have another child to add more family-limit

September 13, 2013 3:48 AM

frugal_fun said:

"This is one area in which you are definitely saving a ton of money. The baby cost calculator at babycenter.com estimates the cost of disposable diapers at $72 per month, while cloth diapers washed at home cost an estimated $19 a month (in water, detergent, bleach, and electricity, presumably). So that's a difference of $53 per month, and if your kid stays in diapers for 30 months, it adds up to $1590. Yow."

Unfortunately, saving money with cloth is only a "maybe" in terms of disposable vs. cloth. (And I started as a cloth devotee.)

Smart shopping will knock down disposables to about $35-$40 a month. $72 must be expensive brands at full retail. Couponing actually works here, as well as finding acceptable store brands.

Meanwhile, there's a huge initial investment in cloth diapers. Using a diapering system like services use diapers are best value. Multiple covers must be bought in multiple sizes, although the cloth diapers can be reused. Unfortunately, there are 2 main sizes of cloth diapers so tiny infants are overwhelmed by a huge cloth diaper. I found when shopping for child #3, for the first 6-9 months was $200. It goes up fast for the cuter, easier to use diapers. Estimate about $300-$350 for boring, new cloth for the first 18 months. (Used are much harder to find because the last time I checked eBay bans them as "underwear" sales.)

So we're already at 8-9 months of "perfect" cloth use to recoup just the initial investment into cloth compared to disposables ($40 monthly). I have not yet counted in the water, the electricity for the hot water or machines for those months. The estimate of $19 is optimistic if you have to pay for water and sewer by volume.

And at any rate, the monthly cost is highly variable based on personal situations. Some places you have to pay for trash service by volume/weight, other places it's a mandatory flat fee that's unavoidable. Electricity is reasonable close in most of the country. Water has no monthly cost if you have a well, us city folks quite often are metered for both use and sewer. My city has a progressive system - the more water we use, the more expensive it gets per CCF.

For us, we didn't use cloth "perfectly" and therefore some disposables were part of our cost. Adding an extra load or two week was a substantial cost, thanks to the progressive water metering. Meanwhile, our trash costs did not go down for less volume. Therefore, cloth is neutral or the losing proposition economically for us. Losing would have been a guaranteed if we had paid full price for the cutesy fun ones.

Based on my experience, I'd really encourage people do the math. If you can get free or nearly free cloth diapers (gifts??), have well water/septic systems, and are reasonably organized, you can save money.

If like us, you're charged for water and sewage by volume, trash is a flat inescapable tax, and there's no way you'll receive something like diapers for gift there's a distinct possibility that you'll be losing (or at least not gaining) money to wash diapers.

I know this a bit of frugal hearsay, but I couldn't escape our numbers. :(

September 14, 2013 1:27 PM

Live Like a Mensch said:

J and I have a wonderful group of friends here in Lafayette who took turns bringing us dinner for a month

October 19, 2013 2:11 PM

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