By Andrea Woroch
September is the most common birth month of the entire year and whether you're among the millions of couples preparing for baby's arrival or recently welcomed your tiny bundle of joy, this is a good time to review your budget since a lot is about to change. It's no surprise that raising children isn't cheap, but just how much it costs can be shocking to new parents. In fact, the USDA estimates that middle-income families spendbetween $12,350 to $13,900 on child-related expenses each year.
Budgeting for obvious costs like added health insurance premiums or a new crib are obvious, but couples also need to carefully consider all the smaller, unexpected items that can and will pop up.?
Here's a look at seven commonly overlooked babycare costs along with tips on how to save.?
1. Unexpected delivery costs
When prepping for baby's arrival, call your chosen hospital to get a breakdown of all the potential delivery fees. Make sure to ask about unexpected issues that can arise such as an emergency cesarean delivery or NICU admission. Considering that 1 in 3 women deliver via c-section these days, which costs 50% more than a vaginal birth, it's better to save more than you need so you don't go into debt. Otherwise, inquire about payment plans or negotiate a cash discount if you can pay it upfront and all at once.? If you want to reduce your interest payments and lower your debt, join MoneyTips and use our free Debt Optimizer tool.
2. Extra childcare needs
It's easy to estimate childcare costs during working hours when comparing local daycare centers and nanny fees. However, don't overlook the additional need for sitters on nights and weekends. With the average hourly rate for a babysitter reaching nearly $16.75 for one child and $19.26 for two kids, as reported by UrbanSitter, extra childcare can add up quickly. To save, set up a babysitter exchange with family or friends who have young children in which you offer to watch each other's kids for special events to save money.
3. Feeding expenses.
There are many health and cost benefits of exclusively breastfeeding, but it doesn't always work out the way parents plan. Some families may need to pump and bottle feed or supplement with formula, all of which requires extra spending on pumping and storage equipment, bottles and nipples as well as formula. In fact, the cost of baby formula across popular brands can average between$1,200 and $1,500 during a baby's first year, according to the U.S. Surgeon General.
The good news is that you can score coupons from some popular formula brands by signing up on their website. Sometimes ordering in bulk or setting up auto-delivery through sites like Amazon can net you additional savings, so compare prices and look out for deals to save.
4. Life insurance
No one wants to think about death after baby arrives, but life is unpredictable and a term life insurance policy will protect your family's financial future in case something tragic happens, including paying your mortgage and other monthly expenses or even going toward college savings.?
When it comes to determining how much coverage to purchase, a common rule of thumb is for both parents to have coverage that's 5 to 10 times their annual salary. If one parent stays home, he or she should get enough coverage to cover the cost of childcare.
The good news is life insurance doesn't have to be expensive. For example, a healthy 35-year-old woman can buy a 20-year, $500,000 term life insurance policy for about $20 per month. That's like one order of take out pizza! Plus, you can set it up right from home through sites like Haven Life, a life insurance agency backed by MassMutual, which makes it simple to buy affordable term life insurance online. Use an online life insurance calculator for help estimating your coverage needs.
5. Dog walking and pet-sitting services
According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), 67% of U.S. households own a pet. That means, many expectant parents may have a fur child at home who will need some extra love and care while transitioning to the new family dynamic.
Whether you need a pet sitter to watch your dog or cat when you head to the hospital to deliver or just someone to walk your dog during the day so you can catch up on much-needed Z's when baby naps, you have options to help stretch your budget. For instance, you can find reliable and affordable pet care locally through Rover.com. Once you've browsed through the huge list of available sitters nearby and found the perfect match, set up a "meet and greet" to get comfortable with each other. The payment, messaging, updates, and care instructions are provided through the app or website.?
6. Increased utilities
Babies don't need much, but keeping them cool during the summer and warm in the winter are top priorities and this can come at a sticky shock to most new parents who notice their energy bills spike after baby arrives. Not to mention, with both parents spending more time at home than usual, especially when taking time off work to care for their little one, it's natural for energy use to rise.
To trim your utility bill, consider adding a programmable thermostat that you can control when you do go out of the house so that you don't blast and waste energy when no one is home. Plus, many units are nowadays Wi-Fi enabled so you can control temperature settings from your smartphone to ensure it's nice and cozy before you return home for naptime.
Don't forget to unplug unused gadgets around your home, including your TV and entertainment system, since these continue using power even in the off mode. You can find even more clever energy saving tips at Energy.gov.
7. Parent-bonding classes
First-time moms and dads don't think about the cost of parenting bonding classes, but many new parents find it's a great way to break up the monotony of the day and be social while also getting quality time with their little one. Music classes and mommy-and-me gymnastics are popular choices, but they are also expensive. For instance, classes at baby gymnastics center, My Gym, start at $89.50 for four weeks. However, these aren't your only choices. A little further research can help you turn up free options. Many libraries and even bookstores host free book readings, some of which add singing and dancing into the mix. You can also find discounted admissions to local zoos, aquariums, and museums on certain days of the week to save on special outings.?
If you have a rewards credit card, check which stores stocking baby accessories you can earn additional points at and maximize your cash back or other rewards. If you want more credit, check out our list of rewards credit card offers.