How to Prepare a Baby Budget for Major Baby Expenses

by Kevin on January 31, 2013

This post has been a long time coming. I am pleased to publicly announce my wife and I are expecting our first child in July of this year. It hasn’t been an easy path, one full of tears and anxiety, but we are thrilled to be new parents.

(And terrified. But that’s another post for another day.)

Today I want to walk you through how we prepared for this moment. Longtime readers should expect us to not just jump into parenthood without having thought it through. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. We put together a baby budget a long, long time ago.

How to Financially Prepare for a Baby with a Baby Budget

Bringing a child into the world is expensive. Not only are you emotionally tapped out, physically exhausted around the clock, and droopy eyed when you can work, but you now have another mouth to feed, clothe, and in general provide for.

It is not a task to be taken lightly. Here are a few things we did to prepare a baby budget along the way.

Estimated When We Would Be Ready for Children

As part of our marriage counseling we were heavily encouraged to talk about children. Things like how many we wanted, when we wanted them, and so on. After a lot of discussion we decided we didn’t want kids right away. We got married at 22 (me) and 21 (my wife) years old. We wanted to enjoy life as a couple and be free to travel before putting down significant roots.

We decided that about the time my wife was 28 years old would be when we wanted Kiddo Numbero Uno to show up. That would give us about 6 years before we started trying to conceive.

With a target date in mind, it was time to make some budgeting decisions.

Budgeting for Big Baby Expenses

We knew there would be expenses along the way, but how can you prepare for something you’ve never experienced? We spent time talking to friends that had kids about some of the things, but maintaining that balance of not digging in too much to their finances. We could estimate how much diapers would be and all that, but what about the major items?

Here are the items we tried to take into consideration as major baby expenses:

  • hospital charges for delivery
  • a crib
  • a changing table / dresser contraption
  • bedding
  • paint (you know Mama wants to paint!)
  • stroller, car seats, play pen, a swing, all the random things that you can put a baby into to either make them sleep, get them exercise, or otherwise keep them occupied

Everyone we talked to could give us general numbers, but it always came down to this:

Well, it really just depends on what you guys want to spend. You can spend a little, a lot, or in between. 

While a true statement it was kind of frustrating. Of course we could spend somewhere between $3 and $30,000 on kid stuff. What should we spend?

Without a solid answer we shot in the dark. We decided that if we could save up $5,000 by the time the baby arrived that would give us enough cushion to buy the things we need and get settled. Even if we estimated on the low side having $5,000 in the bank for those expenses is better than having nothing. We also decided that if we are blessed with a second child a few years after the first one that some of the things we bought could be reused. With that in mind we set a budget of $2,500 to be saved by the time Kid #2 showed up.

Then it was just simple math. Just like you would save up for a down payment on a house or a vehicle, we started saving up for a “down payment” on our kids.

Starting about a year after we got married — I’m not kidding — we started setting aside about $90 per month for expenses for Child #1 and $35 per month for Child #2 expenses. Over the years to come we would build up enough money that when we were blessed with kids we would have money sitting there ready to pay for the big expenses.

It might seem over the top to start saving years in advance, but we’re so glad we did it. Many people are surprised to find they are pregnant and end up scrambling to put enough money together to cover major expenses. As the saying goes, it is a lot easier to eat an elephant a bite at a time… and it is a lot easier to save up for kids over many years than in 9 months.

In the coming weeks and months I’ll be sharing more baby related money articles. Now that we’ve talked about saving up for the big expenses, what about the monthly expenses (aka diapers, diapers, and more diapers)? I’ll cover that in my article next week.


Laurie February 1, 2013 at 6:14 am

Smart move, Kevin. SO many people don’t even think of doing this, us included, and we have 4 now! After baby comes, you’ll be thinking about so many things. Won’t it be nice that you don’t have to think about money?

Golfing Girl February 1, 2013 at 6:24 am

Congratulations…life will never be the same. As the saying goes, if you waited until you could afford children, you wouldn’t have any. That being said, somehow you make it work. We have three, all planned, but when we married we were thinking one or two. 🙂

I wish we had been more frugal with child one but we thought, and were told all the things we “needed.” We got smarter and shopped consignment sales and Once Upon a Child for most clothing and welcomed hand me downs from friends. In fact we trade girl clothes for boy clothes with our friends and it works out great (toys too like bicycles).

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