We all know babies are expensive, but how much of a nest egg do you need to start growing your family?
There’s no doubt having children is expensive, but that doesn’t mean you should be scared of having children, especially if you save up.
According to CNN Money, as of 2015, it costs about $233,610 to raise a child as a newborn to 17 years of age in the United States. Unfortunately, this cost isn’t associated with the price of college.
Parents today can expect to spend roughly $12,350 to $14,000 per year – slightly higher numbers than the USDA’s 2010 report.
For those who think their household income is strong enough to survive the onset of baby expenses, you’d be surprised how much an impact a new baby can really have on finances.
“And though much has been said about the cost of having a baby and the cost of raising a child to adulthood, a new study suggests that many first-time parents aren’t financially prepared for that crucial first year, no matter how much money they make,” says one NerdWallet study.
The study found that nearly 60 percent of current parents regretted not taking “more financial action” during the first year of their baby’s lives, and nearly the same percent of expectant parents severely underestimate how much a baby will cost.
How Much Should I Actually Save?
These numbers may seem overwhelming, but it’s important to remember that costs will be spread out through the year, month by month. Spending $12,000 in your baby’s first year of life doesn’t necessarily mean you need to save that much before you have your little one, it just means you’ll need to know what to expect.
So what’s a good starting point for your baby fund? It depends on a number of factors, including:
- your typical living expenses
- your income after having a child
- increased health insurance costs
- optional expenses like child care, life insurance
- how “secure” you want your baby fund to be
- your overall financial comfort level
Cat Alford at Magnify Money recommends saving at least $7,800 – most of which will go to health-related expenses.
“We personally saved $10,000 for our twins, and I can tell you we used every single penny of it and more thus far in the first nine months of their lives,” she says.
Minda Zetlin at LearnVest recommends having $20,000 set aside for baby.
“A normal pregnancy typically costs between $6,000 and $10,000—much more if you need special care or a procedure such as a C-section,” she says. “Next, your baby’s first year will cost approximately $8,000 to $10,000 (more if you live in a high-cost-of-living urban area).”
To be fair, that $10,000 first-year estimate will be spread throughout the year, so you might not necessarily feel like you need that money upfront, though it can be a good safety net.
Many financial experts, including personal finance blogger Kristin Wong, recommend having an emergency fund of three to six months of living expenses – and potentially more if you’re expecting.
” An emergency fund is meant to cover your monthly budget if an unplanned expense should arise – and with a bigger family comes a bigger budget,” says Wong. “Plus, when you have dependents, there’s greater risk of an emergency popping up. You might consider saving an additional amount for every dependent you have.”
If you’re basing savings off this metric, it may put you somewhere between the $7,000 and $20,000 recommendations.
The consensus: for many families, saving up between $8,000 and $12,000 is a good starting point, though it may give you more peace of mind to save up more if possible.
How to Jumpstart Your Baby Fund
If seeing these numbers put you in shock – don’t worry! Here are some ways you can save up money before your bundle of joy gets here.
1. First, Get Rid of Your Debt.
You may or may not have heard of the snowball method. Most people recognize it from Dave Ramsey. He highly recommends this type of system to pay off debt. The snowball method basically means to list all of your different types of debt. Start with the one that has the lowest balance.
Pay each balance every month, of course, but with the smallest debt you’re working on at the time, add as much extra money to it as you can comfortably. Once you knock out one balance, you move on to the next smallest balance, and so on.
“Paying down debt isn’t easy, but it’s something that needs to be done,” says blogger Manuela Williams. “If you feel defeated in the debt paying process, try to celebrate the small victories in this process to keep you motivated!”
2. Get on the Five Dollar Challenge
Every time you receive a $5 bill back from purchasing something, save it.
Anytime a $5 comes your way, put it away. Do this for as long as you want to see how much you can save up. Some people do it for a year, but do what feels best for you and see how many $5 bills you can rack up.
“About a year ago, my friend and her husband were challenged to save EVERY $5 bill that came into their possession. The rule is simple… if you’ve got $5, it goes into a jar and you can never count the cash,” says one blogger at Fabulessly Frugal.
At the end of ten months, her friend had collected more than $1,300 in fives. CHA CHING.
3. Start the Dime Challenge
Similar to the $5 bill challenge, each time a dime comes your way, toss it in a 2-liter bottle. See how many you can save up in one year. If you were to participate in both the $5 and dime challenge, you could save up quite a bit in one year.
How Much Can You Put Aside?
Sometimes it’s easier to look at a chart and see numbers visually. If you’re a visual person, this chart may make it easier for you to show you how much you could save in just one year.
From amounts as low as $50 and as high as $3,000, you could save up quite a bit. You just have to choose the best number that fits your budget and stick to it.
Where Can You Cut Costs?
Are there ways you can open up some access to extra money? Most people don’t realize they do have ways around saving money. Here are three top ways you can start saving more.
Move, If You Can
If you have an apartment and you can find something with enough bedrooms that is cheaper, but still nice, don’t think twice. Yes, there are costs associated with moving, but in the end, it will pay off.
Even if you were only saving $200 per month on rent when you move, that’s an extra $2,400 per year. You can throw that into your baby fund or use it to pay off debt.
Cut The Cord Already
This one you may have heard of, but have you done it yet? Have you said goodbye to the cable company who is taking your hard earned cash? You have so many options to still binge-watch your favorite shows. Netflix, Hulu, Sling TV, and several others give you the ability not to miss out.
Are You Buying to Impress?
This is a serious question. When you buy that shiny new car or the newest cell phone that came out, are you buying it to fit in with the crowd? Just to have it because it’s the next best thing?
That’s what companies want you to do. They make it seem like you can’t live without the newest product. You can. Forget the shiny new things. After all, they are just “things.” If you truly want to save money, put your family and future child’s needs first, you will commit to buying necessities.