September is the busiest month for new births, with 9 of the 10 most common birthdays in America falling between September 9th and September 20th.
This is an exciting time for many first-time parents, but it comes with some stress too, including sleepless nights and growing bills. According to the latest Cost of Raising a Child report, the average middle-income families drop between $12,300 to $13,900 on child-related expenses each year alone.
To alleviate the financial overwhelm that comes with having a baby, family-finance expert Andrea Woroch put together a list of common money mistakes new parents make along with practical tips on how to avoid them:
Mistake 1: Upgrading their home and car.
Parents think they need more space to accommodate baby, but buying a bigger house or car adds an unnecessary financial burden and more stress during an already overwhelming time. Stick with what you have and give yourself time to settle into this new life and new budget.
Keep in mind, the American Association of Pediatrics recommends babies sleep in the same room as mom and dad for a minimum of six months, up to a year, so you have some time before you need an extra room for a nursery or play area.
Mistake 2: Overbuying baby gear and clothing
Baby brands want parents to think gadgets will make it easier to care for a new baby — oftentimes though, these items go unused! Save by borrowing from friends or family, shop used or rent baby gear through sites like Rents4Baby.com or BabyQuip.com.
For essentials, you need right away like a car seat or crib, shop sales and look for coupons through sites like CouponCabin.com. You can even earn cashback for all your baby essentials to offset future baby costs— i.e. you can get 20% off at BuyBuyBaby.com + earn 2 percent cashback on your purchase.
Mistake 3: Ignoring life insurance and needs.
No one wants to talk about death when you welcome a new life, but now that you have a child who depends on you financially, you need to have these tough talks. This includes getting life insurance, appointing a legal guardian and setting up your will.
Apply for term life insurance online at sites like Ladder Life which offers a unique perk— they’re the only company that allows you to increase or decrease coverage as your financial needs change. Use this free online life insurance calculator to estimate how much coverage will be adequate for your needs. Meanwhile, you can set up a guardianship or a will quickly online through sites like TrustandWill.com, which offers step-by-step instructions to help you through the process. You can take a quick quiz on their homepage to figure out which estate plan is best for your family’s needs.
Mistake 4: Underestimating childcare costs.
Working moms and dads can expect to spend $565 per week for a nanny and $215 for a daycare center, according to data from Care.com. Beyond your 9 to 5 though, you will likely need additional care for nights and weekends from time to time. Considering the average hourly babysitting rate is $15, this can add up and bust your childcare budget. To save, set up a babysitting exchange with other families in your neighborhood or with relatives who have children around the same age. Sites like BabysitterExchange.com can also help you set up a babysitter co-op.
Mistake 5: Putting off college savings.
College is the furthest thing from your mind when you are kneed deep in dirty diapers and haven’t slept more than a couple of hours, putting off saving for your child’s future education will end up costing you more in the long run. The sooner you start, the less you will have to put away every month. To figure out just how much you need to start saving, use this college cost projector tool from Vanguard (it will shock you!). A 529 College Savings Plan works like a retirement fund to help grow savings. And, you can politely ask family and friends to contribute to this account in lieu of toys for birthdays, holidays and other celebrations.
Andrea Woroch is a nationally recognized money-saving expert, writer, speaker and frequent on-air contributor who is passionate about helping American families find simple ways to save more without radically changing their lifestyle. Andrea has appeared on hundreds of popular shows across the country including Today, Good Morning America, Dr. Oz, CNN, Inside Edition and ABC World News, plus hundreds of regional shows across the country. Her advice and articles have been featured in the New York Times, Time, Money, Cosmopolitan, Forbes, Huffington Post and many more. When Andrea is sharing advice on budgeting or smart shopping, she’s busy chasing after her two young daughters. Read more about Andrea at andreaworoch.com and follow her on Instagram for daily money tips.