How to budget for baby

Is the buzz about the royal baby giving you some serious baby fever? Not so fast. 

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average cost to raise a child until the age of 18 is $234,900 — a number large enough to make anyone feel as though they would have to be royalty in order to raise a child! 

And when you include the cost to send that same child to college, the figures can be downright scary! 

However, if there’s one truism I've heard time-and-time again, it’s: if you’re waiting to have a baby until you can afford one, you’ll be waiting forever. Luckily there are steps you can take to ensure you are as prepared as possible for an upcoming bundle of joy. 

  • Take control of your debt — now. If you have credit card debt, now’s the time to take care of it. You’d be shocked at the amount of money you’ll have to save once those monthly payments are out of the picture! If you're looking for a quicker way to pay off your debt — not to mention the potential for lower interest rates! — you may want to consider a debt management plan.  
  • Explore your health coverage options. Checkups alone for baby can cost more than $100 per visit. You may also want to explore adding long-term disability and life insurance coverage to your existing healthcare plan. You should also look into the maternity/paternity leave policies at your workplace. 
  • Plan out the details. Will one of you stay home with the baby? Will you pay for daycare? Making – or at least thinking about – decisions like these will help you create a realistic plan for expanding your family. 
  • Practice living on a “baby budget.” If you are planning to live on one salary, start now. This will give you an opportunity to make the necessary lifestyle changes and cutbacks before your bundle of joy arrives — which will also make for a much easier financial transition. 
  • Get tips from the experts — other moms! No one can give you better advice than people who have been through the experience themselves. So ask your friends and family, or visit message boards and online forums. There are also a lot of mommy bloggers out there who write solely about this topic. One of my favorite blogs is Our Freaking Budget — Joanna and Johnny blog about everything from getting out of debt to planning for and raising their baby girl. 

What about you? Do you have any advice for new moms or moms-to-be? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment! 

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Jessica Horton is a former copywriter and community manager at MMI.