One Mom’s Simple Budgeting Tips For Keeping Up With Her Rapidly Growing Newborn
Blogger and first-time mom Winnie Kison has always been budget-conscious. But when she and her husband found out they were expecting their first child, she became hyper aware of their family spending habits. As a result, she developed savvy money management techniques that have helped carry her through pregnancy and baby prep to life with her 3-month-old daughter Kaycee. For Kison, preparing a budget was a necessary first step in becoming a responsible parent, and she wants to help others benefit from her learnings.
"Budgeting can reduce the financial stresses and burdens that might affect how we care for our newborns," Kison says. "We want to confidently make purchases that are a good fit for our lifestyle and family. A clear budget helps illustrate what's necessary and what's not."
While budgeting looks different for every family, one of Kison's biggest tips is to determine what's a necessity versus a preference — at first, it can be hard to tell. "As a first-time mom, I just want to buy everything for my baby because I'm not 100 percent sure what my baby needs," she says. "For now, I try to prioritize items I'll use on a daily basis and items that are required for safety and protection, such as a car seat and comfortable clothing."
Read ahead for more of Kison's newborn budgeting tips on everything from clothes to nursery items.
When it comes to budgeting for your baby's clothing, Kison recommends building a baby capsule wardrobe. Capsule wardrobes are an efficient way to save both time and money when getting dressed — and they work just as well for kids as they do for adults. Essentially, they're a small collection of clothes that can be combined in different ways because every piece is versatile and functional.
For Kison, the key is purchasing items that can be worn in multiple ways — like solid bodysuits, a neutral cardigan or two, and basic leggings. She specifically loves shopping at Carter's because of the brand's wide variety of cute, affordable, and quality options. "I have many clothes from Carter's and they've kept up with multiple washes," she says. "Carter's has so many different types of styles, it's easy to find pieces that will work for your family."
Kison also suggests buying baby clothes in bundles — something you can find plenty of at Carter's. "Bundles are budget friendly and also have a similar color scheme, which makes them easy to mix and match," she says. "Especially if you like all the pieces in the bundle, it just makes buying clothes easier and more efficient rather than buying single pieces all of the time."
Kison is currently breastfeeding her baby daughter, and for moms who are doing the same, she recommends collecting let-down milk with a haaka and freezing it in breastmilk storage bags to feed to your baby later. "Not only does this method save us money from not buying as much formula, it's also helped me build a stash in my freezer so my husband can help bottle feed," she says.
For nursing, Kison also uses Silverettes to save money on nipple cream since those offer reusable relief from a one-time purchase. A quality nursing bra and sunflower lecithin supplements are other items Kison invests in to save money in the long run. "Sunflower lecithin has been a big factor in helping me prevent clogged ducts," she says. "I have two capsules a day — one in the morning and one at night."
Once she introduces solid foods to baby Kaycee, Kison plans to make baby food at home rather than buying pricey pre-made jars. "It'll be fun for me since I love cooking and it'll be a sensory and touch experience for my baby," she says. "It will be a mess, but I know it'll be worth it."
There's no way around it — babies go through a whole lot of diapers, which inevitably causes some strain on your wallet. Reusable cloth diapers can be a money-saving option if you don't mind the added laundry.
Personally, Kison likes looking for deals on disposable diapers at large retailers. "They often have sales, especially if you buy in bulk," she says. "My husband and I also used Amazon for our baby registry, which gave us a reusable 15-percent discount that lasted three months after our baby was born."
Another tip Kison lives by is joining loyalty programs of diaper brands. They often have rewards such as gift cards and special offers only available to members. You can also sign up for a diaper subscription service that drops off diapers in bulk at your door for a discounted price. Depending on the service, you may even get to bundle your diapers with other items like wipes, too.
While toys may not seem like a high priority for a newborn, they play an important role in helping babies get acquainted with the world around them. Toys even help parts of your baby's brain connect and grow, which is essential for achieving various milestones. But while toys and playtime are important, your baby doesn't need anything overly fancy. "The best playtime items are the ones that you will use regularly," Kison says.
Instead of purchasing high-contrast cards, Kison suggests creating your own using a black sharpie and cardstock. Printing some from your own computer is another option. "Babies also get entertained by items that are not even considered baby toys," Kison says. "For example, my baby loves it most when I tour her around our home describing everything in the room such as our fridge and ceiling fan."
Buying gently-used toys is another way to avoid overspending. "There are many parents who used products for a short period of time because their kids didn't like it or they outgrew it quickly," Kison says. And don't forget to look out for sales. "We bought most of our items during Black Friday ahead of our baby's birth."
Keep in mind that your baby will use and outgrow several toys within their first year. Plan ahead and organize toys by age, only taking out a few at a time. Once your child outgrows the toys from that level, you can bring out the next batch as if they're brand new.
Setting up the nursery can be intimidating, which is why Kison advises starting slow and first focusing on absolute essentials before deciding on decor. "I began with a safe crib, a comfortable nursing chair that supports my neck and back, and a dresser to store all my baby clothes and products," she says.
Keep yourself organized by creating a checklist for all of your nursery needs. "Wait to buy until it's necessary," Kison says. "Many times you might think you need something, but you end up using it maybe once or twice. It can be hard, but try not to impulse buy."
Research is one thing that can help you avoid unnecessary purchases. "Even though your baby may not be of age for certain products, if you've done your research and already know what you want, you can quickly make an educated purchase when a sale pops up," Kison says. Kison also recommends borrowing anything you can from friends and family and reselling any products your baby has outgrown — their crib, for example, once they hit the toddler stage.
And lastly, don't forget that family and friends are there to help. Sometimes they may be unsure of what's needed or hesitant to gift anything because they don't know what having a baby is like, but if they ask, be vocal about what you need and direct them to your registry — it can make a big difference.