If you’ve been following along with my pregnancy on my Instagram, you already know I haven’t had the best time, at least physically speaking. Pregnancy is harder on your body than I ever could have imagined and honestly? I’m glad it’s almost over.
Dealing with so many physical changes made me realize how grateful I was to have my finances under control so that I didn’t have to “worry about money” on top of everything else over the last nine months.
I won’t bore you with all my observations (complaints? ha.) about the physical side of pregnancy. There are, after all, millions of websites that will do that for you. Instead, I wanted to talk about the most important money lessons I learned while on this completely new journey.
#1 – Baby expenses: gear is costly and overwhelming
I know this is probably the most obvious statement of all time, but I was surprised. And while there are less-expensive versions of every item offered, the fact that what works for one baby, may not work for yours means you may buy multiples of the same thing in the hope it's what “works” for your little one. So, I was surprised by that.
The good news is the fact that babies grow so quickly means the market for buying things secondhand is quite vast and most items are in excellent shape (compared to the wear and tear you get on most secondhand items.)
There are also many ways to save if you commit to it: such as accepting hand me downs (you’ll get lots of offers, I promise!), taking advantage of baby swaps and consignment sales, and leaning into discounts available for new mothers as registry participants.
Final tip: If someone offers to throw you a shower (here's the recap of mine!), I do suggest taking them up on it. People love to celebrate the arrival of your little one, and this can be a great way to get a lot of what you need from generous friends and loved ones who want to celebrate you.
#2 – You’ll actually save money in certain areas
As I revealed in my post on money and marriage, I am on an allowance. And pre-pregnancy I was having trouble sticking to it. Then, after the baby came along, my personal spending went way down.
Here are just a handful of things I unintentionally cut way back on during my pregnancy: beauty treatments, clothes (why bother?), cocktails and girls nights out (I can’t drink, and often I haven’t really had the energy to go out in the last nine months) and eating out (for many of the same reasons mentioned above.)
I'm telling you this to comfort you: while there are a lot of things to spend money on during your pregnancy, there are also areas where you won't spend either, so in a weird way, it all balances out.
#3 – Don't buy a lot of maternity wear
With regards to my maternity wardrobe, I had a dear friend loan me some of her old outfits, and then I shopped the Motherhood Maternity outlet for day-to-day wear like tees, jeans, and sweatshirts. I also bought yoga leggings (with tags) off of ebay for a deep discount. All-in, I think my maternity wardrobe, which I have work the crap out of the last nine months cost around $500. I'll also get to use it again if/when we decide to have a second baby.
There are cute maternity clothes and options out there, but I wouldn't spend a lot in this area. For one, it goes by quick. Second, you don't feel great, so having comfortable clothing is more important than style. Third, you probably won't fit into some of it by the last month or so.
Final tip: Buy a few workhorse pieces, wash them a ton, and call it a day. Skip the rest. Even though the options are far cuter than they used to be, in my opinion, maternity clothes aren't anything to get excited about.
#4 – Even good insurance may not cover as much as you think
The words “baby” and “expensive” often go hand in hand. But what was really surprising to both my husband and me was how much we had to spend out of pocket on medical costs, even though we have good insurance through his work.
For example, I was surprised by how much you don’t see your baby. Meaning, you don’t get an ultrasound at every visit. And if you want one, you can have it, but you’ll have to pay extra. Also, most insurances only cover a 2-night hospital stay for a routine vaginal birth.
Final tip: Don’t be scared – there’s a lot that is covered, but a lot that isn’t, so if you’re considering adding to your family, become intimately acquainted with your insurance. Otherwise, be prepared to be shocked every time a bill arrives.
#5 – You’ll need money on hand for up-front medical costs
Adding on to the point above, getting pregnant made me very grateful for the fact that we put away money into an HSA and also keep money on hand to self-insure a lot of medical expenses due to our high deductible plan.
Sometimes pregnancy can throw you for a loop. Pregnancy can be accidental in nature; it can happen and you’re definitely not prepared. But if you do like to plan and if you feel like a family is in your future, start padding your savings now. It will make navigating pregnancy (and impending parenthood) that much easier.
Final tip: If you have a health savings account and are lucky enough to have your pregnancy split over two years (e.g. pregnant in 2019, deliver in 2020) be sure to max out your HSA contributions for the year of your delivery, as this is often the most expensive part of the entire process.
#6 – Even though it costs money, build the nursery
It doesn't have to cost a ton of money, but do spend a little time, energy, and money on building out a small space for your baby. For me, this was one of the most enjoyable parts of a (very long and not great) pregnancy, but it also helped to get me into the mindset of how much my life is about to change.
Final tip: I got a great tip from a friend to use our credit card cashback on gift cards to baby retailers so we could furnish the nursery and buy products we needed with those instead of pulling cash out of our bank account at the end. We did this and it really did help to offset some costs. I vowed to pass this tip onto readers, so there you have it!
If I can leave you with one final tip? Try not to freak out about how much babies cost. The beauty of having nine/ten months to prepare is that this is close to a year. Pregnancy is a long business. There is time to spread your costs and baby expenses out and to save up, so as long as you don’t procrastinate, you’ll be fine.