Starting a family is an exciting time. You plan everything: baby names, the nursery, where you will deliver, who will be in the delivery room and even the color of the nursery walls. Unfortunately, too many families fail to plan the baby budget.
On average, a family spends over $225,000 to raise a child. Of course, the numbers are dependent on where you live, household income, marital status, and so on. One thing is certain — feeding, clothing, educating, and entertaining those kids is more expensive than a pedicure and day at the Ritz.
We spoke with financial guru Kay McCutchen to learn strategies to make the costly burden of raising children a little less burdensome. Here’s what she had to say:
Your Child’s Future
Savings Account: When you first start planning to have a baby, McCutchen recommends opening an account solely for your child’s future. You can link the baby account to your personal checking account and start transferring money deposits right away. How much you contribute will depend on your personal financial situation. McCutchen says contributing $100 a month is a great start. If you can only afford less, that’s okay, too; just make sure you’re contributing monthly. This can be money set aside for college, a first car, unexpected medical bills, or whatever you deem necessary.
Upromise Account: Upromise allows members to accrue money by shopping at affiliated stores. When you shop with the affiliated companies, a portion of each purchase is deposited into a Upromise account set up for your child’s college education.
Gerber Life: Gerber Life offers insurance policies for children at low rates. You can choose between a $500 and $5,000 policy. At the start of the policy, you lock in a rate that is guaranteed to never increase. Gerber’s low childhood premiums automatically double when your child turns 18, but never again increases unless your child chooses to buy more insurance as he ages. Your child will also have the option to borrow against the policy, should he need to.
Mutual Funds: Mutual funds are an excellent way to save for your child’s future. Mutual Funds bring together a group of people and invest the group’s total money in stocks, bonds and other securities. Each investor owns part of the shares. A mutual fund is a fairly inexpensive way for a small investor to get a full-time manager to make and monitor investments. It’s a good way to start saving money, watch it grow over time and save for your child’s future.
Shop at Yard Sales: Hunt for gently used items such as clothes, toys, bedding, and decorative goods for the nursery. When it comes to car seats and strollers, however, buy them new or from a trusted friend or family member as safety must be of the utmost importance.
Hand-Me-Downs: You may want everything new for your baby, but hand-me-downs are how smart money-managers handle child-rearing. Many times friends and family are happy to help, as they understand how expensive baby shopping can be.
Shop in Bulk: Diapers, wipes and formula can all be bought at a wholesale store such as Sam’s Club.
Coupons: Even if you were never a coupon person before, now is the time to start. Check your local newspapers for coupons or go online. Savings add up quickly when you use coupons on a regular basis. It doesn’t matter if you are buying once-in-a-while products or products used regularly like diapers. You will save.
Ask Relatives to Give Money as Gifts: While your child is young, ask family members and friends to give money as a gift instead of a toy. You can deposit the money into your child’s savings account or CD.
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