Saturday, April 2, 2016

Budgeting for Baby: Estimate vs. First Year Actual Costs

When expecting your first kiddo, it's REAAALLLLLLLY easy to get caught up in the whirl of wanting to shop for your future baby.  I mean--look at all that cutie-patootie stuff!  Have you SEEN those itsy bitsy baby socks...and the tee-tiny SHOES???? And did you know that when you register at places like Babies 'R Us and Target, they give you FREE STUFF????  Seriously--you get the magical gun to go shoot things and add them to your registry, AND a bag full of goodies for baby.  It's easy to get caught up in the feev-ahh...

Because I am a giant nerd who loves spreadsheets, back before we had the baby The Hubs & I decided to make a budget to estimate what we anticipated first year costs would be (i.e. pregnancy plus the first 3-4 months).  We used various internet resources and discussions with parent friends to come up with our costs.

And because I'm an even BIGGER nerd, I kept track of ACTUAL costs spent, the things that were gifted to us, etc. so that we could compare the two after the fact.

1) Medical Expenses:   Estimate: $1,000  Actual: $3,000
I managed to forget that when a baby is born, he then has his OWN deductible that has to be met, once you add him to your policy.  The Hubs & I have separate insurance (cheaper that way in our case), and we added the baby to my policy because it has a lower monthly cost, offset by a higher deductible (I have an HSA plan).  So while yes, that original $1000 covered all of my medical bills, I didn't account for the baby's portion of the hospital bills and initial office visits. 

FUN FACT YOUR DOC DOESN'T TELL YOU:  It's fairly typical to take your baby into the pediatrician about 48 hours after you're discharged from the hospital, and then a week later.  These are primarily weight checks to make sure they're gaining weight appropriately, since most babies lose a few pounds right after birth.  One would think that since these are "fairly standard" that they're included in your baby's Wellness Visits (which are 100% covered under insurance).  But they're not.  Our hospital/pediatrician coded them as "feeding issues" which makes them a normal office visit.  So if your plan has a co-pay, you may have to pay for these follow up visits.  For my HSA plan, co-pays don't kick in until you've met your deductible, so we were out of pocket about $400 for those two office visits, and Lil' Man's portion of our hospital stay was about $1600 (which includes his circumcision).  Seeing "room and board" listed on a bill for a newborn's hospital stay is pretty laughable.  Apparently those little clear rolling plastic bins they put the baby in are REALLY expensive.
"Welcome to my 'room'.  Please don't touch the mini-bar."

P.S. - I should note that the Medical Costs shown above doesn't include any of the costs from when we were still trying to get preggo--only what we incurred after I peed on a stick and it came up positive.  It took us a little under 2 years to get that positive pee test: before that, we spent somewhere in the $1500-2000 range on prenatal vitamins, ovulation test strips, pregnancy tests, a couple doctor visits once my regular doc referred us to a specialist, infertility testing for both me & the Hubs (both showed we were A-OK for baby-making), and 3 rounds of Clomid.  

2) Birthing Classes:  Estimate/Actual: $85
This one I knew ahead of time, so our estimate was on the nose.  The classes were pretty useful--though it would have been nice if they offered snacks more often.  My husband went to the Daddy Boot Camp class and the instructor provided them with pizza & wings!  Helloooo--how about the preggo wives? Sheesh.

3) Prenatal Vitamins/Supplements: Estimate: $100  Actual:  $50
CVS has prenatal gummies, and a 45 day supply is $9.99---however, they run BOGO sales every few weeks (so actual cost of $5 for a 45 day supply).  Also, Similac and Enfamil both sent me a few weeks' worth of free samples of their prenatal vitamins (not gummies--gross giant horse pills, but I didn't waste them.)  So I spent about $40 over the course of the year on vitamins.  I also bought some Fish Oil supplements after the baby arrived because they were recommended to help deal with the Baby Blues...and when he was about 3 months my hair started falling out, so I purchased some biotin to help with that.

4) Maternity/Nursing Clothes: Estimate: $250  Actual  $125
I got pretty lucky as far as maternity clothes go--the vast majority of my weight gain was all in my belly, so I was able to wear a lot of non-maternity clothes that I already owned (the ol' "hair tie to extend the jeans waistband" served me well up until about 6 months)--plus I was preggo during spring and summer, so I wore a ton of stretchy maxi skirts and tank tops.  I did have to purchase a couple new bras a size up from my normal, and I bought some gently used maternity wear (shorts, blouses, and a swimsuit) at a consignment sale.  A couple friends loaned me their maternity clothes as well, which was really sweet.  
27 weeks...I was able to get a lot of mileage out of this stretchy knit tank and maxi skirt combo, both of which I had in my closet pre-baby, and could wear all the way through my pregnancy.

Post-baby, I had to buy some nursing and sleep bras--Target has a pretty decent selection, and when I started my baby registry there, I received several 20% off coupons that I was able to use to reduce those costs.  There was also a pair of sandals I purchased last spring that ended up being what I wore 90% of the time, because once my feet started to swell the only things that fit were those sandals, flip-flops, and a pair of canvas loafers.  I also bought a few new tops for work that would make it easier for me to nurse/pump (shirts that buttoned in the front or were stretchy enough to pull down).

5) Skin Care: Estimate: $50  Actual: $14
My mom and sis-in-law gifted me a few bottles of cocoa butter lotion, so I never had to buy any regular lotion of my own.  However, I am NOTORIOUS for rushing through my grooming routine and not using lotion after I get out of the shower.  So I bought some of Nivea's in shower lotion (used a coupon), and LOVED it.  So easy to just include in my shower routine.  I like to think it helped too, since I didn't get any stretch marks until my last month. One bottle lasted me the whole pregnancy.  I also bought some Bio-Oil (again, with a coupon) for stretch marks, but haven't been super-diligent about using it.

6) Nursery Decor/Furniture: Estimate: $500 Actual $230
As mentioned before in my nursery prep posts, the end table, dresser, and shelving we put in our nursery were items we already had.  So the only big items we had to purchase for this room were the crib, a glider, and baby monitor.  My mother-in-law bought our crib as a baby gift, a friend gave us her crib mattress (since her daughter had transitioned to a big girl bed), and we used gift cards to purchase a video monitor on Amazon.  We found a gently used glider & footstool on Craigslist.  My mom bought all the bedding for the nursery (she found great deals at garage sales, including a set in our beach theme that contained curtains and two rugs).  So beyond that, we were left with small purchases like the diaper changing pad, drawer & closet organizers, photo frames and art decor for the walls, a toy net, bins for the shelving unit, and some cute table-top decor pieces.  We also had to buy a blackout curtain once Daylight Savings Time rolled around. :)

7) Baby Gear:  Estimate: $500  Actual: $425
When I was doing my estimates, I think this category was originally intended for the *big* baby gear, like carseats, strollers, high chair, pack 'n play, etc....but it eventually became a catch-all for everything that didn't fit somewhere else: safety latches and outlet covers, bath tub & bathing accouterments, car seat covers (sun/rain shade and a cold weather one), grooming set, thermometer, etc.  Ultimately, only about $115 of this was out of pocket cost to us--the rest was purchased with gift cards from the baby showers.  My mom's family all chipped in to buy our car seat and spare carseat base, which were the biggest ticket items in this category.  We went with the Graco 30LX Click Connect (the "LX" models are more lightweight than the regular, which is pretty important if you're already carrying 20-30 lbs of kid around), and I bought the Click Connect stroller base at a consignment sale for $35 (the infant carrier just snaps onto this and becomes your stroller--SO convenient).  
My parents bought us a Pack 'n Play, and we were also gifted a convertible carseat for once he outgrows the infant carrier (we'll still have to buy a second one since we have 2 vehicles).  
Things we purchased used at consignment sales: Bumbo, diaper bag, seat covers (to go under the carseat and protect our vehicles), baby bathtub, high chair, babyproofing kits, extra covers for changing pad and Boppy.  
Various "hand-me-down" items we were gifted from other parents/grandparents: reversible baby carrier, Moby wrap, Boppy, exersaucer, swing, bouncer, jumperoo.
"Psst...old man...you realize this belt strap isn't really necessary at this point, right?"

8) Toys: Estimate: $100 Actual: $50

About $12 of that was out of pocket, for an activity playmat, some books, and a few stuffed animals (all purchased from consignment sales or second-hand kid's stores).  The rest were purchased with gift cards.  We asked friends to use baby books instead of greeting cards at our showers, so little man almost has more books than I do at this point.  We saved most of the toys and wrapped some of them up as Christmas presents--not that he really cared at that point, but it seemed like we should get him SOMETHING for Christmas.  (He might get a few for Easter too--shh, it's a secret.) :)
"I don't know what it does...But it's my new favorite toy!"

9) Diapers & Wipes:  Estimate: $1,000  Actual: $235
As I write this, Lil' Man is about 5 months old, and we're just NOW getting into boxes of diapers that we bought, vs. what was gifted to us at showers.  We're still working our way through the wipes we received as gifts.  So that's $0 for the first year when you consider 9 months of pregnancy plus first 3-4 months of life.  
As far as costs for the first full year of babies' life:  We'll have to pay for 7 months' worth.  Right now, we have about a 5 month stockpile*, which we paid roughly $185 for.  I'd estimate we'll have to pay about $40-50 for the other 2 month's worth.

(*Presumes an average of 8 diapers/day.)

Our secret to diaper savings?  Stockpiling and Target, primarily.  Target runs sales on their Up & Up generic diapers (which we really like--very absorbent) periodically where they give you a free $20-30 gift card if you buy multiple boxes.  So the first time we did that, it cost us $58 for 344 diapers (17c/ea) & they gave us a $20 gift card.  Then the next time that deal came up, it was a $30 gift card if you bought 2 boxes...so we used the $20 gift card from the first purchase and ended up paying $47 for 444 diapers (11c/ea).  Then we'll use that $30 gift card the next time, once our stockpile starts to dwindle, and it should be around 9c each.

We also recently caught a couponing trifecta on Luvs-- Dollar General had the 92 ct boxes on sale for $14 (normally $15.97 at Wal-Mart).  We price matched, used a 75c coupon, AND Ibotta was offering a $5 rebate.  So we got 184 diapers for $16.50 (9c/ea).

If your baby has a sensitive bum or if the generic brands don't fit well, you may not luck out like we did, and have to buy the pricier brand name stuff. [Note: Target does that gift card offer on the brand-name diapers sometimes too--it's not quite as good a deal but still a very good price & easy way to save.]   These are just our tips for what worked for us.  We've had good luck with the Luvs as far as catching his #1, but I've heard from friends that had girls saying the Luvs leaked for them a lot.  He has had some blowouts with the Luvs, but not with the Up&Up's [yet].


10) Baby Clothes Estimate: $500  Actual: $60
The Bump website estimated $1000 for the first year of baby clothes. I made the assumption they were talking about buying new, so I estimated about half that, since I planned to mostly buy gently used--after all, we're talking about clothes that will likely only get worn a few times before he outgrows them.

I had 3-4 friends who handed down baby clothes to us.  Also, my mom is the garage-sale queen and would bring us a bag of clothes every time she came to help with the baby for the first 2 months. I had to buy a few Newborn onesies, and then a couple long-sleeved 0-3 month onesies (so we could go a full week before having to do laundry), but otherwise our kiddo had more than enough clothes from 0-9 months.  There are outfits he never even got a chance to wear--he was given over 30 pairs of 3-6 month pants alone.  

It's totally cool to go buy a few cute outfits (a vital part of the new mom rite of passage), but honestly, if you know a few moms, and have a mom and/or mom-in-law, you will likely be inundated with clothes.  People LOVE to buy baby clothes.  A lot of the clothes I've purchased are for 12+ months, since most of the things we were gifted were the smaller sizes.  If you can catch the $20 sign up bonus that ThredUp runs periodically, that's a great way to get 3-4 things for just the cost of shipping (most baby clothes are about $5-6 on there).

Paid $6 total for all you see here.  I still can't quite wrap my head around the fact that my son will fit in these someday.

11) Child Care - Estimate: $10,400  Actual: $7,545 (estimate for 2016)
Technically, if we're talking first "year" with pregnancy and then first 3 months of life, there was no child card cost, since I took 12 weeks of maternity leave.  I started back to work right after New Year's.
My first month back to work, I worked from home 2 days a week, so we only had part time day care.  Then we transitioned to full time.  My estimate was based off an average cost of $200/week (which is pretty typical in this area), but the day care he ended up at only charges $155/week.

Sidenote: Researching daycares was possibly the most stressful part of baby planning.  First off--waitlists are ridiculously long so you have to put your fetus on those lists when he/she/it is like, 8 weeks old.  Basically, it goes: "hey..I peed on this stick and got a positive result. Better tell my husband, our parents, confirm with a doctor...and then start getting on day care waitlists."  Some daycares provide formula/food.  Some don't.  Some provide diapers/wipes.  Some don't.  Some only take kids 2 years and older.  Some will take little ones, but only certain days of the week and only until a ridiculous time like 2:30pm.  Some have high security and require a retinal scan to get in the building [kidding] ...some just have an open door anyone can walk into.  Some have cameras so you can go to their website and check in on your kid.  Some have childcare providers that are allowed to text you pics of your kid.  Some have a policy that their childcare providers aren't allowed to have their phones in the room.  It all depends on what you're comfortable with and what you can afford....and where you can get in.

12) Food - Estimate: $750  Actual: ???
We'll have to circle back around on this one since we don't have a full first year's worth of data.  He's nursed since birth, and we only recently started introducing some formula as a stop-gap since he was depleting my stockpile.  His daycare provides formula (which we have them mix half & half with breast milk) and he still just nurses at home, plus we have about a few months' supply of free formula samples to go through once he stops nursing.  We introduced oatmeal cereal a few weeks ago ($1 with a coupon--haven't gone through the first full container yet), and I bought about 8 jars of different kinds of baby food to start trying in a few weeks ($6.50 with coupons & Ibotta rebates).  A friend gave us her Baby Bullet kit, so I'm looking forward to trying my hand at making a few baby foods as well.

Some parent friends with older kids handed down extra bottles, formula/snack containers, sippy cups, bibs, baby spoons, etc. so when he starts getting into that more, we'll have a cache of supplies on hand. There's also another consignment sale coming up soon so I have a list of things to keep an eye out for.

Things We Didn't Budget For:
Books For Dad ($8.50) - Several people handed down books to us (What to Expect, What to Eat When Expecting, BabyWise, etc.) but these are all really oriented to the mom.  I wanted The Hubs to have his own resources as well.  So we got a copy of "The Expectant Father", along with "Babyproofing Your Marriage" which we both read, since we know that introducing a kiddo can produce a lot of marital strife.  The latter was an OK read...it has some good points but I think it would have been better if written by male and female co-authors, rather than by 4 women.

Stuff for Nursing/Pumping ($165)When making the Feeding estimate, I didn't think about all the stuff that comes along with nursing, pumping and bottle feeding.  So that's the amount we spent on bottles, extra nipples, milk storage bags, Vitamin D drops (because human milk doesn't contain Vitamin D), nursing pads, lanolin, nursing covers, and pump part cleaning supplies.  Insurance covers pumps, so that's a big expense saver (unless your insurance only covers a manual or single electric pump, in which case you might want to spring for a nicer version if you plan on pumping much).

Postnatal Mom Care ($65) - Yeaahhhhh... pre-baby me definitely never thought about these things, but I had quite the medical arsenal in my bathroom in those gory first few weeks.  The amount shown includes a sitz bath, sitz bath concentrate, incontinence pads/underwear, Colace, hemorrhoid cream, Dermoplast spray, and witch hazel.  Most likely your hospital will send you home with a few things (spare pads/mesh underwear, an irrigation bottle) but you'll have to spring for the rest.


So what's the final damage?

So even with the extra $2k in medical expenses, we still came in under budget.  This is in LARGEHUGEGINORMOUS part thanks to amazing friends and family helping us out through gifts and showers.  We were truly blessed, and are looking forward to blessing others with everything we were gifted.  I've got a few friends with buns in the oven so I've already packed up my maternity gear and the clothes he's grown out of to pass along to them.  As he outgrows other things we will be happy to continue to share the wealth!  Babies be expensive, yo...so the more we can help someone save, the better.
"Allow me to play you the song of my people."

So that's it--our first year baby finances.  I'll try to remember to do a follow up post in October going through the baby's first full year of expenses!

To see the entire "Adventures in Parenting" series, click here.

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