Being a new parent comes with a whole set of challenges, from adjusting to a new sleep schedule (or lack thereof) to learning how to care for this new tiny human, there are lots of things to consider. High on that list: money. It costs an average of $10-$15,000 per year to raise a child up to the age of 18 in Canada. If you factor in that the maximum maternity or parental leave payment is $573 a week before taxes (that’s not even considering self-employed parents), those first few months can feel stressful before they even begin. Some new costs are inevitable when a baby enters the picture but there are also some ways to save (and make) money as new parents. From one new parent to another: it’ll be okay.
Here are the best money hacks for new parents:
Budget Ahead of Time
The best thing I did for myself when I got pregnant was sitting down with a financial advisor and creating a realistic snapshot of how much things would cost on a mat leave salary, which is a lot less than people expect it to be. (A reminder: You get 55 per cent of your salary, up to a maximum payout of $573 per week, before taxes. So, if you make more than $55,000 per year, you’re still only getting $573 per week, before taxes, unless your company tops up. If you’re taking an extended leave of 18 months, you receive up to 33 per cent, or a maximum payout of $344 per week, before taxes.) If you anticipate increases in your monthly expenses during your time off, such as a mortgage, rent or car insurance, factor those in so you won’t be blindsided when they happen.
Make a Registry
I didn’t have a baby shower, but I still created a registry. People who visit will want to bring you something, so have a list ready for them to choose from. A friend of mine added diapers to her shower registry and I thought that was one of the smartest things I’d seen. The cost of diapers (if you’re going the disposable route, which many people do) adds up, especially in the first few months, and having multiple boxes at the ready can save you a few hundred dollars.
Outfit via @MiniModeVintage
Not only is this practice incredibly sustainable, it will save you a ton of money. When it comes to babies, there really is no way to avoid fast fashion, simply because they outgrow sizes so quickly in the first year of their lives. While shopping local and searching for brands that are sustainable is important, baby clothes are expensive and are sometimes only worn for two or three months, if that (true story: in the first three months of my daughter’s life, we didn’t even get to some outfits before she outgrew them). Ditto for things like baby chairs, bassinets, sleep pods and swings.
Organize a Baby Stuff Swap
Have some other new parent friends? Organize a swap with them for baby clothes and gear. This is especially good when you want to offload some of the used stuff or aren’t sure if you’re going for another kid (because they are expensive AF) and don’t want to store that unnecessarily large exersaucer until you decide. Plus, this will give you an opportunity to chat with some fellow new parents and make you feel like you’re not alone in this whole process (because you’re not!).
Image via @RebelStork
Sell Your Used Stuff
Don’t have anyone to give your used baby stuff to? Sell it! Kijiji, Facebook Marketplace and Letgo are great sites for selling your gently used baby gear and you can bring in clothes to stores like Once Upon a Child and get some cash back to use on the next size up in clothes or round of baby toys.
Put Baby Essentials on Auto-Order
Places like Walmart and Amazon have subscribe-to-save options for baby essentials such as diapers and formula (if you’re going that route) that saves you a few dollars on every item. You can decide how frequently to get your order sent to you (I do one box of formula and diapers a week for my seven-month-old and never run out) so you not only save money, but don’t have to remember to pick up diapers.
Rent Your Breast Pump
If you’re planning on breastfeeding (or planning on trying), rent your breast pump machine from the hospital. Most breast pumps are over $200 brand new and are sometimes not even used for that long. The reality is that, for a lot of women, breastfeeding isn’t as easy as we’re led to believe and pumping (even non-exclusively) isn’t for everyone. Hospitals rent their breast pump machines for a fraction of the cost and you just have to purchase new pump pieces (for sanitary reasons). Then, once you decide if you’re continuing on the pumping journey, you can make a call whether to purchase a new (or second-hand) pump for yourself or just return it and feed your kid a different way. Because fed is best, after all.
Apply for Canada’s Child Benefits
It shocked me how many people did not know to apply for the federal and provincial children’s benefits. While the exact amount you receive is determined by your household income, you an extra bit of cash every month until your child turns 18 to help offset some of the costs of raising them. Whether you save it for a post-secondary fund for them or use it to help pay for all of those diapers (so, so many diapers), every little bit helps.
(Story by Contributing Editor, Ashley Kowalewski-Pizzi)