Posted by Dawn Anderson
Everyone is in holiday mode so here’s a list of our favorite gifts this year.
- Organizational gift – A chalkboard wall calendar with memo area made from vinyl wall decals is a great way to stay organized.
- Messy eater gift – A cute mini robot vacuum will cheap up your messes with a touch of a button.
- Budget conscious/green consumer gift – Save money and the environment with these fashionable, reusable lunch bags from Lunchskins.
- Gadget Guru Gift – Now you can keep your hands warm and use your iPhone, iPod or other touch screen device with the Tec Touch gloves designed to work with touch sensors.
- New baby gift – Affordable, natural baby care products that are SLS-, phthalate- and paraben-free.
Posted by Dawn Anderson
When most people talk about having a baby there tends to be countless discussions ranging from room color to name. Surprisingly very little attention is paid to the cost of having a baby. Perhaps they prefer to remain blissfully ignorant, but the harsh reality is that babies are expensive. However, with some proper planning and savvy shopping you can make raising a newborn more affordable.
If you are planning on having a baby or perhaps you're already pregnant, the first thing you should do is to get out of debt. Whether you have to sell a few annuity payments or your prize collection of widgets in order to do it getting out of debt should be your main priority. "I talk to many people who find out they're pregnant and decide to sell their structured settlement or annuity payments in order to get out of debt", said John Zepeda, Vice President of Rescue Capital, additionally John goes on to say “Knowing many of these individuals need to pay off debt and have a baby on the way we try to find a solution whereby they can still obtain a lump sum while keeping some of their monthly payments coming in”. Obviously being in debt isn't fun but it is also extremely stressful and will only get out of control if you don't get a handle on it now. In addition, you can save a lot of money on interest and fees by paying off your debt. Once you've paid off your debt and created a budget, start saving. Build up your emergency fund to pay for unexpected expenses as well as help supplement your income when you're on maternity leave.
With your finances in order, you need to do some investigative work when it comes to your health insurance coverage. First and foremost, you need to make sure the doctors and hospitals you're using are in your network so check with your insurance carrier. Being in your network is not the same as accepting your insurance. If your doctor and/or hospital are not in your network consider switching because the out-of-pocket expenses can be huge.
Now that you have a doctor and/hospital, you need to discover what your out-of-pocket expenses are and plan accordingly. According to the Wall Street Journal, your out-of-pocket expenses are based on your deductibles, co-pays co-insurance, the new baby's deductible, out-of-pocket maximum and the specific services provided by the hospital. However, many hospitals and insurance companies will provide an advance estimate of out-of-pocket costs beforehand.The average cost of just having a baby – including prenatal care, prescription medication and delivery – costs about $7,600, according to According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Of course, this is for a low risk, uncomplicated pregnancy and vaginal delivery. Prices vary greatly by geographic location, therefore getting an estimate is highly recommended. It is better to save for these expenses ahead of time rather than being blindsided when the bill comes.
Once your insurance is on track, your debt is paid off and your budget is set then you get to go shopping, right? Not so fast, many times new parents go and buy every little thing for their little one and a lot of it is completely un-necessary. I suggest talking to friends about the different products they have used and perhaps borrowing some of them to test them out before buying. I also suggest bringing an experienced parent who has had a child in the past few years to come help you pick out stuff for your registry. Baby superstores can be overwhelming and their advice can be extremely valuable.
Some items like car seats should not be skimped on but more expensive doesn't necessarily equate to better. When looking for car seats, cribs or other baby items check out Consumer Reports. They provide unbiased ratings as well as information about recalls. Recall information is especially important when you buy or borrow used items such as toys, cribs, changing tables, strollers, etc at thrift shops, garage sales and classified ads.
Some additional ways to save from recent parents
- Use cloth diapers
- Buy used clothing, furniture, toys and books at thrift shops, consignment shops and yard sales
- Online shopping – EBay, Craigslist, Etsy and Amazon are great resources for saving money
- Shop at discount stores
- Ask for samples and coupons from your doctor
- Sign up for rewards for baby specialty stores and websites
- Use BabiesRus brand or Costco formula and sign up for their frequent buyer programs
- Use store brand items. Resist the urge to buy store brand diapers in bulk until you've tried them out.
- Buy diapers in bulk and sign up for frequent buyers programs as well as manufacturer points programs. You will receive diapers and coupons while saving money. Just remember to buy in a size that gives your baby room to grown. No one wants to get stuck with 150 diapers that are too small.
- Use Social Media – Many companies offer discounts via Twitter and Facebook
- Coupon Exchanges – There are many websites such as couponmom.com and CoolSavings.com which are dedicated to sharing coupons. You can also start a group with your friends.
- Google – Search for online coupon codes, printable coupons online and social coupon sites.
- Skip the puffy comforters and bumper pads. They're not safe. All your baby really needs are crib sheets and a few receiving blankets. Or you can use swaddlers or blanket sleepers.
- Don't be afraid to accept donations. I saved so much money on maternity clothes as well as baby clothes from my younger sister, who had a daughter 8 months before me.