Pregnancy is not cheap. My pregnancy added a lot of new expenses to my budget like maternity clothes, baby gear and prenatal.
I had thousands of dollars in pregnancy medical costs alone.
It is an exciting time but costs can add up quickly if you’re not paying attention.
Luckily, there are lots of little ways you can save money when preparing for a new baby.
To make pregnancy budgeting a little more fun, I made Pregnancy Budget Bingo cards as a different spin on a savings challenge.
They are full of easy savings moves you can do while pregnant, including ways to saving money for moms and babies, freebies, and smart financial moves to make pre-baby.
Here is a run down of some of the pregnancy savings ideas to try out:
Pregnancy is a short period of time but it comes with a lot of unique costs for moms.
You need maternity clothes, lots of doctor visits, and a crash course on what’s happening to your body.
But with lots of expenses comes lots of opportunities to save on your pregnancy budget.
Check off some boxes on the bingo card by trying out some of these pregnancy budget tips:
• Buy some time before needing maternity pants
While most people will need maternity jeans eventually, it is hard to predict when your belly will ‘pop’ and just how big you’ll be.
The rubber band trick and belly bands are a great pregnancy cost savers especially for those who may be getting bigger in-between seasons.
Using a hair tie on your pants and shorts can help extend the life of your normal clothes during pregnancy.
Belly bands work similarly, but offer more coverage and help hold up more fully unbuttoned pants.
If it is April and your pants are starting to get snug, pants extenders may help you get through the last little bit of cold without having to buy maternity pants you’d only need briefly.
• Skip the ‘Keepsake’ ultrasound
Keepsake ultrasounds are non-medical ultrasounds done to find out the sex of their baby early, see or hear the baby’s heartbeat between appointments, or include extended family members in the ultrasound viewing.
But these exams are expensive and not recommended by doctors.
Both the FDA and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advise against these exams.
Skip these non-medical ultrasounds to add $50 to $200 back to your pregnancy budget.
• Prep freezer meals
Prepping freezer meals before the baby comes is a great way to avoid paying for take out when you are too tired to function (i.e. a lot of the newborn days).
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to prep freezer meals because of my hyperemesis. Being around cooking was tough, and I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about food post-pregnancy (ultimately, eating did turn out to be complicated the first month postpartum).
Because we couldn’t prep freezer meals, we ended up spending a lot more on store-bought prepared foods. We basically lived on packaged ravioli for months.
If you need some inspiration, here is a good freezer meal recipe round up.
• Hit the library
The minute I got pregnant, I realize I knew basically nothing about pregnancy and babies and wanted to read everything.
But before buying a stack of pregnancy books, I checked out what was on offer at the local library. They had pretty much everything and I didn’t have to buy a single book.
Not sure where to start on pregnancy reading? Emily Oster’s Expecting Better (check out a review here) was by far my favorite pregnancy read, and I am a very happy subscriber to her new data-driven parenting newsletter.
• Save on medicine and supplements
When I was pregnant, I took a lot of over-the-counter medicines and supplements (check out my full list of pregnancy medications and their costs).
The majority of pregnant women take at least a prenatal vitamin, and many more will reach for medicine at some point in their pregnancy (looking at you, heartburn and constipation…).
One way to save on over-the-counter medicines is to purchase them at a membership warehouse.
For example, I needed an antacid in my third trimester. At Costco, I paid a little less than 5 cents a pill. A comparable generic at CVS costs about 25 cents – five times as much.
At Costco, you can buy some items online even if you aren’t a member. (Related: Is Costco Cheaper for Baby Items?)
Parents-to-be can take advantage of a lot of freebies for themselves and their babies.
Baby registry companies, formula makers, and medical providers are all great sources for free things when you are prepping for a baby.
Score some of these pregnancy savings and check off some bingo boxes!
One note on freebies: be aware that some ‘free’ items are not actually free or even a good deal when you look at shipping costs.
For example, you may have seen a free car seat cover floating around online. While the cover is ‘free,’ the shipping is around $15.
You can find a similar looking carseat cover on Amazon for $10 – $5 cheaper than the ‘free’ one.
And if you go used, you can find them even cheaper. I did a quick search while writing this and found a car seat canopy for $3.
• Baby registry welcome gifts
Baby registries are a great way to bring in business, so places like Target and Amazon offer free swag bags to entice you to register with them.
You don’t even have to share the registry to get your free registry gift bag.
When I was pregnant, we did not do a baby shower and actively tried to encourage people away from giving us gifts but I still made registries.
I primarily did so to qualify for these free gift bags and completion discounts (where you get a percentage off on items on your registry as you approach your due date), but I also found them useful to keep track of what baby items we wanted.
All these freebies go in- and out-of-stock often, so check them throughout your pregnancy.
My favorite part of the registry bags was getting different bottle brands and diapers to try out without committing to full purchases.
Some brands work better for some babies than others, based on a baby’s size or preference. You can save yourself some money by using registry bag items as a test run before stocking up.
Similarly, try out sample sizes of lotions, soaps, diaper creams, and formula before buying big bottles. Many of the free registry bags had samples in them.
You can score a couple different squares on pregnancy budget bingo by finding samples from your doctor or a formula company.
All the pediatricians’ offices we visited for meet-and-greets before the baby was born had little baby soaps and lotions samples out for patients.
Many pediatricians also have formula samples available. You can also sign up to formula companies directly for formula samples (I did Similac and Enfamil) and they’ll send them to you close to your due date..
Even if you are planning to exclusively breastfeed, many people recommend having a few formula samples on hand just in case.
I also see these free samples given away often in local parents Facebook groups.
• Steal from the hospital
If you’re planning a hospital birth, plan to steal as much as possible from your hospital room.
I heard this advice before birth and assumed everyone was talking about getting extra diapers, formula and postpartum gear.
Those were all great and will save some money.
But the #1 best things we stole from the hospitals were the blankets and burp rags.
Yes, that point does deserve bolding because we have used our pilfered cloths all day, every day since we left the hospital months ago.
They’re more absorbent, warmer, and durable. They’re great. Steal them all.
• Free pump insurance
In the United States, families can get a free breast pump through their insurance thanks to the Affordable Care Act.
If you are planning to breastfeed, this will save you a couple hundred dollars. Contact your health insurance provider for details on how to claim yours.
Keeping your baby registry to essential items will save you money by increasing the likelihood you’ll receive items you’ll actually need.
Take a minute to review your registry and delete something non-essential for a quick check on your bingo card.
Not sure where to start?
Consider deleting some baby clothes if you have any listed. People can’t help but buy baby clothes (believe me, we try REALLY hard to stop them) so you will likely end up with more than you need anyway.
Instead, sub out a non-essential for something you are sure to need – diapers.
Even if you are cloth diapering, it can be handy to have a few disposables on hand in the newborn days. Some people will use disposables when they are traveling, for example.
Still on the fence on items in your registry? Have one of your more minimalist friends with a kid review your registry.
Having friends review our baby gear list saved us from getting a pack-n-play with a lot of impractical bells and whistles (we opted for the simple Graco pack-n-play with a bassinet attachment only).
• Be prudent when picking baby gear
For long-term savings, keep an eye towards future use when picking baby items. What items could you use for future kids? What items will be easy to resell?
Going gender neutral is a great way to reuse items in the future, and widens your resale market.
Similarly, skipping things baby toys for more pressing items can help you save. Our baby has been just as happy playing with a potato as he has an actual baby toy.
So give yourself a check on your bingo card next time you pass on a baby toy! It is also one less thing to clutter your house.
Scoring secondhand deals is a great way to stretch your pregnancy budget.
Used maternity wear and baby items are often in great condition because people use them for such a short period of time.
You’ll notice lots of ways to check off bingo squares by opting for used gear.
Here are just some ways to find secondhand maternity and baby goods:
- Thrift stores – thrift stores are great for used clothes. Check with your local thrift stores to see if they have special sales days. My favorite store does half-priced clothes one day a week.
- Borrow from friends or family – Borrowing items from a loved one is usually a win for both parties. You save money by not buying something new and they free up space in their house.
- Accept hand-me-downs – Similarly, folks done with their maternity or baby gear are usually all too happy hand it off to get it out of their house. If you don’t know anyone, check your local neighborhood social media. I got a free bag of maternity clothes from Facebook, and see maternity clothes given away fairly regularly.
- Keep an eye out of curb alerts – Finding items on the curb is actually a great way to get baby gear. We got our baby bath, a stroller, and a couple dresser / storage drawers for baby stuff from the curb. To increase your chances of scoring, keep an eye out towards the end of the month when people are more likely to be moving, and check local Facebook groups or Craigslist for alerts.
- Buy used through Facebook marketplace or groups – Nearly all our baby gear came from Facebook. There are so many users on Facebook so there are constantly baby resale listings. Check out this post for more on what to look for in a Facebook Marketplace listing.
Lastly, pregnancy is a great time to take stock of your financial situation and plan ahead for a baby’s impact on the family budget.
Go for a Blackout Bingo by thinking about these bigger financial goals:
• Plan for Parental Leave
Many people will face some type of income reduction or loss when taking parental leave.
Talk about possible loss of income early in pregnancy, so you are prepared for both parental leave or for any pregnancy complications that may crop up.
When I got pregnant, I never expected that I would have to stop working at about 7 weeks because of hyperemesis. I ended up being stuck at home on modified bed rest basically my whole pregnancy.
Here are some ideas of topics to discuss:
- Emergency fund
- Cutting expenses
- Budget for baby expenses
- Pregnancy-related medical costs
- End of life planning (a baby is a good motivator to update your will!)
- Insurance options (health insurance, life insurance, etc.)
- Possible income streams
• 529 Accounts
Another topic to discuss is saving for your baby’s education.
One option listed on the bingo card is opening a 529 account.
529 accounts are tax-advantaged savings accounts for qualified educational expenses.
Money invested in the account grows tax free, and in some states you also get a state income tax break for 529 contributions.
Not sure if your budget allows for educational savings at this time? Asking for 529 contributions or savings for the baby is a great alternative to a traditional baby registry.
You will get a lot more out of $20 gifted to an educational fund (with 18 years of returns) than a newborn onesie the baby will wear for a few weeks.
• Save an extra $50 in a week
And lastly, shoot to save an extra $50 dollars in one week of pregnancy.
You are likely to be pregnant for at least 37 weeks (though I fell a little short of that full term goal myself!), so you have lots of time to try to hit this pregnancy budget goal.
Not feeling well because of morning sickness, fatigue or back pain?
Pregnancy blahs naturally encourage you to spend more time cozied up on the couch, so you may already find yourself saving money by staying in.
Obviously I am an extreme example of being unwell in pregnancy, but man, did we save a lot in the ‘entertainment’ budget category while I was incapacitated.
Already running on a lean budget? Break this pregnancy savings goal up over weeks, or cut a small reoccurring cost like pausing your Hulu account for a couple months.
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