Choosing between the Baby and the Budget

When numbers like $10,000 on baby’s first year get thrown around regularly, and anecdotes like it cost half a million dollars to raise kids these days. Well it isn’t a surprise that most parent or would be parent feel the walls closing in even as they choose the decor for baby’s room.  $10,000 is what baby center says it will cost ya for baby’s first year. Well I’ll have to disagree as many comment-er on that page did because we just welcomed baby number 2 last year and as far as I can tell those numbers are wacko!

We just celebrated the first birthday of our youngest (a little girl) and it was a nice relaxing event. Our one year celebration was just us and it was nice to not have to worry about all the extra activities you add on to your plate when you plan a big shindig.  We just focused on enjoying the moment.

Thinking and talking about big first birthday bashes makes me see floating dollar signs being flushed down the toilet.  A one year old definitely does not request or need all that frivolous spending.

I’ll put my dollars in the bank to buy myself some extra freedom, and more quality time with the kids thank you. So  now that I’ve hinted at the big expenses for a first birthday if you choose to go that route lets also rewind and see what my baby costs were for the first year.

How much money did we spend on baby?

First Year Expenses, $10,000? I don't think so.
First Year Expenses, $10,000? I don’t think so.

So lets look at each section and do some explaining.


Ah diapers this by all is considered to be the black whole and cash eating machine. With my first I had considered cloth diapers but it just didn’t make sense at the time since we were both college students. I hear they save you a bundle but I’ve never had the chance to test them out. With my second I didn’t even consider it since again we were both working so Disposable it was.  So what was my number for the first year with disposables? Well I can definitely say we bought in bulk none of these 30-60 count stuff for $19. We went straight to the 112-150 count for $29, we used coupons, and we bought when target would have a sale(credit a $10 gift card). All in all I don’t think it was that bad but I know I could have done better.


The joys of nursing. Some women can’t nurse, and there is nothing they can do about it. Other women CHOOSE not to nurse and all I can say is financially that is a horrible idea. I’m not even going to get into the debate about how breast milk is the best thing for baby.  But FORMULA! that stuff is expensive! Especially if you need it for every meal. So how did we keep that cost down? Well first we predominantly nursed and only slightly supplemented. However, to further keep costs down you should try the following. Sign up for the manufactures club. Enfamil has something of the sort and it was really beneficial. At the hospital we left with a parting gift, bottles and bottles of ready to drink formula. Then we also got a box at home with 36 more of the ready to drink formula.  They also send coupons to save $5-$7 on their product purchases. Nursing is still the most affordable, so I say give it a real shot. With the first child nursing was a piece of cake, with the second it was a disaster lots of crying from mom and baby, but they advise you to stick with it for 3 months. You know what, once we got to 3 months it wasn’t a disaster anymore. So if you can give it a shot not only will your baby thank you, so will your wallet.


Since we found it more exciting to not know baby’s gender the first little Roamer had neutral clothing for up to 6 months. This worked out great for little Roamer number 2 which we also did not find out gender till delivery.  This meant I could reuse baby clothing  from first baby. We also aren’t to proud to accept hand me downs and a generous coworker gifted us a whole year of outfits.  Also while out one day we were gifted a nursing cover from a complete  stranger … sure it was a bit of an awkward situation for us but hey it was free! So if you want to keep costs down ask friends and family if they have any left overs from their baby. Looking forward I am checking out Craigslist for her next batch and I see big lots selling for $45 or $1 per item. So that looks like a great resource as well.  When it comes to clothing Appreciate family, friends, and even strangers generosity.


Crib?  I’ve never actually owned one. For my first well we were poor college students and we moved so frequently across the US that a big bulky piece of furniture just didn’t make sense when you are trying to fit everything including baby in a car. My first survived and thrive just fine in a Graco pack n play with the bassinet conversion. He did have a crib for a 3-6 month stint when a family member loaned us one.  Luckily we kept those items and when baby 2 came well we used what we had.  I definitely caught a lot of flack for not having a crib from my family but I just didn’t see the need to upgrade. So making a price comparison it looks like the pack an plays range from $70 to above $200 depending on the add on and configuration compared to cribs which start at $200 and go up to the thousands(does that include a mattress? i don’t know). This is  buying new so you have lots of room to save here. Plus with a pack and play you also save by not buying all that unnecessary bedding which is dangerous for a newborn anyway (SIDS anyone)

All the other furniture went like this Car seat? Yes and new. Old car seat was past the 6 year mark so new it was. Stroller? bought as a set with car seat.High Chair? found on Craigslist Used $45, the cheapest new was $95.


Well this post is turning to a book so I’ll keep it short. We heard of baby lead weaning which means you go straight to solid food. Soft solid food but none of this puree stuff. This meant a lot of saving in the food department. Did you know Gerber or whatever cost $1 for about 5 oz. For that price you can buy a bag of carrots and get multiple days of meals. Turns out cooking baby food is really easy. So we did that and only supplemented with packaged food for convenience. This is obvious in our chart  food costs.


Sheesh it took me doing the research for this article to really realize this cost. In the first year my baby had 3 emergency room visits at $100 a pop. These incident were by far the most costly expenses. I never knew what a nursemaid elbow was with my eldest but now I do and I feel so sad that my youngest baby got them, but the worst part is that apparently after they get them once they are more likely to get them again until their stuff is all set at age 5. I had the ER visits with my oldest as well, but I didn’t have insurance back then so those were like $500 a pop. So I can see the costs adding up for those who don’t have insurance.

So that should cover most of the costs. However, I’ll assume that I lost a receipt somewhere and make that $1,300 a nice round $1,500. Even so I don’t see any other costs that I missed and that means out of the $10,000  my total amounted to about 15% . Now lets assume that this is likely the case and that child expenses are grossly overestimated. Well that means that raising a kid to 18 really shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg and that the expenses are well within your control and open for interpretation.

I did not follow the fast growing ridiculously lavish first birthday trend.  My daughter did not receive a pile of gifts, I didn’t buy fancy decorations and order a custom birthday cake piled high with sugar and fake coloring. I didn’t hire a professional photographer either ( I know how to work a camera and I don’t need Photoshop magic changing reality). Maybe some people will say she missed out, some how I don’t think she’ll ever complain.

So what have you done to cut baby costs? Do you feel your missing out? Do you really need to choose between the Baby and the Budget?


10 thoughts on “Choosing between the Baby and the Budget”

    1. Wow! My first real comment. (darn those ego stroking spam comments that confuse me so).
      I’ve heard and read a tiny bit of J.Money but I haven’t seen his baby tracker. I’ll look it up.

      I did look you up. Wow you saved 100K during school that is so impressive. Thanks for stopping by hope to hear from you more.

    2. Skimmed that baby tracker Holy sheesh that’s a lot of money by first year. Yeah I am actually keeping track better now and will be doing monthly cost counting but yeah I already had a kid so no extra insurance premiums… I’ll look into it in more detail.

  1. those articles really are completely absurd. while we did keep genders a surprise, my primary weakness has been buying clothes (after birth) since we have two little girls (curse the cuteness!)…but i’m working on it. we’ve been fortunate not to have any emergency room visits or use any formula, and we actually do cloth diaper…so we’ve spent SO little. maybe i’ll see if i can put together our spending…i’ve always been surprised by J$’s baby tracker as well…but his are in daycare, which is a huge expense.

    1. So true daycare is a killer. We have been fortunate to have family around. I would still say some other costs are optional. Like you mentioned on your blog. Kids don’t really need anything. Not even toys or jumpers or walkers.

  2. So I have two kids, an older boy and a baby girl. We still have a lot of clothes from the older boy but as cheap as I am I did want girly clothes for my baby. This would have been a much more costly position if I didn’t have such nice coworkers. I never asked for anything (guess I’m kinda proud) but when someone offers, ill jump at free stuff. It turns out a coworker has a girl who is 6 months older and has no use for the small clothes and offered them up. Bonus! (I also got a lcd tv this way) All it took was just casually talking about stuff and sometimes it works out. That and you have to be on good terms with your work-mates.

    1. That is great! Passing clothes along is really awesome. Babies grow out of their clothes so fast some items get worn once or twice and are like new. We passed along some clothes to my coworker too. One is having a girl and a different is having a boy. so the clothes are getting more use and saving those people money. Horray!

  3. We’ve found raising kids to be far less expensive than the articles say (ours are 7, 6, and 3). Childcare has been the only big expense. Aside from that, most clothes have been gifted or passed down and food costs haven’t been too bad yet. I’m sure that’ll change when the 2 boys are teenagers!

    1. Yes I’ve found that at age 7 the costs have started to increase. My son at 7 seems to need replacement shoes and pants every three months thanks to wearing holes right into them.

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