How to prepare for a baby on a budget

Knowing you are about to bring a baby into the world is very exciting and overwhelming all rolled into one. Having a new baby is life-changing in many ways, but one thing it changes radically is your budget. You might be thinking about how to prepare for a baby on a budget and how to afford a baby on minimum wage? Is it even possible to follow a budget for a new baby? 

One of the first things that comes into new parent’s minds is, how am I supposed to afford this baby?  Or at least that was my thought with our first pregnancy. Was I being totally crazy to think that we could have a baby without going into debt? What if my blog and virtual assistant business didn’t make any money, (my backup plan to supplement maternity leave) and we had to live on less money than we had coming in now?

But then I decided that no, the baby would not ruin our budget. 



Making sure a baby doesn’t cost too much is exactly the same as making sure any area of life doesn’t cost a fortune. There are always things you can do to keep the expenses away. There are lots of simple things you can learn on how to save money with a baby.

Hopefully what I have learned about how to prepare financially (and even save money) on baby’s first year, will help ease your stress a little, so you can focus on loving that sweet baby!

Keep on reading for the ultimate guide on how to prepare for a baby on a budget.

This is my baby on a budget checklist with tips I’ve learned along the way with my two kids.

1. Find a way to bring in more money

When preparing for a baby on a budget there are some crucial questions you need to think about:

  • How much do you normally spend each month?
  • Will you take maternity leave?
  • Can you live off of just one income?
  • Will you return to work early?
  • Is it worth it to pay someone to look after your baby?
  • Will you return to work at all or do you want to become a full-time stay-at-home mom?

Things like diapers, wipes, and possibly formula will always be a cost. Then there are big one time costs like your crib or an unexpected doctor’s appointment.

We realized that we probably could live on just my husband’s income, but it would be a huge challenge.

That was when we decided I was going to become a full-time stay-at-home mom and make money from home.  I launched my other blog and a VA business – and now, 2,5 years in – I make more from home than I ever made at my job as a nurse specialist. Starting a blog and a VA business is a great way to make a living from home.


2. Get financially ready for baby

Emergency Fund

How much money should you have saved before having a baby? Try to have an emergency fund of at least $1000 saved. This may be impossible, but if you can manage to get this together it will be a huge help if unexpected costs pop up. (And they always do.) This will act as a buffer between those surprise baby costs and your bank balance.

Budget for the unexpected

Try to continuously set aside $100-$200 per month for costs that you might not be able to predict.

If there is no room in your budget for saving money now, then find a way to earn extra money just for this. Sell stuff at a yard sale, take surveys online, baby-sit (it’s good practice!), create something and sell it on Etsy, become a Mary Kay consultant – do whatever it takes.

Estimate a Budget

How much does a baby cost per month on average? What should I do financially before having a baby? Consider these questions and estimate a budget.

As soon as you have an estimated budget for when the baby arrives try to start living by it now. Use the extra money to buy bigger things you may need, pay off debt, or to save up for maternity leave.

Make sure to check if it’s still financially reasonable for you both to work vs paying for childcare. Sometimes it makes more sense to stay at home and pick up a side hustle (this is exactly what I’m doing.


3. Newborns need very little

Newborns need very little stuff.  There are so many things that we think of as essential that just aren’t.

Don’t start buying baby stuff too early!

Begin by making a list of things you feel like you want for your baby. On this list include everything from bottles, clothes to diapers and toys! Go through that list and put a check mark by the things that you know are an absolute necessity.

This will help you see what the bare minimum is that you can get by with. If it’s your first baby, you might be surprised how many things you could actually live without.

Not buying too many items is my best secret to having a baby on a budget AND keeping the clutter away.


One of the biggest lifestyle changes that anyone can make while preparing for a baby on a budget is spending less on food. There are so many great ways that you can do this.

We have saved so much money on our food costs by cutting down on eating out and meal planning. 

Meal planning is the first step in making a radical change in how you spend your money on food. Plan all your meals out for the week, and only buy the food you need.Meal planning is the key to eating out less. Once you know what you are eating each night you are prepared and have a lot less of a need to run out for dinner.

Stopping your eating out habit won’t come overnight. You wouldn’t believe the number of times I’ve just grabbed take-out if there hadn’t been freezer meals prepared.

5. Create an Amazon Baby Registry

Amazon has something called a “universal” registry. to make sure people know what you need. This universal registry is so helpful because you can register from any website and your guests only need to shop from ONE list. Plus, they give you coupons to go towards all of this stuff, so register now even if you aren’t planning on having a shower.

6. Nursing vs. Formula

No question here, breast milk is best and also FREE! I  know that not everyone can. And I know how hard it can be. Believe me, the first months of breastfeeding were terrible for me. But, breastfeeding means free baby food. Talk about baby budget-friendly!

Having said if you can get past those first rough weeks, it is so worth it! I loved being able to nurse my babies everywhere without the hassle of making bottles or buying formula.

IF you decide not to breastfeed, PLEASE don’t feel bad about it. Do your best, but don’t be hard on yourself if you have to do something different than what you had planned.

7. Buy used baby items

Finding used items to buy for your baby will help save you a ton of money. Baby items get used so little and buying them used will make you get the products around half the price.

Things I’ve bought used in the past:

  • Crib
  • Clothing
  • Carrier
  • Swing 
  • Sheets/Blankets
  • Bouncer
  • Stroller
  • Toys

Literally, you can buy almost anything used. My favorite places for this are Facebook Marketplace, local consignment shops, and yard sales.

baby on a budget checklist


Steaming and mashing veggies isn’t as hard and time-consuming as you might think with the right tools. One big advantage of buying baby food is the ability to avoid any toxic additives.

Get yourself one of these handy things, and you’ll have saved so much more than you’ve spent within a couple of months. It might not seem like baby food costs that much when you’re just buying a few meals – but it really does add up!

9. Online discounts and cashback opportunities

Always take advantage of cashback for any online purchases you make. I love EBATES for this because you just simply sign up for an account and then just going through their site to the shopping sites. Whatever items you buy, they give you cashback. Plus, they give you a cash bonus when you first sign up.

You’d be amazed at how fast it builds up! 


Even with the new baby expenses, you can actually save money when your baby has been born. You probably won’t spend much on gas for the car, or lunches and coffee out. You won’t go shopping often, and you’ll probably be overall more conscious about what you’re spending.

If you think about all the ways you can save money during your baby’s first year, you might find it’s not as financially challenging as you think!

A new baby is a complete lifestyle change but you’ve got a decent amount of time to get yourself and your finances ready. Start taking small steps today to get yourself ready to raise your baby on a budget!

Related articles: New mom survival guide – Things I wish I knew sooner

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