After your new baby arrives, everything in your life seems to just fall out of its routine. Let’s face it, most families’ budgets and spending habits take a nosedive after a baby arrives. You’re tired, you probably haven’t showered in the past day (or two), and you are in survival mode. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to help keep your budget in check.
Tips for Staying on Budget With Your New Baby
Spend on paper first.
The best tip you can follow is to create a budget on paper or the computer before spending any money. Your budget doesn’t have to be complicated — simply list out your fixed expenses (mortgage, insurance, car payment, etc.), list out your variable expenses (eating out, groceries, entertainment, etc.), and finally write down your income.
Make sure your expenses don’t exceed your income. If they do, spend less in a few different areas of your budget to make up the difference. If you have any extra income each month, then take a closer look at your budget. Perhaps put the extra income into an emergency fund for those rainy days or paying down debt.
Try to have your discretionary spending equal to zero after you subtract your expenses from your income. This way, you know that every dollar you earn has a specific purpose in your budget to help you reach your goals.
Switch to cash.
By not using your debit or credit cards, you take away the temptation to overspend. It’s recommended to use the envelope system for areas of your budget you tend to go over—for example, groceries, eating out, entertainment, and clothing. So, if you find yourself overspending each month after your baby arrives, then switch to using cash. You’ll be able to see exactly how much you have left in a budget category by glancing at your envelope.
Using the cash envelope method is easy. Once you have created your budget and know how much you will spend for the next week, two weeks, or month in a particular category — like groceries, withdraw that amount from the bank. When you go to the grocery store, you can only spend the cash you have in your envelope.
Here’s how it works. Let’s say you budgeted $400 a month for groceries and you get paid twice a month. When you receive your first paycheck, take out $200 from your bank account and meal plan for the next two weeks. Ensure to include any other household items you’re going to need for the next two weeks on your grocery list — bath products, cleaning items, paper goods, etc. Put your $200 in an envelope marked “groceries.” When you go to the store, you only spend from that specific envelope.
When you get your second paycheck for the month, you do it all over again.
Use your calculator on your phone when you go through the store. Add up the items you’re putting into your cart to ensure you don’t go over your budgeted amount. Always include a few extra dollars in your total to cover any sales tax. If you budgeted $200 and your total is $215, take a few items out to lower your bill.
If you have money left in your envelope at the end of the month, then you can do a few different things. First, you can reward yourself. For example, spend the money on eating out one night or going to the movies. The second option is to save the money for a future month where you may need to spend more money.
Cut out anything that isn’t necessary.
After your baby arrives, a lot of our expenses go towards convenience items. Things like an early morning coffee run because you’re exhausted, eating out at lunch and dinner because it’s easier, and so on. You may even be splurging on the top-of-the-line cable package from your pre-baby days.
Take a good hard look at what your daily and monthly spending habits include to see if there are any areas you can reduce. You might be surprised at the savings from just switching a few habits.
If you find yourself eating out a lot after the baby arrives, then take a day to prepare a few freezer meals or if you do cook, double the recipe and freeze the extra. Preparing your own meals and then freezing them is a good way to save money and have quick dinners without much effort.
If you love your early morning coffee from the local coffee shop, try making it at home. You can save a lot of money by setting the timer on your coffee pot to start on its own each morning. Think about it . . . you might be spending close to $4 each morning on your favorite latte. At five days a week, 52 weeks a year, that’s over $1,000 a year you could be saving. If you budget $200 a month in eating out, your coffee habit is costing you close to $87 a month from your budget. That’s a lot.
These few tips can really help you save money after your baby arrives. More importantly, they can help you from going into debt. It’s hard once the baby is here. Time seems to go by so much faster, and you’re always exhausted. Convenience is key when you have a newborn at home. With simple planning, you can save yourself time and money.