Staying on Budget with a New Baby
After your new baby arrives, everything in your life seems to just fall out of its routine. Let’s face it most families budget 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. Well there a few things you can do to help keep your budget in check when everything else seems to be going crazy. Here are some great 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 on the computer before ever 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 then you’ll have to 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 you could be putting that extra income into an emergency fund for those rainy days or putting it towards any 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 — things like 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’re going to spend for the next week, two weeks or month in a particular category — like groceries, you go to the bank and withdrawal that amount. Now 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. Make sure 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.” Now 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. Make sure to add up the items your 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 then take a few items out to lower your bill.
If you have money left at the end of the month in your envelope then you can do a few different things. First you can reward yourself and spend the money on eating out one night, going to the movies, or on anything else you may want. The second option is to save the money for a future month where you might need to spend a little more.
Cut out anything that isn’t absolutely necessary
After your baby arrives a lot of our expenses goes towards convenience items. Things like early morning coffee runs 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 recipe then freeze the rest. Preparing your own meals and then freezing them is a good way to save money and still have quick dinners without much effort.
If you love your early morning coffee from the local coffee shop, try making it at home. You could probably save a lot of money by just 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, but 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, but with simple planning you could really save yourself time and money.