So many variables come with preparing for and having a family with several options on ways to save. And it starts with the thought of conception. These predictable and unpredictable variables can carry over into your entire pregnancy journey, fourth trimester, and beyond. Everyone's experiences are unique, but we share one universal truth: Babies (and people) are unpredictable— and expensive!
Before my first was conceived, I attempted to mock up a budget to ensure we could afford a kid. When I look back on it, the list was wildly incomplete. I underestimated childcare, diapers, hospital costs, and prenatal care, and way overestimated the crib, bassinet, and baby clothes, and forgot to budget and save for big longer-term items like medical bills and medical costs due to the hospital stay, pediatrician appointments, toddlers transitions, etc.
As a finance nerd and mom of two, I'm going to share the framework I used for kid number two to help your parenthood journey feel a little more predictable. Regardless of your current financial situation, it's possible for every parent to budget, save, and invest in the future of their family.
I've worked in nearly every corner of fintech with companies like Credit Karma, American Express, Robinhood, Gatsby, State Street, and many more. The approach I take to money management and investing is very human. I am not a type A person. I follow my gut and set myself up for adaptability. And these simple money methods will help you better prepare for your baby's future.
I founded my company, Firma, to enable people to invest confidently and carve out their unique wealth journey. There is no right way to invest, spend money responsibly, parent, or live your life. You do you, and hopefully, this framework supports that—a reminder while going through this exercise. Don't worry about what other parents are doing with their finances. Understanding your money is about you and your family. And how you choose to budget depends on your personal finance and family savings. Only you know what's best for your family.
The first step to saving for your baby's future is to divide costs into two categories, consistent and sporadic.
Consistent costs are things you'll need to purchase regularly over time, like baby diapers, wipes, baby formula, child care, clothes, etc.
Typically for the first six months, your baby will only drink milk. If you are using a formula, the typical baby will consume an average of $35 worth of formula a week. Our community of parents prefers Bobbie Organic Formula, the only US baby formula that meets European standards. As you can see, this adds up quickly to about $1,820 over one year. After introducing pureed and solid foods, around the six-month mark, you will need to add an average of $3-$4 per day to that, adding up to a grand total of $1,095 or more.
Ways to save:
Sporadic items are things you only need once or things that you want to be ready but unsure if you'll need, like a jogging, a wagon, a booster seat, or a range of prenatal and postpartum care products, for example.
Ways to save:
Some costs might be sporadic for your household and consistent for others. You might earmark some funds for massages but not get massages on a regular schedule, and others might decide to make massages a more regular thing. You may buy a Snoo bassinet vs. rent, making it a sporadic cost unless you choose a buy-now-pay-later option. For more information about investing in a smart crib, look at this comparison article: SNOO vs. Cradlewise, to make an informed decision for you and your family.
You could have some consistent costs you can't foresee yet. For example, you need to start seeing a therapist. This could become a bi-weekly or monthly expense. You can plan for these expenses in the sporadic cost (just in case) and then move them over to consistent if needed.
Have you added up your costs yet? If so, you'll now take the total of your consistent costs and come up with your monthly base. You can add this to your household's regular spending.
Note: It's ok to get freaked out by your expenses. Seeing them all written down can feel like a lot, but know that for the first few months, you'll likely decrease your other categories (i.e., entertainment, travel, dining out, gas, etc.).
Next, map out your sporadic costs over time to determine how much money you want and when. Work backward from the significant financial hurdles like the crib, breast pump, high chair, toddler bed, changing table, play gym, etc., and create a plan to set aside funds to get you through those expenses. Part of this plan can be your registry, and part of it could be investing the funds for variable items.
Fortunately, a baby registry like Poppylist is one small way to ease the burden and expense of both consistent and sporadic costs. Poppylist allows you to upload any product or service to your baby registry, gift cards, and diaper funds. One of my favorite benefits of registering with Poppylist was the option to select a gift card instead of the product, giving me the flexibility I needed at the time. And one of my favorite registry items for a sporadic cost was the REBELSTORK gift card.
What's REBELSTORK? REBELSTORK is the first North American Baby Gear Marketplace created for a new generation of socially and fiscally responsible parents. REBELSTORK drops top deals on open box, overstock, and used baby gear daily. New parents can use this gift card to purchase from any remaining item from different brands on their baby registry. In addition, parents will identify something new they didn't know they needed once their baby arrives, and this gift card will help ensure mom and dad can purchase exactly what they need at a fraction of the cost.
In addition to these costs, I addressed big-ticket items and planned for "oh sh*t" moments. There will inevitably be times in pregnancy (and beyond) when everything feels like it's going wrong. You'll need takeout, an unexpected babysitter, a new sweater because your other is stained from spit-up, a box of extra moisture tissues, a pint of Ben and Jerry's, or to fly your sister into town to help— whatever gives you the recharge you need. You don't want to add financial stress on top of baby stress, so do your future self a favor and earmark money for those moments. Think of this as part of your emergency fund.
When you have some time to play with your budget, you can use it to your advantage by investing funds you don't immediately need, allowing them to grow and enabling you to provide more for your family.
From the moment we decided to start trying for our first, I began regularly buying shares of ETFs I cared about—exchange-traded funds that were committed to supporting companies building a great future for my baby.
As mentioned above, I founded Firma, an investment platform where you can access many opportunities. I wanted to give everyone an empowered, intentional investing experience that made sense for their life. We make investing as straightforward as shopping so that growing families like yours can have the opportunity to build their wealth in a way that makes sense for them.
All investments involve risks, including the loss of principal. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Please consider your objectives and risk tolerance before investing. Securities trading is offered through Firma Advisors, LLC, SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Read more about Firma at www.firma.finance.