Your bundle of joy comes with a bundle of bills. In fact, the average family spends $11,000 to $16,000 during a new baby's first year, according to Stacey L. Bradford, author of The Wall Street Journal Financial Guidebook for New Parents. To ease the strain, try these cost-cutting strategies on the top three expenses for new parents.
Pay to Play The expense of childcare can be daunting. A full-time nanny can cost $20,000 to $30,000 or more per year while daycare can be upwards of $22,000 per year. How to save: Share a nanny with another family. Each family spends less, and the sitter often gets paid more than for a solo job. "Your child also gets to interact with another child," says Erica Sandberg, author of Expecting Money: the Essential Financial Plan for New and Growing Families. Also, find out if you or your spouse's employer offers a childcare flexible spending account, which allows you to set aside $5,000 in pretax dollars towards childcare, or perhaps a group discount at a local childcare center.
Eating Up the Budget Formula costs a minimum of $1,500 the first year, according to Bradford -- more if you use one that's gluten-free or contains prebiotics. Although breastfeeding is less expensive, "there's a fallacy that breastfeeding is free," says Bradford. A breast pump can run $250 to $300, then there's nursing bras, pads, and breast milk freezer bags. How to save: Pediatricians often have free formula samples, notes Sandberg. Also, sign up for coupons at the formula company's website. If you're breastfeeding, "buy breast pads and freezer bags month-to-month and finish them before buying another," says Bradford. "Women often don't know how long they'll breastfeed and supplies are expensive." Also, rather than buying the 2- to 4-ounce baby bottles that you'll only use for a few months, buy the 8-ounce bottles, which have greater longevity.
Spare Change Disposable diapers can set you back up to $2,000 in the first year. How to save: Buying diapers in bulk at warehouse clubs such as Costco or online at Amazon will save 10 to 40 percent, notes Bradford. You can also try cloth diapers (two dozen costs only $20); wash them yourself for next to nothing. If your child is showing signs of readiness, potty training early is another way to save on diapers -- $20 per week or more. A lot of major grocers like Publix and Winn-Dixie have baby clubs. Sign up online and score discounts on diapers, wipes and hand sanitizer and other items.