When I found out I was pregnant, my normal planning habits kicked into overdrive. I researched, created spreadsheets, and budgeted for everything from maternity clothes to cloth diapers to how we would survive financially during my 14-week maternity leave. Even with all of my planning, though, I was still caught off guard by unexpected costs and after talking with other parents they were also caught off guard. Here are the top five unexpected costs during a baby’s first year — if you add them to your budget, you won’t be sorry.
Clothes – for mom and baby. I thought I’d wear my maternity clothes for a few weeks after delivery and then overnight fit back into my pre-pregnancy clothes. It didn’t work out that way for me, or for most moms I know. I lost the weight quickly but all my pre-pregnancy clothes just did not fit me the way they once did. I spent a pretty penny on transitional clothes and then staples for my new post-pregnancy wardrobe. I also wasn’t expecting to need to buy my daughter any clothing until after her first birthday, but it turned out most of the clothing we received as gifts only took her through the first six months. Most stores only carry clothing for the current and upcoming season, so you’ll have lots of clothes for these seasons and a few scant pieces for the rest of the year.
Co-pays. This is going to be different for everyone, depending on the insurance coverage you have, but you can safely assume you’ll be visiting your child’s pediatrician at least six times during his first year for well visits, each visit requiring a co-pay. Add in sick visits and you could be in the doctor’s office twice that amount! And while $20 here and there doesn’t seem like a lot, when yuo add it up at the end of the year, you have spent almost $250 just for doctor visits. The best way to plan for this is contributing to a pre-tax flexible spending account through your employer or consider itemizing the co-pays on your yearly tax return.
Unpaid leave. Maternity leave varies wildly from state to state, but the standard maternity leave covered by state disability insurance is six weeks. Many women, myself included, take more than those few weeks. For some, it’s paid through other state plans, and for others it’s completely income free. Aside from the obvious lack of income, you can count on missing out on accrued PTO through your employer, possible decreased bonuses, and decreased contributions to Social Security that you won’t notice until retirement age.
Photos. The camera starts clicking as soon as baby is born. While candid photos of baby are wonderful, many parents want professional photos done several times over the course of the first year to help capture their quickly changing child and get everyone in the family in the photo. Depending on the photographer and packages you choose prices can range from $50 to several hundred dollars.
Food. I cringe every time I think of all of the food we ordered out in the first two months of our daughter’s life. We were overwhelmed, exhausted, and could barely think straight let alone read a recipe. Once we got our act together with meal times was right around the time our daughter started eating solids. We had to extend our grocery budget to include the ingredients necessary for me to make her purees. Once purees were falling by the wayside, snacks and milk were working their way into her meals. Adding a third person to the food budget so early on truly took me by surprise.
Jennifer Morrison is the author of Also Known As…the Wife, a blog where she chronicles life as a military wife, a parent to one daughter and another baby on the way, and resident of New Jersey.