Whether you’ve been saving up for your first kid for years now or you’ve only begun to do your research, the second you see that pregnancy test confirm you’re with child; everything really does change.
When my husband and I first found out we were expecting, we were pretty well prepared for the price tags that come with commonly discussed baby goods. (Cribs cost how much? Do we really need a jogging stroller? Don’t even get me started on childcare cost.) As a financial writer (and one who has specialized in parenting topics for most of her career, for that matter), I fancied myself pretty well-versed in how and where our wallets would be stretched — but even for as prepared as I thought I was, there still were expenses that totally surprised me.
Here are some of the harder ones I’ve had to come to terms with.
Surprise No. 1: The amount you’ll spend on clothes you’ll only wear a couple times in your life.
I always knew that my ever-expanding stomach would cause some issues for my clothing, but I figured I could get away with at least some of my regular outfits for a while — after all, my closet was already full of slouchy boyfriend jeans, flowy tunic topics and lose-fitting dresses. The truth is, though, your “regular” clothes start to feel pretty uncomfortable pretty quick, and buying just one pair of maternity jeans (the way I tried to) simply won’t cut it for months on end. For the most part, this is just an area where you’re going to have to suck it up and dish out some cash for clothes you know won’t be mainstays in your wardrobe, but it’ll be worth it for the comfort they provide. My best advice? Beg, borrow and, if necessary, steal from friends and family who have leftovers!
Surprise No. 2: Your grocery bill will go way up.
It’s not only that I’m eating way more than before, it’s that I’m trying to eat more healthily, as well, which, funnily enough, is always more expensive. We’re eating out less, since my diet has suddenly become somewhat limited (Buh-bye sushi. Sayonara soft cheeses. See ya later certain seafoods.), which I guess is cutting costs somewhere at least, but that just means we’re tacking on those savings to our weekly grocery bill, instead. Suddenly I’m filling the cart up with tons of dried fruits and protein-packed cereals, not to mention every type of flavored fizzy drink imaginable because, let’s be honest, there’s only so much regular water a girl can drink. What once was a fairly carefree experience (“This looks good, let’s get it!”) has suddenly become somewhat stressful (“Do those eggs have extra Omega-3s?”) and expensive.
Surprise No. 3: You might spend more on entertainment.
Maybe it’s just us, but suddenly my husband and I are faced with the fact that there are so many things we want to do before, you know, our lives change forever. I’m not talking about big things here, but even the small things add up. A weekend getaway for an upcoming birthday. More visits to the movies. Extra time spent with friends. These are all things that, while still do-able with kids, suddenly become infinitely more difficult (or at least expensive, when babysitters get involved).
Surprise No. 4: You could (temporarily) spend more on travel.
There are probably only a select few for whom this might be the case, but for me — as someone who lives half a country away from her family and most of her good friends — finding out I was pregnant meant packing in as many trips back home as possible before the dreaded “no fly” months kick in. I wanted to tell certain family members in person that I was pregnant (like my 94-year-old grandmother, for example), so there was a trip back home for that. My baby shower will be back home where the majority of my friends and family are, so there’s a trip back home for that. And while I appreciate the extra time I get to spend with family and friends before the baby comes, all these extra flights are additional expenses that we hadn’t quite budgeted for, as well.
Surprise No. 5: Whatever additional money you’re not spending when you’re pregnant, you’ll feel extra pressure to sock it away in savings.
It’s not that padding your savings account with extra money is ever a bad thing, it’s just that you might be surprised how, once you find out you’re expecting, any extra money you have coming in that isn’t being spent on the above mentioned items just doesn’t feel right to spend anywhere else. The truth is, for as much research as you can do ahead of time about how much baby might cost, there’s no real way of knowing what that ultimate price tag will be, so it’s a good idea to build up as much of a savings cushion as possible before your little bundle arrives, just in case. While that might mean good things for your net worth right now, we’re really trying to look at this extra savings money as the baby’s money, if you will. Sure, we have it for the time being, and that’s great, but really, it could be gone in the blink of an eye after baby arrives.
After all, have you seen how much diapers cost?