It's the most frequently told baby-related horror story: they're so EXPENSIVE! There's a grain of truth to the story - babies can, indeed, be expensive - but they don't have to be.
Do you have a quarter of a million dollars? … Yeah, neither do I. But according to the latest figures by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it takes approximately that much money to raise a child from birth to eighteen years. That’s just one child. It’s a sobering thought, isn’t it? (Kinda makes you want to rethink that big family you always dreamed of.) Luckily for us, we aren’t required to have the quarter-mil in one lump sum – if we did, very few people would have children – but the fact remains that raising kids is expensive. And when you’re a new parent, it can seem like a good chunk of that sum is doled out for baby stuff: diapers, wipes, formula, clothes, toys, and the endless parade of “must-have” supplies and gadgets. Good news: you don’t have to break the bank for your baby’s sake!
Before Baby comes …
Let’s talk medical expenses for a moment. If you’re not yet pregnant, but trying, it’s time to practice some good preventative care: begin taking a prenatal vitamin (available without a prescription at most drugstores) and pop a folic acid supplement as well. Folic acid has been proven to dramatically reduce the risk of neural tube defects and other serious conditions in developing babies. If you don’t want to take a supplement, just be sure to include lots of orange juice in your diet – it’s a great source of folic acid. The bottom line is, the more healthy and well-prepared for pregnancy your body is, the better the chance for your baby to develop normally. Not only will your good health benefit both you and Baby (which is the most important thing) it can potentially save you money on medical bills and special treatments down the road.
If you are expecting, the same goes for you – be as healthy as you can to give your baby a better chance at being healthy. By taking good care of yourself and strictly following your doctor’s orders, you can avoid illnesses related to stress and poor nutrition, and therefore avoid extra doctor visits. But if you’re pregnant, there’s more than just good health to think about now: it’s time to consider the medical testing that generally goes along with pregnancy. Hopefully you have good health insurance, but even so, not all tests may be covered and you need to find out what’s necessary. Consider each test on an individual basis. For example: an amniocentesis is a test used to screen for chromosomal abnormalities, genetic birth defects and other conditions. This type of test is normally recommended for women over age thirty-five, or those who have a family history of birth defects. If you’re a woman in her mid-twenties with no significant problems in your family history, do you really need an amnio? Probably not. Make sure you thoroughly discuss the pros, the cons, and the necessity of every test with your doctor – and if he or she thinks it’s crucial, then by all means, do it! – but by questioning the importance of each test, you may be able to avoid having those that are unnecessary … and spending unnecessary money.