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Prepare for the expense of having a baby

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Having a baby is one of the most profound human experiences, but it does cost money. Having a solid plan in place makes a big difference, according to The Simple Dollar.

The first year of care for an infant can run from $5,496 in Mississippi to $16,549 in Massachusetts with factors like child care and hospital costs being the most significant variables.

U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics on the cost of raising a child look daunting: $245,340 to age 18. This works out to about $13,600 a year or $1,133 per month, which seems at least a little more doable.

The critical costs include healthcare, child care and housing.

Start with a quality healthcare plan. Those with different options through an employer should look carefully at their premiums, deductibles, and maximum out of pocket dollars for each plan to determine the best choice. Those without coverage at all will still be able to take advantage of insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace during open enrollment because these plans cannot consider

a preexisting condition and there are no waiting periods. Consider saving for the deductible for eight months during pregnancy so you will be ready to cover the cost.

Lifestyle choices count. Calculate the cost of one parent staying home instead of working and paying childcare, which can add up to more than $1,500 per month in some areas.

Plan ahead for housing. For instance, new parents might not opt to stay in a trendy one-bedroom condo when a small house would be more manageable.

Once the baby has arrived, there is a long list of items that new parents want to buy, but only a small portion of them are actually essential to the health and happiness of a newborn. A car seat, for instance, is absolutely required and, in fact, the hospital will not let the baby leave without one. Similarly, the baby will need food and feeding equipment, diapers, basic clothing, a bath, a sleeping area such as a bassinet, and some baby care items like shampoo, towels, and a thermometer.

But, you can save big on clothing, toys, and many accessories at secondhand stores or at garage sales. Thrifty parents can find high-quality items for pennies on the dollar. Let grandparents and friends buy the new stuff.

Another big savings is in breastfeeding which is not only healthy for baby and mother, but can also save between $1,100 and $1,700 during the first year, according to What to Expect.

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