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How do you save money as a new parent? I need to know because I’m about to become one

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Note: This is a first-person story

I am going to be a dad for the first time in August and, as you might expect, I have the typical questions which swirl through the mind of any parent-to-be.

Will I be a good dad? Will I raise them to be a good human being? Am I ready?

I know "ready" is a loaded word. There's no clear definition of what it means to feel "ready" to be a parent.

Still, I find myself dwelling on one question over and over again: Will I be able to afford the cost of having a kid?

Considering I have just four months to go before the days of sleeping whenever I want come to an end, I wanted to learn as much as I could about the costs of having a kid — and how new parents are trying to reduce those costs as much as possible.

One of those parents is Vanesa Masse. She lives in Windsor's Walkerville neighbourhood and has an eight-month-old daughter named Eva.

Some of her top tips to save money include visiting used clothing or consignment stores, purchasing used baby toys and furniture off online marketplaces and breastfeeding to eliminate the need of purchasing formula.

She also makes her own baby food using nothing more than fruit and a blender.

"It's super easy...just puree it and you can feed it to your baby," said Masse.

Other parents offered me their tips to save money after I asked for them in a Facebook group for mothers.

"Instead of using baby lotions and creams, use coconut oil after a bath," said Lauren Pike in a comment.

Emma Ferrera said it's normal for new parents to think their children need more than they actually require.

"As long as they have clothes on their backs, breast milk or formula and a roof over their little heads, they are just fine," said Ferrera. "I used to make my kids sensory toys out of items laying around the house."

Other parents advised me to never ignore a good coupon, sign up for free samples of baby-friendly products and buy things which have been gently used.

Statistics Canada data from 2022 showed 38 per cent — nearly two in five — of young adults aged 20 to 29 did not believe they can afford to have a child in the next three years.

A separate report released by Statistics Canada in November 2023 estimated it would cost about $293,000 for a two-income household to cover the cost of raising two children up to adulthood.

"So that's about $17,200 a year, per child, to get them from zero to 17...that's not a small amount of money," said Frazier Fathers, a consultant with Community Policy Solutions.

This can result in some new parents, particularly in lower-income brackets, being forced to make difficult choices.

"A parent is more likely to sacrifice themselves. We see this in data around food banks, for example, where parents skipped a meal to make sure the children got the meal that day," said Fathers.

But despite the rising cost of living, Fathers said social media and peer pressure can play a big role in the amount of money parents will spend on their children.

"It is a challenge, keeping up with the Joneses. Kids go to school and they see what their friends are doing. They want to do the stuff their friends are doing, whether that's playing soccer, going to dance classes or swimming lessons," explained Fathers.

He added it's the responsibility of each parent to weigh the significant financial investment in these additional programs against the personality enhancements they offer.

"So those pressures are absolutely out there and that's a major challenge for to decide. Maybe we're not taking a vacation this year so we can put Timmy into this sports league or this enrichment program,” he said.

But despite any potential financial pressure, my sole focus is on the love and support I want to give my child. We’re having a girl.

As the countdown to August continues, I'm feeling more ready to embrace the adventure ahead. 

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