Having a baby is something many young people dream about for years before it happens. Having a little one to take care of can lead to some of the most rewarding moments life has to offer. In the meantime, though, there are almost sure to be financial strains while you adjust to life with the newest member of your family.

Sticker shock from a new baby is undoubtedly real. Most young parents are aware that their lives will change, and their budgets will need to adjust, but few realize just how expensive a baby is. Trying to stay financially secure is difficult, but it is possible with the right preparation.

Baby sticker shock

It is a different world after having a baby, physically, emotionally and financially. The Department of Agriculture has been recording the cost of raising children since 1960, and their most recent report, published in 2015, had surprising findings. The study suggested that a married, middle income home having their second child would spend $13,000 on the baby in the first year.

Adjusting for inflation and the fact that a first child on average costs 27 percent more than future children, this means that parents can expect to earmark $17,000 in their budget for their baby’s first year.

Finding room in the budget

Coming up with an extra 17 grand for your baby’s first year is significant for most young families. Not everyone has a little over $1,400 worth of wiggle room in their budget every month. It is possible to make room, however, if you are willing to re-evaluate your budget.

If you do not have a budget, make one. If you have one, re-analyze it from the ground up. Look at every expense you have made in the last few months and make cuts accordingly. This could mean:

  • Trading in the cellphone you’re paying off for a cheaper one
  • Going out with friends or on dates less
  • Canceling expensive subscriptions like cable television or downsizing your wireless plan
  • Not shopping for personal items (avoid stores or unlink credit cards from e-retailers if necessary)
  • Learn the basics of cooking to make your own meals rather than buying boxed food
  • Bring your own meals to work
  • Reduce or cut habits like smoking or alcohol

It may be tedious but taking the time to write down all your expenses is a major help. Knowing where your money is going can be a significant wakeup call for many people.

Changing to a more modest lifestyle is one of the most difficult things a person can do. The adjustment will most likely be uncomfortable and maybe even frustrating, but trust that it will happen after a few weeks. One of the best things you can do is to keep your eyes on your goal: having the financial security you will need to give your baby a happy first year of life.