First Person: Forecasting for Recurring Baby Costs

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It can be hard knowing what baby cost will be and how much they will be. There are the doctor bills, baby supplies, clothing, accoutrements, furniture, and all the rest. And that's just the beginning. Then there are the ongoing costs!

We just had our second child, so this time I knew what was coming when it came to those ongoing costs. Therefore, for certain supplies that appear with regularity on our shopping list, I've been able to begin forecasting our future costs for these supplies, taking some of the guesswork out of our baby costs and helping us to budget better in the process.

Diaper Costs

I like to be prepared when it comes to the family budget and expenditures, and I enjoy knowing what I'll be spending in upcoming months. And one of our biggest baby costs is diapers.

Therefore, while our baby is only several months old, I've already calculated what our diaper costs will be moving forward. By gauging consumption over multiple days (laying out a set number of diapers at a pre-set time, and doing a recount 24 hours later), I get an average of how many diapers we use each day (about 10). By dividing the number of diapers in a pack by the total cost of the pack, I get a cost-per-diaper number (around 17 cents). Then, I can multiply 10 diapers a day by 17 cents per diaper, by the number of days left until baby turns about two and a half (our estimated timeframe for potty training).

While it's not a perfect calculation, it at least gives me a pretty good idea of what our expenses in this area will be moving forward.

Don't forget the Wipes

Then there are baby wipe costs as well. With each diaper change, we of course use wipes for cleaning baby. Often (with better wipes and depending upon the level of mess) we can get away with using just one wipe, but sometimes a diaper change calls for two or more, so I use a 1.5 wipe-per-diaper-used ratio for my calculation. Then I do much the same thing as I did for diapers. I divide the number of wipes in a container by the cost of the container (about 1 cent), multiply by 1.5 (wipes per diaper change) and then multiply again by the number of days until baby turns two and a half, giving us a general cost estimate.

Formula Expenses

Thankfully for our wallets, my wife has been much more successful with breastfeeding and pumping with our second child. This has helped us cut costs in the realm of baby formula significantly; in fact, they've almost been zero so far. Sure, we have to pay for breast milk storage bags, but that's a minimal cost compared to buying formula each week.

However, with our first child, we weren't so lucky and we used mostly formula. Much like diapers and wipes, I gauged consumption, but on a weekly instead of daily basis. Knowing that he went through about a container and a half of formula each week, I was able to use the cost-per-container to get a cost-per-week, then estimate moving forward until we felt our child would be eating real food or at least off of formula regularly.

In each instance, knowing our estimated costs in these areas helped provide a little more clarity to our costs and helped us plan and budget to meet these expenses. When many things in raising a child are less than certain, any area in which I can more accurately predict our future tends to make our lives a little easier.

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