Babies Are Expensive

From the comments here.  The discussion is on how much it costs to have a baby.  Edited for clarity.

Expensive Babies

Actual birthing costs vary. We’ve had three kids over ten years and birthing costs have varied from $250 out of pocket to $8500.   Our highest and lowest price births were 20 months apart. The highest price birth involved induced labor with an epidural. For the lowest out-of-pocket price, I added my wife to my policy before the birth, so she was double-covered. If one of your policies is less than ideal and there are multiple policies available, I recommend doing this. It saved us thousands.  All told, If things go well, you could slide for as little as $1500 total.

For the highest price birth, we threw ourselves on the mercy of the finance department. They have a charity fund to pay the bills of the less fortunate. We qualified…barely.  If you have a medical bill you can’t afford, ask if there is a grant or donation you can apply for.  Always ask if there is some way the bill could be lowered.

Breast-feeding beats the heck out of formula, financially, but breast-feeding doesn’t always work. Ignore the boob-nazis who insist you are slowly killing your kid by using formula. I’ve got 3 kids, and each had different feeding issues.

Baby formula runs $19 for a big container at Sam’s Club, or a large percentage of your soul at most other big box stores.  Formula alone will pay for your membership in under a month. For a big eater, that’s $20-30 per week. For a normal eater, 2-3 weeks. For planning purposes, assume $100/month in formula costs for the first six months, when food starts coming into play heavily. After that, the formula expense goes down, but not away for at least 6 more months.

Diapers are painful. Not just the smell–though that hurts, too, sometimes–but the expense. I currently have 2 in diapers; one is potty-training. Our monthly costs for diapers, now, are about $75. It was easily twice that when they were younger. Figure at least $100 per month in diapers.  Unless your baby has irritation problems, go with cheap diapers. Leak-guard is a joke.   If you are relying on leak-guard to keep the contents inside the diaper, you aren’t changing your baby often enough.

I couldn’t begin to guess at how much you’ll spend on baby clothes.  I have never bought clothes for our kids. Whatever didn’t come free from friends and family walked into the house of it’s own volition, following my wife home from the store.

Toys are an almost purely voluntary expense. You’ll get as much as the kids needs free, as presents. You’ll go overboard and give the kids 10 times that, without realizing it. Don’t. For the first four to five months, its fingers and toes will be entertaining enough. After that, if there are more than about ten toys, it’s too many; the kid will never get attached to any of them. Keep it small. It’s better for the kids and the budget.  Little kids prefer boxes to toys, anyway.   Give the kid a shoebox instead of a Leapfrog.  Really.

Portraits suck, too. If you have to get them done professionally, get a membership that covers sitting fees, and use coupons. I recommend JC Penney’s. Using judicious coupons and the membership, we get portraits for under $20.

Baby food is probably cheaper to make in a food processor, but you can’t beat the convenience of the little jars. If you watch sales, you can stock up affordably. Mix every meal with some rice or oatmeal mush to stretch it, without making it unhealthy. Depending on your kids, and how much you listen to the “experts”, this is a nonexistent expense before six months. Our kids started eating baby food in their second months, at least a little bit.

Babies are expensive. Don’t doubt that for a second, but ignore the polled averages when it comes to expense.  Hand-me-downs, thrift stores, and good sales cut the expense a lot.

How do you save money and value with a baby in the house?

Update: Thanks to Well-Heeled Blog for including this post in the Carnival of Personal Finance, as an Editor’s Pick.

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Colorado Insurance Laws: Do you have the Right Coverage?

Car insurance is mandatory in Colorado. Colorado law on car insurance changed in 2003 when the state changed to a fault-based system from a no-fault system. Even more requirements were added in 2009 for drivers, namely, a mandatory $5,000 in medical payments coverage.

Many of the other changes made to Colorado car insurance requirements were made to help prevent claim abuses and reduce the cost of insurance premiums for drivers in the city. The ‘tort’ or fault-based system requires that fault must be established before a claim is paid by an insurance company.

According to data released by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the average cost of auto insurance in Colorado was $777. This is way below the national average of $841 and far below the most expensive state, New Jersey, which had an average expenditure of $1,254 in annual premiums.

Colorado Insurance requirements

The state requires all drivers to have liability coverage at the least. This ensures that the other party and their property will be compensated in an accident that is your fault. According to insurance-comparison site, CoverHound, the minimum coverage for car insurance in Colorado should include:

  • Bodily injury coverage of $25,000 for each person involved in the accident
  • Bodily injury coverage of at least $50,000 for each accident the motorist is involved in
  • Property damage coverage of $15,000 for each accident

Additional car insurance

Having insurance coverage meeting the minimum requirements of the law in Colorado will save you from being arrested for inadequate insurance. However, your insurance may not provide you with adequate coverage in case of an accident. Therefore, it’s important to consider the following car insurance options.

  1. Uninsured/Underinsured motorist coverage

While car insurance is a mandatory in Colorado, several drivers still drive without auto insurance. Figures released by the Insurance Research Council estimate that 16.2 percent of motorists in the state are uninsured. This is slightly above the 12.6 percent national average. The scary thing about not having this coverage is you never know when you’re going to get in an accident, let alone an accident with someone who’s underinsured, or uninsured altogether. As you can probably guess, if someone isn’t willing to pay an insurance premium to protect their financial means, they probably don’t have much financial means to protect in the first place, thus leaving you destitute in the event of an accident, regardless of fault. Bottom line: uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage protects your expenses in this situation.

  1. Medical Payments Coverage

Due to the aforementioned legislation passed in 2009, insurance providers are required to offer motorists $5,000 in med pay coverage as part of their insurance coverage. This is offered as part of every car insurance policy, and can be adjusted in $1,000 increments. You however, have the choice of opting out, but you have to send a rejection form. You can also choose to up your coverage to as much as $100,000.

  1. Collision coverage

Liability coverage ensures that the other party’s expenses are covered in the event you cause an accident, but what about damage to your own car? Collision coverage takes care of any damages to your car regardless of who’s at fault. The insurance also covers you for damage caused by hitting other objects with your car, such as a tree, or streetlight.

  1. Comprehensive cover

This ensures that you are covered for any damage that is caused to your car that doesn’t involve a collision (e.g. fire, falling objects, flood and hail). It also provides cover for the loss of your car through theft and other perils such as explosions.

If you purchase your car through a loan, your lender may require you to take out a comprehensive coverage policy. You can choose to have a higher deductible in order to reduce the cost of your premium.

Cost of violations

There are various penalties set by the state to ensure that motorists have adequate insurance. You may be penalized for failing to provide evidence of insurance or for purchasing inadequate insurance. Some of the penalties and fines include:

  • A minimum fine of $500 for violations
  • The addition of 4 points to your driver’s license
  • The suspension of your license for up to 8 months
  • Community service

It is important to understand your state laws and your own financial situation when choosing insurance. Your policy should not only meet state law requirements but your personal requirements as well. If it doesn’t, then what’s the point of having it in the first place?

This is a guest post.

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