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5 easy steps toward saving money as a new parent

5. Don't overspend on baby

5 easy steps toward saving money as a new parent

If you're a new or soon-to-be mom or planning to grow your family, you've probably thought about the expenses involved with having a baby.

If you haven't looked into it yet, hospitals can charge a vaginal birth anywhere between $3,200 and $34,000, while a cesarean birth can range anywhere from $4,000 and $70,000 depending on insurance and facility costs. Plus, the average yearly cost of $12,500 for your child between medical care and the material goods needed, such as diapers and clothing. Little ones are bundles of joy, but growing a family can be expensive.

Many new parents wonder: How can I care for my newborn on a realistic budget?

It's crucial to find ways to eliminate or reduce expenses so you can afford your new bundle of joy. Here are five ways to get your finances in order and help you save more money.

1. Create a personal budget

First, you must have a general personal or household budget, to begin with. Whether you use a pen and paper, an Excel spreadsheet, or an app, monthly expenses and income will help you know exactly where your money is going. By doing so, you can identify the spending areas in which you can save.

If you tend to buy too much food and throw a lot of it away, you'll be more aware of it as you track your spending. If your partner has a tendency to buy the latest tech as soon as it comes out, consider waiting to do so.

Your budget will allow you to become more aware of whether you shop frivolously and how you can either keep the habit without spending as much or adjust your spending habits.

2. Reduce monthly expenses

Once your budget has been completed, try to reduce your monthly expenses. You can save on utilities and entertainment fairly easily—— every dollar you save is another buck you can put towards baby expenses.

For example, take shorter showers or reduce the temperature in your house by a degree or two in the winter, and cut back your reliance on air conditioning in the summer. Unplug rarely used lights and appliances to reduce their impact on your electric bill (plugged-in appliances do drain electricity, even when switched off), and contact your gas and electricity suppliers to inquire about more ways to save on those expenses.

3. Pay down any debt

Eliminating debt is a great way to clear up your personal finances. The "debt snowball" strategy is one option, where you work to pay off your debts with the smallest balances first, regardless of the interest rates.

The "debt avalanche" is another strategy, where you pay off debts starting with the ones with the highest interest rate. This latter strategy costs less in the end, but the debt snowball may be preferable for folks who need the motivational boost of seeing the total number of balances minimized in a shorter period of time.

Once you've reduced or eliminated various debts, it opens more room in the budget for baby—just be sure to organize your approach so you stay on track.

4. Cut back on discretionary spending

The next time you want to go out to a costly dinner or see a movie, consider staying at home to watch Netflix or invite a few friends over for a potluck. Entertainment can quickly eat away at your budget, but only if you let it.

Also, consider holding off on upgrading to the latest new phone or flat-screen TV—you'll be in a much better position to make such purchases a few months down the road once your finances have settled down a bit.

5. Don’t overspend on baby

Budgeting for a new baby is only one part of saving money. It's also important to reduce unnecessary baby-related expenses, such as buying shoes for your newborn that they won't need for a few months. Avoid expensive department stores, and consider asking for hand-me-downs or visiting consignment or used clothing stores.

Always return any unwanted gifts received at baby showers or other celebrations so you can get store credit to purchase what you know you'll be using. Some moms make their own baby food rather than buying jars of it at the grocery store, while others explore different childcare options, such as having a family member step in or nanny-sharing.

When you plan and prepare for your new baby from a financial standpoint and save what money you can, you'll ensure that your little will enter the world in a sound and stable financial environment—something that will benefit him or her for years to come.

Victoria Lemm is a British expat and mother of two and a half children—her third is due February 2019!

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This is how we’re defining success this school year

Hint: It's not related to grades.

In the ever-moving lives of parents and children, opportunities to slow down and reflect on priorities can be hard to come by. But a new school year scheduled to begin in the midst of a global pandemic offers the chance to reflect on how we should all think about measures of success. For both parents and kids, that may mean putting a fresh emphasis on optimism, creativity and curiosity.

Throughout recent decades, "school success" became entangled with "academic achievement," with cases of anxiety among school children dramatically increasing in the past few generations. Then, almost overnight, the American school system was turned on its head in the spring of 2020. As we look ahead to a new school year that will look like no year past, more is being asked of teachers, students and parents, such as acclimating to distance learning, collaborating with peers from afar and aiming to maintain consistency with schooling amidst general instability due to COVID.

Despite the inherent challenges, there is also an overdue opportunity to redefine success during the school year by finding fresh ways to keep students and their parents involved in the learning process.

"I always encourage my son to try at least one difficult thing every school year," says Arushi Garg, parenting blogger and mom of a 4-year-old. "This challenges him but also allows me to remind him to be optimistic! Lots of things in life are hard, and it's important we learn to be positive during difficult times. Fostering a sense of optimism allows kids to push beyond what they thought possible, like biking without training wheels or reading above their grade level."

Here are a few mantras to keep in mind this school year:

Quality learning matters more than quantifying learning

After focusing on standardized measures of academic success for so long, the learning environment this next school year may involve more independent, remote learning. Some parents are considering this an exciting opportunity for their children to assume a bigger role in what they are learning—and parents are also getting on board by supporting their children's education with engaging, positive learning materials like Highlights Magazine.

As a working mom, Garg also appreciates that Highlights Magazine can help engage her son while she's also working. She says, "He sits next to me and solves puzzles in the magazine or practices his writing from the workbook."

Keep an open mind as "school" looks different

Whether children are of preschool age or in the midst of high school, "going to school" is bound to look different this year. Naturally, this may require some adjustment as kids become accustomed to new guidelines. Although many parents may wish to shelter our kids from challenges, others believe optimism can be fostered through adversity when everyone is committed to adapting to new experiences.

"Honestly, I am yet to figure out when I will be comfortable sending [my son] back [to school]," says Garg. In the meantime, she's helping her son remain connected with friends who also read Highlights Magazine by encouraging the kids to talk about what they are learning on video calls.

Follow children's cues about what interests them

For Garg, her biggest hope for this school year is that her son will create "success" for himself by embracing new learning possibilities with positivity.

"Encouraging my son to try new things has given him a chance to prove that he can do anything," she says. "He takes his previous success as an example now and feels he can fail multiple times before he succeeds."

There's no denying that this school year will be far from the norm. But, perhaps, we can create a new, better way of defining our children's success in school because of it.

This article was sponsored by Highlights. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.



Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Mothers wanted the president to condemn white supremacy—he didn't

What you need to know about the first presidential debate and the 'Proud Boys'.

Screenshot/CNN

[Editor's note: Motherly is committed to covering all relevant presidential candidate plans as we approach the 2020 election. We are making efforts to get information from all candidates. Motherly does not endorse any political party or candidate. We stand with and for mothers and advocate for solutions that will reduce maternal stress and benefit women, families and the country.]

For many American families, the impacts of systemic racism are a daily reality. This summer saw mothers and children go out and join Black Lives Matter protests in an effort to make the United States a safer place for Black children.

FEATURED VIDEO

Individuals across the country stood up and condemned white supremacy in 2020 and wanted the sitting President of the United States to do that Tuesday night, during the first presidential debate.

But he didn't.

When Chris Wallace of Fox News, the debate moderator, asked President Trump to condemn white supremacy, to ask militia groups to stand down and not escalate violence in cities like Kenosha and Portland, the president stated he was willing to...but when Wallace said "Then do it, sir," the president's answer was far from a clear condemnation.

First, Trump asked for a specific group to condemn, rather than simply condemning white supremacy as a whole. When the others on stage offered "white supremacy" and "Proud Boys" as the name to condemn, the President picked Proud Boys. But a condemnation didn't come.

"Proud Boys, stand back and stand by," Trump said. "But I'll tell you what, somebody's gotta do something about Antifa and the left. This is not a right-wing problem. This is a left-wing problem."

This followed a previous exchange in which Wallace asked President Trump why he ended a racial sensitivity training program. Trump responded that the training was racist and was teaching people to "hate our country."

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