How to Afford a Baby on Minimum Wage

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Many people think babies are expensive. In truth, babies don’t have to cost much at all!

There are a lot of ways to save money when expecting a baby and many financial assistance programs available for families who need it.

This blog post will give you tips on how to afford a baby if you’re earning minimum wage, how to negotiate with your employer for better hours and how to find freebies in your area.

How to afford a baby on minimum wage: 13 Helpful Tips

Having a baby when you’re on minimum wage can be terrifying. I know, I was there. And I came out the other side just fine.

These are my top tips on how to afford a baby on minimum wage.

1. Tighten your budget

First of all, it’s important to tighten your budget before the baby comes. I may be preaching to choir here because if you’re on minimum wage, you’re probably a master budgeter. But if not, this is the first place to start.

Tracking how much money is coming in and how much money is going out is a great start. Look at all the outgoings and see which ones you can live without.

In times like these, I like to refer to my bare bones budget (more on that here).

If you are able to be a stay at home parent, it can be a really cheap time. The biggest money savers are getting rid of a second car (or even your main car if you have good public transport options) and meal planning/cooking meals from scratch.

There are more ideas listed below:

Resources:

2. Start a baby sinking fund

Sinking funds are places you stash money for expenses you know are coming up. Luckily, you get a fair amount of warning that a baby is coming.

A baby sinking fund can take the form of a savings account or an emergency fund.

This money will be what gets you through the first few weeks (or months) if you need to take time off work and do not have a parental leave provision in your contract.

Put away as much as you can afford to part with each payday. Every little bit helps.

Related: 8 Ways to Save Money During Pregnancy

3. Negotiate with your employer for more hours

The more you can put away now, the better. Make sure you don’t overdo it and if you’re the mom, get clearance from a medical professional before electing to work extra hours.

This can be a great way to beef up the baby fund before you have a baby to look after and your time is limited.

4. Negotiate family-friendly working hours

If your employer values you (not all do, unfortunately) then discuss with them how you would like to work family friendly hours if you become pregnant.

Maybe that means working shorter hours or less days per week, but it’s worth a try to see how they react. Retaining good staff is important to running a successful business, so it’s in your employer’s interest to work with you.

Depending on your childcare situation, you might want to alternate hours with your partner, or work split shifts.

Just keep in mind that babies don’t always sleep through the night (mine never did) so you can be really tired in the morning and working demanding hours with a new baby is impossible.

5. Request to work from home

If you work front of house or retail, this is not always possible, but ask early if there is a way to transition into an office role (helping with the accounts, admin, payroll etc) so you can have more flexibility.

6. Get free baby items

Getting free baby items is the best way to save for a baby! People give away baby items all the time on Facebook groups. Join groups for local parents. These are a wealth of information and support.

Lots of parents give away clothes, toys, strollers and other baby equipment when they are done having kids. A lot of the time, these items have sentimental value so giving them to someone who needs them and will use them can ease the pain of getting rid of them (it totally helped me).

Put up a post early in your pregnancy asking for what you need and accept the help you are given. One day, you’ll be the one doing the giving. For now, focus on asking and receiving.

7. Look into financial assistance programs

Financial assistance programs are out there if you need them. There are many financial assistance programs available to families who need it.

To qualify for financial assistance programs, you will need to fill out a form and provide proof of your income level (sending in pay stubs is the easiest).

You may not have to do this now while it’s just two of your salaries but if/when either or both parents start working part-time or on contract, then there might be benefits available that weren’t before.

Check with your local government office on how you can get assistance based on income level. Ensure you get up to speed with everything you are entitled to.

Here are some resources:

United States: Child tax credit

United Kingdom: Universal Credit

Australia: Family Tax Benefit

New Zealand: Working for Families

8. Visit the food bank

There is no shame is asking for help. A food bank can be a great resource for healthy, nutritious foods and other baby goods.

There are also special programs developed by some governments to help with food.

United States:

Australia:

New Zealand:

9. Apply for rental assistance

If housing takes up a major part of your living costs, you may qualify for a housing subsidy or rental assistance when the baby comes. Depending on your location, you may even qualify for state or government housing.

10. Start a side hustle

As a new parent, earning a few extra dollars from home can make a huge difference to your comfort levels.

Easy tasks like paid surveys, mystery shopping, testing websites etc can give you a little extra cash each month.

Related guides:

11. Try to breastfeed

Breastfeeding your new baby is not only best for their health, it also saves a bundle of cash.

It is estimated that the savings from breastfeeding your baby is $1200 in the first year alone

12. Rent the baby gear you only need short term

We actually rented an infant car seat when our son was born. It was a high quality Maxi Cosi Mico that retailed for well over $200.

We paid $50 for a six month rental which was ample time before our newborn outgrew the infant car seat.

The added benefit was that the car seat rental scheme actually installed the car seat correctly which was very reassuring. At the time, renting a car seat meant we got a higher-quality seat than we could’ve paid for outright.

You can also rent strollers, breast pumps, baby swings, baths, change tables and a lot more.

13. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

It takes a village to raise a child, so don’t feel ashamed and scared or embarrassed about asking for what you need.

You are entitled to it, so take advantage of everything possible!

A baby doesn’t necessarily cost as much as we think they do! Many people who are low wage earners underestimate how many discounts and programs are available from to help new parents, such as free childcare and discounts at stores etc.

Related Guides:

About Emma Healey

Emma is a recognised family finance and budgeting expert and founder of Mum's Money. Her advice has been featured in Readers Digest, Yahoo Finance, Lifehacker, The Simple Dollar, MSN Money and more.