Having a baby can be a beautiful experience, especially if you are able to plan ahead. Planning ahead will often allow you to be better prepared financially to take care of your growing family. As soon as you make the decision to grow your family, it’s time to start budgeting and making financial decisions that will benefit you all. Consider the following tips to get started.

1. Monitor your grocery bill and food budget

Consider how much money you typically spend on food at home versus what you spend on fast food. It’s not uncommon for people to waste the food in their fridge while they’re purchasing fast food. Instead, get into the habit of preparing your favorite foods at home. Take a look at the items that are on sale for the week at your local grocery stores. Start purchasing certain items in bulk. Use spices, oils and herbs to season your foods, and take them to the next level. When you prepare tasty food, you’re going to want to eat it. As a result, your grocery bill can go down when you’re consciously cutting out fast food.

2. Create an additional stream of income.

When you’ve decided to grow your family, it’s best to increase your income. In order to thrive from a financial perspective, it’s a wise idea to develop multiple streams of income. If you’re not sure how or where to get started, start by selling some of the items you own on a site like eBay or Poshmark. As you gain traction and make sales, you can turn that into a full-fledged side hustle that pays bills and more.
An additional income stream also helps when you’re in a bind. If you have a baby, anything can suddenly happen, and you want to be prepared. Whether you are in good financial shape or you are working on improving your credit score, prepare for life’s unexpected emergencies by having a savings or emergency fund. Just in case, you should know your options should you encounter unexpected medical or emergency repair expenses that come along suddenly yet are unavoidable. If you have bad credit online loans could be an option for you. Do your research ahead of time so you can be prepared for the unexpected.

3. Buy second-hand items

While there are people who might turn their noses up at the concept of second-hand items for babies, you’ll be able to save money. Ignore the negative chatter. Instead, focus on choosing the right second-hand items from places like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist.com and your local thrift store. You can purchase a simple dresser at the thrift store, sand it down and paint it in a color that matches your nursery. Car seats, strollers and highchairs are additional items you can find at discounted rates on second-hand websites as well. As your baby turns into a toddler, they’ll grow quickly. Head over to your local thrift store to find nice clothes for them. As long as you thoroughly clean everything you purchase, second-hand items can be the perfect option. Some items like undergarments, shoes and bibs are items you’ll want to purchase brand-new. However, those are already inexpensive items that many major retailers carry.

4. Take advantage of online deals and coupons

Always keep a certain amount of money in a savings account that you can use to take advantage of various sales. If it’s something you actually need and know you’ll use, it’s helpful to purchase when you see an online deal. Search for discounts on formula, diapers or other important necessities for your baby’s comfort.

5. Use a mix of free and paid help

Whether it’s a family member or a professional nanny, you’ll want to garner help to take care of the baby. This is especially true when you have to work and pay bills. Use a mix of free and paid services. If you have a trusted family member who is willing to help out once a week, see if it’s possible to barter services. You can bake their favorite apple pie while they watch the baby for four hours in the morning.

6. Always consider time

Think about what your time is worth. Time is money. If you’re really going to save time and money by going to the grocery store to do your grocery shopping, go for it. However, if you can go online to purchase and order your groceries to be delivered at a specific time, you’ll save time, money and energy. That’s more time you can use to get work done and make money. That’s a time you can use to take care of your baby as well. The same is true for cooking every single meal. You might decide that it’ll save more time to throw everything in a slow cooker while you get work done. When you manage and budget your time well, you’ll manage and budget your money better as well.

As you find ways to creatively and efficiently manage your money, you’ll be surprised at the traction you can really gain. When your financial health is in order, it’s a lot easier to build a solid foundation your family can truly build on.