One of popular series here on Couple Money is the Baby Expenses series. I started it when we first found out that we were expecting a little as a way to track our spending and to get other parents’ expenses with their little ones. As we shared the changes in our finances, we had many parents share their stories and tips on how to keep the bills in check.
I decided to do an update since our baby girl moved from a being a baby to transitioning into a toddler. While some expenses have been fairly consistent, we have learned a bit more about how to optimize our expenses.
Diapers and Wipes
After our little one turned 1, we decided to try mixing up disposable diapers with clothe. I ordered a pack from Fuzzibunz to get us started (about $60). I wish I could say we made the switch to completely clothe, but that didn’t happen.
I’ve used clothe around the house with her and she hasn’t really noticed a difference. However, cleaning the clothe diaper is holding me back from using it full time. I waffle back and forth between clothe and diaper, hoping to get more comfortable with the clothe. When we go out, though, it’s just convenient to use the disposable ones. We’ll still keep using clothe (at least until she’s potty trained).
That debate aside, the cost of diapers have been fairly insignificant in regards to our budget. We use Amazon to subscribe and save on our disposables. We order about a box every 2 months for about $38 which is very affordable. As for wipes, we found that Costco’s own Kirkland brand wipes to be a great deal. For about $20/box we have a couple of months of wipes covered.
Sharing Foods with Our Little Ones
One of my favorite parts of being a parent is sharing new things with our daughter. Since she started eating solids we have tried to keep her menu similar to what we eat as a way to share meals together. She loves a little bit of spice with her meals. While she has preferences for certain foods, she will at least try something.
As far as finances go, we’ve only seen a bit of a bump in our food budget – when she is watched by others I have a lunch ready for her. The good news is that having a little one has pushed us to eat healthier a bit more. Using The Produce Box has helped us to have more fresh foods in our diet and reduce our stops by the stores to pick up snacks (usually the junk food kind).
Looking Cute While Saving on Clothes
Like many parents, we love to dress our little one up in cute outfits. I’ve been guilty of grabbing some clothes from the store that I thought would look so adorable with our girl.
One option that has worked well for us is picking up gently used clothes over to a consignment store. The wonderful thing about baby and toddler clothes is that they are hardly used as many little ones outgrow them in such a short period of time.
I’ve had outfits where it was a bit big one week and the next time she wears it, she’s already outgrown it. Most of her clothes are practically new. Using the consignment stores lets us get several outfits and some shoes for the price of a couple at the store.
We also are extremely grateful to our friends who have shared their kids’ outgrown clothes. It’s perfect since we have plenty of play and dressy clothes. Not having to buy all of her clothes allows us to grab the little extra something when we’re at the store and still stay within budget. It also allows us to use the money saved for other items that she needs now and for the future.
Who’s Watching The Kid?
Childcare can be a huge expense for parents. For us, though, we have bypassed this bill for now. One of the decisions we made during the pregnancy was that I was going to try to watch our baby girl while being self-employed.
Part of it was due to my desire to spend time with our baby girl during the day. Having decided to try to keep our necessary living expenses until one income meant that we had the flexibility to try it. So far it has worked out – adjustments have been made as we tried to find a schedule that balances my work and my childcare responsibilities.
Thoughts on Raising a Toddler
I’d really love to hear from other parents about the joys and the challenges of raising their little ones. If you can, please share the numbers. I’m the main care provider for our baby girl, so I’d appreciate parents who use daycare, nannies, and other options to share their expenses.
We just finished our taxes this year and once again we use TurboTax online. One thing that I love about using TurboTax online is that I can get our paperwork entered in as it comes in the mail during the short naps our baby girls seems to prefer. We can do a bi, save our work, and come back later with no problems.
Making Taxes Easy
Since we’ve used TurboTax before, when we logged into our account to get our taxes started, the program already had much of our basic information (such as name, address, and jobs) in. It was a matter of adjusting some details, the biggest one was becoming parents last year.
I’ve found TurboTax extremely easy to use with its interview approach to getting information in for your taxes. It’s a completely guided walk through – the questions were clear and getting the data entered was quick
Getting the Paperwork in Was a Snap
Being self-employed, some may think it took a lot of time to get all the information into the program, but it was a snap with TurboTax. I have some clients that I had last year so importing that data was very easy.
Getting our income and expenses done was straightforward, most of the paperwork came in around the same time:
W-2s from your job(s)
1099-INT: Interest Income
1099-MISC: Miscellaneous Income
Most of our expected forms have already came in, but I’m still waiting on a couple more 1099s to arrive so we can finish it up. Once we complete our federal, TurboTax can easily transfer our information from the federal tax return to my state’s return.
TurboTax Scours To Find Tax Deductions and Credit You Qualify For
TurboTax really combs through the all the possible deductions and credits for your return including your house, family, cars, charitable donations, medical expenses, college and education, and more.
Tax deductions reduce your taxable income, not the tax burden that you owe. Tax credits lower your tax bill.
TurboTax’s Community – Handy Resource for Your Questions
Turbo Tax did a great job creating and managing the Live Community. It’s a wonderful resource that allows you to get the answer you need on many common tax questions. Tax experts are moderators, checking to make sure the answers are correct so you’re given up to date information.
We had to use it a few years ago when we were looking to take the homeowners’ tax credit. It was so easy to find our answer and we were able to go ahead and file properly.
Which Turbo Tax Edition Fits You?
While Home & Business is the best fit for us, it isn’t the only online edition TurboTax has available. Here are some quick descriptions to help you decide on which edition will fit your needs.
Free Edition: If you have a very simple tax return to file, TurboTax Free Edition is the way to go.
Deluxe: Many people will find this a suitable option to take care of their tax deductions and credits for families and homeowners.
Premier: This edition is designed for those who have numerous investments or if you own rental properties.
Home & Business: Entrepreneurs with either sole proprietor, consultant, contractor or single-owner LLC business will find this edition more than capable of handling their business.
Business: If you have a corporation, partnership or multi-member LLC, TurboTax can help you optimize your tax return.
We’ve been happy with TurboTax and how easy it is for us to file using their services. If you’re looking for an easy online solution for your taxes, please check out TurboTax.
2013 TurboTax Deluxe Giveaway
Now to the best part – Couple Money would like you to get your federal taxes filed for free. I am giving away a code to complete and file your taxes for TurboTax’s Premier Edition. Starting today, you can share your plans for your taxes on twitter or Facebook (see below for details and entries). If you’re already a Couple Money subscriber you’ve already received 5 free entries. It’s one of the perks of being in the community.
The contest ends February 22, 2013 (11:59 PM Eastern). I’ll be drawing the winner on February 23, 2012 and will contact him or her. If chosen, please claim your prize by Thursday February 28, 2013. a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclaimer: I’m paying for my own tax preparation and the giveaway copy is provided by TurboTax, so if you win, please tweet them a thank you I’m also a contributing blogger at TurboTax, so please check them out to see if they can help you with your taxes this year.