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Save money before baby arrives


Bambinos are expensive – even before they arrive. In the US, the average cost of having a baby - including all prenatal visits and delivery - is $30,000 for a spontaneous delivery and $50,000 for a C-section, according to Truven. A survey conducted by Childbirth Connection found that women with insurance pay, on average, $3,400 of that. Even if you're looking into adoption you still have expenses. Here are some tips to save:  
Clothing Maternity clothes, even at less expensive major retailers, are pretty spendy. It isn't an expense you can skip altogether. Alternatives: Hit up thrift stores, second-hand stores and the clearance rack at your favorite department stores. Buy non-maternity clothes that are a few sizes larger. Raid your hubby’s closet and borrow from friends.  
Baby showers You know you want one! Register for items you know you'll need - such as a car seat, a crib or bassinet, a swing and clothing. Consider asking guests bring a pack of diapers instead of a gift.
Hospital costs Midwives can be the less-expensive route. You delivery at a birthing center instead of a hospital, which can saves thousands. The major downside is birthing centers do not employ anesthesiologists but if you are low risk and plan to deliver naturally, this may be the right choice for you.
Baby items Wait until after you have the baby so you can see what items you actually need. You may prefer to not use a traditional changing table, for example.
Bills You will start to receive medical bills within a month after delivery. Just about everything comes with a price - your doctor, the baby's doctor, the hearing doctor, the newborn screening test, the epidural, etc. - all billed separately. Call and negotiate. It may be the case that if you pay in full the companies will give you 10% off. It's worth a shot.
About the Author: Sarah Brooks is a freelance writer living in Glendale, AZ. She writes on saving money, small business and travel.

Daily pretty #2

Inspired? Peony season is fast approaching...

Eat well for less

Buying nutritious food can be expensive. Here are some considerations when trying to nourish your family and stay in the black.  
Be creative Ditch the grocery stores for specialty markets, farm stands and international purveyors.
Be selective There is little need to buy organic bananas, avocados or other items in the clean 15. They have thick enough skins to prevent contamination from pesticides.
Coupon online Enter your zip/postal code and digitally clip coupons for local savings.
Fish for less Everyone knows eating fish is important for protein and omega-3 fatty acids, but fresh fish is expensive. Canned tuna (in water) and frozen salmon are reasonable alternatives.
Go frozen Frozen fruit and veggies are an economical way to get nutrients any season. Produce is flash-frozen at its peak nutrient content and ripeness, so in some cases it’s better for you, too. Opt for generic brands for more savings.
Stay on the outskirts Ignore the interior aisles… that’s not fresh stuff. Packaged foods typically aren't as nutrient-rich due to the processing required for packaging. Buy products in whole form for up to 40% savings.

Buy or lease a car: discover your options and set a car savings goal

Buying or leasing a car is a major decision. It’s important to consider all of your options because both have pros and cons. Also, it’s a good idea to start saving now as no matter which option you choose, you’ll be making regular monthly payments and you may have a down payment requirement. To ensure you have the funds you need when you’re ready to buy or lease a car, open a savings account and begin making contributions today. Then, review the pros and cons of buying vs. leasing a car below to see which best fits your needs and budget.
Pros of buying a car There are many benefits to buying a car, which include, but are not limited to, your ability to drive your car for as many miles as you want, customize your car the way you want, i.e., paint color and sound system, and get great deals like rebates or discounts in year-end sales. Plus, you don’t have to worry about paying fees for wear and tear on your car, and you can profit from the trade-in or resale value should you decide to sell down the road.
Cons of buying a car While the above benefits are certainly enticing, it’s also important to consider the cons of buying a car, especially as compared to leasing a car. To begin with, your monthly payments are often higher, but without the added benefit of a new car every three years or so, unless you choose to trade it in. Plus, your car loses anywhere from 20 to 30% of its value as soon as you drive it off of the lot due to depreciation.
Pros of leasing a car Leasing a car may be an option for you if you’re not quite ready for the commitment or cost of ownership. The primary benefit to leasing is your ability to drive a new car with new technologies every three years, eliminating the concern for depreciation. Plus, when you lease a car, you often have access to subvented deals from manufacturers that either decrease the interest rate or increase the residual value. Finally, you may be able to receive tax credits if you lease an electric car.
Cons of leasing a car Leasing might look pretty appealing, especially since monthly payments are often lower than the financing payments you would make when you buy a car. However, there are some downsides to leasing you should consider, including the fact that you don’t actually own the car, which imposes a series of unique restrictions. These include a limit on the number of miles you can drive (it generally costs $.15 - $.25 per extra mile) and wear and tear permitted to the car. Failure to meet these limitations can result in fees when your lease ends. You’ll also be required to lease another car at the end of your term (or complete a finance-to-purchase so you own that car). Finally, you may need to purchase Gap Insurance to cover extra costs should you be in an accident that totals the car, as you will still need to pay back the lease contract amount on top of repairs. For these reasons, and the greater potential for hidden fees, leasing can be more expensive in the long run.
Is buying or leasing a car the best option for you? After considering the pros and cons of buying vs. leasing a car, what is the best option for you? Can you afford the down payment and ensuing monthly payments of a new car? Will whatever choice you make today still make sense in a few years? For example, if you drive many miles throughout the year, a lease may not be the best choice; but if you want a new car every two to four years and can maintain it as required, a lease might make more sense.
Save to buy or lease your first car If you’ve been thinking about buying or leasing a car, now is the time to open a savings account or bank CD (Certificate of Deposit). A bank CD is similar to a savings account, but CDs have a fixed term and interest rate and can range from 11 months to three years. With bank CDs, the funds must remain in the account until the end of the term, and the money and accrued interest can be withdrawn at that time. This may be a good choice if you know you won’t be purchasing or leasing a car during the CD’s term. For example, you may want to open a bank CD in January to save for December’s end-of-year car deals. On the other hand, a standard savings account offers you the freedom to make withdrawals as needed, but the interest rates you earn are not as high. Choose the right savings vehicle for you and start saving to buy or lease your dream car.

Sponsored content was created and provided by RBS Citizens Financial Group.