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If you've ever walked down the diaper aisle, you've likely suffered sticker shock. After all, who wouldn't balk at the idea of literally throwing away 30 cents every three hours? And that's just diapers. Babies are an incredible joy — and incredibly expensive.
So how do you know if you can afford to have a boy or girl to call your own? "A baby is often the result of a series of emotional decisions, and it also often has very little to do with financial readiness and everything to do with emotional readiness," explains financial expert Elle Kaplan. "And that is perfectly fine and healthy. There is no ideal time to have a baby in terms of finances and life. There will always be tradeoffs. The perfect time is when someone wants to become a mom."
If you find yourself itching to welcome a baby into the world with your husband, in additional to focusing on your bank account balance, take a look at other tangible measures of "readiness." There are always ways to save money. "Are you able to get a neighbor's hand-me-down stroller?" suggests Kaplan. Also consider second-hand clothing — after all, babies grow out of their duds within weeks! — and mining sites like Groupon for your bigger purchases. And surround yourself with a team of friends and family who can pitch in and lend a helping hand.
"Love is the best ingredient, not money," Kaplan says. "This is not a financial decision. In terms of time, effort and money, no one would ever procreate if they thought of it in financial terms."