College Connect: For many college students, school combines with parenthood

By Kouichi Shirayangi

Nothing can be more satisfying (and thrilling!) than introducing a new life into the world. Yet being a first-time parent can be daunting, especially when considering the cost of raising a new infant. Add to that the stress finding out a baby is on the way just after getting handed by Masters in Journalism diploma. We had to juggle moving, finding jobs and preparing for our son’s birth.

As for government help, you do get an addition $4,000 off your taxes, and some child care tax credits – but it costs more than that. Our generation was constantly reminded that a baby set back the average American family $847.63 a month, because that was the price that would ring up when Maggie went through the cash register in the opening segment of “The Simpsons.”

We were lucky – we waited until just after college. But many college students are also parents. According to a 2014 study, from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 4.8 million college students were parents of dependent children in 2011, the most recent year that data was available.

That’s a burden, for sure, and it means trying to make child-raising as low cost as possible.

For my wife and I, help came through early preparation, making friends, and planning. That saved us hundreds.

In anticipation of the birth of our son we downloaded two cost-saving mobile apps: Offer Up and Let Go.

These two apps are used by people who have extra stuff lying around the house that they no longer need. We got all sorts of good second hand baby stuff either for free or cheap from local people whose children had grown out of the stuff, just by using the app. This included a Graco Pack N’ Play, a By-Your-Side Sleeper, numerous baby mats, baby toys, a high-chair, baby clothes, cases of diapers, a handy diaper carrier, plastic baby bath containers and baby clothes.

We prepared a room for our son three months in advance where we kept all his things. This worked out well because he was born a month earlier than his due date and if we had procrastinated we would have had to scramble and pay full price for many of the baby items!

We also created an Amazon baby registry of the things we needed that we could not get from the phone-apps. After our sons’ birth, I shared the registry on Facebook, and friends from all eras of my life provided us with critical gifts that we use to help raise our son.

So far, we have kept costs on our new baby down to a minimum, so far. Costs are certainly going to rise though so I am going to save carefully when I can. I know this is just the beginning of my journey.

Shirayangi is a recent master’s graduate of the University of Missouri

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