Raising twins is a joy, a challenge, often a circus and it isn’t cheap. I should know — I’ve got a pair. They turn 2 years old in a few weeks and in the past couple of years, we’ve easily spent $17,000 feeding, clothing and keeping our awesome boys geared up. But, that figure is significantly less than what many parents spend with just one kid because we quickly learned how to make the most of the savings out there. If you are interested in keeping your costs down during the first two years with your precious pair, read on.
Join a twin parenting group.
Chances are, there is a community of twin parents near you with a listserv you can join. And don’t wait to join until your bundles of joy are born. Sign up the minute you hear two heartbeats at the doctor's office. The earlier you join, the more you’ll know what to expect, what to spend money on and what you can get for free. Twins groups not only give you the reassuring feeling that you aren’t in this alone, they are also your best money-saving resource. Wondering what kind of stroller to buy? Can’t figure out how many onesies you’ll need? You won’t waste a penny if you just post a question to your twins group. And there is so much stuff that twin parents will gladly give you because twin parents share a fierce sense of camaraderie. Cribs, nursing pillows (yes, you can nurse twins — and it will save you a fortune in formula costs — but you need the special pillow), double-strollers — all of these things have narrow windows of use and do get passed along if you're in the loop.
Have a baby shower, and register wisely.
Yes, everything is so tiny and cute, but do not go adding to that registry willy-nilly. The stuff your friends and family happily shower you with can set you up for six months or more if you're smart about it. So, ask your twin community what you’ll need to get started. And if your guests want to get you something off-list, try to get a gift receipt (or ask for diapers — ask everyone for diapers).
Access free child care.
If you have at least one set of parents and you don’t already live near them, move. If you are lucky enough to have a couple of doting grandparents in your twins’ life, make sure you make it as easy as possible share the joy. Hiring a nanny or part-time sitter is significantly more expensive when there are two to look after, so take advantage of any free child care you can get — you’ll need it.
Say “yes!” to hand-me-downs and lenders from your friends with one kid.
Parents with one baby can afford to indulge their lone child with fancy new stuff. They’ll shell out for the Scandinavian bouncy seats and baby designer jeans. Gently used, they’ll be new to you and you really don’t need two that match (and often, you don’t even need two — see below).
You don’t need two of everything.
Buying in pairs is often unnecessary. When your twins are really young, they can share almost everything. For the first few months, they can even share a crib — so you can wait on a second one of those. Play mats, most baby toys and furniture all can be shared as well. You will need two — at least two — of some things (car seats, bottles, clothing, teethers, etc.) but they don’t necessarily have to match.
Avoid most products claiming to be designed for twins.
Many companies are eager to make a buck on the twins phenomenon (the number of twins born has increased more than 100% since 1980). But there aren’t very many products that need to be designed specifically for accommodating two babies at one time (double strollers and nursing pillows are exceptions). Diaper bags designed for twins, for example, are unwieldy and impractical. “Twin” baby carriers will break your back once the wee ones put on a little weight. My advice is to be wary.
Twin discounts — ask and take advantage.
A number of diaper companies give coupons to twin parents and some toy companies offer a two-for-one deal. If you are buying two or more of anything new, always inquire about a discount.
Diapers — buy in bulk.
As a parent of twins, the biggest hit you’ll probably take is on diapers. So never pick up a box at the local grocery or drug store. You’ll pay up to 10 times more per diaper as you would if you buy by the case. You can stock up at the big box store or take advantage of free shipping from many online suppliers. If you are using cloth, you’ll need to have at least 24 a day to start, and there’s laundry to consider, so look into discounts on big orders. And, if you are going disposable, try the generic or store brands. They work fine and, again, more savings. And add wipes and formula to the items you’ll want to buy in huge quantities.
Spring for the membership.
Sure, most kids under two get in places free — but not everywhere. So invest in the family membership for the zoo, the children’s museum, the YMCA — wherever you imagine yourself going more than three times during the year. In the long run, it’s a major savings.
Hah! Like you have time. This was a joke. Well, not entirely. Making baby food is going to save you a fortune — and it's really not hard. Boil and purée. If you don’t have a good blender or food processor, get one. And don't buy any special food-making gadgets. Useless. A blender and a few ice trays is all you need. Baby food in jars is a big expense. So if you can find the time, make it. If you can’t, as with diapers, wipes and formula, buy in bulk.
Go on vacation before the twins are 2!
If you followed some of my advice above, you’ve saved some money and you absolutely need and deserve a vacation (especially if you made your own baby food, bravo!). Up to 2 years old, kids fly free. Each of the twins needs an adult companion because they’ll be sitting on your laps — this is a team operation — but once you get where you're going, you’ll have more cash in pocket to spend on more deluxe accommodations. Or, if you want to save more, how about visiting those grandparents who you should be living closer to in the first place.
—For the best rates on loans, bank accounts and credit cards, enter your ZIP code at BankingMyWay.com.