Carrie Schwab Pomerantz

Having a new baby is a time of joy and wonder. But for many new parents, it can also be a bit terrifying. There are new roles and responsibilities, a new little personality to get to know, and - let's face it - new bills to pay. Anyone who's had a child, or is close to someone having a baby, knows that with all the excitement comes the worry of juggling time and money. And those anxieties tend to increase as the costs of raising children, especially education costs, continue going up.

A recent BabyCenter/Charles Schwab Survey gives credence to the growing financial concerns of new parents. According to the survey, seven out of 10 new moms and 40 percent of mothers-to-be would rather have a contribution to their child's savings account than a more traditional gift. Of course, they appreciate all the cute clothes and toys now available; however, once the new baby outgrows the latest styles and trends, the parents are still faced with saving for their child's future. And every little bit helps.

If there's a new baby you're planning to buy for, consider a non-traditional gift. Whether you're a grandparent, relative or friend, there are a number of creative ways to help new parents stretch their current budget - as well as help them gain a head start on their child's savings plan.

THE GIFT OF TIME CAN BE WORTH A FORTUNE

Besides money, new parents may be short on one other item: time. By offering to do some time-consuming tasks that usually carry a price tag, you'll be giving a double gift.

Here are some ideas:

- Make dinner. Whether you cook a meal in their home or make some meals in advance and stock the freezer, most new mothers and fathers will appreciate your thoughtfulness. It not only saves them the time and money of preparing food, it gives them a few minutes to sit down and enjoy it together.

- Clean the house. You can do this yourself or hire a cleaning service. Especially in the first couple of months, this type of help can be invaluable.

- Offer to baby-sit. If there are other children, whisking them away for a few hours will give the new parents a bit of breathing room. Even offering to stay for an hour or two, while the baby sleeps, can give the new mom a bit of much needed time to herself - free of charge.

GIFTS OF MONEY CAN PUT TIME ON THEIR SIDE

Here's another interesting statistic from the survey: 93 percent of women planning families intend to open a college savings account when they have a baby. However, only 42 percent actually follow though. And of the group who do, only four in 10 contribute $50 or more per month.


Carrie Schwab Pomerantz

Carrie Schwab Pomerantz is a Motley Fool contributor.

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