While this may be a controversial subject to many, the truth of the matter is that not everyone has helpful families, friends, neighbors, or communities. Some new parents find that they lack much in terms of financial resources for their future twins, triplets or higher order multiples, especially when such pregnancies are unplanned or expensive. For them, the question of how to afford twins is very real, and very tender. And, it is for them, that we would like make aware of certain programs and resources that are available to help them afford twins and more.
If you are expecting twins and don’t have medical insurance coverage for your pregnancy, or you are uninsured, or costs get astronomical (as with high-risk pregnancies) then you may want to look into your state-funded Medicaid. And after your children are born, they may qualify for medical coverage under Medicaid as well. The coverage is based on income and resources and doled out by the state in which you reside.
Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is a wonderful program with higher income levels than Medicaid. WIC offers vouchers for supplemental nutritional foods for women, infants, and children. Pregnant and nursing moms can qualify for food assistance. Babies can receive free formula (talk about making twins more affordable), jarred baby foods, and cereals. Toddlers and young kids can receive much of the same nutritional foods as Mom, like fresh fruits and vegetables, juice, cereal, whole wheat bread, eggs, cheese, milk, peanut butter, and beans. WIC is also a state-run program, and unfortunately, not all groceries stores accept the vouchers, but many large chains do.
WIC also offers many other services. One of those that can be very helpful to mothers of multiples is an on-staff lactation specialist. WIC offers breastfeeding classes before the babies are born, and then one-on-one help if needed (and a hotline!) after the babies are born to help make breastfeeding successful for you and your little ones, and all at NO cost! Some WICs may also offer a B.A.B.E. (Bed and Britches Etc) type program (Indiana does), where you can receive B.A.B.E. coupons for going to your doctor appointments, nutrition counseling, and other educational/health classes. With the coupons, you can then redeem them at B.A.B.E. stores for things like cribs, clothes, bottles, formula, diapers, and so on. You’ll have to check your state for such a program.
Car Seat Assistance Program
Having trouble affording two (or more) car seats? You are not alone. One of the most important things, and one of the things you are not supposed to buy secondhand is a car seat. So, when you are faced with buying brand new car seats, you are faced with a large, unavoidable expense.
The good news is that you can take advantage of your state’s car seat assistance program, where you can often receive a free car seat, as long as you are income eligible. You will usually be required to attend a class or have your car seats inspected before you will be given new ones. My family took advantage of this program when our twins outgrew their infant carriers and we didn’t have money to afford two convertible car seats. We went to a local fire department.
Each state runs this program differently, but a great place to start looking for more information on this program is a local hospital or Department of Human Services. Hospitals, fire departments, police departments, and health care centers often administer this program. I also suggest getting your car seats inspected. Click HERE to find a local inspection station near you.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Food Stamps
Once your children start eating, the cost of all that extra food can be strenuous on the budget. So, if you meet your state’s income and asset requirements, you may qualify for food stamps, which can be used at most grocery stores and even convenience stores and other locations. Food stamps can help buy formula, baby foods and cereals, and just about any other food in the store, except ready-to-eat dishes, tobacco, and alcohol.
Being without a phone is almost unheard of today, but phones, even a basic, plugged in the wall phone, costs money to use. There is a government Lifeline Program that helps low-income families pay for a phone, whether a small monthly payment towards your landline phone, or a low minute basic cell phone.
Section 8 or Federal Public House Assistance
Individuals with very low-income can qualify for a housing choice voucher, or section 8, so that they can rent decent, sanitary, and safe housing. Unfortunately, many large cities and states have long waiting lists of applicants, or are not currently accepting new applications, so you may not be able to take advantage of this program. To find out, contact your local Housing and Urban Development Agency, or your local Public Housing Agency.
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
Have an apartment but can’t afford to keep it cool in the summer or warm in the winter? That is where the LIHEAP comes in. Based again upon your income and assets, this program helps you pay for heating and cooling costs by sending payments to the utility companies in your behalf.
Meals for Children
If your kids are in school, you may be able to qualify to have your child receive free or reduced price lunches from their school.
The School Breakfast Program provides cash assistance to state to operate nonprofit breakfast programs in schools and residential childcare institutions. Check to see if your local school participates. Again, based on your income your child may receive free or a reduced-priced breakfast. However, some schools and institutions provide free breakfasts to all children.
In the summer, when school is out, your child, under 18, can receive a free, hot meal from numerous free summer lunch program sites, regardless of your income. You can try to find a local site HERE.
Huggies partners with different non-profit organizations and retailers to supply diapers to people in need through food and diaper banks. To find a local diaper bank, click HERE.
Even if you aren’t a parishioner or member of a specific church, many churches have food pantries or offer other resources available to the general public. Some have storehouses with more supplies (like diapers) than food alone. They also may be able to assist you in other local organizations for more help.
Income Based Repayment Plans for Your Student Loans
It seems that just about anyone who goes to college anymore gets to walk away with some student loan debt. If you still owe money on your student loans, and are expecting or have twins or higher order multiples and will have a hard time making payments, you may want to look into an income based repayment plan, or other repayment plan. You can most likely claim a temporary financial hardship, because, well, twins or triplets, are a (temporary) financial hardship. With less money going towards your student loans, you may have some breathing room financially.
Freecycle and Craigslist
On freecycle.org not only can you browse through local listings of items people are donating for free, but you can request for items as well. This isn’t a guaranteed way to acquire things you need, but you may luck out. You can also always check craigslist‘s local free listings as well for things you need. You can sometimes score things like clothes, toys, baby food, formula, diapers, baby furniture, and much more. If you are diligent in searching and able to pick things up, this can be a great way to get things for free, so you can afford twins.
Companies’ Multiples Programs, Discounts, and Samples
When I was expecting, I was told by my sister-in-law, who had twins ten years before me, that tons of companies had multiples programs and would send you free things in the mail. When I investigated myself, calling or emailing many companies, I found that many had discontinued those programs. However, some didn’t. Or if they had, they still sent me coupons, or samples. I found this twin blog which outlined which companies did and didn’t and what they received. You never know what a company might say, so it’s always worth a shot! I received several cans of formula this way.
This list is not meant to be an inclusive, and there are still many local resources that may be available to you. We hope the question of how to afford twins doesn’t loom over you, and that you can instead focus on the blessing it is to have two (or more) bundles coming into your life. You have enough craziness coming without having to worry about affording it all.
If you have other resources to share, please do so in the comments!
ldskatelyn is the mastermind behind this week’s theme week of saving money, trying to help others learn how to afford twins. She loves saving money and making ends meet and is so excited that she is sharing some of her knowledge with others this week! ldskatelyn has also used some of the resources listed above and knows how hard finances can be. She blogs about her family and parenting over at What’s up Fagans?