BETHESDA, Md. (NNS) -- National Naval Medical Center offers prospective and new parents Budget for Baby (B4B) course to prepare them for the financial impact that comes along with a new addition to the family.
The course, one of many courses from the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS), was developed in hopes of translating a service member's realistic income into a workable spending plan for the entire family, said Leslie French, director of NMCRS for Bethesda.
"Money permeates everything we do," said French. "A lot of us go through life thinking we know where our money goes, but when you go through a spending plan process, it really opens your eyes. We don't anticipate future costs as well as we should."
Run by volunteers, B4B is offered, at no cost, to military clients, their spouses and dependents to teach them about the possible variations in pay and increased expenses with their newest member of the family.
The program also helps its participants understand the common consumer pressures they might face as new parents and explains the services and resources they are entitled to through government and private sectors.
One of the subsidies available to parents is the Woman, Infant, Child Nutrition (WIC) program. WIC serves pregnant women, women who are breastfeeding or have just given birth and infants and children up to five years of age who meet income requirements.In addition, married and single women are eligible for WIC and military housing allowance entitlements are not included in income totals.
"Most people don't understand that they are eligible for WIC," said Sylvia Roman, the relief services assistant for NMCRS. "Sometimes people get misinformation from someone who doesn't understand that program, but BAH is not included in financial requirements."
To save additional money, French and Roman recommend buying essential baby care items at local thrift stores.
"We have a great thrift shop at Anacostia," said French. "We also have one at Annapolis. They are wonderfully run and have beautiful things there."
The Anacostia thrift store, run by NMCRS, located at the Navy Yard, is available to all service members and is open Tuesday and Wednesday from 4:30 to 7 p.m. The Annapolis branch is open Tuesday, Thursday and every third Saturday, excluding holidays, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.
Although almost all infant items can be bought used, car seats should be bought new to meet safety requirements, said French.
"Anyone needing assistance with purchasing car seats or other essentials should contact us, and we'll do what we can to help," she said.
The B4B course is not limited to first time parents, said Roman. Parents are encouraged to attend the class with each new addition, as additional family members impact budget requirements significantly regardless of how many children are present in the home.
Advance registration is required for all B4B classes, which are held the second Wednesday of every month at NNMC. Participants of the class will be presented with a baby gift set after completing the course. The set includes booties, onesies, a hooded towel, crib sheets, budget tips, bibs, and books donated by the Navy Dental Officer Spouses Club. It also includes a handmade blanket knitted by volunteers.
For more information about any of the programs listed above or how to enroll in a B4B course, call the NMCRS at 301-295-1207. For information about hours of operation at the thrift stores, call the Anacostia branch at 202-610-5419, or the Annapolis branch at 410-293-4402.
For more news from National Naval Medical Center, visit www.navy.mil/local/nnmc/.