How to Budget for Baby
Alternatives to Buying Brand New
When it comes to equipment like swings, portable cribs, nursery furniture, and those activity centers with all the bells and whistles, they’re only used for such a short time. Take advantage of that by heading online to save, save, save.
Some moms swear by consignment stores, one of the best places for finding a gently-used version of what you need for almost half the price.
Tiffanie, whose girls are always sporting the latest styles, swears by Craigslist and hand-me-downs. “I’ve shopped CL. I sell on CL when done. Also, make sure friends and family know you’re not afraid of hand-me-downs.” Cathy agrees. “I always thought ‘no child of mine will wear hand me downs’ until I realized how much everything costs. Hand me downs are great! Plus, yard sales are great for picking up toys and books for a fraction of the cost.”
Plus, chances are you have a procrastinating friend or family member like Lisa, mother to 5-year-old Sophia, who’s been meaning to clean out the baby gear for a long time coming. “I have to get rid of the infant stuff already … strollers, swing, play yard, high chair, bassinet (although that one is going to kill me to part with), baby and toddler clothes, and more.” Lisa’s potential garage sale items could save you hundreds in valuable equipment! Psst: Some moms even use Facebook to get the word out that they’re willing to save—or sell.
But if buying equipment with the tag still on it is important to you, do yourself a favor first and borrow a friend or relative’s first. While one baby might love swinging and sitting in his cool new chair, the next may absolutely hate it and prefer to chill out on a blanket right on the floor. Stacy, mom of two boys from California, can testify there. “Babies are all so different. My kids hated the swing, wouldn’t use a pacifier if you paid them, and forget the baby shoes— babies are happier on bare feet.”
Wouldn’t you rather know that before slapping down the credit card?
And speaking of those baby shoes (and their cousins, those fancy clothes)…
Melissa, a mom of three, suggests moms get back to basics. “Tell your friends/relatives, etc., not to buy those silly frilly lacy infant baby clothes (for girls) or sailor suits/suspenders/pants (for boys)—nothing without snaps at the crotch. Babies that young are not comfortable in clothing like that, nor is it easy for parents to remove them for numerous diaper changes. Or when they inevitably get thrown up on. Little babies also do not wear shoes. Tell them instead to buy you lots and lots of onesies, burp cloths, footie pajamas, and bootie socks. They are cheaper than those fancy ‘cute’ clothes and you will get a lot more use out of them.”
But, if you must cover your child in designer duds, at least avoid paying full price.
Where to Shop
Marshalls, Ross, T.J. Maxx, and other discount stores carry the same clothes as department stores but for way less.
When to Shop
Think ahead! When kids are little, it’s easy to guess what approximate size they’ll be the following year. Stock up on seasonal staples and buy those adorable holiday outfits a year in advance. Your wallet will thank you later.
Experienced Moms’ Bonus Tips
- Take someone who has already had a baby (ideally more than one) with you to register. Her experience could help save you thousands of dollars in unnecessary equipment, gadgets, and clothing that will never be worn.
- If you have twins, do not get two of everything. Put one in the swing and one in the bouncy seat and swap when you need to.
- Take advantage of free air travel for your child’s first two years by carrying baby on board. Although you might want to pay for the extra seat for longer flights.
- When your child is old enough for restaurant food, feed them off your plate. Serving sizes are enormous these days and not only will it save you money, it could save you those dreaded extra pounds.
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