The following post comes from Deidra R. at partner site The Dollar Stretcher.
With my first baby, everything had to be new and perfect. Yes, I was that first-time mom – if it was made for newborns, I absolutely had to have it.
I spent way more than I ever intended on preparing for my first son’s arrival. We thankfully received a lot as gifts, but I still spent a good amount personally on what my husband calls “my baby impulse buys,” which was usually nursery decor items or an outfit he just had to have.
My second son’s arrival finally made the money spent on pregnancy No. 1 worthwhile. I suddenly realized that I could save so much on my second son’s needs. I was getting two kids’ usage for the price of one, and I knew I could do more.
As soon as my littlest outgrew the toddler clothes and items, I got rid of everything. I sold some items,others I gave away. Then, the unexpected happened with round three. This was an unplanned surprise that came nearly eight years later, and it was a girl!
But I had no baby clothes, no baby furniture, no baby gear, no car seat, no stroller. Nothing! I was determined to not break the bank this time around. Things had changed so much in eight years, and it almost made me wonder how I ever raised two children without these items. I fought the temptation to buy everything cute and girly, and I’m so happy with what I was able to achieve. I want to share how you can prepare for a baby on a budget, while not sacrificing any of the cuteness you desire…
1. Ask, ask, ask
Hand-me-downs are the way to go. Talk to friends and family who recently had babies to see if they want to get rid of anything.
If any of the things they have are a bit dated, or you aren’t sure that they meet current safety regulations, you can take part in the Babies R Us Great Trade-In events that are held a few times a year. You can trade in the items you aren’t sure about for new baby gear and get 25 percent off. For instance, a co-worker gave me a boy’s drop-side crib that didn’t meet safety regulations, and although the manufacturer offered a part to lock the drop side, I took advantage of the Great Trade-In event and scored a crib for $160.
Besides baby gear, clothing can be another costly area. So I asked friends with toddler girls for their gently-used items. I picked out the items that weren’t faded or stained and gave them new life for my little angel.
I even planned ahead for toys. We received some through the baby showers, but I was able to get even more through garage sales, friends, and Craigslist. For sanitary reasons, I didn’t get certain things like teething toys, breastfeeding pump attachments, potties, or even baby baths.
2. Stock up
You’ll always need diapers, diapers, and more diapers. For my two baby showers, I offered free show tickets (found online) to everyone who brought a pack of diapers. During my pregnancy, I also became quite the coupon clipper/user and was able to create a diaper stockpile for a fraction of the original cost. This, coupled with the shower diapers I received, meant that I didn’t need to buy diapers until my daughter was 7 months old!
I also found that I could save money by making my own baby food. By starting while I was pregnant (toward the end), I was able to take advantage of produce sales and promotions at my local grocer. After running it all through my food processor, I loaded the freezer with nutritious meals.
Obviously, breastfeeding is another fantastic cost savings, but it isn’t something that everyone is able to or wants to do. Other than the cost for a decent pump and storage bags/bottles, the savings off of traditional formula can be astounding. I breastfed all of my kids, but due to medical reasons, I had to stop around 7 months with my third.
For a period of time, I was spending upwards of $80 a month on formula! If you already know that you won’t be breastfeeding, prepare to save now. Formula is another one of those costly items that you can stock up on ahead of time. Coupons on certain formulas like Similac aren’t offered frequently, so when you see them, snatch them up!
Join the swapping revolution. WhatToExpect.com offers a swap where you can list the items that you have to trade and what you would like in exchange. I’ve traded baby items for gift cards that I used toward baby supplies. As your little one grows, you can swap little by little and keep him/her in adorable clothing through ThredUp.com.
4. Wait for clearances
I’ve always done this with my boys and recently started this with the baby. I shop at the end of the season, just as stores are putting current merchandise on clearance and putting out the new season’s clothing. I regularly shop for spring/summer clothing at the end of summer. Stores change the merchandise to feature the fall/winter clothing and move all of the lighter-weight items to clearance. I buy these clearance items in bigger sizes for $1, $2, and $3 for next year.
5. Get crafty
For my daughter’s room, I decided to do everything homemade to save on nursery decor costs. Other than $160 for the crib and a hand-me-down changing table (which I painted) and hand-me-down shelves, there was nothing in the room. With $75 and a day of DIY work – gallon of paint, bead board, chair rail, and crown moulding – it started to look like a little girl’s room.
I made a trip to a dollar store for frames, printed images on my color printer, and used coordinating ribbon for some cute wall art. Lastly, I cut vinyl adhesive lettering for her name. She had a cute, one-of-a-kind nursery for less than $250, including furniture.
I have even turned my DIY hobby to baby’s clothes and accessories. I have added bling, new buttons, and appliques to give hand-me-downs new life. I’ve also gotten a bag of alligator clips and adhered silk flowers and handmade bows to create fun hair clips.
You don’t have to let the scary costs associated with child rearing freak you out. Start little by little, making small changes, and before you know it, it will become a way of life. If I can do it, so can you!
Follow The Dollar Stretcher on Twitter.