There comes a time in your life when having a baby seems like a great idea. Never mind the cost, the sleepless nights and all the other anticipated difficulties, babies are incredible. Still, eventually the reality of the financial impact will rear its ugly head. There are some ways you can save tons of money while still providing everything your little one needs though, so read ahead.
While it is really nice to have one or two sets of prenatal jeans, you can usually get by for quite a while in your regular clothes. If you are handy with a sewing machine, get it out and install a pregnancy panel in a couple more of your pants and you should be able to make it through the pregnancy.
Goodwill stores are a great place to find gently used pregnancy clothing, as are friends, relatives, and coworkers. For some reason people are very eager to get rid of these clothes, so advertise your condition and watch the donations roll in.
Before they let you take the baby home, the hospital will insist on seeing a car seat. That doesn’t mean you have to stand in the lobby and open a brand new box though. Ask around. Friends with toddlers probably still have that infant seat in the garage. I shared my seat with my brother and between us we used it for six kids. We just took turns having babies.
Note though that many experts will not recommend a used car seat because of safety reasons. I totally agree that safety is very important. Much more important than saving a few dollars, but like EVERYTHING ELSE used, there are good, and there are bad. Just because something is dated doesn’t mean it’s not safe.
I have a new born too, so I’m well aware of our instinct as a parent to be extra cautious for our children but whether it’s my daughter, myself, my wife or parents, safety is JUST AS important.
Newer cars are safer than older ones too, but you don’t hear about the same advice about safety versus cost there. It all comes down to the specific piece you are buying and whether you can see the difference of what’s good versus bad.
This is all opinion of course. Obviously new is always better. But you can find some good used car seats that’s made in the past year or two (just imagine all these parents who need to throw away their infant car seat before their child turns one) and were made from the exact same safety standards as the new ones currently on store selves.
Another biggie, clothing, is about the easiest to get for free or cheaply. Borrowing or accepting hand-me-downs is a great technique, but if you must get something new, try the thrift shops first. Little babies outgrow things so quickly that there is rarely any wear and tear. If you have your own washer and dryer, ten onesies, socks, and sleepers are all you need at first.
Feeding and Diapering
The hands down cheapest form of feeding is breast feeding, a slight increase in what Mom eats and you are done. For those who opt for bottle feeding, the best place to get formula is a grocery warehouse. Nursing bras are great, but expensive. Wait until you are certain you will be doing this for a while before you invest. The first few weeks you will probably stay home so use a sports bra for convenience and comfort.
There is no way around the expense of diapers. Cloth diapers are cheaper, but only if you purchase your own and wash them yourself. The best options are wool wraps and cotton diapers purchased in bulk. The wraps are more expensive than some other options, but mine have lasted through three kids and are still in great shape. A diaper service is expensive, but you avoid the washing process.
Disposable diapers are pricey and environmentally unsound, but boy are they convenient. You go through a lot of diapers with each child, so buy the cheapest ones that work. By work I mean they hold a night’s worth of fluid without leaking and bowel movements don’t creep out the sides and back when you aren’t looking. The only way to find out which works best for your baby is to try out several brands until you find one that does.
There are plenty of websites dedicated to saving money while raising your bundle of joy. Coupon Shoebox, for example, has quite a few coupons for items sold at Diapers.com. Get online, join parenting groups in your area, and ask a lot of questions. It is possible to stick to a budget and still give your child all they need.
This is another post from the How to Save Money on Everything ebook. Check it out by subscribing to the free newsletter here.