1. Buy secondhand gear and clothes.
Consignment shops are often full of great maternity and baby clothes as well as gear and furniture.
2. Borrow a bassinet (or skip it altogether).
Most bassinets can only be used until baby starts rolling over, so try to find one that you can borrow for those few weeks.
3. Hold off.
If you aren’t sure which products will work best for baby (especially with bottles, pacifiers, even diapers), buy the minimum to start with, then stock up once you know baby’s preferences.
4. Limit the tests.
Not pregnant yet? Buy three (and no more than three) pregnancy tests to keep on hand. If you have a larger supply, you’re likely to wind up with a trash can full of them. (Believe us. We’ve been there.)
5. Go easy on the starter diapers.
Start with only one pack of newborn diapers. Baby may not even fit into them at the start, and he’ll grow fast.
6. Breastfeed as long as possible.
The cost of formula adds up. (And breast milk is great for baby!)
Again, formula can get expensive.
8. Formula feeding? Ask for samples.
Be sure to head home from the hospital with samples (some now only give them upon request), and ask for samples at each visit to the pediatrician. Don’t be shy — it never hurts to ask.
9. Buy a convertible crib.
A crib that converts into a toddler bed will definitely save you some cash over the years.
10. Do your homework!
Research is essential to make sure you know which products give you the most bang for your buck.
11. Get mom (or aunt, or MIL…) to babysit.
Family can quickly turn into your most valuable childcare resource.
12. Buy in bulk.
You know you’ll need lots of some things (like diapers and formula). If you have the storage space, stock up to save cash.
13. Make your own baby food.
When baby starts to eat solids, toss cooked veggies into the blender with a bit of liquid, and save the meals in ice trays — the money you’ll save makes it worth the extra effort.
14. Forget the comforter.
Since baby won’t actually USE it, it isn’t really necessary.
15. Get crafty.
DIY projects take time, but they save cash (and add fun personal touches).
16. Forget the fancy toys.
Baby will be content with smaller price tags (or spoons, pans, and cardboard boxes, for that matter).
17. Go without a changing table.
Instead, top the dresser with a changing pad and add a few wall shelves for storage.
Eating out, ordering in, and frozen meals can eat up a lot of cash.
19. Search for sales.
Find a product you love? Hold your horses. Shopping around for a better price can help you save enough for future splurges.
20. Check out freecycle.org.
This non-profit site is full of parents giving away their gently used baby gear and clothes. (You can sometimes find free or cheap items on sites like craigslist.org too.) You can also head to our own Swap Spot message board and donate to moms right in The Bump community.
21. Get convertible gear.
Like with furniture, items such as a car seat or stroller that grow with baby can prove invaluable.
22. Don’t buy lots of shoes.
Before baby is walking (and some would argue the same for a while after), shoes won’t really be necessary. Socks will do to keep those tootsies warm.
23. Take care of your own physical and mental health.
Keeping mommy (and daddy) sane and healthy can help you save on medical expenses.
24. Buy generic and less expensive brands.
Does baby’s label really make a difference? She’ll only be in that onesie for a few months, so resist the urge to splurge.
25. Baby proof.
Prepping your home to prevent accidents can help you save on medical costs (not to mention stress)!
26. Get a belly band.
This awesome invention (a stretchy band you wear around your waist) will keep you in your pre-pregnancy pants much longer, saving money on maternity clothes.
27. Wait on the maternity clothes until you really need them.
Ignore the urge to buy maternity clothes just because you’re excited about being pregnant.
28. Borrow maternity clothes.
You only wear them for a few weeks — find a friend who’s willing to pass hers along.
29. Save baby’s clothes for future siblings.
If you don’t plan on more babies, donate the duds to help someone else save!
30. Try working from home.
Lots of moms are able to balance part-time work with caring for baby — this way you don’t lose money to childcare AND you bring in some extra earnings.
31. Get good insurance BEFORE you conceive.
Make sure you know your provider’s policies before getting pregnant, and be absolutely sure that you’re covered — there are laws against considering pregnancy a “pre-existing condition,” but the law contains several loopholes that could hinder your prenatal coverage, particularly if you are switching from one individual plan to another or from a group health plan to an individual plan.
32. Lose weight before getting pregnant.
Obesity increases medical expenses (and risks of complications).
33. Consider cloth diapers.
But, you’ll need to do the laundry yourself in order to really save. Diaper-cleaning services add up too.
34. Find cheap community classes.
While some baby classes have hefty price tags, many community centers offer great classes for much less.
35. Donate your toys and old gear!
Not only does this help other people save (or get a toy they would have never had), those donation receipts come in handy around tax time!
36. Carry stain pens in the diaper bag.
If you can treat those baby stains right away, you’ll wind up throwing out far fewer items.
37. Buy washable nursing pads.
Okay, so the disposable ones aren’t so expensive, but you’ll still save a little.
38. Make a budget and keep track!
If you’re aware of your spending, you’ll be more likely to cut corners.
39. Buy things that last.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you might be surprised how often you find yourself buying things that are poorly made or disposable. Invest in sturdy stuff that can be handed down from generation to generation (or at least from baby to baby).
40. Shop the clearance rack.
You can score some of baby’s future wardrobe for cheap! (Talk with your ped about baby’s growth charts to guesstimate his size in that season.)
41. Cut coupons.
Some folks are better at this than others, but there’s no denying that it can save big bucks over the years.
42. Get a piggy bank.
Really. Toss in your loose change every day, slide in a dollar (or five) now and then, and you just might find yourself with a vacation fund in the near future.
43. Before you buy it, be sure you NEED IT.
Lots of first-time parents complain about winding up with tons of unused gear and goods. (If you’re unsure about a product, ask the moms on our message boards!)
44. Don’t get emotional.
Okay, so this is easier said than done when those pregnancy hormones are running wild, but try not to shop when you’re feeling super sentimental. (The excitement can easily lead to over-shopping for baby.)
Buying consignment or directly from the vendor? Haggle. Plan to furnish your whole nursery from one shop? Ask them to reward your loyalty with a discount. (Yep. You really can do this.)
46. Hold out for the showers.
Remember that if someone throws you a baby shower, you’ll likely wind up with lots of outfits, toys, and maybe even gear. The point? Don’t stock up ahead of time. You or your partner can always hit the stores afterward to grab anything else you need.
47. Remember who you’re shopping for.
Don’t buy the toys that YOU like…buy the ones that BABY likes.
48. Buy the best diapers.
The store brand diapers may be less expensive, but you’ll likely save money in the long run by avoiding the cleanups and thrown out clothes that result from cheap diaper mishaps. Trust us.
49. Twins don’t always mean doubles.
Having two-in-one? Resist the urge to buy two of everything — the little tykes can share most items.
50. Skip the baby tub.
Baby grows quickly, and the sink makes a pretty nice tub in those beginning months.
51. Ask for advice!
Hindsight is 20/20. Ask other moms which financial corners they wish they had cut.
By Erin van Vuuren
SAVING UP FOR BABY
Checklist: Baby Budget
Whether it’s a one-time purchase or a monthly cost, here’s where you’ll spend.
Here’s a list of major purchases and investments over the first year — estimate how much you’ll fork over for each to come up with a rough answer to your question. And remember… the amount you plan to spend doesn’t always match up with the amount you actually spend.
[ ] Nursery decorating/remodeling:
[ ] Crib:
[ ] Crib mattress:
[ ] Crib sheet, crib skirt and receiving blankets:
[ ] Dresser:
[ ] Rocking chair:
[ ] Changing table:
[ ] Baby monitor:
[ ] Playpen, bouncy chair:
[ ] Safety gates:
[ ] Baby bathtub:
[ ] High chair:
[ ] Bottles:
[ ] Pump:
[ ] Nursing clothes:
[ ] Medicine kit:
[ ] Stroller:
[ ] Baby carrier/sling:
[ ] Car seat:
[ ] Diaper bag:
[ ] Maternity leave salary loss:
[ ] Writing/rewriting will:
[ ] Diapers:
[ ] Formula and food:
[ ] Clothes:
[ ] Toys:
[ ] Extra laundry costs (water, electricity, detergent):
[ ] Child care:
[ ] Life insurance for you and your partner:
[ ] Medical insurance:
[ ] Disability insurance:
[ ] Medical bills (uncovered and co-pays):
[ ] College/education savings:
[ ] Contribution to savings:
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And now for advice you can’t hear enough: You can never start saving too early. Set up an additional savings account for your child now and make regular cash deposits (no matter how small) at your bank or another local bank with a high interest rate. Opening a savings account is low-risk and by far the safest investment option to provide for your child’s future. Get used to making regular deposits into your child’s account by setting up an automatic deposit feature that will filter a predetermined amount from your account into theirs.
Also, while you should limit your credit card use as much as possible, take time to research credit cards that feature rewards relevant to your needs. For instance, the Toys“R”US & Babies“R”US MasterCard gives you points for dollars spent, which can save you money in the long run with discounts on future purchases — very helpful when it comes to birthday and holiday gifts.
In general, make sure to budget and have an expense plan that you and your partner don’t exceed each month. Remember, your child’s expenses grow as they do! You have to plan accordingly.