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Hey there, Picky People! Today we have a guest post from my pal Amber over at Alternative Grace. She’s a brand new mom who’s here to share her experiences on saving money while starting a family. Enjoy!
My husband and I recently had our first baby (she’s two months old now–eek!). From the day we found out we were pregnant, it has been an intense journey of learning and preparation.
Obviously part of that preparation involved spending some money. We value frugality in our lives, and despite all the talk about how expensive kids are, we didn’t end up spending very much at all.
Here’s the thing: the industry preys on parents-to-be, just like the wedding industry preys on brides-to-be. They know it’s a big life moment. They know we feel nervous and uncertain, and that we want everything to be as awesome as possible. And they market directly to those feelings.
I’m here to tell you: DON’T BUY IT. Figuratively and literally. You can be totally intentional and awesome parents without dropping loads of cash. You really can.
Rally against the man! Don’t buy all the things! Here are some ways we did it.
How to Save Money While Preparing for Baby
1. Use it as an opportunity to declutter.
Babies take up space, so use this time to go through your home and get rid of stuff. We had a grand old time with this! We did donate some of the stuff, but we sold some of it, too. Craigslist is your friend! Or try the new app OfferUp–it’s good for smaller items. Extra room AND extra cash–and it feels great, too!
2. Two words: Garage. Sales.
It is incredible what you can get at garage sales for your money. (Hello Baby Gap clothes for 50 cents! Oh hey $200 stroller for $20!). Because kids’ stuff is used for such a short amount of time, overall it’s wise to buy used in general, but I recommend garage sales over all other buying-used places.
The prices are lower, because people are really just looking to get rid of things. Plus, it’s fun to see what you can find! You do have to have a little patience, but try to look at it as a fun adventure to see just how frugal you can be. I probably purchased 90% of the stuff we got for baby from garage sales.
3. Use things for multiple purposes.
Companies would LOVE to have you think that you need all of these different items for different uses. Bullsh*t! Get creative, and see what various purposes you can find for things.
For example, I bought an awesome dresser at a thrift store, and we also use it as a changing table. No need to for an actual changing table. I didn’t buy a “nursing cover”–instead, I just use a light linen blanket. Try to seek out things that can function as double (or more!) duty.
4. Let go of the idea of a magazine-perfect nursery.
One major way to practice frugality is to avoid Pinterest boards and Instagram if they feed a desire to have the perfect trendy nursery. Get over it. No one cares, especially the baby.
And trust me, there are so many other more important ways to prepare for this big change than agonizing over nursery decor. You should make the space a place you want to be in, yes, but you do not need to drop lots of cash to do it. Be creative.
5. Don’t buy into the “don’t buy __ used” thinking.
One of the very first things I bought for our babe was a car seat/stroller set. And I BOUGHT IT USED. Car seats in particular are an item that you’re not ever supposed to buy used. What if it was in an accident? What if it’s expired? (Yes, they want you to believe that carseats “expire”… here are some good thoughts on this.
Well, I bought an awesome set off of Craigslist for less than half of what it is new. (Carseats/strollers are expensive… we’re talking hundreds of dollars.) The set works great and we have loved it! It may not look quite as shiny as a new one, but it would look not new after a few months of use anyway. You can buy pretty much anything secondhand for your babe–don’t let people say you can’t.
6. Shop your house.
This is a great tip to use for house decorating in general: walk around your house and think of it as a store. You’d be amazed at what you find.
Maybe you’ve had that lamp for so long you sort of forgot about it. Try it out in the nursery! There are lots of pillows on the guest bed… maybe one or two would look cute in the baby’s room? Do this from time to time and see what items you can repurpose for other areas of your house.
7. Accept donations
When people find out you’re having a baby (especially your FIRST baby), they come out of the woodwork to give stuff to you. Accept this stuff. You can always donate it (or sell it!) if you don’t end up wanting to use it.
My husband’s boss offered us their crib since they were done having kids. Was it EXACTLY what I would have picked out? No. But cribs are expensive and I can work with it. Take the stuff people offer you for free, and figure out if you can use it later.
8. Take back gifts you don’t want or need.
This isn’t just about the money. Yes, you can get the money back and spend it (frugally) on something you do want or need. But it’s more than that: don’t let something clutter up your life out of guilt–the person who gave it to you wouldn’t want that anyway!
And–to get a little Marie Kondo on you–the item isn’t going to be happy sitting in a dark corner of a closet, not being used… give it a chance to be useful and loved somewhere else. If you can’t take it back, donate it.
9. Think outside the box.
This is sort of a catch all, but I think the best advice I can give is just to think outside the box. Question things. See if there’s another way.
For example, we used an online site called Babylist for our registry, and it allows you to register for things that aren’t things. Like you could “register” for 10 frozen meals or 2 hours of house cleaning. I registered for a year-long membership to the local Babywearing International organization.
Another example of this is that we asked our doula if she was open to bartering. She absolutely was (many doulas are)! So we were able to hire her for only half the amount she normally charges. I am doing some editing work for her to make up for the difference.
The Bottom Line
Being frugal isn’t the same as being cheap–it’s about being smart and creative with your money. We dropped some cold, hard cash on a few things, but we did it very intentionally. For example, we bought a new rocker/recliner that wasn’t cheap, but we really liked it and will have it for years to come (and it’s a multi-purpose item–easily movable to the living room someday!).
I hope these thoughts are helpful for parents-to-be!
Moms and dads: do you have other tips you would add on how to save money in preparing for baby?