5 Money Rules That'll Save You Big in Baby's First Year
My family is expecting a new addition in June, and we're beyond psyched! Since this is our second child, we won't be making a registry list or having a baby shower. With almost five years between kids, however, we certainly are in need of a few things. Here's how we're planning to save throughout our baby's first year on gear and clothing, and how you can, too!
1. Digging Deep
Before doing anything else, I looked through all the bins of my daughter's baby stuff. For families where kids have tight age gaps, this is a natural. Reuse what you can. Unfortunately, if you do have a longer period of time between kids, like we do, things like car seats can expire, and other gear might be recalled. We've cleared out the items we cannot use and assessed the condition of the rest.
Stuff like clothing can stand the test of time with babies because they wear outfits for only a couple months before they outgrow them. Cloth diapers are also a great item to use again, doubling the initial savings. And if you have old baby gear you'd rather not use, try reselling it for cash for the new things you want to buy.
We find out soon if we're having a girl or boy, so if things are looking blue, I have a huge mountain of clothing I can sell at the local second-hand shop. [Editor's note: It's a girl!]
2. Buying Used
That's right — you can sell your old stuff, but you can also buy used to save money. When I was a first-time mom, I didn't take advantage of thrift shops and other second-hand opportunities. This time around? I know better. That expensive baby swing you have on your shopping list might get a whopping two months of use. Babies grow out of toys and clothes in what seems like minutes. What does this mean? Thrift shops and consignment stores are teeming with quality gear at a fraction of the original price.
Check around your town to find shops that sell gently used baby items. You may even find places online, like a local Facebook garage sale group, where you can browse listings right now. We have a Salvation Army, Good Will, Thrifty Shopper, and a specialty store called Once Upon a Child. Check these places often (once every week or two weeks) to see what comes in. And monitor for sales and other events. Our local Once Upon a Child recently had a huge bag blowout sale, where you could get an entire packed bag of clothing for just $15. One of my friends calculated that she got $100 worth of like-new clothing in just one bag.
3. Buying Smart
Of course, there are things we will want or need to buy new. For those items, I'm taking my time and using my shopping ninja powers. Whenever I'm out at Target or Walmart and see something we might need, I pull out my phone and check around for the best price. If I see a better price listed somewhere else online, I march to customer service and ask about their price-matching policy. I've never been denied a lower price if I can produce the proof on my phone. (Related: Here's How to Get a Sale Price-Match at 16 Popular Stores)
That being said, I do the majority of my shopping online, so I go through sites like Ebates to get cash back on whatever I'm buying. I also used the Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other seasonal sales events to my advantage this year. My tip? Make a list of what you are looking to buy, then browse around your favorite shops online to look for sales, savings codes, or other promotions. Pregnancy lasts over nine months, so you'll likely see what you're looking for at a discounted price with time and patience.
4. Needing Less
Another advantage of being a seasoned mom is that I know I don't need everything on those fussy registry must-have lists. In theory, babies only need basic clothing, somewhere safe to sleep, breast milk or formula, and love. The rest is extra. Well, for the most part. Your own must-have list will look different compared to mine. But before you buy everything you're told you need, think about your own lifestyle.
For us, this means we don't need a bassinet or moses basket because the baby will sleep in a Pack 'N Play in the early days (that we'll also use for traveling well beyond the first year). We likely won't need to stock up on bottles if breastfeeding goes well again. I'm skipping the travel system because we never used one with our daughter and plan to, instead, carry our baby in a ring sling that I bought used. You get the idea. A lot of registry lists get you prepared for absolutely every scenario you might encounter. Try to resist the items that don't make sense to you and your way of life.
As of today, my list of to-buy baby items is pretty minimal. I'm sure I'll eventually want or need some stuff for convenience or — let's be honest — just for fun. But for now, I'm waiting on making those purchases until after the baby arrives. As I've waited, some of my friends have even offered up to let me borrow things like bouncers and rocking chairs. Another friend handed me a stack of never-used cloth diapers she didn't need when her son was a baby.
Once our little one is here, I'm also resisting the urge to buy things ahead of time. With my daughter, I thought I was being frugal by stocking up on clearance clothing with sizes a year in advance. The problem is that not all children grow at the same rate. My daughter didn't end up fitting in a lot of the duds I bought to "save money," defeating the entire purpose. In the end, if we can live without whatever it is for another day or two, chances are we don't need it in the long run.
How are you saving money as a new parent? Share with us in the comments!
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