Investing in Family: Preparing for Baby on a Budget

If you've been following along at MomVesting, it's probably no surprise that my husband and I are expecting our first child, a baby girl, in June. It's a very exciting time period for us, but we've found that it's also very expensive. Between $200 rocking chairs, $300 cribs, and $50 to $100 here and there for other baby necessities (or at least very-nice-to-have items...), having a baby can be outlandishly expensive. Thankfully, there are a few ways to save money on items for your bouncing baby.

How to Stretch Your Dollars

There are quite a few ways to save some cash on must-haves for your bundle of joy, but there are a few things to be aware of first. To begin, car seats and cribs should always meet safety standards. These items can become outdated rather quickly, especially with the drop-side crib recall notices, so it's important to make sure that the car seat and crib you purchase are safe for your baby. Sometimes new is better for these two items, but if you must buy used, make sure the car seat was never in an accident and that the crib is not recalled.

Okay, now that safety is covered, let's look at ways to save on other items. Bouncers, strollers, high chairs, swings, clothes, toys, blankets, sheets and many other items are easy to find for a portion of the full cost, if you know where to look. Let's look at a few ways:

  • Ask Family and Friends – One of the best places to look for cheap (or sometimes free!) items is through family, friends and co-workers whose children may have outgrown the baby stage. Drop a hint that you're looking, but don't be too pushy – they'll offer up what they don't need as soon as it's no longer necessary.
  • Shop Thrifty – Some other great places to look for discounted items are at garage sales, thrift stores, Goodwill and the Salvation Army. There are also baby-centered thrift stores perfect for the momma-to-be.
  • Find Internet Deals – Craigslist and E-bay are also great for the parents on a budget. Used items sell for half or less than full price, and oftentimes these baby finds are very gently used – and sometimes brand-new!
  • Shop Ahead – New items can also be found at a portion of full price if you're prepared to shop for deals out of season and save them for a year. There's a slight risk in this type of deal hunting, though. If you buy a Christmas outfit in February and save it for next Christmas, it is possible your babe will be either too small or too big for the outfit. But often it's worth the slight risk; scoring a $30 outfit for $2 can be a lifesaver in a year's time.
  • Arrange a Baby Swap – One fun way to meet new moms and land the perfect deals is to have a baby swap. No, I'm not talking about actually swapping babies; instead, each mom brings items their child may have outgrown to swap for items they need.

So far, I've been shopping Craigslist, Goodwill and end-of-season sales, and I've found a few great deals! A $45 glider chair and ottoman, out-of-season clothes, and a baby bathtub top my finds. I'm excited about searching garage sales this season, too. Saving money can be exhilarating, and it is possible on baby goods!

How about you: how do you save cash on baby and kid's items?

Photo Source

Anonymous's picture

Jana @ Daily Money Shot wrote:

Tue, 05/15/2012 - 15:40 Comment #: 1

Quick note about drop side cribs--if you have one and can't afford to replace it, contact the manufacturer to see if there's a part available (for free!) to stabilize the drop side.

Anonymous's picture

AverageJoe wrote:

Tue, 05/15/2012 - 16:44 Comment #: 2

We were unfortunately the first among our friends and family to have children, so everything was new. Luckily, they're nearly 17 now and I'd nearly managed to block out that pain...until your post. ;-) Great tips, and ones that I'll personally recommend people follow.

Anonymous's picture

Lindy Mint wrote:

Tue, 05/15/2012 - 17:49 Comment #: 3

Great job on the thrify baby finds!

I think another great tip is to be discriminating about what you do and don't need. Like Diaper Genies. I never understood those.

Christa Palm's picture

Christa Palm wrote:

Tue, 05/15/2012 - 19:08 Comment #: 4

Jana, excellent point! My hubby's cousin and wife bought their crib for their first child right before the manufacturer recalled the drop sides, and the crib company sent them some parts to fix the drop side hazard. They were able to use the crip for three more kids, so they can still be safe and work well if the drop side is fixed!

Average Joe, sorry to bring the baby cost pain back right as you're gearing up for college cost pain times two!

Lindy Mint, I agree -- thinking about not purchasing some items can save you money as well. My big no-purchase save is on the many, many, many different types of bouncers -- who needs every type on the market?

Anonymous's picture

Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter wrote:

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 14:28 Comment #: 5

Great tips. I love the swapping thing. This is new and I have known a few people who have really done well with it.

I really like those convertible cribs. To me they are the best bang for your buck. You don't have to buy a bed for a long time if you get one of those.

Christa Palm's picture

Christa Palm wrote:

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 18:28 Comment #: 6

Miss T, I'm excited about the swapping soon -- but I'll have to build up a little bit of a used-baby-items stash to participate. And convertible cribs -- genius!

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly. If you have a Gravatar account, used to display your avatar.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.