I gave birth to my first child – a little boy named Henry – in June. He is happy, sweet, and fun; the love of my life. But between the baby giggles and snuggles, I expected him to be a huge drain on our finances. In many ways, Henry is cheaper than I thought he’d be… and in other ways, having a baby is much, much more costly than I imagined.
Here’s a breakdown on how we save money on all things baby-related, and the one huge mistake I made that ended up costing us thousands.
Buy Secondhand: It’s very tempting to rush to the big box retailer or baby specialty store and plunk down the plastic for brand-new baby toys and gear. I’ve saved hundreds by consigning and thrift shopping. In addition to brick-and-mortar stores, many cities host a variety of seasonal kids’ consignment sales. These sales often take place in convention halls or churches and last anywhere from a day to a week. At these large sales, I’ve scored deals like a $50 pack and play; a $7 baby gym; and a $14 baby carrier, as well as tons of $2 baby clothes. To find a consignment sale near you, check out this website.
Buy Neutral: When you do buy new items (car seats, for example, should always be purchased new), buy neutral. While it can be tempting to buy pink items for your baby girl or blue for your little boy, you may have another child… and they may be the opposite sex. Unless you’re okay with pushing your second one in an opposite-sex stroller, buy something less distinctive so you’ll get a second use out of it.
Borrow From Friends: Babies grow quickly, and that means that they outgrow their gear fast, too. Pricey items like baby swings are only used for a few months – if you’re lucky! Instead of purchasing a bassinet, for example, we borrowed one from a friend. Henry outgrew it in about six weeks. If you can’t borrow from friends, consider the website Freecycle.
Order Online: Although cloth diapering is cheaper in the long run, it’s not for everyone. Ordering diapers and wipes off a major website like Amazon is usually cheaper than buying in-store, and it’s also much more convenient. The Amazon Moms program gets you 20% off diapers and wipes as well as other deals and discounts and free two-day shipping. I always check Baby Cheapskate to find this week’s best online diaper, wipe, and formula deals.
Keep It Simple: Don’t go overboard on toys, especially for young babies. The truth is that they don’t need a lot, and you are their best toy. Your voice, your hands, your funny face — all free and capable of providing hours of entertainment! Similarly, don’t buy too many outfits just because they are cute. You’ll be doing a lot of laundry when baby is little, and ten onesies and a few pairs of pants is more than enough to get baby from one wash to the next.
Be Breastfeeding Savvy: Of course, breastfeeding is cheaper than formual feeding over the long haul. But there are ‘hidden’ costs associated with breastfeeding, too. Pumps, lactation consultation appointments, and special clothing can really add up. Breastfeeding seemed to be going well, so 10 days after Henry was born, I went to the store and dropped about $200 on breastfeeding bras and clothes. A few weeks later, I had switching to exclusively pumping (here’s why). Borrow nursing tops from friends before committing to your own closet overhaul.
Be Smart About Your Health Care Costs: Take a good, long, and hard look at your health insurance and see how you can tweak your monthly payments to reduce your deductible. If I had done this — and paid more money on a month-to-month basis — we could’ve reduced our deductible by $5,000. Trust me — you’ll meet your deductible with a hospital birth, no matter how high it seems! If you don’t have insurance, be sure to ask nurses how much everything costs before accepting — my friends saved a couple hundred dollars by bringing their own ibuprofen to the hospital instead of taking the hospital pain relievers. No kidding!
How did you save on baby? What was your biggest money blunder?