So you’re expecting? Congratulations! A new baby is an exciting event in one’s life (how’s that for understatement of the year!). In preparing for the little one’s arrival you’ll start to think of all of the things you are going to need for the baby as well as the costs! But it doesn’t have to always be expensive.
Here are 9 ways to save on baby costs:
1) Shop at wholesale stores
Places like BJ’s, Costco, and Sam’s Club will be your friend when it comes to shopping for your baby. We love the big boxes of diapers and wipes that we get at BJ’s. They also have great deals on car seats and strollers from time to time. Do your homework on what you expect prices to be of course, but we find that things like diapers are always worth getting at a wholesale store.
2) Reach out to friends, family, and co-workers
If you know anyone else who had a baby before you then talk to them about what they have. Not only can they give you some practical advice on what they bought but odds are they have a ton of stuff that’s relatively new that they would be happy to give you! Baby stuff takes up space and parents love to clear out the clutter. We’ve gotten tons of clothes (it’s great when you can be clothing kids close to free), toys, bassinet, high chair, swing, and much more from friends and family. Sometimes it was to keep while others said just give it back when we’re done. Understand that many items will be used for a baby for a few weeks or months and will still be like new! Heck, there was a time when we had to rush to put our little guy in clothes before he outgrew them. Seriously, reach out to friends, family, and co-workers!
3) Check Craigslist and local Mommy forums for toys and furniture
Remember my point above about parents wanting to get rid of clutter? Same idea here. A parent buys X for their baby, uses it for a couple of months, and now it sits in the garage practically new. We picked up a huge toy chest for $25 that originally cost about $75. It looked like new and the Mom was more than happy to have us take it off her hands. Bargains like that are all over the place! You want to be careful with something like a crib or anything that the baby would be supported in to make sure it’s fully intact and has all the parts. Safety first! Bargains second! (Car seats may not be a good idea to get used as they wear out over time).
This one is a personal choice for sure. But by breastfeeding you don’t have to buy formula! Plus it’s natural and better for your baby. But what about a pump? First, you may not need one, it depends on your situation. Second, you could rent them out if needed or possibly you may have a friend that doesn’t need theirs anymore. My wife bought her pump when her daughter was born. It was well worth the money as it was used for our son and will be used for the little one on the way.
5) Set Up a Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account
If your employer has this option you can set up flexible spending money to be taken out of your paycheck pre-tax for child care expenses. If you already have a plan but re having an additional child you can make flexible spending account changes to account for costs on the additional child. You then apply with a receipt to get the money back. The benefit here is this money isn’t taxed! The limit is $5000/year when I last checked. That’s a lot to not be taxed.
6) Set up Health Care Flexible Spending Account
Same idea as dependent care but this can be used for things such as prescription medication and doctor’s visit co-pays. Check with your employer for the contribution limit.
7) Set up a 529 plan for the little one
A 529 plan doesn’t only save for college in the future. Many states offer tax benefits now for money you contribute to a 529 plan.
8 ) Sign up for a baby registry
I’ve heard parents-to-be say that they don’t want a baby shower; that they don’t like the idea of a registry. But the truth is this is one even in your life that people genuinely want to help you start off on the right foot and want to contribute to your child’s well-being! You don’t know who may be planning a surprise shower for you or who wants to send you a gift. One thing they’ll ask about is a registry to get you something you need. You don’t have to get a baby registry. But it could also leave with a TON of onesies, bibs, and clothes as gifts rather than items you really need (nothing wrong with onesies, bibs, and clothes, but there comes a point where it too much). Maybe your aunts and uncles will chip in to get you a crib? Perhaps your college roommates will get together to buy you a car seat? You don’t know! Give them the option. Also, most places that have a registry make it very easy to return gifts. You’re going to find that you have extras you don’t need or items you thought you needed but don’t use. We had a registry and were still fortunate to get two car seats! We returned many a bib that we never used too.
9) Check product forums and sites like Amazon for reviews
If I’m making a big purchase I scour the web for product reviews! I want to know what everyone is saying. I’ll try to get as much information as I can. I want to know the pros and cons of an item from people who are not salespeople in the store. There are a ton of choices out there for expecting parents and it can be a daunting task trying to figure out what is best. Do your research! You may find that for some items spending a little more will save you in the long run. I’m thinking about products like strollers which take a lot of abuse. Amazon Bonus: They now have a program called Amazon Mom that offers discounts and free Amazon Prime for a time.
Great list. Baby showers are awesome if you have a great support system in family and friends. Don’t forget garage sales, too. My wife has picked up great clothes for a cheap price. We aren’t really garage sale people, but I would say that we have found tons of clothes at them with the tags still one. Most new parents are inundated with so many baby clothes that their child outgrows them before they get a chance to wear them.
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@ Jeff – Garage sales are great for baby items! And you are exactly right on clothes. We had times where if we didn’t put the little guy in an outfit one week he would have outgrown it the next. We gave a friend a huge bag full of clothes that was barely used in a lot of cases.
@ Miranda – Consignment shop sounds like a great idea too! Thanks.
Good Will, Salvation Army, garage sales… all great ideas!
Great list! We also set up an account at a consignment shop. Some of those first items don’t get used very much, and you can turn them in for store credit for your next stage items — or even for cash.
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These are great tips. Take every break you can, I say! Kids are soooo expensive. I can’t believe what people dish out for daycare every week.
Lots of people forget especially forget there 529s.
Also, something my co-workers do is regularly swap clothing and toys. It seems they all have kids of different ages and sizes. The kids grow so fast what they trade/give each other is often like new.
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@ Greener Pastures – I think a lot of people get caught up in having to get new. But it’s not necessary most of the time. Daycare is definitely a drain! At least we got a little back on our taxes for it. I like what your co-workers do. Very smart to swap around and I bet it saves you guys a ton of money!
This is a great list! For those who don’t live near a wholesale store, I’d recommend using the internet to hunt down the best diaper coupons and deals. I’d also check out freecycle.org – you can find some great baby gear for free!
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@ Christina – I’ve heard good things about Freecycle. I have to check them out!
Great practical easy to follow tips! Parents need all the help they can get, even more so when rearing a baby. Babies take so much effort to raise because you can’t leave them alone even for a second! I think breastfeeding is a must but only if the mother takes good care of herself.
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@ Shannon – Parents certainly can use all the help they can get. Know what’s interesting? To drive you have to take a test and get a license. Same for getting a gun. Having a baby? No real prep. Not that I’m saying there should be anything mandatory just that there’s no one set of rules in raising a child.
FFB, great post! we will probably be needing this in the next couple years – thanks! TIpd!
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@ Bob – Next couple of years? Well hopefully you remember to come back!
Thanks for the tips! I have my first child on the way for October and can use all the frugal ideas I can find!
@ Tom – Congrats! Let us know if you come up with any more ideas!
@ Cathy – I’ll have to check out the Baby Bargains book. I’ve heard about it elsewhere. And Breast feeding isn’t an absolute like you say but it can have some frugal benefits.
@ Kyle – I could say not having kids is cheating here but you are correct. If you can wait until your financial house is in order then things can be less stressful. Of course you’re never fully ready to have kids! 😉
Great list! I highly recommend the Baby Bargains book for overwhelmed first-time parents trying to figure what’s worth buying.
Friends who have kids are FABULOUS – they’ll pass along clothes and loan equipment out. I think my friend was actually sad when we returned their baby swing because they had to find a spot for it til their next baby arrives.
Flexible spending accounts are equally wonderful and will save a boatload on taxes.
I would add that you can’t count on breastfeeding to be cheaper – I spent almost as much on my first as I would have if he’d only been formula fed (and blogged about it, because it’s not the norm but it does happen). If you’re lucky enough that it’s easy, you’ll save a lot, but if you’re like me, all the consultations, equipment and supplements can cost a ton.
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All good stuff. My most important tip is to wait until you’re reasonably financially stable *before* having a kid.
They’re extremely time-consuming little creatures, and it’s tough to work on both your career and raising a child at the same time.
Obviously, that can be tough advice to follow, but it makes a world of difference if one parent can afford to stay home.
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Another way to save is to make your own outfits and blankets for your child. The only problem is fabric stores are few and far between these days. I try to make a quilt for the new babies in the family. Up until about a year ago, you could find fabric stores and pretty much what you needed to do this. Now its a chore. But if it is possible to find the material and patterns, it is cheeper than store bought most of the time. At least, that has been my experience.
@ Tracie – That’s an awesome idea! I think it’s also something of a lost art these days. I don’t think my wife is up to that task ( I know I can’t do it). But I will say that we got a handmade quilt as a gift when my son is born and it’s beautiful. It’s much nicer than what we’d see at the store.
It’s hard to do with a first baby, but I highly recommend buying used whenever possible. Babies grow so fast. Many of the items I bought when my twins were little barely even got used.
@ Lisa – It’s amazing isn’t it? They grow right in front of your eyes early on.
@ TStrump – You do what you have to do. A baby changes your life and your spending changes too. Imagine, the nights out for a few drinks at the bar become obsolete with a new baby. That going out money becomes baby money. Yes, it’s expensive. But your life changes in ways that the expense isn’t always that much greater (sometimes it is though). The real bottom line is you can’t put a price on children. They are so rewarding in oh so many ways!
Babies are so expensive.
I don’t know how people do it.
I know my brother saved a ton by getting hand-me-downs from all his friends.
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Very good tips,
agree with you
and breastfeed, that’s very important, and you can save a lot of money
How about cloth diapers? That has saved us a TON of money. I can’t believe people have to spend SO much money on diapers EVERY week…
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@ MITBeta – Cloth diapers is a good one! I need to look into those. Guess we’ve been afraid of the poop!
Some top tips here, in light of the ‘credit crunch’ it’s so important to save money where and when you can. Used toys and clothes you have to be careful with, but there can be some great stuff around – if you’re not happy with doing that, my family always survived on hand-me-downs through the siblings!
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Hand-me-downs are great! You do have to be careful with used items but many times you can get them from friends and family in almost new condition.
Raise a nudist. OK, maybe not quite. But people do buy way, way, way too many clothes for a baby who grows from one size to the next in a matter of weeks.
Haha! But it’s true, babies grow quick and loading up on any particular size of clothes is a waste. Make sure you keep the tags and receipts for larger sizes the baby hasn’t worn in case you don’t need them (like if you have a lot of that size or the baby grows out of the size quickly).
I think one of the most important things that is not discussed, is to make sure you are financially ready to have a child. Yes, all of the things you stated above are great ways to save money, but they best thing to do is plan plan plan, and have a child when you are financially ready not just emotionally ready.
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I have found tons of great baby items including a great bassinet on ebay for half the cost! Craiglist is also another good option, but do some searches and you will be supprised on what you can find on ebay.
Follow babycheapskate.com for their weekly round up of the cheapest formula and diaper deals. Occasionally there are coupon and store deals that make diapers close to free and they are the place to find them!
Thanks for the tip!
Great tips. Maybe before doing all this things, you should consider first if you are emotionally and financially ready to have a child. The idea may overwhelmed us and forget the remaining responsibility that we should take in mind.
Thanks for sharing and keep up the good work!
What a great list! Personally, I save a lot of money from breastfeeding, and I think it’s natural and the best to my baby, but we do burn cash on diapers!lol
We go through diapers like water!
We just used a blender and an ice cube tray. Cost: $0.50 if you already have a blender. Bonus: The parents can make a frozen cocktails as well…
I would add that you should be realistic with your purchases. For instances, can you make your own mobile instead of buying one? For the price of some string and sparkly objects, you sure can! As for toys, how many does your child really need? It’s probably less than you might think, since little ones are infinitely creative.
Also, beware of baby marketing. Advertisers are always trying to convince you that you need something that doesn’t really add value to your life. Why get a Diaper Genie when you can just change the garbage when it starts to smell? Why bother with a wipe warmer when the wipes are already at room temperature?
My wife and I started using cloth diapers (via the Flip system) for our second child. While it is certainly a lot more work, it saves us, on average, around $40 every two weeks. Although it is probably true that our energy and water consumption has increased it ‘feels’ like we save a ton of money.
Great list! You don’t realise how much you spend on things for your baby until you have one.
I’d like to suggest another money-saving tip as well – here in the UK we have things called Toy Libraries, which are just what they sound like; borrow a toy (or toys) for your child, then exchange it for something else when the child (inevitably) gets bored of it.
All the toys are thoroughly cleaned between borrowers and are checked for safety. It’s a great way to save money buying endless toys that your child will quickly grow out of, and it also saves your home being full of clutter!
That sounds like a great program Louise!
Yes, it is sound advice to wait unit you are financially set. However do not wait so long that you need in vitro to concieve. That can cost thousands of dollars and you may end up with septuplets to support.