Having a baby in your world is life-changing. For some of us, it’s the most important event of our lives, it’s the very existence we have and are… and logically there should be nothing we would spare to make our baby/ babies thrive and make happy. We would bring the sun and moon for them!
But is it always good to give everything? If money is the question – shouldn’t we save some for later as well? If money is not an issue – is it correct to have and give everything the eye sees and the mind desires?
Everyone should have ways to economize, it’s good for our wallets and it’s good for the Earth we hope to give to our children (please no Whitney Houston song here, if it gets stuck in your head, I cannot be held responsible… enough that after typing this, it’s already whizzing through MY head). There are many ways to save money when you have a baby, some are surprisingly easy and simple! The following list is by no means complete and I will return to some points later again, otherwise this post would go forever, saving you no time;)
1) Buy less
This seems like DUH!, but tell me honestly, aren’t you sometimes really, really tempted to buy that cute dress or that toy on sale even though we have a similar one already?
There are many things we are led to believe we will seriously need by toy makers and big baby stores. Sometimes you just need one of each (hey, that’s not the same as one of everything ;).
Here you have to think about your own setting and situations you will likely find yourself with a baby in. For example if you travel a lot, you might consider buying a travel basinet, but don’t buy a travel bed. They are bulky even when folded and who wants to pay extra luggage fees? You could use a folding bed in your parents’ house, if you plan to visit a lot – it will be out of the way when you’re not there.
Another example are books. I fully support little readers and personally think that teaching your child to love books is one of the greatest gifts you can give them, BUT… does your kid need 15 different lift-the-flap books? Or 5 bathtub books? Or “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” in 3 sizes board book, 2 paper AND a bathtub version? See where I’m going? Some books will be useful only for a short time (i.e. black & white infant books), why don’t you spend your money on children’s classics you will read before bedtime? And make a good use of that library card!
An easy way to save on baby clothes: don’t create a little fashionista! Don’t pretend like your 8 months old won’t wear anything yellow or grey, your child will wear what you put them in… (hello, celebrity moms!). Your child doesn’t need a new dress every Sunday either.
2) Be old-fashioned
Every generation of children has more and more toys, books and hi-tech gadgets. Sometimes it’s worth asking your parents or grandparents what they owned and how they played. Or you can just walk down the memory lane and remind yourself that you were happy with much less as well!
Buy things that are lasting and will become a heirloom, get multitasking toys and learn activities that encourage open-ended play. Teach your children how not to be bored. And get out often!
3) Buy on sale
There are days on American calendar that are supposed to celebrate important events, but lately became an epitome of shopping sprees. While I don’t support shopping till you drop in lieu of giving an appropriate respect (i.e. recent Veterans Day), but at the same time I believe that if you can buy something 50% off after New Year, why would you buy it full price.
There are lots of websites that offer discounted baby and children stuff all year round: zulily.com, babysteals.com, kidsteals.com, babyhalfoff.com just to name a few.
4) Use memberships and monthly delivery services
Many websites with baby products have member-only services to (lure you in) and to save money. It’s worth discovering sites like Amazon.com (their Amazon Mom program offers 20% diaper subscription and free 2-day shipping, plus other perks like 15% off baby registry items), Diapers.com (subscribe & save programs and frequent sales), Honest.com (the Bundles, like Diapers & Wipes Bundle, save you a lot every month plus the products are absolutely safe and Earth-friendly).
Our whole species survived because mothers did what was natural – breastfeeding. I will never blame a mother who didn’t breastfeed because of a medical issue, but that’s for a different post. Here I am writing about saving money and boy, breastfeeding is actually the most natural way to save while doing the most natural thing for your baby! Have you ever looked at baby food prices? Yes, your baby will become a toddler in a few months and before you know it he or she will be eaten by an omnivorous beast pretending to be that same baby and set on to break your bank in the grocery department. But before all that, you can save a few hundred by not using formula.
6) Reuse and recycle
Some ways to reuse are: using cloth diapers or going completely diaper-free (aka Elimination Communication), using washable breast pads and cloth wipes.
Scour garage sales, bookmark Craiglist on your computer, ask friends with bigger kids if they’re downsizing. Thrift stores have sometimes amazing things and once you’re done with them, you can donate or resell them again. Keep the cycle going. Halloween was a great example in the days just passed by – parents spend high sums for readymade costumes while one trip to a thrift shop could have yielded similar results (no offense, but some ready-made costumes looked like they came out of trash bin already…).
Make your own toys and activities. Make them with kids! Pinterest is an amazing resource; you had no idea what all you can make out of cardboard boxes, fabric scraps or empty water bottles (well, buying bottled water won’t exactly save you money either, get a water filter;). Have you heard of the saying that if you want your child to play, give them the box their toy came in?
7) Support local and handmade
Handmade doesn’t always come cheap, but with a few key items you are getting furniture/ toys/ decor that will last longer then flimsy cheaply made pieces. You’re exchanging quantity for quality and you might be able to resell your pieces well. Or keep reusing with more children. Some one-of-a-kind items can be also of collectors’ interest.
Create a relationship with a local farmer – we keep going to the same stand at a farmers market and the lad selling there already knows us. After exchanging family stories from the past week, we hand him $15 and a bag and he fills it with whatever is in season. We used to pay at least twice that much at the beginning… Making the “I know a guy” work for you!
8) Get one – give one
Babies grow and develop so fast, it’s inevitable that your closet will be soon full, storage boxes overflowing and cleaning after playtime will take longer. You need to clear some space! Get one – give one is just what it says, for every new thing get rid of an old one. Donate or sell old clothes and toys (or keep them nicely organized and stored for your next child). Get rid of broken toys, destroyed clothing and items your child is not using. Donate to a family in need.
9) Take a clue from other countries
In many countries people live with much less. Yet their children are happy, they still become scientists and lawyers and teachers and they find love and have families. Material stuff doesn’t make them happier or more content. Some of the local traditions and habits actually do. Bed sharing, room sharing and eating from one plate are to name just a few.
10) Give what’s always for free
Your baby needs you, your time, your love and affection, your loving touch, your voice, your guidance. All these are already free!
Some of the categories definitely blend together and have some points in common. They all could be a version of “Buy Less”! And while trying to live with less, make sure that your family and good friends are on the same boat with you – who wants to fight over presents on a baby’s birthday?
What are your tips for saving some dough with baby?