I’ve become a baby-prepper, that’s probably the best way to put it. With 4 months to go until Baby arrives, I found myself tossing at night and laying awake, mentally shopping, organizing, washing, folding and packing baby things. While I know four months is plenty of time to gather everything I needed, apparently my brain never got that memo. In my defense, I don’t know what the next four months will bring since we are hoping to move, and the last thing I wanted was to be trying to last-minute shop for baby while I’m unpacking at 9 months pregnant.
I can now say that I am ready for baby, with no shopping left to do! Everything is stacked and organized in labeled filing boxes in my office, along with a few bags and a hamper full of sheets and bedding. In completing all my shopping, I was able to save a ton of money — for just the one trip I made this week, I saved $1,150.57! That isn’t counting the generosity of my amazing sister who has contributed a ton. I figured that having a baby and saving money could be laughable odds, so I wanted to share the things I did to reduce our costs.
1) Put aside money, gift cards, etc., in advance
Obviously, there is no reason to rush out and go buy everything on your list the minute your pregnancy test comes back positive. Really, I could have waited longer too, especially if I was going to have a baby shower. Since I knew there would be items I would want that others might not get me, etc., I decided to set some money aside when I could to help with the costs. I was lucky my pregnancy coincided with the holiday season, and I received a few gift cards and money from relatives and coworkers. Instead of spending them on myself or buying new things for the house, I set them aside until the day I decided to go shopping. This will help you avoid spending a huge chunk of money all at once . . . because let’s face it, none of us have stacks of cash lying around!
2) Don’t buy all at once – buy a little at a time
I used this method when preparing for our wedding in 2013. We had gotten engaged the fall before, and settled on a date by winter of 2012. Starting in January, I would buy things when I had a little extra money which made the entire planning experience SO much easier on both of us. I knew without a doubt I would do the same thing for Baby! I started collecting items for my birth kit when I had time or saw good sales, and over the past month have started doing the same for our baby list. It’s much easier to afford $20 here or $10 there than hundreds all at once.
I think we all grew up getting hand-me-downs, even I did and I was the oldest child. I don’t see anything shameful, dirty or embarrassing about accepting someone else’s clothing, toys, etc, and I am the first person to check out second-hand items! If your friends or family are no longer using something and want to see it used, why not!
As I said above, my sister passed on so many baby items and clothes on to us that it immediately eliminated the need for a shower. While it came about under sorrowful circumstances, I appreciate her sharing her son’s things with us, and find it a great way to remember my beautiful nephew.
4) Thrift Stores
Again, nothing wrong with second-hand items! Most thrift store are pretty selective about the items they will take in and won’t sell items that are stained up or damaged. I went shopping at a local children’s clothing store with my sister as I needed newborn and 3-6mo clothes to finish off my shopping. Holy cow! Not only were their regular prices less than half of the clearance price at a regular retailer, but they were also having a sale! I paid as little as $0.33 for some outifts!
We picked up 26 adorable onesies, sleeping gowns and outfits for just $35.00; and since I had some left over gift money, I only paid $19 from my own pocket! Most were gently used outfits, if they had been worn at all – some of the outfits we picked up had the original store tags on them!
Many times mothers-to-be get duplicate gifts at baby showers or as gifts, and either can’t return them or (let’s face the truth) don’t have the time come Baby and will drop them at thrift stores or donation centers.
Thrift stores can serve you well as your children grow, too. Many will give you cash or store credit for bringing in your own gently used items (pre-laundered, please) that your child has outgrown, giving you money to buy new clothing or toys.
5) Comparison Shopping
You may think you have no time to comparison shop, but the internet is a wonderful thing. I found time to check competitor’s ads and online listings while watching a movie, making calls, etc., and I’m glad I did. I found that some items were much cheaper to buy in sets, at a thrift store, or were on sale at one location. I’m also lucky that the (3) baby stores I shopped at were also on the same road, not more than 1-mile maximum from each other, which may not be the case for you. However, there are still options that can make competitive shopping work for you! If you find a cheaper price at a competitor’s store, ask your retailer if they will match the price. Some retailers also offer free-shipping specials which can afford you the chance to order cheaper items online. And don’t ever under-estimate coupons! If you get a good coupon, make sure you use it before it expires, or ask a competitor if they accept other retailer coupons.
6) Clearance racks
This may seem obvious, but I think a lot of people forget all about clearance once they walk through those doors into baby-world. I try to make it a point to hit the clearance sections first, and get any items on my list that I can. This way I don’t get distracted by all the adorable onesies or caught up debating which bottle has the better pro-breastfeeding nipple. Don’t forget to ask store management if they will discount display items, or products that are in damaged packaging, etc. Most times no one else will buy those items, so you may be able to score a deal there!
(Just a side note – most retailers will not sell display models of strollers, car seats or baby furniture due to liability issues should there be a defect or the equipment is damaged. But this can be a good tip for other shopping where there isn’t such a danger — like that brand new desk or couch you’ve been thinking about!)
7) DIY! (My personal favorite!)
Why buy something when you can make it yourself? I know everyone’s skill level is different, but what better way to improve those skills and broaden your crafting-horizon than to challenge yourself with new projects. A year ago I would never think I could make diaper covers and now I could make one in my sleep!
There is no reason to spend money on expensive items like diaper covers, baby accessories (hair bands, bows, bow-ties, suspenders, hats, etc.) , or receiving blankets when you can easily make them, and customize them the way you want. I saved at least $50 by not purchasing a Moses basket that came with a mattress pad and bedding. Sure the pre-made sets are adorable, but I found a lot had ruffles or bows that I didn’t like, and spending $60 – $100 was absurd! A few yards of fabric and an afternoon sewing are much better spent to make your own than wasting money on something like that; and with so many fabric options out there, you can choose colors and textures you like, as well as plan to have them match your nursery’s color scheme.
I found several flannel fabrics on clearance one week, with just over a yard left of each and snatched them all up. I got 2-3 receiving blankets out of each fabric that are just adorable, and ended up with about 8-10 blankets for just $6.00. Don’t forget receiving blankets make wonderful doll blankets when your child out grows them. My sister and I played with our old blankets and dresses for years!
8) Be clever
My last tip – just because it is for baby, doesn’t mean it HAS to come from a baby store. Think out side the box, especially when it comes to the basics like soaps, lotions, baby powder, etc. A lot of money can be saved by purchasing those at your local pharmacy, grocery retailer or even the dollar store. I picked up q-tips, baby powder, hydrogen peroxide and all those toiletry basics at a local dollar store, whereas purchasing them from a baby store would have cost 5x as much!
Having a baby doesn’t always mean breaking the bank! Finding creative ways to save yourself money while you prep for Baby’s arrival will make the shopping all the more pleasant; after all, you should be relaxed and enjoying your pregnancy. And me? Well, I’m sleeping just fine at night these days! =)