Given the fact that we, as new parents, think we need everything Babies R Us and Amazon has to offer, how can we possible save up enough to take a trip? It’s daunting to say the least. Here are some simple ways to get you started. It’s not rocket science. It’s common sense.
Baby Clothes and Baby Gear
Consignment Shops and Thrift Stores
In Seattle we are blessed with a plethora of wealthy people who spend a lot of money on clothes. Many of these clothes are worn once and then sent to the thrift store or consignment shop. Some of these cloths may never have been worn. Kids just grow too fast. They skip sizes. Or it is a gift that a parent receives and the parents either already have the item or it’s just not their style. Hooray for me! I have scored some amazing finds at 2nd hand shops. The trick is to know where to go. Ask your parent friends where they shop. Certain neighborhoods may have better clothes while another may have the best toys and baby gear. Yes, it’s a bit like a treasure hunt, but that is half the fun.
One tradition my sister and I have started is we only give our kids clothes for Christmas. They are still too young to really care if they get anything. We put a $25 cap on our spending. Each year I get a stack of clothing that Dek can grow into in the coming months. Dek is better dressed from thrift stores in Philadelphia than anything I could buy him new out here. Then again, my sister just knows where to go. If you don’t feel like you can hunt through racks of clothes and piles of toys, ask a savvy friend to come along. It really is more fun than you think. Once you start you will be addicted.
Hand Me Downs
You will never hear me say no to hand me downs. I am not too proud nor am I too picky to take clothes some other kid has worn. When they are toddlers you just need something your kid can run around in and get as dirty as possible. Since I didn’t spend a fortune on a top I don’t cringe when I see half a bowl of raspberries drip onto Dek’s shirt. With some good laundry detergent that shirt will be good as new tomorrow.
My sister and her friends started a Baby Gear exchange at their church. It’s gotten so popular that members of the community have joined in. Every few months, or as the seasons change, everyone brings their old kid clothes and baby gear they no longer have a use for. New moms or 2nd time moms grab what they need for the next few months. At the next session they will bring stuff back and do another exchange for new sizes and gear. It’s ingenious. My sister has loads of room in her house and has barely had to spend money on her daughter clothes. She doesn’t even worry about hanging onto things for a second baby because she knows she can just grab what she needs at the next baby exchange. Now that’s what I call a real money and space saver.
Why do we need a swing and bouncy chair? Oh and a portable swing and another bouncing chair that sings AC/DC in lullaby form? Why not borrow a chair and a swing from a friend? Dek hated his swing at first. When he finally liked it, he used it for 2 months before he tried to crawl out of it. I’m so happy I ended up borrowing a bouncy chair instead of buying one. As soon as Dek outgrew it I handed it right back to my friend. More space in my house and money saved.
When all else fails, ask your self one simple question- does my child REALLY need this? Is it more for you than the baby? If so, than put it down. Your kid doesn’t need a 6th pair of shoes. She is not auditioning for Toddlers and Tiaras. Your 3 month old will not know that he has 20 outfits in the closet just waiting to be used. Chances are he will outgrow them before you can put him in it anyway. Dek will not die if he doesn’t have every Cars die-cast figurine to zoom around the house with. Sure they are cute and keep him entertained for hours, but he will never know he is missing one.
Diapers, Food, Formula and Other Things
Alternate or Multiple Uses Per Item
Baby blankets have a million uses. They keep your baby warm, they mop up spit up and drool and they are great play mats. They also make wonderful nursing covers.
- Baby Blanket Nursing Cover- Simply tuck one corner of the blanket into the back of your jeans. Flip it over your shoulder, covering you and the baby up. Done. You can now nurse in public (or in front of your father-in-law) without fear of flashing the world.
Homemade Baby Food
This is more time consuming, but if you have a freezer and buy fresh or frozen fruits and veggies in bulk you can save a bundle. Check out your local library for tons of great recipe books for making foods your kids may (or may not) love.
There are always debates on whether you do end up saving more money and the environment with this route because you still have to use all that soap and water for washing. Having spent a load of cash on disposables I have to think you can save at least some money on cloth diapers. If you are loathed to deal with dirty diapers, ask your friends to pitch in for a years worth of diaper service for your baby shower gift instead of a stroller or other big-ticket item. Just watch how much you spend on those fancy cloth diaper covers.
Amazon.com Subscribe and Save Service
This service saved my sanity while I was working. Certain items on Amazon qualify. Our Earth’s Best Organic formula and all of our baby food were eligible. The deal is you sign up for regular shipments to be sent to your house. You get added savings because of this “subscription.” However, you can place one order and then cancel your subscription before the next one comes through. Your credit card is only charged when a shipment is sent. This saved us a lot of time and money because we always knew food was on the way. It was also one less thing I had to think about when I already had so much on my plate.
The Internet has become the saving grace of most mothers in my circle of friends. Who wants to wrestle a kid into a car seat and then drag them through the store to buy diapers, wipes, etc. I opted to have my diapers sent via Diapers.com just because they had next day delivery and were a bit cheaper (still are) than Amazon. I shopped around first though. I compared prices at Target, Amazon and a few other places. Target still has cheaper wipes, so it is on my list whenever I pop over, but for diapers, I just know where to go. This may seem extreme having to go to multiple stores just to save money, but in the end it is worth it. Buy in bulk and you have to do less shopping per month.
Shop the Sales
I am not a die-hard coupon-er. I just have not figured that part of the saving process out yet, but I do keep an eye on sales. If I have my heart set on something from Gap or Old Navy I just keep an eye on my email or search the net for coupon codes. I wait for clothes to go on sale at the end of a season and load up at my favorite stores. Living in Seattle it is pretty easy to grab long sleeves and jeans in any size and know they will eventually fit and be weather appropriate. Summer clothes are a little harder so I guess. Once Dek moved into toddler clothes it got a little easier since you are just working with 2T, 3T and 4T, instead of 0-3 months, etc. The clothes tend to last a little bit longer. I also load up on our favorite baby wash whenever it is on sale or I see a coupon.
There are just some things that I won’t buy store brand on. For some reason diapers is one of them. I have found a store brand sensitive wipe that works just as well and is half the cost of the name brand however. I’m always trying out alternatives to name brand products we buy. They aren’t always as good, but when I find a winner I make the switch. Even a dollar savings is one more dollar towards my next plane ticket.
written by Keryn Means