If you’re waiting to start a family until it’s the “right time” or until you’ve saved “enough money”, I worry you may never start one. Luckily, when you find out you’re expecting a baby, you have 7-8 months to figure it out. You will figure it out, trust me!
When I found out I was pregnant the first time, my husband and I were living in a semi-sketchy apartment with ancient appliances and a spider problem. The type of apartment where the line between cheap living room carpet and cheap imitation kitchen tile floor had nails sticking out that ripped holes in all your socks.
A few months before our daughter arrived, we bought a newer 3-bedroom home. We put very little down but knew a safe place to grow our family was our priority. The mortgage was affordable and although our home was small, it was a huge improvement over the apartment.
A higher housing payment and a future including more medical expenses and new daycare costs, threatened our financial situation.
I was creative with how we prepared for baby and it was wonderful not to have the financial pressure I thought we would. Believe it or not, babies don’t have to break the bank!
Here are the 5 ways I kept the baby budget to a minimum:
Also known as consignment or pre-loved. I personally prefer the term pre-loved.
There are hundreds and thousands of dollars to be saved in shopping local consignment shops or using your area’s Facebook buy/sell group pages.
Yesterday was my daughter’s 2nd birthday. She had on a beautiful gray dress with a coral/pink tutu and matching ballet flats. We got so many compliments on her outfit and I was proud that it only cost me a few dollars!
I can count the number of new clothing pieces I’ve bought for my daughter on one hand in the 2 years she’s graced our family with her presence. There are a few nice consignment shops in the area where onesies are 10 for $10, toddler shoes are $1.50, winter coats are $5, etc.
I spend $50-$60 in clothing every 6 months or so. That is generally enough for 8-10 bottoms, 10+ tops, and 5 new PJs. The consignment shops also have sales and clearance to move their inventory! In the last clearance event, I spent $45 for our son arriving in June. He now has enough clothing until 2020, and it’s precious.
Infant clothing is the least expensive, and often brand new. Babies grow so fast they likely won’t have time to wear all the clothes you’ve been gifted, handed down, and purchased for them.
Accessories and Big-Ticket Items
I’ve also purchased the following items at consignment shops or through our county’s buy/sell Facebook page and have been thrilled to pay pennies on the dollar for something in such good condition:
- Pack and Play
- Rock and Play
- Baby Swings
- Baby Carrier
- Diaper Genie
- Little Tikes playhouse most recently!
Need any more reason to purchase pre-loved? Well, here are a few!
- When you’re done using items, you can sell them back!! When we bring clothing in to the consignment shop to sell back to the store, we are likely to get 25-50% of what we originally paid. It feels like we simply rent adorable things for our daughter.
- Reduce Clutter
- I can’t stand clutter! Purchasing and re-selling consignment items allows us to keep only the items we truly need in our home.
- Less Stress
- When your kiddo ruins an outfit the first time they wear it, it’s okay! It cost $3.50 so you’re so much less financially invested. It will allow you to let kids be kids instead of worrying about the $30 dress you put on your little beauty and then she had a blowout or tried spaghetti for the first time.
I’m uniquely qualified to give my opinion on store-brand! I’ve worked for 3 companies that create store-brand products for Walmart. For example, the company that makes store-brand garbage bags, is probably the same company that makes either the #1 or #2 garbage bag brand. They manufacture it a little different, and the benefit to the branded company is that their machines get to run more efficiently and then the cost to make all bags goes down.
So, the same company that makes high quality branded products, probably also makes the store-brand items.
I used the following store-brand items for my daughter:
- GASP! I knew I should start with this one because it’s the most controversial. There are so many health and nutrition requirements surrounding baby formula, that you can rest assured that products sold in retail stores will be safe for your kiddo. There are even store brands to try for sensitive stomachs and allergies. This easily saved us $20 per container of formula, which added up to $60/month in savings. We switched from the top of the line formula to store-brand and had 0 issues.
- If there is a good sale on clothing, the discounts are usually the steepest on store brand clothing.
- There were very few things we weren’t open to buying store brand honestly!
For most items, the more you buy means the more you save!
We purchase the following items in bulk to save on overall cost:
- Diaper Genie Refills
- Toilet Paper
- Paper Towels
- Laundry Detergent
- Cat Litter
- Dishwasher Tablets
- Garbage Bags
I’m not one to shop around from store to store. I believe the time you spend searching for deals and driving to different locations isn’t typically worth the money you save on weekly items. However, I can save you some time and share where the best bulk deals I’ve found are:
- Sam’s Club
- Monthly, Sam’s Club has “Instant Savings” where you can get discounts off many bulk items to save even more. The discount minimum depends on department, but it starts around 10-20%. Now caution, I don’t go crazy here. I live in a small house! I buy 1 unit of each item typically (because 1 unit of toilet paper lasts us 2 months, 1 container of dishwasher tabs lasts 5 months, etc.). I know there will be another sale so there is no need to go overboard. Sam’s Club does have an annual membership, but we saved the membership cost the first month.
- This is almost always where I order my diapers. They ship the big boxes directly to your door, and they ship in 2 days with prime! It’s easy to keep an eye on the cost of diapers online, so I check weekly or so and order when the deal is hottest! I get the largest size which lasts a month. Prime also has a membership, but between what we purchase online that ships free, saves money, and the included tv and eBooks, we come out way ahead!
- Yup, I’m a Walmart fan. They have a variety of store brand products that are good deals. Also, I like the convenience of getting everything I want in one location. Time is so valuable when you have little ones that the less time spent driving around really adds value to my life. Also, they now have Online Grocery so most times I don’t even go into the store! That saves us so much money because my husband is such an impulse shopper if we’re actually in the store. We tried their delivery service once and were underwhelmed. It was pretty new though, so we’ll try it again after they get the bugs worked out.
If you buy a branded item for your baby (diapers, wipes, formula, even some toys), you can typically sign up for the company’s rewards program.
Pampers for example, has a code on nearly ever product they sell. You either enter the code on the app or website, and you get points. After you rack up some points, you can get coupons off diapers ($3, $5, $10), or toys and other rewards. I always go for the $ OFF coupons and have redeemed $73 since my daughter was born. At first, I was super aggressive making sure I entered in every code, but lately I’ve been so busy preparing for baby #2 that I’ve slacked some. I’ll start entering again when stocking up for our son.
I’ve also used rewards on shopping apps, my favorite is iBotta. Unfortunately, you can’t use iBotta with online grocery orders right now. When I go in store however, I just look at the app and it tells me if there are any money back offers where I am.
For example, there could be $0.25 back on any kind of milk, or $4.00 back on the formula I was going to buy anyway. My account right now tells me I’ve saved $207.90 since having our daughter. When you hit a $20 threshold you can cash out for a gift card to a whole list of places (including Walmart!). There are also little bonuses and promotions that can earn you even more.
If anyone offers you hand-me-downs, take them!
- Not the right size?
- Not the right style?
- Not the right gender?
See the consignment re-sale section above and sell anything you won’t be able to use to a local store or in your local buy-sell Facebook page. The person handed the items down out of love/kindness, and if you can turn them into cash and then purchase items you’ll use and cherish, they should be thrilled about how they’ve helped you!
I know it’s not technically “free”, but baby shower gifts are essentially no-cost to you! Be sure to register for things you truly need! Here is a post I put together on Baby Basics that should help you register for the necessities.
It’s tempting to put that $200 all the bells and whistles item on your baby registry, but if you’re truly trying to stay on budget, register for needs only. That will increase your chances of checking those items off your list first. Guests like to go in and purchase bigger items so it’s likely if you register for something large, that’s the one thing you’ll get.
We registered for a Dyson vacuum for our wedding! We hardly had any carpet but felt like we wanted to be fancy. Well… we got it. We still have the Dyson today, but I would have much rather had 5 other items on our list!
If you’ve made it to the end, you probably don’t have this concern, but I’d like to address it anyway.
Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for buying used, store-brand, or in-expensive baby items!
I can’t tell you how many times certain family members have given me a look when they say, “where did you get that adorable outfit!”, and I say the name of a consignment shop. Like, somehow that makes the outfit less adorable. In my opinion, that makes it even more beautiful! Maybe next time I’ll say, “some sustainable clothing store in town”. Technically, it’s more sustainable to purchase used.
Honestly, if someone feels they must buy everything expensive and brand-new, I feel for them. That’s going to put a tremendous amount of financial pressure on preparing for baby. Even if baby expenses were easy to afford, I still wouldn’t spend all that money. My daughter may be wearing $2 jeans, but her college fund is off to a great start! Which is truly better for her in the long run?
Congratulations on your bundle of joy Mama!
What tips do you have? Share them below to help out your tribe!