A baby is a beautiful thing. Women tend to love [most of] their pregnancy. The joy of having a life inside you is unmatched, as my wife has told me several times.
A new baby also brings added expenses, but you don’t have to go broke bringing a life into this world. There are many ways you can prepare ahead of time to save money for your baby before he or she gets here.
I had to solicit my wife to help with these tips. While I handle the family finances, she is the bargain hunter. She has an amazing ability to find things for cheaper than what seems possible.
These aren’t just basic tips. These are real tips that we’ve learned 13 years and five children later.
1. Prepare Frugally (ASAP):
This is the foundational step of saving money before your baby arrives.
If this is your first baby, you likely want to get the best of everything, and the highest of quality. If this is your second baby, you may have lowered your standards. And for babies 3+, you’re fully realistic on spending and saving money before your baby gets here.
We have five kids, and our baby budget gets lower and lower for each child. Of course, we had plenty of hand-me-downs after the first and second kid, but if you aren’t so lucky, you can still save big by preparing over the long term.
The sooner into your pregnancy you start planning, the more you can save. The last thing you want is to be at the mercy of other people and baby stores because you waited to buy the things you needed.
A Quick Note: If you’re reading this just days before baby arrives, don’t panic! There are plenty of things you can buy after your baby arrives. Don’t overpay out of fear or worry. For example, you don’t need a baby-changing station right away, if you need one at all. Your bed will work just fine for now.
The more time you give yourself to buy what you need, the less you’ll spend on all of it.
2. Think Multipurpose
The more you can buy now—that you can also use later—the better.
For example, buy maternity shirts that double as breastfeeding shirts. God willing, you will be able to save money by breastfeeding, but even in the event that you don’t produce enough milk, you merely bought the maternity clothing you already needed.
What about the crib? If someone donates a crib to you, by all means, take it. If you have to go buy your own though, look around for a baby convertible crib that can later be used as a toddler bed, and often a full-size child’s bed.
Any time you make a purchase, think of how you could turn that purchase into something you’ll use later.
3. Shop Smart With Diapers
You want to be fully prepared, and that means you’ll need plenty of diapers. Before you go out and stock your closet with “newborn” or size 1, consider that your child may never be small enough to fit into “newborn,” and they may not be in size 1 for long.
Shop for multiple sizes. It’s better to buy the size you need, down the road, than to have four boxes left of size your baby doesn’t fit anymore.
Don’t be afraid to exchange the diapers you got at your baby shower for larger sizes if your baby is growing faster than expected… like all babies seem to do.
To go a step further, consider cloth diapers. Especially if you plan to have more kids.
4. Ask Your Friends
You may have plenty of friends who already gave birth. They may even have multiple children. They can be your best source for tips on what to buy and what not to buy.
If you find that several friends agreed on something being useless, don’t buy it. It’s also likely that your friends agree on some less common things you need that you may have never considered.
5. Shop Carefully:
Don’t go overboard on the baby clothes. This is something you’ll hear from plenty of parents for a good reason.
It’s human nature for moms and dads to want the best, and enough, clothes for babies. I promise: you’ll have enough. None of our friends has ever complained about not having enough outfits after their baby arrived. Plenty has had more clothes than they knew what to do with.
It’s great to save bigger sizes of clothes, labelled, in boxes or plastic tubs. That doesn’t mean you need Babies“R” Us in your kid’s closet, but if you save enough clothing at each size, you’ll be prepared and spend much less.
Wait until after all the showers and parties before you buy too much; you may end up not needing anything. You’ll be able to save money over the life of your child by simple and careful shopping. It’s the impulse buys and lazy shopping that hurts us as parents.
Lastly, it’s a common tip for a reason: buy unisex clothing as much as possible.
6. Skip The Extras
All of the great marketing ploys companies have created for new moms can be overwhelming. You don’t need all of those baby-specific items. You probably don’t need most of them.
Do you need a wipe warmer? Or a bottle warmer? What about a crib sheet set, complete with pillows (a SIDS scare)? Or even newborn baby shoes?
These are all things you should consider when the need arises, not before. There’s a good chance you won’t need any of the extra bells and whistles. If you decide you do, later on, you can always go purchase them.
Out of all the tips to save money, skipping the extras is one of the most crucial, and it will keep the clutter away.
7. Figure Out What You Don’t Need
Do you have any friends who are just finishing up the stage of life you’re about to go through? There’s no reason to let them haul off all their old baby stuff to Goodwill when they could just as easily bring it over to your house.
It’s better to get more than you need when it’s free and make your own donations later than to buy the exact same thing your friend is trying to get rid of.
You can do your own thrift-store shopping for plenty of the baby stuff you need, but why not ask your friends first? They bought a lot of brand new stuff that you could gladly be only the second owner of.
8. Get All The Free Samples
This may sound like a penny-pincher, dumpster-diving tip to save money, but hang on a second. It has multiple purposes:
1. Free samples are exactly that: free. The more samples you can get, the longer you can wait to actually buy those things.
2. More importantly, when you get free samples, you can actually try a bunch of products before buying. This will let you know what you like, and help you skip buying a bunch of stuff that will go in the trash later.
You’ll find free samples at the hospital, pediatrician’s office, health clinic, and any other outlet for helping mothers. Don’t be ashamed. As a savvy shopper, you should go get those free samples boldly.
9. Don’t Go Overboard On Toys
Kids are new to this world. They’re amazed by life. It’s beautiful and adorable.
That being said, they will have just as much fun playing with a few toys and everyday items, like cookware, spoons, plastic dishes… pretty much everything within their reach.
Toys seem to be the biggest thing that we spend too much money on, only to donate shortly after. They don’t need a lot of toys. From babies to older children, studies have shown that fewer toys lead to a happier life.
10. Use What You Already Have
Do you really need a new diaper bag, or do you have 10 bags in your garage that would equally work? Let’s talk about a baby-changing station again. Is it necessary? Or does the top of your dresser or bed work just fine? You’ll probably use your bed or dresser more often anyways.
We all have the desire to go out and buy the best of everything when the baby is on the way, but take a step back and really ask yourself if you need each item.
Your first instinct should be to use what you already have. If you don’t have it, and you don’t know anyone who has it (and you actually need it), go buy it.