Monday, April 4, 2016

How to Save Money when Preparing for a New Baby

Everyone loves getting a good deal, but my mother raised us to take this mindset to the extreme. There are people who rarely buy anything for regular price, but in my family, we rarely even buy anything new. As you know, putting the word "wedding" or "baby" in front of anything automatically triples the price, but there are plenty of ways to get everything that you need for your baby without breaking the bank. Here are some tips to help you get started!

1. Make your list EARLY!
Start a registry (unpublished) or comprehensive list of everything that you will need or want for your baby as soon as you find out that you are pregnant. It will take a while to comprise the list because let's face it- new moms really have no idea what they are going to need for a baby. But go ahead, start researching, look at suggested lists online, and make one that you can add to and edit as you go along. As you find and buy things on your list, take them off so that the only things that remain on your registry are the ones that you still need. Also, know how much everything on your list costs, because you only know if a deal is good if you know the retail price of each item. This is another good reason to have an actual registry- you can just check the price on your phone wherever you are and compare it.

2. Begin your Search
Now that you have your list, you know what you are looking for and you know what it would normally cost! The next step is to begin the search for all of the things on your list. Here are my favorite places to find things:
        1. Borrow from other people- Why pay anything if you can get it for free?! See if you have any friends or relatives that have baby items sitting in their attics that they are either not going to use again or will let you borrow. This is a great place to get some of your big items such as cribs, bouncers, swings, high chairs, etc. It is great if you can borrow these items because babies don't use them for long and then you give it back and don't have to find a place to keep it! This is also a good place to get some items that you don't want to buy used, like your crib mattress or breast pump...
        2. Garage Sales- This has been where I have found the most items and for the best prices. Garage sales are the best for 3 reasons- 1) They just want to get rid of the stuff so it is priced to go, 2) You can negotiate on the already rock bottom prices, and 3) You get things that people actually used and can ask them how they liked it, etc. The best items to get at garage sales are clothes- they are almost always in excellent shape because babies grow out of them so fast and you can usually get them for around $0.50 a piece. Don't even step into a Carter's for clothes! Even the clearance rack adds up fast. The down side to garage sales is that while sometimes you strike the jackpot, other times you strike out. The key to success in garage sales is to do it consistently over a long period of time. It is not the same as shopping in a store, because you never know what you will find or when you will find it, but if you keep at it, you will be amazed at how many items on your list you will be able to accumulate over the course of your pregnancy.
        3. Goodwill- Goodwill is great for bigger items such as furniture, strollers, etc. However, baby clothes is not a good item to purchase here. At $2 a piece, you can do much better at garage sales. Once again, the key is to drop in the store on a regular basis to see what they have. When they get something good, it goes fast!
         4. Craigslist- This another great place to find your larger items such as bouncers, swings, car seats, cribs, etc. It is also good for finding some specialty items that people don't want to sell for pennies at a garage sale, such as cloth diapers, baby carriers and wraps, etc. You will pay a little more for the items on craigslist and have to check frequently to see what is available, but you will eventually find what you are looking for!
         5. Ebay- this is my last option (well, before stepping into a real store, that is...). The prices are higher on ebay than craigslist because there is more competition, but if there are a few items that you just couldn't find anywhere else, this is another option of finding things cheaper than store prices.

3. Look for the Little Things
While I know you have the list of big ticket items first and foremost in your mind, it really is the little things that add up when buying for a baby. Things like socks, rattles, and books. You can pick up these things for practically nothing at garage sales, but if you buy them new in the store, they add up really fast! Socks are $2 a pair (I bought a bag of 37 pairs for $1), little baby toys that rattle start at $5 each (I bought a box of 20 for the same price) and books don't go below $6 a piece (on average they run $0.10-$0.25 at garage sales). Look for things like pacifier clips, hair bows, baby utensils, plates, bowls, outlet covers, bibs, etc. Trust me, it isn't worth what you would pay in the store, but you will be glad to have them in exchange for the coins rattling in the bottom of your purse. And once again- CLOTHES! Baby clothes and shoes are so pricey, and they hardly even have a chance to wear them before they don't fit! My motto is to not pay more than $1 for any clothing item, and I have a whole closet full of smocked dresses, Mud Pie outfits, and Baby Gap clothes that I was able to find within that price limit.

4. Publish your Registry
There will be things that you won't be able to find used such as medicine, diapers, wipes, shampoo, etc. These are the items to put on your registry and hope that people actually buy you for the shower. Try to only register for the things that you need as much as possible because you will get plenty of "cute" stuff like blankets just because.

5. Do It Yourself
There were some things that I really wanted to be very specific, such as the nursery bedding and decor. I knew what I wanted and it was really pricey, so I ended up making it all on my own and saving a TON of money. You would be surprised how easy it is to make some of this baby gear yourself even if you aren't an expert seamstress or overly crafty. Check out some easy diy baby projects here.

6. Be Patient and Keep all your Receipts
If you do break down and buy something new at the store, definitely keep all of your receipts and keep it in the box until you intend to use it. I actually did splurge and buy a set of Aiden and Anais swaddles new in the store (they were on sale...) and then found a set of 4 for $1 at a garage sale the very next weekend! I know the nesting instinct makes you want to check everything off of your list all at once, but be patient, and you will find the right deal! Side note- in my experience, the later you shop in your pregnancy, the better the deals get. I guess people are more willing to go down on prices for someone with a huge pregnant belly :)

7. Don't Lower your Standards
Just because you are buying second hand (and paying ridiculously low prices) doesn't mean that you have to settle for second rate items. If you want a certain kind of stroller, don't buy the first stroller you see for a deal, but wait until you find THAT stroller. It may take time, but you will find it (and kick yourself if you already bought a different one). If you want a certain baby carrier- get that baby carrier. Research what kind of bottles you want, and then wait until you find those. All of my items are high-end, name-brand items, many of which you can't find outside of a boutique baby shop. I have to confess that I have become a baby clothes snob in the last few months. Carter's clothes don't get a second glance from me- I want the expensive stuff! And it's definitely out there! The best part is, you are getting the best quality out there, for the best possible price.

Time to Brag
To give you an idea of just how much you can save, here is a list of some of the items I was able to find, where I found them, and how much I paid in comparison to the retail price.

Ergo baby carrier- $2 at garage sale (retail $110)
Baby Einstein activity gym- $2 at garage sale (retail $75)
Graco stroller- $10 at Goodwill (retail $80)
Crib- $100 on Craigslist (retail $300)
Baby Bullet- $3 at garage sale (retail $60)
13 NEW Fuzzibunz cloth diapers- $100 on craigslist (retail $260)
Bumbo seat- $3 at garage sale (retail $40)
4 Aiden and Anais muslin swaddles- $1 at garage sale (retail $35)
Wubbanub- $0.50 at garage sale (retail $14)
Coolwazoo shopping cast cover- $3 at garage sale (retail $50)
120 pieces of clothing- $35 at garage sale (retail $700)

These are just a few! I hope you have happy hunting for all your baby items. The search is part of the fun, and the deals are beyond worth it. Have you made a great deal too? I want to know what you found! What is a good find unless you can share it with someone???