Having a baby? There are some ways to prepare for baby without breaking your budget. Sure, you can save money by breastfeeding over formula feeding or by using cloth diapers over disposables, but these options don't always work for families. The suggestions offered here are easy and can mesh with most families.
Do you really NEED it?
If you have a tight budget, here are some items you might be able to do without and save a little money.
1. Bassinet - Most babies don't need one after 3 months so this has a very short lifespan. But if you really want one (and I think it's a godsend if you breastfeed), see if you can borrow one from someone.
2. Changing table - most are only useful while baby is in diapers (a couple of years) and not only can they be expensive, they take up space. If you do get a changing table, you may be able to increase it's lifespan by using it to store toys or books in baby's room. Save money by borrowing one, buying a slightly used one or at least getting one on sale. Another way to save money and space is to get a playpen that has a changing table feature (such as Graco's Pack N Play). The changing table can be removed when you use it as a playpen.
3. Swing or vibrating chair? Many babies have a preference, so if you get both, keep the packaging and return the least favored item. Then you can put that money towards something you really need.
4. Books. Many parents want to read to their baby after (and even before) they are born. That's great. Just buy ONE or two books to read to baby in the beginning. Your baby won't be as interested in the book until they are at least 3 or 4 months old anyway. And when you want to expand your child's library, shop at book sales and garage sales or even at www.half.com. (other great sites are Better World Books and Book Depository). The Barnes & Noble website often has children's books - and even toys - in their sale annex.
Easy ways to save money
1. Get yourself on mailing lists for baby stores and manufacturers before baby's arrival to save money on the things you need. You can get valuable coupons, notice of upcoming sales and, in some cases, free samples. Start with places such as Babies R Us, Pampers, Huggies, Beech Nut, Gerber and Earth's Best. Some companies, such as Pampers, even offer a buying club so you get points for what you buy; those points can be redeemed for toys and other items.
2. See if friends or family with slightly older kids have clothes, toys or other items to give or loan you. With clothes and toys, most parents are glad to see someone else use the stuff and even happier to have some extra space.
3. If you like clothes, sign up for a Gap credit card and they take 10% of your first purchase and 10% off your purchases at Baby Gap the 1st Tues of the month.
4. Buy rechargeable batteries. Many baby products - such as swings and bouncy chairs - will eat batteries and it can cost you a small fortune (especially the items that require D batteries). Buy double of what you need (ie if a swing needs four D batteries, buy eight batteries) so you can have one set charged when the other set dies.
5. See if your supermarket has a baby club. They are free to join and you get points or cash back on purchases you would make anyway.
6. Look beyond baby stores for your supplies. For example, baby gates are often cheaper at pet stores than at baby stores. And you can often find regularly priced crib sheets cheaper at the large super stores (such as Target) than at places such as Babies R Us.
The Hey! It's Free! website is a great site for finding freebies in a user-friendly manner. You can periodically check the home page for the latest free stuff or visit the various categories, including children, to see what new offers there are.
For example, if your child is still in diapers, Hey! It's Free! often has codes that you can use for the Huggies Enjoy the Ride and Pampers Gifts to Grow rewards programs. All you do is copy and paste the codes in your account and you have free points. If you haven't signed up for either of these rewards programs and you buy Huggies or Pampers products, you should take advantage of the free rewards program (and Hey! It's Free! has a 100-point code for new Pampers enrollees by Nov. 30).
This site is a great way to keep informed of upcoming offers for free samples as well and you can check it as often as you like or even sign up for updates.
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