Monday, March 16, 2009

It's thrifty time

With the tough economic climate we're living in, now more than ever is a good time to be as thrifty as possible. And while having a baby is an exciting time, it's also the worst time to behave in fiscally irresponsible ways. From our nine months of preparation and experience, here are our best frugal tips for saving money for your upcoming baby.

-Recognize first and foremost that having a baby has become big business and many stores would have you believe that you need so many things that you really do not need at all. Keep it in the back of your mind that people have been having babies for thousands of years and many of them didn't have *gasp* a glider and ottoman to sit in while they were nursing. Closely examine your wants versus your needs.

-Join an online forum like The Bump or Baby Center. You will learn a ton about raising a baby, find out what you really need in terms of supplies and preparation, not to mention access to product recommendations, and you might even find you've built yourself a nice little support system in the process. I think the online forum has become the modern day equivalent of the extended family that modern moms often no longer have access to due to distance from their families.

-Get as many free samples of prenatal vitamins from your OB's office as possible. I'm sure your OB would love to get rid of this stuff. Ask them about DHA prenatals and prenatals that help with constipation or prenatals with more iron added, etc. The more types you're interested in trying, the more samples you get!

-Buy your educational material used on Amazon or some other online site. Previously pregnant ladies will practically give this stuff away once they've read them. There is no sense paying full retail price for information. Better yet, go to the library.

-Embrace secondhand goods by going to consignment sales, yard sales and stalking ebay and craigslist. Babies outgrow products so fast and often buying secondhand, you pay only 25% of the retail price, if that. In fact, many of the things we purchased secondhand were brand new.

-Sign up for free offers for baby coupons with an email account set up specifically for that purpose.

-Read Baby Bargains before you register.

-If you are going to register at Babies R Us, register early! The sooner you are in their system, the sooner you will start to receive coupons in the mail alerting you to sales and savings.

-Read online reviews for the products you are thinking of registering for. Compare different products before deciding. Also research any recalls for the products you are thinking of buying.

-Remember that the most expensive product does not mean it's the best product.

-Never buy anything retail without first searching for a coupon code. Try this site or google the store and "coupon code" before heading to the store.

-Buy a bella band or equivalent and use it throughout your pregnancy. Using it will let you wear your non-maternity pants for much longer, not to mention let you wear your non-maternity shirts as your belly expands.

-If possible, borrow maternity clothes from friends and family. If this is not an option, buy non-maternity shirts that can grow with you and are long and stretchy rather than paying more for maternity shirts that will only make you look heavier than you really are. Secondhand maternity clothes are also easy to find online and at consignment sales.

-Your breasts will likely increase in size several times throughout your pregnancy. When you have no choice but to upsize your bra, consider the future room for expansion before making the purchase. If you need a bra later on in pregnancy, consider a nursing bra if breastfeeding is part of your plan.

-You will pay more for something marketed as "maternity" or "baby" than you will for a normal product. For example, there are pillows marketed especially for pregnant ladies (and granted some women absolutely swear by theirs) but often a few extra regular pillows or a $10 body pillow will fit the bill just fine.

-Use your skills and get crafty. If you enjoy sewing, make blankets, cloth wipes, burp cloths, curtains, clothes or cloth diapers. If you are an artist, create a mural to paint in the nursery thereby avoiding having to purchase artwork to fill the space on the walls. If you are talented photographer, create the artwork that will adorn your baby's nursery walls. You've got about 10 months of sobriety on your hands---plenty of time for creativity to flow!

-Return gifts you do not think you need or will use for store credit. Do not allow yourself to feel guilty for returning an unwanted gift if your plan is to replace is with something else you will use for the baby. You are not being ungrateful, you are being practical. There is a specific store I hate that will pretty much take anything back without a receipt and give you store credit. It rhymes with "mall fart."

-Consider white furniture in your baby's nursery. It's much easier to buy used furniture and paint it white than it is to find a matching set in the same wood tone. Plus, you will normally pay a premium for a matching set.

-Use cloth diapers on your child (this is an even better investment if you plan on having more than one child). Here's some great information for educating yourself about how far cloth diapers have come. And remember, you can always resell your cloth diapers after you're done with them.

-If you are not planning on having any more children, sell the clothes and products your child has outgrown online or at a consignment sale. Keep original packaging when possible for higher resale value.

I'd love to hear any other money saving tips for not only pregnancy, but for raising our little one as well. Seeing as how we're now entering that stage of actually raising a child, I have a whole new skill set to hone.


UNCJenny said...

Sonya, this list is AWESOME! You are so ready to be an amazing mom.

Sonya said...

Aww Jenny thanks. But what can I say, you ladies have taught me well.

Michele said...

wow, as I was reading your list, I'd think, "oh and don't forget..." and then I'd see it on your list! You have captured a ton of money-saving ideas! I have a couple more to add- 1) find out what your local hospital will give you when you give birth. I got diapers, sample lotions/washes, formula galore (which I didn't need but you can donate), nail files, a starter bottle, nasal aspirators and other grooming essentials. I've seen grooming kits for $20+ dollars- but many of these items are given to you in the hospital. And don't be shy to ask for these samples! 2) if you are not sure if breastfeeding will work for you, try renting a pump before you buy one. The breastfeeding course I took recommended this one... You could potentialy save a lot of money, especially if complications prevent you from nursing. 3)this is not a money saving tip--- actually, its kinda the opposite. Sometimes you just need to pamper yourself to keep your sanity in check and to make you feel sexy and beautiful once you get to be big as a house. Get a pedicure or pregnancy massage, buy a little something special at critical moments in the pregancy (i.e. transition between the trimesters)-- it can make you feel so much better! I know its a tight economy for so many folks, so a splurge might not be as big as it used to be. But if you are still in a good financial position, its totally okay to spend a few extra bucks. In fact- we have to rely on some folks to continue to spend money so that the economy doesn't get even worse and more companies fail! That's how I justify some of my little (sale-priced) splurges, and I still consider myself totally practical for doing so ;-)

Sonya said...

Awesome tips Michele, thanks for sharing those. I'll be sure to clear the hospital out of anything they'll give me. As a matter of fact, I've had some people tell me to bring an empty bag for all the free loot they'll give us.

And I agree with you about the need to splurge every now and then. That's my justification for Dave and me enjoying having some adult dinners these last couple of weeks (ok, ok, we're using 2 for 1 restaurant coupons, but still ;)

ereadp said...

love it!!! I'm all over this list! I started taking prenatal vitamins this morning (samples from my doc) to prep, not preggers yet...

we are also afraid of the economy and the timing but oh well. it's our turn!

Sonya, thank you so much for your blog. it's not only entertaining but helpful! mua dear cousin!

Sonya said...

Ahhhhh Elisa! I'm so happy to hear that! In fact, I already told Dave! It was always my weird dream that all of us girls would get pregnant at the same time (like your mothers did). But I'll gladly take having cousins right around the same age. Let me know if you need ANYTHING (it took us a couple of years to get pregnant, so I had some time to learn a thing or two) excited for you and Jeff!