We want to be a light in all this darkness and tell you that a baby doesn't have to be as expensive as "they" tell you. Our little guy is now 15 months old, so we've just come out of that 1st year, and thought we'd share some of our money saving tips for your first year with a baby!
- Firstly, get over the idea that you need all the stuff they say you need, and especially that you need to get the COOLEST stuff. It's not true. Ask some wise moms you respect what items they say are the "must-haves"
- Don't be afraid to ask around for stuff you can borrow. Many parents are happy to lend out those big ticket (and normally more expensive) items, which are usually only used for a short time. Baby swings, exersaucers, jolly jumpers, play pens, etc.
- When people offer you secondhand items for free - take them! I've heard numerous moms tell me how they were surprised who came out of the woodwork with items for their baby and I've experienced it myself. People know that babies can be costly (but again, don't have to be), and are generally more than happy to help out! The cycle continues when you remember all the people who blessed you and and pass on some of your used items to another new mom.
- Buy secondhand. This tip obviously extends beyond the first year, but especially since babies grow so quickly, most of their clothes and other items haven't been used for very long. You can find plenty of baby clothes and toys in secondhand stores, and they are usually our first stop. We also like to use E-Bay and Kijiji, especially for bigger items like car seats or highchairs.
- Breastfeed. Free except for the cost of the extra calories for you for the first 6-9 months! Plus wonderful bonding time and really lovely once you get over those difficult first few weeks.
- Make your own baby food. Just puree up some steamed vegetables, soup, or whatever you're having for dinner, and freeze in ice cube trays. Pop out and put in a plastic bag and you've got meals galore - for dollars less than you would pay for jarred baby food. Plus it's healthier, easy, and you know what is in it.
- Plan for mom to stay home! This will not only cut costs in daycare, but also food, and possibly vehicle expenses. And the non-financial gains are immense.
- Use cloth diapers. We intended to do this, but for reasons I won't get into, didn't. However, we can tell you that disposable diapers were our biggest cost throughout the year. We did try not to buy them unless they were on sale, and you can bring the cost down significantly that way.
Have your baby's cost more or less than you imagined they would?
What are YOUR tips for saving money in the first year?