Cool Ideas

Save Money Getting Ready for a New Baby

by Stephanie Nelson

I have a friend who is expecting her third baby, a surprise pregnancy at the age of 42! Ironically, she just cleared out and donated the maternity clothes, baby clothes, baby equipment and even her crib a few months ago, as her older children were far past the baby stage.

Now that she is in the position of starting over, she has years of frugal parenting experience under her belt, and is taking a much less expensive approach to getting ready for her new baby. Use her tips to really save:

Maternity clothes: To begin with, she needed maternity clothes. Fortunately, many mainstream stores now carry their own line of maternity clothes so it is no longer necessary to dress like a sailor (which was the predominant maternity style when I was pregnant 15 years ago). You can now find maternity clothes at inexpensive discount stores. Because you will only be wearing them for a few months, you do not need buy expensive clothes from exclusive boutiques to last for years. However, my friend wisely reasoned that many people do buy high quality clothes from expensive maternity boutiques and give them to charity (as she had earlier). Therefore, she went to the local Goodwill store and purchased several nice maternity items for pennies on the dollar. Some of them still had the tag from the expensive boutique! If you have friends who are a similar size and are in between pregnancies, it also makes sense to loan each other maternity clothes.

Baby Equipment: First of all, remember that more is less when it comes to baby's needs. Although it may be tempting to buy every baby seat, swing, and soothing gadget available, they will be outgrown far before their usefulness justifies their price tag. In my experience, I found that we had every conceivable piece of baby equipment for our first child, from the motorized baby seat to the Diaper Genie. Our second child was happiest rolling around on the floor on his blanket. Our home was less cluttered with the second baby and he was content.

When you decide to get basic necessities like the crib, dresser, stroller, high chair, car seat, a changing table and a baby bouncy seat you would be wise to check garage sales, rummage sales, consignment shops, or sites like Craigslist.com to find good used furniture and equipment. Be sure to check current safety standards for cribs and car seats to ensure the used models meet current standards.

Diapers: Given that most children wear diapers for their first three years, you can expect to pay thousands of dollars overall for diapers. Therefore, it is worth taking some time to find the least expensive, practical diaper option.

  • Cloth diapers: Although I did not use them myself, I have known people who have opted for cloth diapers for environmental as well as budget reasons. You can use a diaper service that will take care of the washing of the diapers, or you can choose to wash cloth diapers yourself as the least expensive option.
  • Disposable diapers: Most parents opt for disposable diapers because they are more convenient. There are many options for buying disposable diapers that range from name brands, store brands, and wholesale club bulk buying. Regardless of the brand and store you choose, be sure to arm yourself with a calculator to compare cost by diaper. As your baby gets older and moves to larger diaper sizes, the cost per diaper increases as there are fewer diapers per package.
  • Larger packages are not always a guarantee of lower per unit diaper costs. A recent price comparison of name brand diapers in one grocery store found that the larger package of diapers actually cost more per diaper than the smaller package.
  • Educate yourself on prices. Familiarize yourself with the actual cost per diaper of name brands by package size (jumbo, mega, super mega), grocery and drugstore brands, as well as wholesale club name brand and store brands. Once you have determined the lowest unit cost you will have a benchmark for comparison when you see advertised diaper sales.
  • Consider online options. My friend found that Amazon offered the lowest price for her preferred brand of diapers and she ordered her newborn supply. Amazon.com may offer a lower cost per diaper as well as coupons and rebates. Read the fine print on the Amazon item description to find any special promotions and take advantage of free shipping to have diaper bargains delivered directly to your door.

For example, this week Amazon.com featured Pampers diapers in the Economy Plus pack 14% off regular price, at $39.79, which is 18.4 cents per diaper in the small size 1-2. However, if you read the fine print you would have found a coupon code offer for $25 off any Pampers purchase of $99 or more. If you purchased three of these packages, you would end up paying 14.6 cents per diaper after the coupon and would get free shipping. Importantly, remember to register your Amazon diaper purchases at refundplease.com to be notified if the diaper price goes down within 30 days of your purchase. If it does, you are entitled to request a credit.

Sign up for savings early. Many manufacturers and retailers offers special programs for new parents that will provide free coupons, free products, free samples and more. For example, my grocery store's Baby Club provides generous coupons for free products like rotisserie chickens, baked goods, and even free film development. Ask your doctor if they have any enrollment forms for new baby clubs from related companies. Take the time to sign up for the baby clubs available at several retailers. Also visit the websites of diaper, formula and baby food companies to sign up for their email newsletters. You may realize hundreds of dollars of savings over your baby's first few years by signing up for programs in advance.

Stephanie Nelson has shared her savings tips on ABC News' Good Morning America, Good Housekeeping Magazine and hundreds of local radio and TV stations. You can find more of her savings tips in her book "The Greatest Secrets of the Coupon Mom" and on her website at www.couponmom.com

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