My Story: Baby Bargains

contributed by Brigitta

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Having a baby has always required an extra budget. My husband and I had started creating a "financial plan" on investing in baby needs by the fifth month of my pregnancy. We were quite distressed to discover we needed about $3,000 for basic necessities, such as furniture and baby gear (buying mostly new through eBay). However, with lots of networking and researching, we discovered some effective cost-cutters.

1. Research before making any purchases.

Invest some money in a What to Expect When You're Expecting book when you are pregnant. I got two different series in a garage sale for $5. At Half Price Books, they were $3 a piece. I found the books helpful in keeping baby basics to a minimum. It is hard not to be lured into buying all the cute baby items that will later only crowd your baby's little nursery, so make sure you've got everything you need, not want.

2. Scour those yard sales!

Where we live, the spring and summer months bring yard sales galore! But how do you know whether the sales are worth going to? Check out garage sale listings online in your local newspaper. It saves a lot of time, and as they are listed by neighborhoods, you might want to check out as many sales as possible.

You will want to make sure the baby furniture you buy meets present safety standards. I discovered a Jenny Lindt crib, in great condition, for $15 and a used rocking chair from Home Depot for $20. Median-priced cribs usually range between $150 and $300! Yard sales have many used cribs to offer, believe me. The fact is that you end up paying about 10% of the new price for baby furniture if you go to a garage sale!

3. Apply the principle of versatility in using baby furniture.

Plan in advance as to furniture function. We thought a changing table was a waste of money. Instead, we bought two dressers (one from a second hand store for $50 and the other was a lucky find at a garage sale for $25) that could easily be converted into a changing table with a removable changing pad.

Restoring furniture that is no longer "presentable" is not that hard. There are many resources from which to draw. We restored a wicker hamper (bought for $1.50) by using non-lead spray paint and a nursery organizer (we bought this for $2).

4. Consider eBay.

Ebay can be the ultimate resource for parents-to-be who want to invest in new products (some are reluctant to buy used breast pumps, for example). You still need to be careful about prices, and that's why it is wise to compare retail prices before going to eBay. I bought a new Avent breast pump for $37, including shipping. I saved about $20 retail. Since we have decided to use cloth diapers, we also saved a huge amount of money buying a WAHM's fitted diaper selection (watch out for those specials). After some calculation, we saved about $150 on diapers because we bought "special" packages that included a lot of extras, such as diaper wipes and liners. We found that was a fantastic investment.

5. Be the Internet's best friend.

Search for baby sites and register for specials. We have received many free samples of baby formula and even a free diaper bag! Coupons are also great, because even big stores have ongoing specials from which you could benefit. Still, you need to beware of so-called "bargain sites" that still list pricey items! We came across a lot of those. By being cautious and doing your homework, you can easily tell them apart from real bargain sites.

6. Shop the dollar stores.

My husband and I agree that there are certain things we do not want to save on, such as baby clothes (as we prefer buying these new). However, there are a lot of ways that you can still cut corners. The Dollar Tree sells a lot of baby items for less. We buy bibs, baby oil, plastic sippy cups, etc. there. The selection is pretty huge, and you will find that a lot of the baby appliances there are a great investment. You will also find a treasure trove for decorative items for the nursery there, with a little creativity.

Some of these tips may be redundant. But still, I hope you'll find something useful in them. It is really exciting to have spent only $700, including baby toiletries, when your initial budget was $3000 excluding diapers, toiletries and clothing!

"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money please send it by

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