I still remember my very first thoughts when I realized that yes, those three pregnancy tests I took were accurate and we'd be welcoming a baby into our family in nine months. I want to tell you they were thoughts of pure joy and excitement, and although I was happy to know I had a little baby growing in me, I have to admit to you that those first thoughts were pretty much "How are we going to afford this?" We weren't planning on trying for awhile, and part of that reason is we wanted to be a little more secure and stable financially. I started mentally adding up the costs of diapers and carseats and swings and clothes and daycare and worked myself up into a panic really quickly. It didn't take long though for me to take a deep breath and realize that we can afford a baby if we are smart and frugal and start preparing immediately.
1. Start planning and buying items you need early on. I started purchasing baby items that I knew we needed at about nine or ten weeks along. I know some people don't feel comfortable until they've passed the first trimester, but it is my personal feeling that as a mom to be, we're never "out of the woods" whether we're 12 weeks, 20 weeks, or 40 weeks pregnant so waiting until I felt "safe" in my pregnancy didn't make sense to me. I didn't go crazy and buy an entire nursery and wardrobe, but as soon as I saw a smoking deal on an item I was planning on buying, I snagged it up and said a little prayer for our babies health. Buying starting purchasing things early, it helped spread out the cost when I could purchase one or two things at a time and not feel stressed for time. I do recommend buying items you're unlikely to get at your baby shower-so I have been focusing on diapers and bigger items like the swing, carseat, etc. while making sure I leave plenty of items to register for like blankets, new clothes, bottles, pacifiers, etc.
2. Join local buy/sell/trade groups-Here in southwest Idaho, there are multiple buy/sale/trade groups that work kind of like craigslist, but its on Facebook! I have found some awesome deals on these groups, like this Fischer Price My Little Lamb Swing for $50, which is more than 50% off it brand new. I've also seen entire baskets and storage containers of clothes for under twenty dollars multiple times.
3. Utilize coupon websites to stock up on diapers at a really low price. I've been using this article on SouthernSavers.com, Stocking Up on Diapers: How Much To Buy & At What Price to help me figure out how many of each size diaper to buy, and what the best prices are. Regular priced size one and two diapers at a store like Target can be about 27 cents a diaper, but by using coupons and deals like "Buy $100 worth of diapers and get a $25 gift card" all the diapers we have bought have averaged at about 15 or 16 cents a diaper. So far we have approximately all the size ones we need and almost all the size twos, which should last about four months or so. We will continue to watch for great deals and combine coupons with store promotions to keep stock piling diapers. I recommend taping the receipt to the boxes so if you need to trade sizes later down the road you can do it with no issues.
4. Shop at consignment and thrift stores. This has been one of my favorite things to do now that we know we're having a boy. The prices on clothes is absolutely lower than any store, even on their best clearance days. For example, I found an outfit I loved at Fred Meyer on clearance, and then an additional 40% off prices. With that sale, the jeans were $10 and the top was $10 so I would've spent $20 for one outfit my baby would wear a few months at best. I passed on the outfit and went to a consignment shop and bought a bag full of seventeen items including baby flannels, jeans and sleepers for $17 dollars. I also bought a bouncy seat and Rock N Play for over 50% off new prices!
5. Reach out to friends and family to see if they have any baby items that you can borrow. I've found that a lot of people have baby times laying around that they either are saving to use with their next baby, or maybe they just haven't bothered to resell or donate. Things like a pack-n-play or a swing or bassinet are things you might be able to borrow for just a few months and then return.
6. Don't rush out and buy every single thing you think you need for baby. I made a list of things I will need right away, things I will need at 6-12 months, and things that I don't need but would like. Things like a highchair or jumperoo/exersaucer are things that I would like to have once my baby gets a little older, but I definitely don't need them the minute I come home from the hospital. Dividing out my baby gear into things I need right away, and things I can acquire later help make the whole preparing for baby a little less overwhelming.
7. Buy gender neutral big items so you can reuse them if you are going to have more then one baby. I made sure to start buying neutral colors on things like the rock-n-play, carseat, bouncy seat, swing, etc. so when baby number two comes along, we will already have all the big items and can reuse them, even if we have the opposite gender the second time around. We're painting baby boy's room blue and grey and I'm buying clothes that are "all boy" but as far as bigger baby gear items, I am really excited about buying neutral items so we will have even less of an upfront cost when the next baby comes along.
8. Hold your shower early enough that you still have time to get any remaining items you don't get at your shower. People love to be generous and give gifts for baby, so plan your shower accordingly so you don't have to pick up necessities when your 39 weeks pregnant and don't feel like racing around to Babies R Us and Target.
These are some of the ways I am getting ready for baby without having it totally break the bank. If you've been there, done that, I'd love to hear your tips for preparing for baby on a small budget!