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Saving on Baby Expenses During the First Year

  April 9

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Cat's Two Little Beans! :)
Cat’s Two Little Beans! 🙂

Please welcome the lovely Laurie of The Frugal Farmer. Laurie is an awesome mama, blogger, and debt repayment queen. I’m so happy to have her on the blog today!

(Pssst: Yep, those are my twins on the left! I owe y’all an update! Until then, enjoy Laurie’s expert wisdom!)

As a mother of four kids, I’ve learned a lot about what needs to be spent, and what doesn’t need to be spent, as you’re raising your kids.  When your first baby (or, babies :)) is born, it’s easy to fall into a trap of thinking you need to have every available gadget and baby item out there in order to truly give your baby the best life.  Truth be told, though, you’ll be doing your baby (and your pocketbook) a huge favor by being choosy about what comes into their lives during that first year.

New vs. Used

I used to be hesitant about buying used things for my babies, and in fact, I’m still a bit on the odd side about buying used for our kids.  Yet, I also know there are huge cost savings in buying used.  Here are some tips for both buying new and buying used:

If you’re insistent on buying new, plan ahead and hit sales and clearance racks.  We often buy our kids’ clothes a year ahead of time, knowing that we can get next year’s winter gear, for instance, at the end of this year, for dirt cheap.  I once got our son a Columbia brand winter jacket for $8 by hitting the clearance racks.  I probably wouldn’t have paid much less than that at a garage sale.  So if going new is the only option for you, shop early and shop often.

Another tip for buying new?  Hit garage sales in high-end areas of your city.  In the affluent suburb we used to live in, I never ceased to be amazed at the brand-new, tags-still-on items that appeared in garage sales constantly.  People often buy new things and never even take them out of their boxes or bags.

If buying used is okay for you, make sure to shop for clean, well-taken care of items.  A friend of mine always buys her kids name brand clothes, and somehow, those clothes always remain in good shape.  Every spring, she holds an organized garage sale and sells these barely worn name-brand clothes for a fraction of the cost of new, and every year, lots of the same moms come to this sale.  Seek out the sales in your area that seem to have kids a year or two older than yours, and ask if they hold sales every year, with the goal of having a list of yearly sales to go to that have the types and condition of items you want. Also, utilize Ebay and other sites for great deals too.

Back to Basics

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that babies and kids don’t need nearly as much stuff as we think they do.  They generally play with the same five or six toys, favor the same types of outfits and also favor the same two or three comfort items.  Resist the urge to buy your kids every single toy or item, and focus instead on things that will entertain them, yet make your life easier.  When our kids were babes, we pretty much bought them every gadget and toy that targeted commercials said would make them happy.  In hindsight, however, we would have bought three or so different items, such as an Exersaucer, that would keep them occupied and safe, and skipped the rest.  The same goes with outfits and other items.  When choosing what to buy, think in terms of items that will make your life and your baby’s life easy and happy, not just in terms of convenience, but also in terms of maintenance (as in, less to clean and care for) and in terms of your pocketbook.  A minimalist approach can go a long way in your baby’s first year of life.

The first year of your babies’ lives are a time filled with wonder, joy and a whole host of new things to learn and do.  Concentrating on those things, and not worrying so much about what to buy and spend money on, will make that first year much more enjoyable and much less stressful.

What was on your had-to-have list in your baby’s first year?

As a mother of four kids, I’ve learned a lot about what needs to be spent, and what doesn’t need to be spent, as you’re raising your kids.

35 responses to “Saving on Baby Expenses During the First Year

  1. Lately I have been finding awesome toys at garage sales! Pop them in the dishwasher on sanitize, and they’re good to go. The same thing goes for the clothes. Kohl’s is great for clearance clothes as well – and they will even let you stack a coupon with the clearance price taking another 20-30% off the price! I really do try to buy used, but sometimes I just have to hit up the clearance rack for something super cute and new!

    1. We just did a huge stock-up on clothes at Kohl’s!! Awesome deals, combined with a 30% coupon, hooked us up big time! I agree about garage sales too – it’s amazing what deals you can find if you keep your eyes peeled. Thanks, RB40!

  2. My wife is great at shopping consignment. You can really get some great deals there. It is especially important to not go crazy buying clothes because the kids probably won’t fit in them very long.

    1. A friend was just sharing with me about the great deals you can find at consignment places, Grayson. I’ll have to check them out! Thrift stores are another great option for cheap kids’ clothes.

  3. The twins look so cute, Cat! Congrats 🙂

    Thanks for the post, Laurie! My husband and I are planning on having children soon and we would definitely not hesitate to buy used for our children. We love going to thrift stores in our area and its a wonderful way to up-cycle clothing! LA has some pretty awesome thrift stores so I’m excited to look. We’re also fond of our local Nordstrom Rack and TJ Maxx if we need to buy new. We’d much rather keep the money in our savings/investment accounts to fund more important things like you know.. the kids’ EDUCATION maybe!?!? LoL


    My sister and I are trying to have babies back to back in order to recycle larger baby items. I certainly do not mind older clothing, toys, or gear if it’s still in good condition!

  5. Damn, the twins are adorable 🙂

    I don’t have babies yet, but likely will some day. I love reading posts like this to prepare for the future, as I’m sure it’s super easy to get sucked into buying a bunch of crap that isn’t necessary. I’m sure I’ll still buy some of the crap, but hopefully I can avoid most of it 😉

  6. I’ve learned so much with one kid about crap I want/need/must have. I couldn’t live without a swing, lifesaver with our little one. I also used my nursing pillow religiously for 13 months (I suffered from terrible carpal tunnel while pregnant so it really helped me since I was unable to hold my daughter myself, hands too weak). I always save on clothes for her, some of my best and most ”expensive” finds were from thrift stores. I also really like walmart and target for her little tshirts and leggings ($3/each). the best money I spent for kid was probably my Beco baby carrier- bought used for $60 and I still use it almost 2 years later for hikes. I love it. We really limit toys and have made it clear we’d rather the money for her savings acct (education) than another stuffed animal!

    1. A quality baby carrier is hugely important. My babies were all pretty big, and we tried the cheap carriers, but man, did my back hurt. Switching to a spendy one was well worth the money. There are some things that are totally worth the spend. A rocking chair was a huge one for us, too. 🙂

  7. Aww, Cat – your little ones are so tiny!

    We’re kidless, but one of the things that friends did that was awesome for cost savings was buying as much gender neutral as possible so that it could be reused for subsequent kids and then passed along to family/friends, but buying quality items that you can take apart and really sanitize when passing them on to their new owners, since some of the cheaper ones you can’t always remove the lining to wash separately from the plastic parts on things like baby rockers.

    1. We learned that lesson eventually, too, Mrs. PoP. After having three girls, and a boatload of pink stuff, and then having a boy, we started buying stuff, especially stuff like winter gear, in dark blue and black, so that our son could use it when the girls were done. Huge money saver there!

      1. Hand me downs are the best, aren’t they? Most of our kids’ clothes come from friend/relative hand-me-downs these days. And we do our best to pass the stuff they’ve outgrown to others as well. Thanks, Bryce!

  8. Congrats on the birth of your twins, Cat. That’s a cute picture.

    We were very lucky that we have some good friends who gave us lots of hand-me-down clothes from their boy when our son was born. We didn’t buy much in the way of new clothes for him for about his first five years. OK, we bought new underclothes and shoes. We also shopped at the clothing stores where you could trade in old baby clothes for larger replacements at minimal cost.

  9. Cute babies! Great post Laurie. I don’t have kids, and don’t want them — to be honest, I think it’s good, because I would be one of those OCD, controlling, have to buy everything new, worrywort moms. Not fun! I think there is so much marketing that goes towards mom/babies and most of it simply isn’t necessary.

    1. LOL, yes, I can identify with that worrying thing, Melanie. 🙂 And you’re right, the marketing is terrible!! Those advertisers play into mommy guilt BIG time. I bought into it for years, but no more.

  10. I totally agree with this Laurie! I am still shocked at how much I spent on Will in his first year and most of it was a waste. The first year is definitely filled with extreme emotions, but if we can let rationality get through and realize that kids don’t really need much for the first few years, we can save ourselves so much money.

  11. Cute babies Cat! Great tips Laurie! We got a lot of clothes from friends for the baby…generally used baby clothes are in great condition because they outgrow them so fast that they can’t get worn out. We bought some used toys…no point paying full price…and often times my son would rather play with a balloon (which was a freebie) and the box the toy came in. I’m not sure about buying car seats used…might have to make sure there aren’t recalls or that it is worn out.

    1. That’s awesome, Andrew! And so true about kids and the boxes – they just love simple stuff, don’t they? We never bought used car seats either – that was one area where I felt safer buying new. Thanks for the great insight, Andrew. 🙂

  12. Thanks for these tips, Laurie. I’m going super cheap with our first kid, I think. Dude’s getting diapers, a football, and a cardboard box to throw it into…and that’s IT. 🙂

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