Even if you’ve prepared a financial plan for your new baby, a newborn arrives with lots of new expenses that can catch you off guard. Plus, you’ll want to prepare for the future; in addition to immediate costs, you need to start budgeting and saving for day care, new baby gear, and eventually funding college. That doesn’t even take into account planning for your own future. The task can seem overwhelming.
While being a new parent can be pricey, there are plenty of ways to save money. Here are seven money-saving tips to help you ease into parenthood without breaking your budget.
What to borrow and what to buy used
Even though you can save a lot of money by being a smart shopper and keeping an eye out for sales, you’ll still want to stretch your budget as far as possible. Not everything needs to be brand new, and some things you won’t even have to pay for. There are even more ways to save if you look for baby items that you can borrow or buy used.
Some of the top things to buy used or borrow include:
- Clothes that don’t get much wear and tear before they’re outgrown and can easily be washed before bringing them into your baby’s room
- Cribs, particularly those with bite guards that convert into toddler beds
- Diaper bags, which you’ll quickly realize you’ll go through more than one of in the first couple years
- Furniture like rockers, bouncy seats, and toys, which also generally have plenty of life left in them when a child is done with them and can easily be sanitized and cleaned
Obviously, as many items as you can borrow, the better. When you can’t borrow, buying used will save you money over the retail price for these items. For example, the average cost for a new super deluxe crib could run as high as $3,000. If you borrow a used crib, all you need to do is replace the mattress with a new one and buy some new sheets, which could cost you $90-$200 depending on which mattress you choose.
When it comes to the basics, Craigslist is also a good site to find used baby furniture and has lots of different baby items once you’ve narrowed down exactly what you need. And you can always turn to eBay to score some gently used baby toys and other baby necessities at a fraction of the retail price.
Many local communities offer parents groups with email lists and information exchanges like Brooklyn’s Park Slope Parents group, where you can buy and sell baby items as you need them or your child outgrows them. In smaller communities, you can also try to find items your neighbors have for sale through the well-vetted Nextdoor site that only allows locals to register and sell items and regularly features great deals.
There are even baby equipment and carrier subscription services popping up, like Rent the Baby Gear in NYC that gives you the opportunity to test and rent one to three of the top-rated baby items at a time and test them with your little one. Chances are your baby won’t arrive with a list of his favorite seats, cribs, carriers, and walkers, so you’ll have to test a few out before finding the perfect one.
Another money-saving tip is to look for regional shopping events like Just Between Friends. Just Between Friends has created local consignment sales events in virtually every city that offer new parents a way to save money on big ticket items like clothing, furnishings, and strollers. Offering amazing discounts of up to 50-90% off retail prices, you can find everything you need for your new baby in one place. But shopping at Just Between Friends isn't like just going to a garage sale. They pride themselves on creating a safe and organized shopping experience, which is a welcome relief for new parents.
Buy cloth diapers
There is an endless debate for new parents over the choice of cloth versus disposable diapers. If you’re looking at numbers only, cloth diapers end up costing less, around $534 a year, compared to disposable diapers, which can cost about $800 a year. That’s a whopping 27% savings in just year one.
Most new parents are advised to start out with at least 20 cloth diapers and it’s recommended that you wash them every two to four days. Buy a starter set before you jump in with both feet, testing out the 4-5 different options to see which ones work best for you and your little one. The average newborn will dirty between 10 to 12 diapers a day, if not more. While you’ll certainly save some dough using cloth diapers over disposable in the long run, you will also need to factor in your budget the extra costs and time of rinsing, washing, and storing cloth diapers.
Not all cloth diapers size well from newborn to toddler. When you’re making your selection, be sure to pay attention to if the diaper is an all-in-one or will only last until your baby is a certain weight. Buying a well-made cloth diaper that will size from newborn to toddler will certainly help you save even more money in the long run, as you can expect those diapers to last well over a year, sometimes up to two years depending on the wear and tear on the cloth diaper.
Shop online super sales
The best news for new parents is that you don’t even need to leave the comfort of your own home to score money-saving deals on baby items like clothes and shoes online. Many sites offer competitive deals with flash sales that allow parents to stock up and save. Zulily, a popular deal site, offers up to 70% off major brands and is a good place to shop for shoes once your baby starts growing.
On average, you can expect to spend around $60-$70 a month on baby clothes. The good news is that popular retailers with some of the most popular baby clothes like Old Navy, Gap, and Carter’s have amazing online deals where you can save as much as 40-50% off at any given time. If you join their email club, even better. You’ll get exclusive emails with even more ways to save on your purchases. Carter’s offers a sweet deal for online shoppers with their Rewarding Moments program where you can earn $10 for every $75 that you spend.
Check out Amazon Family
While you typically think of Amazon as the place to buy all your favorite books and gadgets, Amazon's family division is fast becoming the go-to online shop for new parents. Formerly Amazon Mom, Amazon Family is a new parent's shopping paradise, offering exclusive deals that rival big box stores like Target and Babies R Us.
Another upside of Amazon Family is that it is part of the Amazon Prime division, which costs $99 a year and offers exclusive perks like free two-day shipping and a vast online vault of movies that you can watch for free. If you're already a Prime member, Amazon Family is a no-brainer for new parents looking to score shopping deals.
Two of the most coveted perks of Amazon Family are the 20% off deals on baby food subscriptions and diapers. If you've decided to forgo cloth diapers, with Amazon Family you can sign up for a diaper subscription at 20% off and receive automatic monthly deliveries right to your doorstep, saving you time and money. There are no year-long commitments, and you can cancel your subscription at any time.
With Amazon Family, you can also create a profile for your baby that allows Amazon to make recommendations for products and offer you exclusive savings offers at every stage as your baby grows. What's better than receiving all these perks without even having to leave your home as you balance life as a new parent?
Buy a stroller that grows
When it comes to buying gear for your new baby, look for gear that is useful for years to come. Since it’s a fact that kids grow fast, the more items that you can purchase that will grow with your child, the better off it is for your budget. There are so many high-priced items that you need to buy once you have a baby – like a crib, high-chair, and, of course, a good stroller – so it’s important to make sure they’ll last longer than 3-6 months.
If you think finding the "perfect" stroller for your baby is an easy task, think again. There are so many different stroller choices and a wide range of stroller prices. A durable all-around stroller can run anywhere from $100 up to $1,000. With that kind of price range, you’ll want to find a stroller that can grow with your baby, usually up to ages three or four, when your baby can walk on their own.
What are you looking for when you go to buy your stroller?
- If it’s safe and comfortable for your baby
- If it’s rear- or front-facing (or, even better, both)
- If it has attachments for car seats and bassinets
- If it’s easy to remove and wash all the strollers parts
- If it can fit things like groceries and a diaper bag in it (without it tipping over)
- If it can be folded, steered, and lifted easily
The best way to approach buying a stroller that grows is to set your budget before you even go shopping. Setting the budget first will help you tremendously in narrowing down all of your choices. You certainly don’t need to buy the Rolls-Royce of strollers to find a stroller that is safe, comfy, and will go the distance with your baby. Just find the best option for you within your budget and test it out at a local store like BuyBuyBaby before you buy.
Save money on a breast pump
The cost of feeding your baby with formula can run anywhere between $1,500 a year all the way up to $2,000 a year, depending on which type of formula you use. You’ll also need to factor in the costs of bottles and nipples. Most experts advise that you purchase between four to twelve bottles and a couple of packages of nipples. On average, bottles will run between $4 to $10 each and nipples $1 to $7 for a package of two to three. All of these costs certainly add up fast.
The good news is that breastfeeding is virtually free, except for the cost of a breast pump. Some new parents also decide to purchase a few bottles to have on hand just in case, but that is something you can decide once you start breastfeeding. Breast pumps used to run $200-$400 but in 2011, under much pressure, the IRS ruled that breast pumps are now considered a medical device.
As a result, many insurance companies offer reimbursement or even low-cost rental rates for breast pumps. Once you buy or rent your breast pump, save your receipt and turn that into your insurance company. Also, have your pediatrician write a prescription for your breast pump as further evidence for your insurance company.
Take advantage of free samples and deals
You’d be surprised at how many places provide free samples and exclusive deals for new parents, whether it’s an online company, your hospital, your pediatrician, or your obstetrician. It's an easy way to cut some costs from your budget, with many free samples able to last you a month or more.
If you’re going the baby formula route, Enfamil has free coupons and samples worth over $325 in value available to parents who register for their New Beginnings online club. Gerber’s Baby Nutrition Kit is available at hospitals and also comes with free samples and coupons. Target Registry has a welcome kit with $50 of coupons and samples and loads of other goodies
When it comes to your pediatrician and obstetrician, you can often score free samples of high-cost items like formula, rash cream, and eczema lotion. Free samples not only save you money but also give you a chance to try out higher-priced items and see if they are worth the price tag for the future.
With these seven tips, you’ll be able to afford the costs associated with your baby and ease into toddlerhood without busting your budget. While it might take you a bit more time to scour the internet for the best online deal sites for clothes and places to get free samples, the savings alone will be worth the effort. As a new parent, any way you can save a little extra money is a victory in itself.