My husband and I had our first child three months ago. Neither one of us had particularly high paying jobs before the baby was born, but we managed to obtain all of the items we felt necessary to prepare for him with little issue. All it took was a few simple steps and the discipline to follow through with our plan.
The first step was to make a list of everything we needed to get for the baby. That list was split into two parts: everything we had to have before the baby was born, and things we will need later. Nursery furniture, diapers, clothes, a travel system, bottles, maternity clothes, a bouncer seat, and a baby monitor were some of the things on our immediate list. Baby gates, safety spoons, a, high chair, and outlet covers went onto the list of things we would need later. Then we focused on the list of things we would need before he was born. The rest we know we can get as he needs them.
Step two was to make at least one registry. We knew we were having a baby shower, but even if we hadn’t, the registry was still important. A lot of stores give you a coupon about a month before your due date for 10% off of everything remaining on your registry, and some have contests to win everything on your registry. We even put the furniture on ours, just in case we won a contest. Our registry let us know when any of the items listed went on clearance, giving us the chance to get them at a discount before most people even knew it was marked down.
The third step is the one that everyone struggles with. Saving the money to purchase the items. We had a system that worked great for us. Every month our bank transfers $25 out of our checking account into our savings account. On top of that, all of our loose change got rolled at the end of every week and put into savings as well. Half of any “extra” money was saved for baby items; money from items sold on CraigsList, made at yard sales, the occasional babysitting job, or from taking surveys.
Next, we looked for deals. We went to used baby and consignment shops for name brand maternity clothes for less than $5 per piece. When we told friends and family that we were expecting a baby, people started volunteering items that they had left from their kids and grandkids. We got a bouncer, play mats, a diaper bag, toys, clothes, a monitor, and a baby gym for free. At church sales and the local MOPS (Mothers of PreSchoolers, Inc.) sales we were able to get the rest of what we were willing to buy used for almost nothing. We also used coupons to make great deals better. Most stores let us use a manufacturer coupon along with a store coupon, such as 20% off any item.
When we had gotten the easy basics out of the way, we moved onto the bigger items. My sister in-law told us in advance that she was getting us a travel system for the baby shower, so we wouldn’t risk buying a used one that could have been in an accident. Other family members asked what they could buy for the shower that we would get a lot of use out of, ensuring that we got a playpen, highchair, glider, and bedding set.
Our most important step was to comparison shop. We went onto the Babies R’ Us website, and found the perfect set of bedroom furniture. Then we pulled up the manufacturer’s website, and found the same model numbers under a different brand they make. It was the exact same pieces, just under a different name, for about $150 less per piece, sold at WalMart. On top of that, the crib came with a free waterproof crib mattress, saving us over $80.
We never went over our budget, and now the money we used to save for baby gear gets deposited into a savings account for college.