Monday, February 3, 2014

Baby on a Budget

You know, contrary to common consensus, so far my third trimester has been a lot more enjoyable than my second. My back stopped hurting, my nausea went away (again... hopefully for good this time!), and my sleep has improved by leaps and bounds. Plus, my pregnancy cravings have decided that the one thing I need more than anything else is smoothies. Shockingly healthy, right? I mean, they're not steamed vegetables (which still make me want to gag, by the way,) but a homemade fruit smoothie is still a large improvement over the chocolate and ice cream I dreamed of the past 7 months.

Strawberry-pineapple-mango-banana smoothie. Delish...

Friends have warned me that babies are quite expensive little people. This seems to be true. After all, those pregnancy blood tests alone are over $80 a pop, not to mention the $800 ultrasound my insurance didn't deem it necessary to cover. Basically, I'm braced for an expensive delivery, higher monthly insurance costs, and lots of doctors appointments for the little one; that all seems unavoidable.

But what about all this baby stuff? Seriously, the list of baby "essentials" is long and full of silly words, like "snuzzler," "boppy," and "bumbo." Not only do they sound Dr. Seussish, they also end up costing a lot if you buy them new. Since my husband and I are poor first-time parents, I knew from the start that I wanted to have this baby on a budget, and my eyes were peeled for good deals since day one. Here are the results of my epic quest for frugality:

Discoveries Made on my Epic Quest to Have this Baby on a Budget:

1. There is a ton of free stuff available. After all, babies grow out of all this stuff pretty quickly, and I've found that parents are really generous at just giving away their used items. It seems like swings, strollers, bouncers, and what-not all take up quite a bit of space, too, so I can understand why moms want to clear out these space-consuming contraptions as soon as possible. A list of free items I've gotten include:
    • Bumbo seat
    • Boppy pillow
    • Fisher Price Swing
    • Fisher Price infant seat
    • Graco Stroller
    • Glider with footrest
    • Futon
    • LOTS of baby clothes
Ok, so a futon isn't exactly a baby necessity, but with a mother and mother-in-law planning to come visit, it seemed like a good addition. Where did I find all these gems?
    • This is where I found a lot of my items. I had no idea there was a "free stuff" section; in fact, I'd never used craigslist at all until we were pregnant. It also has the nice feature where it lists upcoming garage sales where people are selling baby items. My glider, swing, lamb seat, and bumbo were all acquired for free from this site. (Of course, use good judgment when meeting with strangers, folks.)
    • Some friends alerted me to this website. It is basically a craigslist where everything is free. You join groups by city and receive emails about what other freecyclers are donating. There's also the option to request items; I know two moms who got gobs of baby items simply by requesting "Baby Stuff."
    • Church Item Swaps. I think these are such a good idea, whether it's a literal gathering where everyone brings their items to the church building or an online exchange. It seems like the women in my congregation are always sending out emails that they are giving away their used baby gadgets. 
    • Friends and Family. I guess this one is obvious, but I'm so grateful for these resources! I don't  mean the gifts new moms get at baby showers (though those are simply wonderful, too!) I mean the giant suitcase-full of baby and maternity clothes I inherited from my sisters, the futon our friends gave us, and the stroller from a fellow church member. 
2. If you can't get it for free, you can probably get it used. Again, craigslist was my go-to spot for used items, but people who actually get up/get dressed on Saturdays seem to love garage sells. I bought my Graco Pack 'n Play and my jogging stroller secondhand.

3. If you want it new, look early for deals! I was successfully suckered into deciding I needed a new crib, crib mattress, and car seat. I know there's debate on all those things, but for my peace of mind, I just needed to buy them new. My awesome neighbor loaned me this Baby Bargains book that rates various baby brands for just about everything. It's supposed to help you get the best bang for your buck, and it actually has a ton of information. Anyways, it influenced my buying decisions: I got my crib at Ikea for $100. Even though that's really inexpensive for a crib, I felt guilty about it until I saw this crib at the American Girl store:

It's cute, right? It also cost $115. That's right; this crib for a doll cost more than my crib for a person.

So I don't feel guilty anymore. The mattress is a foam one from for $36. As for the car seat? We got our Graco Snugride 30 at Target for $65. The same one sells online for $129.99. How did that happen? I... have no idea. It didn't seem like it had been opened. It didn't have a special price tag, nor was it advertised to be on sale. Still, I'm glad I researched car seats beforehand to know that a) this was the one I wanted and b) it was a steal of a price!

4. DIY Which, in this case, mostly means have my mother do-it-herself. She used her sewing wizardry to make a matching crib skirt, curtain, and pillow. Then, she recovered my glider from craigslist (which you can see here.) Then, she sewed coordinating covers for the little boxes I use to stash Sour Patch's stuff. It was free labor given with love, and the result is so much cuter than any expensive set I could buy. I did manage to make one thing myself: a photo board using an old cork board, leftover fabric, and Walmart ribbon.

Though I'm feeling mostly set for Sour Patch's arrival, my quest for frugality in all things baby continues. I've become an Amazon Mom (which is free if you have Amazon Prime) and already received a $25 promotional credit towards diapers. I'm contemplating becoming a Costco member. I'm planning on trying the 6-month free trial of Google Shopping Express. Any other tips?

Basically, I feel like I'm becoming more and more like my mother... which can only be a good thing.


  1. I am impressed. Your nursery is beautiful and I love that it was so cheap

  2. Wow, you are amazing! Nice deal hunting. So excited things are coming together for you :) Also, if you like Google shopping express, you might also like Walmart to go (same concept, but they deliver perishables).

  3. Ooh, good to know about Walmart to go! I'm already really good at procrastinating my trips to get groceries, and I'm sure having a baby will only make that inclination worse. :) Marie, you're so sweet to compliment my nursery, since you know that 90% of the time it's a disaster zone as I try to get everything organized. It's a work in progress...