My Kid Doesn’t Need to Look Cooler Than Me: Preparing for Baby on a Budget

Tree growing from coins

When we told people we were pregnant, the masses advised us that we’ll never have money again. Ominous, yes?

I’m glad we didn’t listen to these folks. With proper preparation and using the ol’ noggin (*taps temple), we still have money to put away for vacations, savings, shopping, or frivolity and other fun nonsense.

To avoid giving all your money away when prepping for your baby, all you need are planning and discipline—two words that don’t spark the idea of fun. If this sounds like adulting, it’s because shopping for your baby is adulting at its finest.

I’ll warn you now: baby stuff is pretty freaking cute and it’s hard not to get swept up in the desire to consume all of the things. 

A few quick rules to put in place when shopping for a baby:

  1. Don’t go into expensive baby stores. Just don’t do it. Avoid these places at all costs. You’re setting yourself up for failure and you’ll go into debt making your baby look awesome. Honestly, your kid doesn’t need to be trendy.
  2. Research items before you buy them. Don’t make impulse purchases EVER. Buyers remorse is a real thing, friends. You’ll hate yourself a little bit if you drop a bunch of your hard-earned dollars on something your kid uses once.
  3. Make a list of what you actually need and stick to it. There are a lot of modern conveniences out there that you think you “need” but you actually don’t. 

Since babies grow so fast, it’s hard to rationalize spending so much money on brand new items. Well, friends, there is always a way to avoid paying full price.

I want my kid to grow up with quality items, but I also don’t want to have to pay top dollar when it’s not necessary. The good news is, we didn’t compromise and we still saved a bundle.

Here are some ways you can prepare for your baby without dipping into savings or stretching yourself too thin:

Get Baby Items for Free

Fact: Moms love helping other moms.

If you have friends or family members whose babies have outgrown certain items, in many cases, they’re happy to pass them along to you. 

One of my girlfriends has a one-year-old and they may want to have another baby so she doesn’t want to get rid of everything just yet. In the meantime, she’s loaned us clothes, baby toys, a baby tub, swing, and accessories that gave us a great starting point for baby stuff. Additionally, since she wants the items back, we won’t need to worry about what to do once our wee one outgrows everything. 

Buy Baby Items Second-Hand

The three rules outlined above come in really handy here. With your list of the items you actually need, do some research to figure out which brands and specific items you want. You can find a vast majority of those products second-hand. 

The key to buying second-hand items is to start looking early to give yourself time to find exactly what you want. Another perk about buying quality items: if you keep them in good condition you’ll be able to re-sell them and recoup some/all of your money.

We bought a lot of our items on Facebook Marketplace. Two of the purchases I’m most proud of are the crib and dresser set and our baby stroller.

The crib and dresser set was about $1800 brand new when you included the conversion items to turn it into a toddler bed. $1800 is a number that makes my bank account want to throw up. We found a lady looking to sell the bedroom set quickly and we only spent $250.

I knew we wanted a Bumbleride Indy stroller. Those things wheel around like a dream and really fit our active lifestyle. We had to wait on this one for a few months but eventually, we found the perfect one. It was sold to us by a meticulous accountant who gave us a half-hour tutorial on the stroller before he would take our money. We only spent $200 on this stroller that will last us years. Booyah, baby!

…I don’t know why I wrote that. I never say “Booyah”. Hopefully, it serves to emphasize my delight and doesn’t make me sound entirely foolish.

Rent Baby Gear and Toys

There are companies, like Wee Travel in Vancouver, where you can rent what you need when travelling with babies and kids. If you think you need to purchase a bunch of portable gear, you’re wrong. It’s only practical to buy your own portable/travel gear if you’re taking your kids away often enough that buying your own makes more sense in the long run.

Toys, tubs, cribs, monitors, strollers, most things you want can be booked for a long-term rental if you need and the prices are pretty affordable. Of course, if it’s something you’re going to get a lot of use out of, it’s worth spending some money up front to get your own.

Consider How Long You’ll Use Baby Items

There are some items babies use for only a short period of time: baby swings and bassinets, for example. You’ll blink and your child will be too big for these types of items. Since kids outgrow certain things so fast, again consider whether they’re needed or if you’re able to get them for free from someone you know or pick them up second-hand.

The cost of baby clothes baffles me. I won’t deny how adorable some of them are, but again, kids grow so quickly that I can’t see the worth in buying brand new expensive clothing.

A second-hand store near us says that they get tons of donations of baby clothes every day which means they sell them for very cheap (six dollars for however much you can fit into a grocery bag). A lot of this stuff is hardly used because, again, babies outgrow clothes faster than you can even imagine so the clothes are virtually brand new.

Baby Gear Swaps with Friends

Dan and I don’t want our home to mimic a toy store. Clutter is not our scene and we actually want to limit the number of toys little Hodgins has in order to stimulate their creative/innovative/explorer side. That being said, we do have some toys for the baby, just not a billion.

Instead of buying new toys on a regular basis, we have toy/clothing/baby gear swaps with friends. It costs nothing (unless you bring an appy or dessert to make an afternoon of toy swapping), and you can reinvigorate your baby supplies and get in a good visit with your friends. Win all around.

Join a Discount Group

There are some things that you may not want second-hand, or you’ll be unable to find second-hand. In times like this, you’ll need to purchase new products, but you should still try not to pay full price.

I joined a Vancouver-based group buying platform for parents, Mommypow.ca, that offers discounts on many parenting products, household items, and eco-friendly alternatives for everyday items. See if there are any groups like this in your area that can help a mom save a few dollars.

Reuse Where You Can

Not only is it good for the planet, but it will save you a ton of money if you’re able to get products that are reusable rather than disposable.

For example, we’re using reusable diapers from the Quebec-based company, Applecheeks. Not only are the diaper cover designs adorable, but you can also buy one-size diapers that you’re able to use the same diapers from birth until your kids are potty trained.

It’s a bit of money up-front to get set up with reusable diapers, but when you do the math on how much you’ll spend on disposable diapers over the course of baby and toddler-hood, you’ll save a small fortune. Seriously, crunch the numbers.

Reusing can help mom out too. I have a collapsible stoyo travel cup that is great when I want to get a coffee on the go. Several coffee shops give you a small discount if you bring in your own cup (to save a little bit more money). An even better way to save money is to make the coffee at home for mere cents and then take that coffee with you.

Add Items to a Baby Registry

If anything else, register for the baby items you need as opposed to the items you want. A registry helps your friends and family know what will help you the most as you enter parenthood. I would rather have a baby thermometer than a pair of baby converse sneakers. When family helps you prepare, it helps take the financial burden off of you.

However, some well-intentioned folks will go off-registry and get you gifts that you don’t necessarily need. We ended up bringing some gifts back for store credit because we’d already purchased the items ourselves or we were given gifts that didn’t suit us.

If I may make a small PSA for those looking to buy a gift for new parents: it’s very sweet of you to get something for the baby and of course, it’s appreciated, but if you want to get something that isn’t on the registry, ask the parents what they NEED.

You and Your Partner Are Teammates in Saving Money

Dan was a great policeman when it came to buying items for our baby. I needed him to keep me in check during a few weak moments when I was lured in by the cute and impractical baby things. He always asked whether we truly needed some of the items I was looking at…and every time the answer was no, we didn’t need it.

Teamwork and holding each other accountable served us very well, and we were able to get everything we needed for our baby for about $800. When we spread our purchases over several months, there was very little financial impact on our cash flow and now we’re better able to put our money toward other things for our kid, like a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RESP).

When you’re a first-time parent, it pays to ask other parents which items are actually needed. I don’t harbour bad blood toward parents who want all the trendy new items for their babes—your kids look adorable and Instagram ready. Trust that I’ll always double-tap your posts.

I work hard for my money and I want to be able to afford to give my wee one a life full of adventure and memories. By saving money now, she’ll gain a lifetime of fun experiences, the ability to go to college, and eventually, an inheritance.


Photo Credit: Micheile Henderson

One Reply to “My Kid Doesn’t Need to Look Cooler Than Me: Preparing for Baby on a Budget”

  1. Loving this

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