Well, since my How I Save Money at the Grocery Store post was so popular, I thought I’d follow it up with a little info on how I save money on baby stuff. Honestly, there will be no revolutionary concepts in this post, nothing much that you haven’t heard. But, I really don’t spend much on Evelyne, and there are a few corners I cut, so here they are:
1. I just don’t buy that much stuff! OK, that’s my big secret. I just don’t really buy her very many things other than necessities like food and diapers. It is definitely tempting to buy her something every time I walk past the toy section in Target, but it seems like any time I do, she doesn’t even play with what I get her anyway! She’s happiest these days playing with random things around the house. For instance, right now she’s playing with a plastic pitcher and shaking a (very well sealed!) bottle of vitamins. Littered across my living room floor I see a coat hanger, a water bottle, photos, and DVD cases… all things that she plays with on a daily basis. Nowadays I just ask myself if something can hurt her or if she can break it and if the answer is no, it now becomes her toy. Easy enough, and it cuts down on spending.
2. I use Luvs diapers and I buy them really cheap. I LOVE Luvs! Little-known-fact: They’re actually made by Pampers. I started buying them for Evelyne when she fit into a size 3 because that’s when they start making the “bear-hug stretch” tabs and sides. (I don’t think they make this for sizes smaller than 3) Seriously, they’re almost exactly like Pampers Cruisers, maybe just barely not quite as soft. Same shape, same stretch, same absorbency. I love them because they are CHEAP and I really don’t feel like I’m sacrificing on quality. Some babies need to wear certain brands because of skin sensitivities, but unless that’s the case, I really don’t see the reasoning in paying so much more for other diapers just because they’re well-marketed.
Luvs sends-out tons of coupons, too. Target regularly has Luvs coupons on their coupon generator, which means you can print-out as many as you want. Recently they even had a $2.50-off coupon. Around the same time they’ll often put Luvs on sale. So rather than paying full price of $15.99 for 92 size 3 diapers, I buy them when they’re $14.99 and use a coupon. Then I buy 3 or 4 boxes at a time. A couple months ago I bought about 5 boxes at $12.50 a box, so I saved almost $18.
3. I buy her clothes on sale at the end of the season and at consignment sales. This is definitely easier if your child grows predictably and wears the same size as her age, but if you do have a predictably-growing child and you’re willing to think ahead, this can save tons of money. At the end of last summer, when Evelyne was 8-9 months old, I found tons of clothes at Target and Wal-Mart on clearance for $1. I got her a bunch of really cute size 18-month shirts and shorts and skirts to wear this summer. It was so nice to spend next to nothing and simply pull the clothes out of the closet when the weather started getting warmer. I already have several size 2T items for next winter. I got some super-cute courderoy pants from Children’s Place for about $3.50 for the fall. I already have a pair of size 3T pajamas that I got for $1. I don’t mind the minimal storage, and she’ll definitely wear them at some point. I’d rather buy them way early than realize I don’t have them when I need them and run-out and pay $10-15. Keep your eyes open for great sales toward the end of each season, and think ahead by buying larger sizes.
I buy a lot of her clothes at consignment sales as well. We have several sales around my area that are HUGE, and there are racks and racks of cheap clothes to sort through. I admit, some of them are truly tacky. But some of them are incredible deals on barely-worn namebrand clothing. I rarely buy anything that’s not under $4, and most of what I’ve bought is Gymboree or Children’s Place clothing. If you’re willing to dig a little, don’t be afraid to buy gently used clothing.
4. I buy toys at consignment sales. Most sales will have both clothes and toys, and you can definitely save a TON of money buying gently used toys! I’ve seen several things for sale that are less than half the price I paid at the store, and I really can’t tell that it’s been used. Sales are especially good for big-ticket items like swings, strollers, outdoor toys, and tiny baby toys. (do NOT buy a used carseat at a consignment or garage sale!) I saw about one million toy blocks and links and teethers at the last sale I went to–all plastic items you can quickly disinfect and give to your baby. Is it really worth it to spend $6 on a piece of plastic that you can get for $1 when the baby won’t know the difference anyway?
5. Make your own babyfood. I did this for a month or two until I got a great coupon deal on Gerber jars and bought 150 of them for pennies. It was SO easy, please don’t be intimidated or think it sounds like something only supermoms do. Take sweet potatoes for example: I would cook a sweet potato or two (any way you like, baking and steaming keep more nutrients than boiling), and then puree it. I used an immersion blender which made it super-easy, but you can use a food processor or blender. Then I spooned it into ice trays, covered with foil, and stuck them in the freezer. I calculated that it cost me about $.05 per ounce doing it this way (depending on the food you buy) and the jarred stuff is around $.10-.20 per ounce. I think I spent around 15 minutes pureeing and spooning into ice trays and it lasted Evelyne weeks. www.wholesomebabyfood.com is a great resource if you’re looking to make your own babyfood.
Those are just a few things I do to save a money on baby stuff. The biggest thing, though, is just applying the frugal principle of asking myself “Do we really need this? Can we afford it? Will I regret it if I don’t buy it?” before I buy anything. The answers to those questions usually keep me from spending money on frivilous outfits and toys and prepackaged foods that simply aren’t necessary.
Does anyone else have any frugal tips to help save money on baby stuff?