Budget buys for baby: Save money on your little one
Your new bundle of joy will soon arrive, and with him a bundle of new expenses you'll need to manage. A few experts weigh in on where you should plan to skimp, save and splurge on baby so that you all sleep well at night.
Save on baby gearSandra Gordon is a mom of two and author of Consumer Reports "Best Baby Products." Gordon says a new baby can take a "surprisingly big bite out of your budget."
So in addition to taking advantage of freebies and coupons, we offer up some tips on how to save when it comes to baby gear.
Buy as baby grows"Hold off on buying certain items to see if you really need a particular item. The wait and see approach can give you time to check in with friends about their experiences with specific baby products and ultimately save you money."
Stock up in the fall"Fall is prime baby bargain time, since retailers tend to clear their inventory to make room for next year's products -- which arrive between November and January," says Gordon.
Mega stores and discount chains like Baby Superstore, Babies "R" Us, Buy Buy Baby, Kmart, Sears, Target, Toys "R" Us,and Wal-Mart often have the lowest prices, although not always the largest selection. "For personal attention and more informed sales staff, smaller stores are a better bet."
Consider a discount club membership"Go to places like Costco or Sam's Club for things like disposable diapers, baby wipes and laundry detergent." Gordon says to sign up for loyalty savings card programs at your drugstore or supermarket to rack up savings and receive coupons.
Go onlineIn addition to buying items used, Gordon also suggests visiting sites like the SheKnows shopping channel (shopping.sheknows.com), bizrate.com, nextag.com, shopping.com, epinions.com, and couponcabin.com to compare prices, shop and get the latest coupons.
Save time and moneyKim Danger, author of "The Big Book of Baby Bargains" and creator of Mommysavers.com has been helping moms save time and money for over 8 years. Danger offers these tips on what you really don't need to buy before baby arrives.
Stretch mark cream"None of the creams on today's market have proven to help so save your money. Heredity gave you stretch marks, and only time will fade them."
Certain baby furniture"A changing table can be expensive, and not to mention unnecessary. Most parents find that changing their baby in the crib, on a bed or on the floor is just as convenient. If you do buy a changing table, look for one that converts to a dresser when you're done using it to change diapers," says Danger. "A toddler bed is another thing to skip. When your baby outgrows his crib, simply move him to twin bed instead of a toddler bed. Leave the mattress on the floor if you're concerned about him falling out."
Walkers/jumpers"Opt for a stationary exerciser instead of a walker or jumper that attach to a door. Many have been recalled due to safety concerns, and they are still available on the secondary market."
Laundry detergent"The detergent the rest of your family uses should be fine. If your baby has sensitive skin, buy one that is fragrance-free and make sure you clothing is thoroughly rinsed."
Bottle sterilizer"Most parents don't realize they already have a sterilizer in their homes -- the dishwasher. Place bottles and bottle brushes in the top rack." Make sure the dishwasher has really hot water and that you use the recommended type of detergent to ensure you get them clean.
Enjoy a less expensive lifestyle
Mechel Glass, Director of Education at Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Atlanta (CCCS), says there's good news when it comes to financial planning for baby. "Having a baby forces certain changes onto parents, typically resulting in a less expensive lifestyle," said Glass. "You don't have to go out as often…rest assured you'll have no problem finding something to do once the baby arrives."
Glass offers these additional tips:
Save on daycare costs"Start calling centers as early as possible in case you have to get on a wait list." Glass says costs for daycare can range from $40 a week for a program in someone's home to $125 a week for a more established center. "Ask friends for recommendations and call the state agency that regulates daycare centers to get their rating. Don't delay – it's important that you plan for this new weekly cost in your budget."
Medical care"Some parents get lucky and experience few health problems with their newborn, others need more attention from their pediatrician, so it's difficult to carve out that number into stone," says Glass. "Depending on your deductible or co-pay, you may need to budget an additional $200-$300 a month just for baby's medical care."
Every mom-to-be has a list of worries when it comes to your new baby. But if money is high on your list of concerns, now you know that's one big thing you can cross off your list!