5 Ways to Avoid Baby Bankruptcy

By Kelly Hodges
Like any new venture in life, becoming a parent for the first time will incur some start-up costs.  An initial investment will need to be made to get the goods necessary to care for the new little bundle of joy. Babies R Us and other baby-oriented retailers would have you believe that it’s necessary to drop thousands of dollars to invest in all the gadgets and gizmos that line the aisles of their stores. How could any baby possibly survive without a 7-piece matching mahogany furniture set in the nursery? The truth is that the startup costs of parenthood do not have to send mom and dad to the poor house if approached in a practical and systematic way.

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Here are some solid strategies all pending parents should utilize to optimize spending on items for their baby… Let’s call it “5 ways to avoid baby bankruptcy.”

1.  Research what you really need.  Before you start purchasing any items, you need to really figure out what is necessary. It’s hard as a new parent to know which elements are critical since having a baby is a whole new and unfamiliar experience. The best way to evaluate this is to speak with close friends or family who have recently been through the process.  What worked for them? What didn’t?  Is there anything they can’t live without, or wish they hadn’t purchased? If you don’t know anyone with young children then do your research online or at the library. There are several books such as Baby Bargains that offer practical advice to help you sort the essential from the superfluous. Remember that there are very few things that your baby really needs- a safe place to sleep, clothing, food, diapers. Research what is right for your situation first, before you start to buy.

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2.  Ask to borrow or buy from others.  Once you’re clear on the things you need for baby, see if there are any friends, family, or neighbors who might be willing to loan or sell you some of their equipment. Once a baby outgrows an item (which happens very quickly), many parents are stuck with swings, bouncy chairs, clothing and the like clogging up their storage spaces. People are often very willing to lend out items they are not using, or sell them to you for much less than you could find at a store. This ideal scenario can work wonders if you have generous people in your life who are willing to share, but you won’t know unless you ask!

3.  Utilize garage sales, resale shops, and Craig’s List.  Not everyone will be fortunate enough to hit the jackpot with a neighbor who is just itching to unload all her baby gear onto you. No worries, there are other avenues to gain great bargains on baby equipment as well. Garage sales, resale shops, and Craigslist are all great alternatives to get quality baby items at prices well below retail. Most baby stuff is outgrown so quickly that babies don’t have time to ruin it, so second hand items are in just as great of shape as those out of the box. Garage sales can be hit or miss, so look for ones that advertise children’s items. Also target sales in family-friendly neighborhoods as the odds of finding what you need are greater. Craigslist is great for larger items like strollers or feeding chairs. Children’s resale shops offer amazing discounts on clothing that are in like-new condition, many with the tags still on them! Keep in mind that there are a few items you don’t want to get from strangers for safety reasons. Cribs should always be bought new or from a trusted friend or family member to make sure that they are in perfect condition and meet all current safety regulations. Likewise car seats should not be bought secondhand, as their safety is compromised if they have ever been involved in an accident.

4.  Make a registry.  Whether you are having a baby shower or not, there are people who will want to give you a gift to celebrate the birth of your baby. Utilize a registry at Babies R Us, Target, or another baby retailer and list items on there that you really need, those few items that you want to have new, and consumable items like diapers. Don’t be afraid to put a few more expensive items on the registry (like a crib), a few friends or family members may decide to go in together so you can get exactly what you want.

5.  Keep some perspective.  The prospect of bringing a new baby into the world is exciting and overwhelming, and it’s very easy to get caught up in the mentality that more (and more expensive) is better. Remember that your baby doesn’t care if his outfit cost $2 from the resale shop or $50 from a boutique, and he’s going to spit up all over it either way! Covering the costs of raising children is a marathon, not a sprint, so it’s important to keep a practical perspective right out of the gate.


Any opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author, and do not in any way represent the views or opinions of her employer or any other person or entity.

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