Babies are great. They’re cute, they represent the infinite possibilities of humanity, and they give us our only and best chance at immortality. They’re also expensive. Really, really, expensive. Like cash your paycheck, take the pile of money, set two-thirds of it on fire, and use the rest to dry your tears expensive.
Saving money is always great, but unless you’re independently wealthy, the benefits of frugality take on a whole new meaning after you and your other decide to duplicate yourselves. There are some places you shouldn’t try to save money with your baby. A bargain pediatrician, for example. But there are many corners that you can cut safely. One of the biggest ways to save money is to buy stuff used whenever you can.
Follow this list to be sure when secondhand is OK. PS: If you’re reading to determine whether used diapers are OK, please don’t have a child.
The number one place to save money, hands down, on a recurring basis is by accepting hand-me-downs or buying secondhand baby clothes. Babies do very little. They eat and sleep and go through diapers. All of that leads to rapid growth, which makes most adorable, expensive baby outfits obsolete after a handful of uses – for absolutely no reason.
When people put outfits on babies, it’s the same as when they put outfits on dogs. It’s not for the dog, it’s for the person. The baby with the football jersey, the baby ballerina, the baby in really tiny adult clothes. Guess what – the baby isn’t a Florida State fan and the baby isn’t an aspiring dancer. It’s all so mom and dad can treat their baby as a living doll and dress it up – which is totally fine! That’s their right. But if it means saving a ton of cash by getting used clothes that wouldn’t necessarily be your first choice, the baby isn’t going to be upset.
You know what the baby really wants? A college fund.
You know what infants don’t do a lot of? Running. Or walking, for that matter. Just as with designer clothes, when you see a baby wearing shoes, those shoes are for the parents – not the kid. A baby has about as much use for shoes as a horse. Wait. Bad example. A baby has as much use for shoes as – well, you get the point.
Babies grow quickly and grow out of stuff at an astounding rate of speed. Even if the little one wears the same shoes every day until they don’t fit, they’ll incur almost no wear because, well, they don’t actually touch the ground.
When kids are older, they’re into their own stuff and want their own toys. Cross that bridge when you get to it. When they’re hungry, babies mistake their own hand for a breast in the very beginning. Don’t waste money on new toys. The baby doesn’t know or care that it’s not his own. If it’s shiny, bright, makes noise, or gives off light, he’ll find a way to get through the day.
But do be sure to check for chips, cracks, and especially loose parts.
Playpens are probably OK to buy used after an inspection and preferably a new mattress – as long as the playpen or crib was manufactured in the year 2000 or later (the most recent required safety update was written in 1999).
Spring for a new crib. It does NOT need to be fancy, match the other stuff in your room, or have any attachments or decorations. You can get a beautiful, big, basic crib brand new at Ikea for about $100 – and probably cheaper other places. The most recent required safety updates were written for cribs in the summer of 2011, making most used cribs obsolete and technically unsafe.
Unless you’re made of money like the motorcycle/boat guy on the Geico commercial, definitely buy baby furniture used. This stuff is expensive, but there is no sane reason in the world to buy it new. Make sure it wasn’t cheap junk in the first place; make sure there’s no chipped paint or wobbly legs; make sure it’s sturdy, safe, and that it wasn’t recalled. That stuff aside, you can literally save hundreds of dollars by going for secondhand furniture.
A dresser and a changing table? If your dresser has a flat top, your dresser is your changing table. Don’t be afraid to sand, paint, refurbish and make your “new” furniture your own.
Modern strollers are ridiculously complicated and almost comically expensive. Yes, you can buy them secondhand or accept a used one from a family member as long as they were made after 2007, the most recent year for safety standard updates. Be careful, though, about hanging cords, snaps, buttons, or torn cloth. Modern strollers totally encapsulate your baby and – for obvious reasons – there can’t be anything in which he or she can get caught or tangled.
You know how your grandmother always ran around looking for bargains, always trying to pinch a penny, and you always wondered how she got that way? She had a bunch of kids, that’s how.
Kids are great, but they’re definitely not cheap. There are some things you can’t compromise, but others that you definitely can. Buy used when you can to save money – you’re going to need it for other stuff.