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5 Money Saving Tips for New Parents

July 20, 2012
Managing Money
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We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

Having a baby might be the biggest investment you’ll ever make. Not only do you have to start saving for college, but they’re hungry all the time. Your first priority is to keep your little one safe and happy—here are a few tips to help save money at the same time. Here are 5 money saving tips for new parents.

1. Strollers

Nowadays, these things have the size and brand-consciousness of an SUV—and the price tags to prove it. Don’t feel pressured to buy the newest or most expensive stroller. With the top models priced at $500 and beyond, you’ve got to make sure you buy the stroller that’s exactly right for your lifestyle. Do you have twins? Are you a jogger? Live in a fourth floor walk-up? If you’ve got to go deluxe, keep an eye out for your chosen model on Craigslist, eBay, urbanbaby.com, and consignment stores. Just like veggies, make sure you buy your stroller local—you’ve got to take it for a spin before you buy. Sticky wheels are replaceable, but if there’s any damage to the frame you’ve got to stroll away. Your number one priority is always safety, of course, so make sure to check for recalls.

2. Car Seats

This standard, on the other hand, should almost always be purchased new—car seats “expire” after six years, since the plastic can begin to degrade. Any car seat that has been in an accident must also be thrown out, as its integrity may have been damaged in the collision. When you do your research, keep in mind that European companies test their car seats at higher speeds than American companies, so a five-star British rating is higher than its American equivalent. Luckily, you’ll never have to buy a new car seat at full price if you plan ahead. Britax, one of the top-rated British car seat companies, has a big sale every year in February. With original prices from $150 – $300, buying last year’s model can save some significant cash while keeping your little one safe. Whatever seat you choose, take advantage of a free inspection once it’s installed at your local car seat inspection station.

3.    Clothes

 They grow up so fast! Only buy clothes that fit right now, since your little one might have a sudden growth spurt and outgrow your favorite outfit altogether. And try to skip that adorable sailor suit—buying gender-neutral clothes can end up saving you money down the line when Junior gets a little sister. Little baby Air Jordans and Toms are, arguably, the cutest things to have ever existed, but let’s get real: if your baby’s not walking, does he or she really need a $40 pair of shoes? Stick to some soft, cheap booties and put the savings in a college fund. Buying second-hand is always a great, cheap option for your growing kid. Shop thrift stores for special purchases like a fancy dress or suit, since chances are those items were only worn once or twice. You can also start a swap at your playground or daycare where parents can trade what their children have outgrown for some sweet new-to-you duds.

4.    Food

The best way to save money is to breastfeed, if possible. With formula around $1 an ounce—plus the cost of bottles, nipples, and brushes—breastfeeding is obviously the cheaper often, as it’s totally free. Once the baby’s older, the best way to save money, along with aiding your baby’s growth and nutrition, is to make your own baby food. That way you can ensure that your fruit, veggies, and grains are always organic and fresh. For the cost of groceries and a blender, you won’t have to buy expensive pre-made baby food—the organic stuff is over $1 a jar. Plus you’ll know exactly what you’re feeding your baby. And it’s just as easy as the canned stuff, since you can make extra and freeze it in ice cube trays for food on the go.

5.    Diapers

Another way to save money—and, as a bonus, the environment—is a cloth diapering system. Before you say ewwww (okay, go ahead and say ewwww), know that cloth diapers will save you thousands of dollars over the course of your baby’s life. And that’s including the water and energy it takes to wash them. You’ll need the initial investment of diapers (~$20 a pop) and a special diaper sprayer attachment for your toilet (~$60).  Most cloth diapers are made to fit your child as he or she grows—consider that the average baby goes through 8,000 to 10,000 disposable diapers. At about 50 cents a diaper, that’s a whole lot of cash you’re keeping out of the landfill. Perhaps most importantly, cloth diapers are softer and more comfortable on your baby’s bottom than disposables.

The best way to save while raising your baby is to consider every purchase, big and small. A little bit here and there can add up to a lot down the line. While you should never sacrifice your baby’s health or safety to save a few bucks, you’ll be surprised how often the frugal thing is the best thing for your baby, too.

New parents image via Shutterstock