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Shortly after I found out I was pregnant last year, I started researching all of the things I would need for my future baby. With pregnancy hormones coursing through me through my body, I acted like what any rational pregnant woman would do.
Photo by Nasrul Ekram
Not only was I overwhelmed by the sheer amount of things this tiny human would need, the costs were rapidly adding up.
My friend lent me a copy of her fantastic book, Baby Bargains, which breaks down all the things you do (and do not) need for your baby, recommendations on items by category, and money-saving tips.
I was shocked to see how much a child could cost in a first year. According to the 2011 edition, the average household spends over $7000 on baby stuff in the first year.
I don’t know about you, but I didn’t have an extra $7,000 laying around.
Since reading that, I have made it my mission to save money on baby items for my daughter.
Not because I am cheap, but because I would rather have money to spend on experiential things for her, like a trip to a local museum or a playspace for when the weather is bad. Not to mention babies grow so quickly, that it just seems like such a waste both financially and for the environment to buy things brand new that she will quickly outgrow in a matter of months.
With a little bit of patience and an open mind it is very easy to buy things for way cheaper, or even get them for free, for your children.
How you can save money on clothes, toys and necessities for your children
Put out a request on Freecycle
Freecycle is, as the name implies, an online site that allows you to give away and request things for free. In regards to baby items, so far I have only used it for requesting baby clothes for my daughter, but I have also seen people giving away carseats, pack ‘n plays, games, toys, books…you name it! And if you are new to Freecycle, be sure to check out my post about the unofficial rules for using Freecycle.
Check out local yard sales
I live in a very densely populated part of the country, so on any given weekend from late spring until around October there are an endless number of yard sales. I looked online specifically for ones that were selling baby items last fall and I was able to get some amazing deals for clothes for my daughter that will last her through the end of this year.
After my husband and I picked out which carseat and stroller we wanted for Eve, I started doing a search on Craigslist. We were able to save about $100 on the carseat and about $300 on her stroller this way.* (Both of which, by the way, looked like they were brand new condition.) Since we had a particular stroller in mind that was more than we wanted to spend, but we did not particularly care what color it was, buying it on Craigslist worked out really well for us. We later used it to buy a specific highchair for her, and I have friends who have used it to buy things from clothing to a sandbox for their children.
Join a listserv for local families and/or a Facebook group
This one is one of my favorites, but I am not sure how much this is utilized in other parts of the country. There are a number of family-related listservs by town where people advertise everything from upcoming family-friendly events, share information about childcare, and sell and give away baby and kids’ items. My favorite feature is you can put out a call that you are looking for something in particular. I have used it to get a carrier (for free!) and an infant tent for the beach.
I am also part of several Facebook groups that are specifically for selling items for children. Don’t see one yet in you area? Start one with your friends and tell them to invite their friends to join. The more people in the group = more things to go around. Just be sure to set up some ground rules and have at least one person moderating the group.
Peruse children’s consignment shops
I love going to consignment shops, not just for myself, but for my daughter as well. My favorite one is based down the road in a local library. All of the items in it (which includes not only clothes, but toys, books, and carseats) are donated and all of the proceeds go toward helping to fund the library. I have found some really adorable baby clothes for her there (and make more trips to this particular store than I would like to admit), some of which were brand new with the tags on.
Borrow from friends
I have a friend who’s baby is nine months older than my daughter, and we have been able to borrow so many things from her, including some big-ticket items including a swing, bouncing seat, and most of the cloth diapers we use for my daughter. Whenever she outgrows something our friend lent to us, we just return it so she will have it for whenever she has her next child. I anticipate as more of my friends start having children that we will be lending more of our items to them as well.
Search for clothings lots on eBay
I recently bought a great collection of clothes for my daughter. I got about 30 pieces for about $45 including shipping and handling. The tricks is to put “clothing lot” when you are doing your search and you get more bang for your buck. For example, I put “18 months girls clothing lot” and there were some great finds at really affordable prices. You have less control over the individual pieces, but the savings are worth it! (Plus you can always sell or give away the pieces you won’t be using.)
Check out Swap.com
Swap.com is the largest online consignment shop of kids’ stuff and maternity clothes. I have found some really beautiful clothes and toys for Eve, including a gently used train set for my daughter.
With a little bit of patience, you can easily save hundreds of dollars on clothes, toys, and necessities for your family!
What have you used to save money on items for your children?
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*When buying items used, also be aware of any recalls and safety standards.
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