Saturday, July 24, 2010
When I decided to stay home with my baby girl, I started looking for ways to save money to offset my lost income, and BabyCenter.com’s $10,000 estimated cost for her first year gear just was not going to work in my budget. Besides, my parents only seemed to have the most basic baby gear for me, so what “essentials” could possibly add up to ten grand? As a self-proclaimed minimalist, I thought I could beat the system by avoiding most baby gear altogether.
Well, surprise! It turns out I love my baby gear, but through a LOT of research I did discover a variety of ways to collect whatever baby gear items I wanted without paying retail for them—in some cases without paying for them at all! In the end, I saved 70% off that intimidating $10k figure. How? I’ll give you an overview in this post. If you want more specific info, check out the Ecofrugal Fridays segment on 29Diapers.com, which covers baby gear money-saving tips one category at a time, including how to save the most money possible on your baby’s wardrobe (I paid negative 57 cents for an entire year’s worth of clothes) or how to save 85% off organic baby food.
One of the best ways to get started saving money on baby gear is to figure out which items you really want and which you want only if you can get them for free. Write out a list of items and how much you expect to pay for them, and then go find them one at a time. Here is how:
Giveaways. If you have the time to enter blog giveaways, you could win a ton of stuff. It’s a numbers game, so you will need to find blogs that sponsor a lot of giveaways and subscribe to their newsletters so you can spend your time entering giveaways instead of finding them. I go into more detail about how to find giveaways here. Using this technique, I won about $600 worth of baby gear, including several hundred dollars of cloth diapers, which was the focus of my effort.
Freecycle. Freecycle is an organization that promotes giving away things to people in your local area that you would otherwise throw away. Everything must be free, no strings attached, and you can both offer and request items within a specific distance of your location. Freecycle was a big part of how I got my daughter’s entire first-year wardrobe for free, because people love to unload their kids’ entire closets by just packing them up in boxes and giving them to the person who responds to their Freecycle offer first. Win-win!
Combining sales. This is for those of you who think of saving money as a competitive game. Just how big of a sale can you create by combining different money-saving techniques? Well, you can buy an item on clearance at your local baby boutique, double up the savings with a mailer coupon, AND add a Facebook-fan-only discount or a newsletter-subscriber discount or a Twitter-follower discount. My baby boutique offers all these ways to save, but you have to be in the know to find these deals! If you don’t have a local boutique and you are shopping at a department store, try this one on for size: buy an item that is on a seasonal sale, preferably one that offers an extra discount for early birds, and scope out the sale early so you know how much you’re going to spend. Then, look online for promo codes to save even more AND go to a site such as Giftcardrescue.com and purchase a discounted gift card in the amount you are going to spend, which will net you an extra 10-15% off your purchase. (Please note that these sites can be slow to send you your card, so if you’re stalking a deal that will disappear quickly, skip that last step.) My daughter was given a cute—and very warm--outfit for Christmas that she would have grown into in April, so I took it to Macy’s the day after Christmas when everything went on sale AND there were early bird specials for an extra 20% off, and I replaced this one outfit with five Carter’s onesies, two pairs of pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and a matching onesie and bib and sleeper. Now that’s a sale!
I hope that sparks a few ideas to help you save money on your next baby gear purchase. There are many more ways to save, so if you’re interested in saving as much as you can, read more at 29Diapers.com.
Laura K. Cowan is an editor, writer, and WAHM, and the founder of 29Diapers.com, a baby blog that explains all about modern cloth diapering in one place and teaches readers how to save up to 70% off baby’s first year gear. She lives with her husband and baby girl in Michigan.