The Ultimate Guide To Raising A Baby On A Budget
This is my personal guide on how I had a baby on a budget. You do not have to be poor to be on a budget. Many of us are conscious spenders, everybody has their reasons for sticking to a budget.
You might be able to afford everything new, but you don’t have to.
Over the years upcycling has become more of a trend than a way to save money. Some of the most creative pieces of furniture come from a salvage yard or garage sale. It’s amazing what you an do with some paint and sandpaper.
When you buy second hand, you support another mother who is looking to improve her budget by getting a return on investment. If the item is still in the excellent condition it would be crazy to dump it! Of course, it can be donated to charity, however, some are fussy on the items they sell due to liability.
My first child was born on a shoestring budget. Let’s just say his conception was welcomed, but a tad bit unexpected. From the moment I found out I was pregnant I went into full budgeting defence mode. How the hell was I going to afford a baby when I can’t even afford new underpants?
Where there is a will, there is a way.
Reach Out To Your Community For Baby Items
Reach out to your community. This includes friends, family and anyone that you are associated with. I will repeat what I said earlier, wanting to save money does not always mean you are struggling or are in poverty. Many of us are on our second child and we know items some items only get 2-3 months use before they are tossed in the storage room.
Don’t be embarrassed to shout out to your friends!
“We are having a baby! Wanted to just touch base with everyone and ask, if you have any baby stuff in storage you are dying to get rid of. Throw it our way! We want to avoid purchasing everything new, it just seems crazy when our baby will grow out of it so quickly. Anything we don’t need anymore will be donated to charity”
- Asking friends for help doesn’t mean you are poor
- People budget for conscious reasons, i.e. Landfill
- It’s human nature for friends to want to help when it’s genuine.
- You may actually be helping friends who don’t have the time to move things on
Note: Whatever you do. Don’t sell items given to you in good faith! This is just my opinion but if somebody gives you a product, it’s likely they will feel disrespected if you sell it for a profit after you have finished using it.
Check Places You Wouldnt Normally Bother With!
With the rise of Facebook selling groups and Marketplaces websites like Ebay and Gumtree have taken a hit. Ebay, in particular, is swamped with new items and the platform has become non-friendly for secondhand purchases. Ebay also has a great feature which is not used enough, you can save alerts on eBay so you will be notified if “A second-hand cot under $50” has been listed.
Many people do not like the Facebook Marketplace and still, prefer to buy in Facebook Groups. Keep an eye on them both. Facebook Marketplace has not really been embraced very well, this leads to items going cheap because people just don’t have the time to sell their item properly. Items are also often listed in the wrong category.
It’s also worth checking places slightly out of your comfort zone occasionally. For example, I wouldn’t normally drive further than 10KM to pick up a second-hand item. However, there has been times where I have looked further out of desperation and saved more than enough money to justify a 20km trip for pick up.
- Use Alerts on Ebay
- Browse sites like Gumtree
- Check Facebook Marketplace
- Browse Slightly further than you would normally go.
What does this mean? When an item is listed on Ebay it does not achieve the same success it used to. Second-hand items which are pick up only often sell at a very low price, which is a win for the buyer. Another thing to consider is simply wanting fancy stuff if you are a fan of interior design or the look of designer furniture rocks your world, Ebay is a great option.
When I had my second child I purchased two two french imported cots with mattresses, both on ebay. The mattresses had quality protectors so they were in new condition. The Cots also game with a huge matching Tallboy for the total cost of $150.
The owners were both very busy full-time workers with twins. Although they could have probably sold the set for a LOT more, time was money for them and they were planning to return to France. Everything had to go ASAP.
Buy Well Ahead For Your Baby
If you have the storage then start buying ahead. How far you go with this really depends on how budget intense you are. From the ages 1-4 years old I’ve never found myself saying “My kids have too many clothes” or “We have too many packets of baby wipes”.
I purchased all of my transitional products well ahead when If I saw them at a price which shouldn’t be passed up. This way, if I ended up not using them I did not feel the wrath of buyers remorse. Baby Walkers and jolly jumpers for instance, not all babies like them.
Case your local thrift stores and shortlist those that have consistent quality clothing for a reasonable price. If you are lucky, you might find one with a “fill A Bag” option for kids clothing, this is a godsend!!! My shopping therapy is completely fulfilled by a good fill a bag or 50c piece bin!
Fill A Bags are also popular at garage sales, however, be careful you don’t use more petrol than the clothing is worth. Go in with a plan and come out with a bargain.
- Shortlist Your “Best” Local Op Shops
- Take note of local baby & kids markets
- Plan your garage sale trips carefully
- Stock up on “spare” clothing for outside play
- Buy transitional products ahead
Your local baby and kids markets are a great option. There are a couple of tips I have for these. Arriving early means you have access to the absolute best of the stock on offer, but keep in mind it will also be at starting price. If you are in desperate need for certain niche products then arriving early is for you.
If you are looking to pick up clothing for the backyard or daycare and items which the baby niche is generally saturated in then arrive late. Most sellers don’t want to have to pack up anything, they want it gone. So at the end of the day, things are marked down drastically and sometimes are FREE.
I went crazy with buying ahead, my friends thought I was mad!! I purchased huge storage tubs and packed away sizes for years ahead. With fill a bag sale making clothing around the 20c per item, worst case scenario if an item didn’t work out these made for cheap cleaning cloths.
I also can’t stand season shopping. I hate that winter approaches and clothing is at an absurd price and often stores are lacking in sizes. When winter comes, I am pulling out boxes of awesome clothes which I have snapped up at ridiculous prices!! I also treat my friends to loads of hand me downs and they love the support.
Second-Hand Doesn’t Always Save You Money
I went through so many prams in four years it was embarrassing. I kept buying second-hand prams that I would swoon over, but usually, they were a “second-hand bargain” for a reason. Prams are a difficult product to buy second hand, I feel like getting a good price and product is very hit and miss.
Unfortunately buying an item like a used pram can lead to being burnt. Prams are mysterious, there are things on a pram you will not find during a pre-sale inspection which later on will cause you extreme distress. Prams have many features which you need to rely on to keep you sane, if one of those features are broken then you have wasted your money.
Prams have many features which you need to rely on to keep you sane, if one of those features are broken then you have wasted your money. You also need to identify how your pram will need to serve you before you know the type of pram you need.
- Consider where you will be using your pram
- Does it need off road wheels?
- How much will you be carrying in your pram?
- Is storage space in the car a problem?
Then there’s the issue with just not liking the pram. It happens. In 2010 I purchased a Love N Care Europa. This was a similar style to the Phil & Ted but much cheaper. I purchased the pram second hand and within weeks I realised I hated it.
It was unstable, the wheels were only shopping centre friendly and the folding mechanism was worse than my mood swings during pregnancy. One of the wheels also played up, which was not noticeable at all during pre-sale inspection. This second-hand pram was immaculate to look at, cost $350, which was almost half of the $600 RRP at the time.
There are many things you may not want to skimp on when buying for your baby. It’s important to be safe when buying second hand. Just be careful, be smart and consider if the saving is worth the risk.
- Car Seats (may have been in an accident)
- Prams (as mentioned, just be smart when buying second-hand prams)
- Microwave Sterilisers (Microwave sterilisers are not expensive new)
- Electric Sterilisers (Asl about the products age, build up inside and cleanliness)
- Baby/Toddler Bike Helmets (These are best purchased new)
- Furniture (Second hand is fine, but check everything for faults. especially cot drop rails)
- Matresses (best second-hand mattress still has the plastic on or be visibly VERY well looked after)
- Old Model Styles Such as baby gates (older styles often have worn security fixtures)
Some items are not reccomended to buy second hand due to hygiene. Thats a personal decision and only you can decide wether or not you have the instincts to detect an item which has been well looked after.
Consider Renting A High-End Pram Before You Buy It
There is a service called Tree Hut Village which is relatively new. I have not tried this service but I think it is something to consider if you are looking at purchasing a high-end pram. Parents across Australia are listing their baby products for hire, so other parents can use them. So for example, if you are looking to purchase a Bugaboo Chameleon, this will set you back over $1000. You can rent this product for 3 Days at a cost of $25.
Some Items You Just Don’t Need
Do you really need a heater for your baby wipes? a food warmer or electric steriliser? That fancy cot set which includes 4 different pillows, you can’t use that. If these products make you happy, make your life easier or you just love looking at them, Totally buy them!
Some items will just clutter your space and destroy the minimalist lifestyle you once had before a baby came along. Some things I went without that others wouldn’t dream of sacrificing, that’s cool – we all have our different needs.
Items I Realised I Can Live Without Or Never Considered Buying
- Baby Wipes Warmer (Get used to it baby, the world is a cruel place)
- Bottle Warmer (My babies screaming, hurry up and warm already)
- Change Table (Not exactly, I’ll Explain)
- Expensive Baby Bag (I preferred a bag I chose which wasn’t specifically for a baby)
- Diaper Bin (bought one, hated it, never again)
- Baby Hooded Towels (These are nice as gifts but are generally annoying to use)
- Baby Shoes (Babies can’t walk, they are for looks only)
- Undersized Bibs with a tie (These things are so annoying, Hail the velcro Jumbo Bib!!
- Full Bedding Set (Expensive and my baby lived in a swaddle or sleeping bag)
- Baby Bath (I used the bath or the laudry tub, one less object around the house)
- Baby Pillows (SIDS recommends no baby pillows, these are for looks only)
- Mattress (unless as previously mentioned they have the plastic still on or visibly been looked after with a high-quality protector)
How did I survive without a change table?
The change table is a necessity in some form. I became so sick of the space a traditional change table took up. I then invested in a folding change table, this slid away much better but became a nuisance to unfold every time I wanted to use it.
I ended up buying the change table topper with high sides (looks similar to a mattress) and used it on top of my babies tallboy dresser, this was a better height than my change table and saved so much room!
Try & Be Consistent With Kitchen Products
This doesn’t necessarily save money. But it will save you time and mega frustration. It’s nice to want different styles of plates, bottles, sippy cups etc but stacking them away in the kitchen becomes a nightmare when they do not align with each other.
The first baby I ended up with so many different styles of bowls and sippy cups my kitchen storage was like a bomb went off in the decor aisle in Woolworths.
Today my children are between 5 – 10 years old and I have opted for the IKEA brand plates, cups and bowls. They all stack neatly, are affordable and always available on sale. There’s plenty to consider when you choose feeding products.
- Do you have little kitchen space?
- Do I need a different set of bottles for travel?
- Are these products dishwasher safe?
- Will multiple children be using these?
- Are these bowls so small, I will be throwing them out in 4 months?
- Are these Sippy Cups easy to clean? Do they have a straw replacement?
Before you know it your baby will be a toddler, eating from a bowl and using a cup. Whatever brand you go with, think about your kitchen, the time you will save and the functionality of the product.
Make Your Own, Purchase Reusable & In Bulk
I’m not going to preach this one to the high heavens. Obviously making your own baby food is going to save you money. It’s the most obvious point but I do realise times have changed and we are under a lot of pressure to jam so much into one day.
Reusable has saved me a lot of money. I jumped on the cloth nappy wagon very late, this is a decision I regret. I purchased cloth nappies second hand in excellent condition and was very surprised, I thought I’d fail myself with the washing and soaking of them. I also sold them on at double the price (the Ebay bidding was out of my control), which was a pleasant return on investment!
Another product to consider are reusable food pouches, products like Sinchies are a great way to save money on travel baby food and yoghurt. They can also be used for various other things too (homemade alcohol pops….just saying)
I could write so much more on this subject. If you made it to the end of this very long guide, congratulations! You are obviously very serious about your budget!
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