money and know, the usual

While in St. Louis, I flipped through my friend's copy of Baby Bargains--a book written by the same people who gave us Bridal Bargains. Back when I planned our wedding I was all over the bridal version of this book because it really cuts through the junk and tells you exactly how to save money. I mean, prepping for a wedding and a baby are really a lot alike if you think about it. Both the bridal and the baby industry seem to prey on emotions, the 'need' for the best of the best out there, and it's easy to fall prey to marketing ploys out there for both instances. Planning a wedding you'll hear the industry tell you 'It's the biggest day in your life, go all out, because you only get married once.' It's hard NOT to compare your wedding day to some of the big baller celebrity weddings out there, right?

Same thing with planning for a baby. Of course you want the very best room, gear, supplies for baby. The baby industry can make a new mom-to-be feel like if you aren't buying the most expensive stuff out there then you obviously don't care about your unborn child. And motherly guilt can be a real biyatch, even when your kid is still in the womb.

The Baby Bargains book seemed pretty straight forward and I liked a lot of their points. They had a really interesting breakdown of how much they recommend spending on a baby in the first year of life. Now I realize our baby isn't even born yet, but a lot of these categories are something you begin to complete even before birth:

Crib, mattress, dresser, rocker:

Baby Bargains recommends: $1500
I spent: $145. Boo-ya. Craigslist find for the crib, mattress, and dresser, recycled rocker in our attic, and furniture paint included. This was a HUGE one, I know. But of course, Baby Bargains was not happy with our choice to buy the crib pre-owned. I think it was even listed in giant capital letters that you should NEVER buy a second-hand crib because it might not meet current standards and pieces might be missing or damaged. Well, I still feel good about our purchase because it does meet current standards (researched that one to death, no worries) and was in fabulous condition--no missing parts. Definitely bent their rules a bit on this one. :)

BB recommends: $325
I spent: $203 for bedding, cushion, and curtain fabrics/supplies--gifted to us from mom, so really it was free. It's amazing how inexpensive 'custom' bedding, curtains, and all fabric in a nursery can be when you have a seamstress mama! My DIY artwork throughout the room cost me $30 if that counts as 'decor'.

Baby clothes:
BB recommends: $600
We've spent: $20 out of our own pockets so far. We've been so good, haven't we? Plus we've been given many adorable outfits for baby boy as gifts already, even before our showers. I'm sure once he gets older we won't have as many 'older kid' outfits on hand, though.

Disposable diapers:
BB recommends: $860. But this must just be for the first year of disposable diapering.
We've spent: $90 out of our own pockets so far, for our 36 infant pocket folds and 3 snappis. I'm thinking that the rest of our supply will come from registries as gifts. You already know how I feel about cloth diapering for budgeting purposes, so I'll leave this one alone now:)

Maternity/nursing clothes:
BB recommends: $1130
I've spent: MAYBE $250. Cannot fathom spending that much on temporary clothes, and I've been blessed to have a lot of friends lend me cute clothes throughout this pregnancy. Plus, it helps when you just have to wear scrub pants, any shirt, and lab coat to business attire for me!

Nursery items, high chair, toys:
BB recommends: $475
We've spent: on our rug, paint, shelves, lanterns=$350. I still think it's funny that our biggest splurge in the entire nursery, including all of the furniture, is our Ikea rug. And I still think it's worth every cent of the $200 we paid.

Baby food/formula:
BB recommends: $950
We've spent: um, hoping to breastfeed as long as possible, nothing spent so far. A classmate and friend of Nate's is lending me her breast pump, by the way. Score!

Stroller, Car Seats, Carrier:
BB recommends: $600
We've spent: $0. Between our sweet REI dividend that will buy us our BOB stroller for free and gifts off our registry, we are set in this area. By the way, Baby Bargains rated the BOB stroller as an 'A' and had nothing but great things to say about our pick. I was sort of surprised, because I assumed the authors would think it was overpriced and frivolous....apparently not!

BB recommends: $600
We've spent: hmmm, not really sure what this category entails so far.

Total BB recommends spending: $7040
What we've spent: $885

So yeah, we're pretty freaking frugal, wouldn't you say? It just goes to show you that if you choose to DIY with a little elbow grease, if you hunt around for great deals online, if you are willing to buy a few things pre-owned, if you have a mom and mother-in-law who can sew up a storm, and wonderfully generous friends/family in your life, you do not need to spend a fortune on a baby. A single income family can, in fact, make it work financially but you just have to research a lot and be willing to make sacrifices. You simply do not NEED big name designer furniture, baby gear, and clothes. It all boils down to need versus want...and I want a lot of baby stuff that I will never buy, simply in the name of saving money. I like to tell myself that by the time we have #2 (God willing) we will likely have two salaries and maybe we can splurge a little more next time around. But let's get real, I highly doubt I'll relinquish control of my tightwad tendencies that easily.

Now of course, all of the money we've saved thus far will go right towards full time daycare for baby Carlos but there's nothing we can do about that. And of course, paying a qualified, caring daycare to watch my first born son will be worth every cent. No cutting corners there.

Bottom line: you can plan for a baby on a budget and I truly believe you can raise a child on a budget as well. They really don't NEED that much and I'm quite certain my son will not care about the brand name of his dresser or clothes or toys. He better love the fabulous shade of aqua on the walls, though, since that's my personal favorite:)


  1. I love your posts because...I am pregnant! We haven't officially announced it on the blog or facebook or anything, but family, close friends, and my work know. I am 10 weeks. I've enjoyed going back and reading your weekly posts based on how far along I am.

    Thanks for all the tips!

  2. I love this post! Great job on coming in over $6K below budget!

  3. I definitely agree that you don't have to spend a fortune, but a HUGE part of the reason we haven't spent much is very generous friends and family, and sadly, a lot of people just don't have that! We got all the big items we needed from our showers, and my friend who has a baby one year older than ours will be is lending us ALL her clothes - I don't know what we'd do without friends and family - it would make having a baby much, MUCH more expensive and difficult!

  4. Woo Hoo, check you out, Mrs. Frugal! Be careful with the breast pump, though. A coworker is pregnant and did some research on used breast pumps. Only one is approved for second-hand use, even IF you change out all the tubing and stuff. Just wanted to pass that along!

  5. Great post, I agree that you (with the help of your family) have done a great job getting ready for baby on a budget.

    BTW would recommend having one box of disposables in Newborn size~the prefits don't always quite fit the tiny tushes

  6. way to go - fun to read how you guys have found so many deals!

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  8. "First born son"

    Don't those words just warm you to your very toes? sigh...

  9. Way to go J. Your frugal post reminded me of a story in the opposite direction... the other day one of the 5 year olds showed up in a new coat. Her mom forgot to take the price tag out... so of course we all checked it out. 400,000 won... as in $400. For a COAT! Sure it was cute and all, but really?!?!? I mean, these kids roll around on the floor in their coats... I def. think frugalness with little kids is the way to go. Especially when I see them wiping their noses and spilling crap all over the sleeves of their adorable Burberry outfits. :)

  10. If you don't mind (I hope you don't!) I'll be stealing the format of this post to document my own pregnancy/baby spending. Loved reading through it!

  11. Nothing like not having a room to decorate to save you money, though! At this point, baby #2 does not have a nursery so that knocks out, well, most of the big expenditures. I can honestly say that we are saving thousands of dollars with baby #2. We already have everything and are lucky to be having the same gender! Seriously, we've spent $20 on a new outfit and that's it.

    Now if we sell our house and suddenly have a baby room to decorate . . . watch out!

    But we're a one-income family now so I still wouldn't go crazy. I have to laugh at people who spend $1000+ on a crib. Ours was $200 and my son chewed on it during teething. So glad I did not splurge on that one.

    I would say job VERY well done, mama. Most people get a little too crazy in my opinion!

  12. Yikes! Some of those BB recommendations seem a bit steep to me! But then again, we're like you..very stingy with our money.

    Our crib costs $120, mattress is about $80 and Jim's redoing his old childhood dresser. Oh, we're going to buy a rocker which is about $200 so I guess $400 for the nursery furniture is a long way from the suggested $1500!!! And $1130 for maternity clothes? I think I'm in the $250 range as well...then again, I can get away with jeans and a hoodie everyday.

    Good insight though..makes me feel better too :)

  13. Great post! I love reading your blog. It gives me ideas for when I have a baby.

    I am sure you have done your research and all, but I wouldn't borrow a used breast pump no matter what.

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  15. With every thrifty post you make, I wish that you had your son first, so I could have learned from you! Dang it! Not that I don't love the little boy or anything, but man! I would not have spent so much freakin' money!!!!

    I love that you have spent the least amount possible for you. I'm just a B student. I did some research and then mailed it in from there. :)

  16. I am pregnant with my third child and I borrowed that book because the last time I had a baby was 7 yrs ago and things have already changed since than. I was shocked at how much their "cheap items" were. For my son we got a used crib and cleaned it up and than my daughter used it two yrs later so we are out on the hunt for another used crib...definitely smart on your part. I think now days we can rely a lot on gifts, thanks goodness for that registry. The only thing I would change on your list...I breast fed my son for the first 10 months and you still end up buying a little formula and baby food. So even if you are a 100% breast feeder you do end up buying a lot of formula and food however they still put it at a pretty high price. I thought because I was breast feeding we would be good for awile but they eat foods quicker than I thought and more than I Loved this post by the way...great idea, and a good motivator for us pregnant followers. :)

  17. Love your blog! Thanks so much for posting so much info about how you post your pics, layout, etc. as my blog needs an overhaul and you have great tips! Enjoy preparing for baby!

  18. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



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