Even when the economy isn't doing scary stuff, the expense of a brand new person can be huge. Especially for folks who go from a dual income to a single income in the shriek of a newborn!
Here are a few ways to save on the boring stuff, (so there's more money for the FUN stuff... or you know, the mortgage):
1. Think Cloth. Home-washed cloth diapers can save as much as a THOUSAND dollars a year. And even a diaper service can be cheaper than disposables. You also get to keep grubby dipes out of landfills. (We have a shared, $3-a-load laundry and anti-baby-poop neighbours, and NO place to store a week's worth of stinky diapers... so I get to be wracked with guilt!).
2. When it comes to disposable diapers think generic. This can be kind of a leap, but, if you're prepared to try out and compare generic diapers you can save yourself a fortune. Ask around too, for example, word of mouth was how I found out that European supermarket chain ALDI's own brand diapers are WAY better than Pampers (Really, I was stunned too) and they come in at about a third of the price. Same goes with wipes, your baby's bottom doesn't care how fancy the packaging is. Or you could try and...
3. Make your own wipes, you get the warm glow of environmental friendliness AND you get to save money. As an added bonus, you get to control the ingredients and can avoid scary chemicals.
4. BUY LOTS! Buying the biggest packages of diapers works out to be loads cheaper per diaper. Try Discount Diapers Direct. Amazon also has pretty good prices for bulk diapers, often they are eligible for free shipping, and occasionally they have crazy discounts.
5. Breastfeeding is free, but if it's not an option for you for whatever reason, then, A'ly don't feel guilty and B'ly... Try powdered formula. It works out a bit cheaper than 'pre-mixed' cans (which you have to add water to anyway). We were a bit nervous about the whole powder-water-CORRECT RATIOS OR ELSE thing but we switched for a trip to Europe and have never looked back. It's way easier to make up just what you need than with the cans.
6. Helllllllo Coupons... hunt them down, use them with glee in your heart, and stick it to the man...or maybe not the last one. There are a squillion coupon websites out there, parenting.com has a list of good mom-centric ones here. The email 'newsletter' from your chosen brands can sometimes net you goodies too.
7. Sign me UP. If your drug store (chemist) or supermarket has a points or rewards scheme then SIGN UP especially if they have a specific mom and baby reward scheme. For example, we have a Shoppers Drug Mart Optimum card, and between our expensive pookie and their 20 x's the points deals, we get back about $150 every 3 months.
8. What are you doing Wednesday? Did you know that Old Navy, Gap (and Banana Republic), and few other places do their markdowns on Wednesdays? For those brands prices that end in .97 are as low as they're getting... and thus must be scooped up IMMEDIATELY!!! (What? That's how I live with myself!).
9. Buy ahead. It's kind of a heart breaker but your pookie won't stay a teeny little bundle of deliciousness. Pretty soon they'll be a giant, stomping bundle of deliciousness. Shop the sales for the pookie you will have in 6 or even 12 months time (you have to guess a bit on their growth rate). This works best for the basics. Do bear in mind the seasons, no point getting that super-sweet woolly sweater in a size 12-18 months if your pookie will be that age in the middle of summer.
10. Swap it out. if your Y, or nursery, or even your building has a clothes swapping scheme then dig in, with both hands! Things like jeans, dungarees and coats stand up really well to more than one baby's worth of wear. Don't be shy about this, and DO put your gently used items into the scheme (it's good Karma!). if you know a bunch of other mamas consider throwing a swap shindig.
11. Similarly, getting acquainted with Craigslist is a good idea, especially for 'bigger' stuff that baby's seem to grow through in a matter of nano-seconds (activity bouncers for example). On the flip side, if you have bought these items new you can get a little cash AND offload them, instead of having their huge shiny plastic selves hang out in your living room taunting you.
12. Do you need it? It's a good question to ask, and it's really easy to get lost in the 'MUST HAVE' as a nervous new parent. Ask friends and family or check the interwebs for forums on what people find absolutely essential. Read product reviews and shop around.
For non-baby related budget stuff check out Curbly's Recession Busters.
Image and Costume from here.