A new baby can take a surprisingly big bite out of your budget. Here are some ways to save:
If you don’t mind getting your name on mailing lists, call the toll-free customer service lines or register at the websites of formula, baby food, and disposable diaper companies for their parenting newsletters and new-parent programs, including coupons and free samples. Even if you don’t register, you may get them anyway. Somehow, when you have a new baby, word gets out.
At places like Costco or Sam’s Club, you’ll reap decent discounts on everyday items you’ll soon be using a lot of such as disposable diapers, baby wipes, and laundry detergent.
Aside from the basics listed earlier in this chapter, hold off on buying baby products until you’re sure you’ll need a particular item. The wait-and-see approach can save you money.
Prices can vary from one shopping venue to another, sometimes dramatically. Megastores and discount chains have the lowest prices, although not always the largest section. For personal attention and more informed sales help, smaller stores are a better bet, although keep in mind that salespeople may have an incentive to push their most expensive wares. And beware of the emotional pull of lines like “but it’s for your baby” or “it’s not every day that you have a baby”. Unless you’re on guard, it’s easy to be persuaded to unwittingly spend, spend, spend.
Big stores routinely put out newspaper inserts with savings of up to 20% or more for branded items.
Web shopping can be a convenient way to find the information you need about baby products and services and to make purchases – all without having to pack up your baby and the rest of your family and troop from store to store. Many baby and parent websites have online stores that offer good savings, especially at sale time, and periodically throw in free shipping.
When you prefer to shop online, watch out for the shipping costs. They can sometimes negate any savings – and then some.
Baby clothes, bedding, and toys can sometimes be found in thrift stores, online, and at yard sales at a small fraction of their original retail prices. However, some items such as car seats should always be purchased new to make sure they comply with the latest safety requirements and have no hidden flaws.
A store’s return policies can make the difference between being a satisfied customer and finding yourself stuck with something you don’t want or can’t use. So be sure to inquire. It’s not unusual for a store to allow returns only 30 days after a purchase, which won’t help if you’re shopping well before your baby arrives.
Manufacturers and retailers will often replace returned goods that have clear design or manufacturing defects. Hold on to warranty information so you can refer to it if there’s a problem. You may also find a warranty being used as a sales too. Some less expensive but adequately firm baby mattresses, for example, offer no warranties, while top-of-the-line models may have a “lifetime guarantee”. That may be protection you don’t need to pay for, considering that the typical use of a baby mattress is about two years per baby.