Save Money on Baby Items
- Friday, May 11, 2001
Ellie Kay is the author of How to Save Money Every Day. The following excerpt from her book follows the rather amazing story of her sons delivery. (His name is Joshua, but they call him Conan the Baby Barbarian if that gives you any indication as to the nature of his introduction to the world.) To read about it, click here. Otherwise, read on to see how Ellie has learned to spend less on caring for her little (?) one.
We can all see who Joshua takes after in our family. You may not have a baby barbarian; you may not want a baby barbarian. You may just have a very civilized,
sweet child, but either way, each baby needs all the paraphernalia common to little rug runners. Whether you're providing for one baby or triplets, here are some tips
to make those dollars go further.
You'll go through a ton of these babies in the course of a month. If you can't find them on sale or if they're still too expensive with a coupon, a Web buck or a store
coupon, they why not just make your own? Here's the recipe I used for wipes for my last three babies:
- 1 round plastic container with a lid (about 6 inches tall and wide enough to accommodate 1/2 roll of paper towels)
- 1 roll of heavy duty paper towels (no cheap store brands)
- 1/4 cup baby oil
- 1/4 cup baby shampoo
- 1/4 cup baby bath soap
- 1 to 2 cups water (depending on the absorbency of the towels)
Cut a small X (about an inch long) in the plastic lid of the container. Cut the paper towels in half to make two short rolls of towels. Use one and save one. (I use my
husband Bob's hacksaw. He usually discovers it, dull and covered with paper, when he tries to cut something else. Then he reacts with his usual quiet dignity and
grace.) Put the baby oil, baby shampoo, and baby bath in the plastic container and add 1 cup of water. Stir well. Place the paper towel, cut side up, in the water for
a few minutes. Then turn it over, cut side down, to let the other side absorb the liquid. Let sit for five minutes. If the roll of paper towel still has dry portions on it, then
keep adding water, 1/4 cup at a time, at five minute intervals, until the towels are completely damp (not dripping, just damp). After the center of the paper towel tube
is wet, gently pull it out of the center of the towels. Pull the towels from the center, and thread through the X in the lid of the container. Seal. Will keep fresh for up to
If you are considering going with cloth diapers to save money, then think this through again because you won't save money after laundering and the initial investment
of cloth diapers. However, if you choose cloth for ecological purposes, then knock yourself out ("You go, girl!").
If you choose to go with disposable diapers, try to only buy diapers that are on sale and with a coupon. Also check out www.valupage.com for web bucks, which
can give you cash back on the diapers you purchase, good on your next shopping trip. You could get Web bucks for diapers you would purchase anyway; every
dollar adds up on this costly expense for babies.
To get your favorite manufacturers' coupons, sign up at the doctor's office for diaper promotions from the leading brands. They should start sending you coupons,
usually with an informative booklet or magazine, every one or two months.
For more coupons, go to your favorite brand's Web site by typing www.(brandname).com. For example, www.pampers.com or www.huggies.com or
www.luvs.com. Many of these sites will even have gift certificates available for purchase, which is a practical, money-saving gift to request for your baby shower.
Once I got ten bags of diapers for free because one store had a buy one/get one free store coupon. That coupon, when taken to my favorite store, was then
considered a competitor's coupon. So I'm getting the diapers for half price because of that competitor's coupon. I got ten of those coupons from my friends and
family. My favorite store (that honored competitors' coupons) had an advertising special on their brand of diapers that was also buy one/get one free. So the
competitor's coupon (funded by the advertising department) combined with the store special (funded by the store) let me get the diapers for free. All I paid was the
tax. OOOOH, baby!
Get over the idea that Junior has to be dressed in brand-new clothing that hell grow out of in a month! You can buy used clothing and not deprive your child.
Babies and younger childrens clothing is worn, on the average, for only six weeks! Do you think a baby could wear out his clothes in that amount of time?
One mom asked me, "Oooh, what about the germs that come from wearing used clothing?"
I responded, "So you wash it in hot water and kill any germs. Tell me, do you take sheets with you when you go stay at the Marriott? Dont you sleep on used sheets
Whats the difference? The difference is about a 50 to 85 percent savings on childrens clothing. Here are some very practical tips to stretch those clothing dollars.
- Garage sales: See my book Shop, Save, and Share to strategize and shop effectively at yard sales; these are going to be your best bargains.
- Baby showers: If you are blessed to have more than one baby shower, like a church shower and a neighborhood shower, then ask each group for different size
clothing, starting with ages 3 to 6 months. Your baby might not even fit in the tiny 0 to 3 month clothes (Conan started out in 6 to 9 month clothing), and youll
probably get a lot of these in the mail from people who couldnt come to a shower. Pick up a few of these tiny clothes from garage sales so youll have a supply on
hand. Ask one group for size 6 to 12 months and another for 12 months or older.
- Make a list: Its not self-serving to ask for specific baby things at a shower. A good hostess will ask you for a list, so if youre expecting, start compiling one now.
The hostess will include this in the invitations. Most people appreciate specifics, and its fairly easy to exchange duplicates.
- Returns: After the baby gets here, people will probably ask you how they can help. If you didnt have a chance to return and exchange baby clothes or if your baby is
a different gender than you expected, ask a friend to run this errand for you. She can get you a gift certificate, and you can save it to purchase exactly the size and
style clothing your child needs. This one tip can clothe your baby for six months! (I got two baby outfits that were too small and they cost $45 each! I shopped the
sales on the return and bought twelve outfits!)
- Barter: Dont be afraid to ask your sister or a friend for her baby clothes, especially if you know they just had their last child. If it makes you (and them) feel better,
then offer to barter for the trade. I traded a tan leather easy chair, which was only 18 months old, for $250 worth of services and merchandise. I would have only
gotten about $200 at a yard sale or consignment store for the chair, and I figured Conans Native-American name means "He Who Runs With Ink Pen," so why
should I keep a tan leather chair? (Dennis Rainey told me at a radio taping, "I dont think Id like a teenager who answers to Conan,"so we changed Joshuas
nickname to Mighty Man of God!
Ask yourself the following questions to get the right value for your family:
- "Is this for our first child, and do we plan on having more?" You may do well to buy new and consider it an investment if this is your first child. If this is a
late-in-your-life baby, then all you need is a nice-looking used crib to make it through one baby.
- "How long will we need this crib?" If you plan on three or more years between children, then you may want to consider a crib that will convert to a youth bed.
Otherwise, youll need the crib for the next baby before his older sibling is out of it. Most children outgrow a youth bed by about age six.
- "What is the quality and construction of this used furniture?" If the construction is solid and you are handy with some putty and paint (nontoxic), then buy used.
- "Could I purchase a display model?" Most merchandisers sell their display models at a considerable discount.
- "Will this possibly be someones gift to us?" Dont buy baby furniture until you are reasonably certain that this will not be a gift from Mom and Dad or Grandma and
- "Is this furniture functional, practical, and reasonable?" If you have to go into debt to buy the furniture you feel your child is entitled to (your baby, by the way, will not
care what he sleeps in), then you need to reevaluate your priorities. Materialism makes paupers of us all.
I got thirty boxes of baby juice free today and I dont have a baby! Ill donate them to a crisis pregnancy center, or perhaps Ill pour the apple juice into Bobs
breakfast glass and see if hell notice. Here are some great ways to save on baby food.
- Freebies: Remember to sign up for formula samples through your doctors office (you may need to ask for this) and take advantage of any special offers included
with the free formula samples you receive during your hospital stay. Keep checking my Web site for the latest toll-free numbers, free samples, and money-saving
- Commercial baby food: You can go to your favorite brand name site (the way we showed you in the Diapers section) to check out available coupons and savings.
For starters, try www.similac.com or 1-800-222-9546 and www.gerber.com or 1-800-443-7237. You could also call the toll-free operator at 1-800-555-1212
and ask for the toll-free number of your favorite brand. Then call and ask them to send you coupons. You will then get on their regular mailing list and receive other
- Grind your own: Invest in a small grinder with removable plastic parts. This is a minimal investment with maximum savings.
- Fresh: Grind several portions of freshly prepared vegetables before you add salt and other seasonings. You may have to add a little water as you grind. Place
portions in airtight plastic containers and refrigerate immediately if you are not going to serve them right away. They will be good for about four days.
- Canned: If you dont have time to steam or boil fresh vegetables, buy cans of no-salt-added vegetables and get the equivalent of four jars of baby food for a quarter
of the price. Keep in mind that canned veggies lose some of their nutritional value, so fresh is betterbut canned is a good second choice.
- Leftovers: "Better safe than sorry" is the old saying. Dont feed your baby leftovers. If youve already reheated a portion from the initial cooking, dont serve it
"You know, Mama, snuggling you is the faborite part of my day. Youve got the bestest kissies in de whole world!"
Four-year-old Conan to the Coupon Queen
Excerpted from How to Save Money Every Day. Copyright 2001, Ellie Kay, ISBN: 0764224468. Published by Bethany House Publishers. Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.
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