I remember my first trip shopping with my mother after I found out I was pregnant with my first child. We began looking at everything I would need, and discovered that my shoestring budget was not going to cover everything I would need. The only thing I put in the cart that day was a newborn-sized pair of shoes. It was the cheapest thing I could find in the store, so I thought it was a justified purchase. My mother protested, “You won’t need those. It’s not like a baby that small is going to be walking. Newborns don’t need shoes.”
So you have discovered you are pregnant and have nothing for the baby. You also have a very low budget with little in your savings to cover the cost of all that new gear your little one will so desperately need. You are left scratching your head in dismay at how in the world you will ever be financially prepared and ready for your new bundle of joy. Well, stop worrying. There is a saying that goes, “If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting the rest of our lives.” While this is not always true, there are many ways you can prepare for baby financially and be ready by the time you give birth on almost any budget.
Probably one of the best rules to follow is not to purchase anything at all until after you have a baby shower. Chances are that every single aunt and cousin will get you a onesie or sleeper in the smaller sizes you will need when the baby is in the first few months. If you cannot resist the urge to buy clothing, your best bet is to buy larger sizes that your baby will eventually grow into. You will surely get some of the equipment that you will need from the shower, and unless you are expecting multiples you won’t need two of each of these larger items. For your baby shower, you can set up a baby registry with almost every store that sells baby clothes, equipment, and accessories. Make sure to fill the registry with items in every price range. Some guests may not be able to afford that Swarovski crystal pacifier you have been eyeing. Many stores will allow you to purchase the remaining items on your registry at a discounted price after the date of the baby shower has passed or after the baby is born. This way you can save on what you still need. Another great idea is to purchase only gender neutral colors in everything. When it is time for baby number two, you will be prepared even if your first was a boy and the second is a girl.
Now you are posed with a new question: “What will we actually need for the baby?” Let’s face it; there are some very thoughtless inventions out there that are really not necessary at all. Some items can be considered a luxury that come in handy or something that can be lived without. A perfect example of this is a wipe warmer. Babies have gone for centuries without this, and many still continue to survive without it. When your child gets used to having their wipes warmed, they will probably not enjoy the new sensation of a cold wipe when you have to change them in a public restroom without your beloved warmer for the first time. Everyone has their own personal opinion on what every child will need, but if you have to stick to the bare necessities your money is better spent on diapers. To survive the first few months, all you really need is a bassinet or crib, bedding, diapers, wipes, a car seat, and a few simple outfits appropriate for the season.
Here are some simple ideas on how you can make do without certain gear. Instead or a diaper bag, you can use an oversized purse. Instead of dropping a hundred dollars or more on a changing table, put a blanket under the baby and change them on your bed, sofa, or even the floor. Instead of spending a fortune on formula, give breast feeding a shot. Instead of buying a Boppy, use a regular pillow folded in half to prop up baby during feedings. If you are brave, you can even purchase cloth diapers that can be used over and over again.
If you have a low budget and a baby on the way, just remember to be smart with your purchases. If you are struggling with whether or not to purchase a particular item, ask yourself if this is something that you can live without. Will your baby really need it? Remember the wise words of my mother, “newborns don’t need shoes.” Good luck, and congratulations!