Friday, 8 August 2014

Mommy Money Matters: Starting Out (Part One)

Let's face it: babies can be expensive. Especially the very first one. You have to re-jig your weekly budget in anticipation of an additional family member AND you have to make a large one time investment for all the furniture, gadgetry, and linen needed for this special new person. This is the first post in a three part series on the money matters associated with just starting out. We'll explore where to save, where to splurge, where to buy extra, and where to draw the line.

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Buying New

Buying new doesn't have to mean breaking the bank. Big box stores offer never-before-used baby items at reasonable prices with the added bonus of special sales and/or coupons. The things you ask for on your baby registry are usually bought brand new or made with love specially for your baby (think of those gorgeous knit sweaters or booties). Family and friends are excited to help you get ready for baby and will look to your registry for what you really want and need. If you absolutely must have it new, make sure it's on the list.

Also, remember you won't need everything right away. Focus on getting the most important things you'll need for baby's arrival, and then you can save (and hunt for great deals) for the next few stages. That being said: if you happen upon an awesome sale on clothes, buy for the future to save yourself a few dollars. Babies are ALWAYS growing!

Here are some suggestions on what to buy new:

  • Car seats, cribs, and high chairs. These products are subject to regular safety standards updates, so it's best to buy new to make sure that you're protecting your little one. This doesn't mean you need the top of the line version with the highest price tag; all new products must adhere to the same current safety standards. Check out Health Canada for safety tips and recall information when shopping for baby products.
  • Items that have an "ick" factor for you. Everybody's comfort level is different, but examples of things you may not want used (whether as a hand-me-down or from a thrift store) are: breast pumps or other feeding supplies, cloth diaper paraphernalia, soothers, nasal aspirators, ear thermometers, etc. Most things can be disinfected and will be fine, but don't feel guilty for wanting some things brand new.
  • Investment Pieces. Expecting a child is an exciting time, so it's okay to want to splurge on a big ticket item like a beautiful, state of the art travel system. If you're going to use it a lot, or you've simply fallen in love with a particular model: go for it. Many baby items have longevity, so if you're planning on having more than one child, you can think of it as an investment. Go for gender neutral choices on these purchases, if possible, because you never know what's coming next.
  • Things that have sentimental value. If you choose to borrow your sister-in-law's bassinet, you may feel pangs of sadness when it comes time to give it back. Certain milestones in a baby's life come to be associated with the outfit they were wearing at the time or some other inanimate object. Some items you may want to buy new and keep for yourself for years to come.

Budgeting for a baby can be stressful. There are a lot of things to buy and a lot of experts weighing in on what is a must have. You may not be in a financial position to buy one of everything from your local "Babies 'R' Us" but that's no reason to feel overwhelmed. In the next instalment, Seana will look into what kinds of things can be purchased used; either at a local mommy swap, at a thrift store, or on-line. Then, in part three, we'll try to lay out some guidelines for borrowing from friends and family to ease the financial burden.

Bonus Tips: 
When picking out one of those awesome 4-in-1 convertible cribs - make sure to buy the conversion kits at the same time. You don't want to find out in 2 years that the product is out of production and you lost the option to make it into a toddler bed.

If you do decide to buy a used product that is subject to safety standards - check the manufacturer's sticker on the side to double check the expiry date. Do a little research, for example this information from Transport Canada on car seats. 

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