No doubt about it, having a baby can mean a great deal of shopping. If money were a non issue, that would be a whole lot of fun! Children's stores see a mom like me coming; colourful outfits with cheesy graphics, bright toys with educational slogans, and a whole host of other useful products in matching themes. It's very easy to get carried away.
Being a frugal mommy, I decided early on not to over do it on the onesies and stuffed baby animals. Keeping in mind the shower haul, the product expiration dates, and the "ick" factor discussed in Amber's previous article of this series, I went looking for bargains. If you have the time and the contacts, there is always a deal to be had.
For many reasons in addition to snagging a great find, your local mommy community is a great place to start. Contact your local Early Learning centres through your public health nurse or city's web page. You might even be given a list of contacts at the hospital to help you get started. These groups of local moms will often have play dates with babies of varying ages at which you could inquire about buying an item a little one has out grown.
They might also organize "Mom-Swaps" or community sales. It's at one of these amazing events that I managed to snag my Baby Bjorn child carrier, an item that retails for well over $100, for only $20! It is in perfect condition and is easily my best deal to date. Other items available for sale included everything from large exersaucers and highchairs to clothing and linen. I saw strollers for as little a $10 - an amazing discount, assuming the product still falls within government guidelines.
If there is no local sale of this kind near you, don't be discouraged. Browse for yard sales that mention the availability of kids items or seek out specific pieces for sale on websites such as Kijiji.ca. Ask questions of the seller including the number of children who have used the product, if there are pets or smokers in the home, and the year the product was bought / received. You control the transaction, so if the listed price seems high and they won't budge or the item doesn't look as good up close, you can always walk away.
Although it might be a turn off to some moms, second hand stores are also a great resource, especially for school aged kids. Backpacks, shoes, and other items that have been lightly used and need replacing frequently are heavily discounted. Sporting equipment is an example of a very large initial output. If dad is convinced that your little man is destined for the Canucks' first line, consider places like Value Village or Play It Again Sports - at least until you establish the boy can actually skate!
All that having been considered, I think we can agree that the best price for baby stuff is actually free. In the next part, we will discuss hand-me-downs and borrowed items; where to get them, how to care for them, and how to (politely) say no.