Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Mommy Money Matters: Starting Out (Part Three)

As we have discussed throughout this series (in Pt. 1 and Pt. 2), the costs of baby items sure add up.  Once your shower is over and done with, you might well have a whole list of things that you still need to bring up baby.  While you certainly don't need to stock up on everything too far in advance, you'll need plenty of outfits, a few essential pieces of furniture, and some toys to start out. 

If you are lucky like me, you might have a baby or two amongst your family and friends that have some piece to lend or even give you.  It's a huge blessing because of the cost savings, but also to be prepared for one of those spontaneous overnight growth spurts! Free baby stuff comes with a different kind of price though - an emotional cost.  Here are some tips for successfully acquiring what you need without hurt feelings or other negative side effects.

The most common, and arguably most needed hand-me-down item, is clothing.  Listen; babies grow quickly and go through multiple outfits a day.  Since items will only be worn a handful of times, they are usually in fantastic condition despite having been "used".  You'll find you even get second-hand items that have literally never been worn!  They get forgotten, bought out of season, or just weren't the first mommy's sense of style!  Hey, fashion is subjective. 

When you get a glorious delivery of clothes, make sure that the previous owner is giving you the items.  Any items that hold any sentimentality to the first mother should be removed and taken back to her.  You simply cannot ensure that you will remember which items are hers to return them, and even if you could, use might cause the item to be lost or ruined.  You do not want that on your conscience. This is true of books, toys, and furnishings as well.  Can you pass them on to the next mom-to-be?  Only for babies in the family? Anyone in need?  Better to clarify in advance.

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Once you know that the clothes are yours to keep, you might consider a look through and wash.  Even if the previous owner is meticulous, an inspection will help you sort through what your baby needs now, versus what will be stored with the clothes little one has yet to fit in to. A good scrub is all most gifted second use items will need. If you have been given a swing or high chair for example, most padding can be removed and laundered while hard surfaces get a soapy water wipe down. Your little one will be making their own spills soon enough!

What if the item has that "ick" factor we've previously discussed?  What if the item irreversibly smells of cigarette smoke, or is scarred with deep dog scratches?  It's your baby, you do have the right to politely decline.  You might mention that you already planned on purchasing the item, or that you were trying to stay with a theme.  You may have a trusted family member intervene on your behalf.  Ask Grandma to tell your well intentioned cousin that you are grateful, but would like to pass.  If you have storage space, you may accept and then just never use the item.  Who is to know? 

As a mom on a budget, I am extremely appreciative of any help I receive.  Once loved objects passed on with love to you is a sentimental exchange.  Remember that as you sort through your bounty.  And keep the cycle going!  You can't keep every party dress your daughter has ever worn, why not enjoy the sight of your niece in it at your next family function?

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