Oh baby! It’s easy to go over the top and lose the financial plot when you’re excited about your growing family. Here’s the secret though – being strategic about your purchases could spare you a lot of grief and the need to shell out more money to fix any mistakes, especially now as inflation is hitting our bank accounts. For starters, savings can be found during the Babies R Us Babyfest, to help you to stay on budget and find everything you need.
My best friends shared their essentials checklist before I hit the shops for my baby, and I’m grateful they did. Now I’m paying it forward because good advice is best shared. Let’s do this!
1. Safety first
Preparing to leave the hospital is an emotional time. Do I have the diaper bag, the car seat, the partner? While I was worried about my husband, I wasn’t concerned about the car seat. I’d done my research. The right fit is important, and buying one that meets the Child Passenger Safety Association of Canada’s regulations is essential.
Sure, a second-hand car seat could save you a few bucks, but I highly recommend staying away from buying a used car seat. They have a best-before date, may have been recalled, and the plastic can unnoticeably weaken if dropped or left in a hot car. This is something you need to research and buy new.
Bottom Line: Car seats often go on sale, and by joining the Babies R Us “R” Club you’ll score member-only discounts and get 10% off. Membership brings the bonus of extended returns, so you’ve got 90 days to get it right.
2. Wheeling around town
I called my daughter’s stroller the ‘Buffet on Wheels.’ Formula, cheerios, goldfish things – my kid ate it all while in motion. You could spend $1,000 on a single stroller or buy several as your kid grows, but on my humble budget, I needed one to rule them all. My Graco travel system bundled a car seat with the stroller for a savings boost, plus it could be reconfigured as my kid grew.
Bottom Line: Some strollers are easier to collapse than others, so take the time to go into the store to test it. How easily can you collapse it with one hand? How heavy is it? This is an important purchase to get right the first time. Travel systems can be expensive, so check out the Babies R Us Baby Fest ’cause you could save up to 30% and wheel around town for a lot less.
3. Dress them up!
Babies grow out of sleepers overnight. Toddlers wear out everything, including their parent’s patience. You will need more clothing than you think. Shopping the second-hand economy saved me thousands on everything from shirts to shoes.
I connected with a family a few years ahead of us and bought two garbage bags filled with used basics – perfect for getting dirty. Finding five years’ worth of clothing for under $200 is the closest I’ll get to winning the lottery.
Bottom Line: Invest in adorable outfits like this or this (especially when they’re on sale) for when your kids actually leave the house, for photos and visits with grandparents. Saving on clothing that you don’t mind being peed on frees up your budget for bigger things. (Hint: check out tip #6)
4. Gotta do it
It’s a dirty job, but someone needs to buy diapers. My friends swore by cloth, and at first, I thought they were insane. Then I did the diaper math. The initial cost of cloth seemed steep, but I actually saved 77% over disposables by going greener.
Bottom Line: You don’t need to stick to one diapering system forever. I used cloth at home for savings, and disposables when on the go for sanity.
5. Get on the list
Creating a baby wish list is a big help, thanks to baby registries. Joining the Babies R Us baby registry is free and offers member-only discounts, free swag bags when you sign up, and a completion discount on ungifted items you choose to buy yourself. My best registry tip is to add receiving blankets to your list – it’s the hero item you can never have enough of.
Bottom Line: You don’t need to buy everything on your registry using a completion discount right away. Waiting for sales and promotions can make your money go further, and a Babies R Us “R” Club membership saves you 15% on remaining items.
6. Free money for your child’s education? Yes!
A Registered Education Savings Plan (RESPs) is an incredible way to save for your child’s post-secondary education. See if you qualify for the Canada Learning Bond (CLB), a lesser known grant for lower income families where the government kicks in free money for families stretched to save. Just by opening an RESP, you’ll get up to $2,000 without contributing a cent!
You may not have heard about different types of RESP plans. The Individual Plan and the Family Plan give you the most investment flexibility with few fees. Good choices.
But be wary of Group Plans also known as Scholarship Plans. Confusing, right? Providers of these plans are named in a class-action lawsuit for exorbitant fees costing parents tens of thousands. Group Plan sales people target new parents at an emotional time, so watch out for their aggressive tactics and run the other way.
7. The B-word
Let me be honest here, I don’t particularly enjoy dealing with budgets, but I do it. Sticking to a list with a well thought out financial plan is the best way to save and stay on target when life gets expensive.
Bottom Line: It’s normal (and fun!) to fall in love with gear for your new baby. Walking away to rethink your “needs vs wants” is the perfect way to reflect before spending your valuable money. Save it for the babysitter for your much-needed date nights.