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Baby on a budget

Babies gear is expensive. A stroller can cost between $150 and $1,500 -- plus you'll need a crib, car seat and numerous other baby necessities to boot, not to mention diapers and maternity clothes. Whether you are on the 'bells and whistles' baby preparation plan or are looking for the bare necessities, savings can be had. Here are a few ways to prepare for a new baby on a budget.

Create a baby budget
First, it's time to create or tweak your budget. Desjardins.com offers a free interactive tool that allows you to create a general and baby-specific budget. These tools are both "very user friendly" and "very specific and detail-oriented," says Mardig Noubarian, a financial planner with Desjardins Financial Services Firm Inc. in Pierrefonds, Que.

"Most couples today do not have a budget. They wing it. But if they want to have a baby...the dynamic PDF tool that we provide is an excellent way of planning and of thinking of things we never think about," he says.

For example, expectant parents commonly underestimate the cost of things like formula and diapers, and forget about increases in certain costs like hydro, from keeping the home warmer and doing all the baby laundry, he says.

Noubarian encourages couples to fill out the forms "as honestly and accurately as possible." For baby-specific items that couples are unfamiliar with, Noubarian recommends going to nearby stores that couples will be shopping at to find out what things cost.

Preparing the nursery
Dagmara Kwiecinski, a Toronto-based teacher pregnant with her second child, was strategic when creating the nursery. She spoke with her sister-in-law to find out what would be most useful and then shopped secondhand for the necessary items.

Laura Brown-Bowers, an expectant mom, Toronto-based teacher and my sister, suggests that expectant parents first go to stores to see what they want in terms of furniture and strollers and then shop online for the same thing. "Chances are someone is selling it for a lot less after their child grows out of it," she says.

Brown-Bowers also encourages people to check out community mom exchanges where people post baby items that they no longer need. She and her husband found good quality Canadian-made furniture for their nursery through Craigslist for a fraction of the original cost. "We found a family not too far away and bought their crib, wardrobe, and change table well below what it cost them new," she says.

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-- Posted July 13, 2011
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