You want your baby to have the best, so it's natural to get excited about buying all of the most expensive furniture, toys, clothes and gadgets. But when you're on a budget, it's important to come back down to earth to consider your baby's needs rather than all the costly frills. Babies grow quickly, so saving money now for things they'll need -- and will be able to appreciate -- in the future should take priority over a pre-birth spending spree.
Save for the major expenses, such as the hospital fees for the delivery and any unpaid time off. The Kiplinger financial website suggests using its budgeting calculator to figure out if your family can afford to live on one income if one parent decides to stay home full-time, and then doing a test run to see how the new budget works in real life.
Consider buying the big-ticket items like the crib, stroller and changing table secondhand. Oftentimes, you can afford higher-quality pieces by getting them used. Online community bulletin boards, auction websites and consignment shops with physical locations are great sources for scouting on a budget. Keep in mind that if you take good care of these larger items, you can sell them in a couple of years when your baby outgrows them.
Take part in a swap program to get rid of things you no longer need and to request items that you want. The beauty of swap programs is that you can give away anything -- from the bread maker you never used to the collection of comic books you no longer want -- and in return you may ask for baby items. The idea of "one man's trash is another man's treasure" rings true for every request that is granted...for free!
Accept hand-me-downs and shop consignment for baby clothes. Babies grow so quickly that spending money on new clothes just isn't worth it. Save buying new for the occasional picture-taking outfit; otherwise, keep it simple by spending as little as possible on clothing. It's a good idea to wash anything you let your wee one wear, whether new or secondhand.
Use cloth diapers and breastfeed if possible. Disposable diapers have been criticized for being unfriendly to the environment, and they also cost much more than reusable cloth diapers. The initial investment in cloth diapers is higher than buying a packet of disposables; however, they do save money in the long run. Also, the World Health Organization regards breastfeeding as "an unequalled way of providing ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants." Not only is breastfeeding healthier for your baby, but it saves thousands of dollars per year over formula.
Joy Uyeno has been writing about travel, food, fashion, culture and finance since 2005. For three years she wrote a column for the "Honolulu Star-Bulletin" aimed at young and first-time travelers. Her writing has appeared in several local and national publications, including the 2008 anthology "Honolulu Stories." She holds a Master of Arts in writing and publishing from Emerson College.