Friday, October 15, 2010
It's hard to believe that just a year ago I was in the midst of wedding preparations, sorting my way through the materialistic swamp of the wedding industry.
Now that we have a little one on the way, I'm finding that the baby industry suffers from much of the same excess and materialism! Granted, I'm not really surprised by that -- every area of our culture, from fashion to technology, is inundated by the "need more, and need it stylish" philosophy. Manufacturers are in business to make money, and the way to do that is to convince people to buy their products.
Which raises several important questions for expectant parents who want to be frugal:
1. What is actually necessary?
2. If it's necessary, does it need to be new or fancy -- and do you need more than one?
There are certainly valid needs -- clothing, for instance! Blankets, car seats, diapers, food of some sort -- there are certain things that just go along with babies. There are many things that really aren't necessary (which doesn't make them wrong, of course!). And different families will have different needs. Those who co-sleep don't need a crib, those who don't nurse will need formula, etc.
Figuring out what is neccesary has been a challenge for me, since this is our first child. You can't exactly predict what you will or won't use when you haven't had a baby before! I'm thankful that some other frugal blogging moms have shared what they've found helpful or necessary -- especially since the typical retailer's list of "needed items" includes over-priced and unneeded baby gear. When it comes to "how much," the answer again varies depending on the item (are we talking strollers or socks?) and the family.
What really shocks me is just how expensive some baby gear is! Do people seriously pay over $1,000 for a stroller? Do infants need $150 cashmere sweaters that they'll outgrow in a few months? These are extremes, of course -- but there really is such a huge selection of baby paraphernalia on the Internet and in stores, and most of it is horribly overpriced.
After evaluating what I think our particular family will need, I've started figuring out how best to find those things. So far, that's been Craigslist (for car seat, pac-n-play -- which is also our "crib", stroller, and rocking chair), and a local thrift store (for the handful of baby clothes I've purchased). This Saturday I'm determined to go yard-saling, as well!
So once again we're wading through the mire of a gigantic industry, seeking to glorify God and do what's best for the child He's given us. With the help of Swagbucks, 50% off JoAnn's coupons, and my sewing machine, I think we'll be able to emerge relatively unscathed. *wink* As much as I'm truly enjoying preparing for our little one, I'm very grateful that should God bless us with any more children, we'll already have most of this figured out!
I'd love any frugal suggestions from more experienced moms!