The Benefits of Raising Baby on the Cheap

A few weeks ago, I celebrated my fortieth birthday. As I savored the moment, I contemplated the prediction from Amy Dacyczyn, author of The Tightwad Gazette, that a life of thrift will start to pay off at about age forty. And after four decades of tightwaddery, I have to say that she’s right.

This year we have suddenly found ourselves with disposable income, but we can’t seem to bring ourselves to dispose of it! It’s finally feasible to go out to eat a bit more often (and order beverages other than water). We could even start buying clothes and household items brand new instead of always hitting the thrift store first. And luxuries like cable television, cell phone plans with texting, and fancy coffees are no longer out of reach.
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Furnishing Baby’s Nursery with Garage Sale Finds

I often fantasize about Rebecca and me flying to New York as featured guests of a daytime talk show. We’d be given a $300 budget to outfit a baby’s nursery with secondhand goods. With Rebecca’s sense of style and my garage sale savvy, we’d do an incredible job!

Just the other day I went to a school garage sale where I saw the following items:

An oak changing table: $25
A beautiful maple rocking chair: $25
A sturdy wooden high chair: $15
Baby clothes: A giant paper bag’s worth for just $5

It’s just mind-boggling what you can find for a new baby at a fraction of the price of retail.  (Which is why we wrote The Eco-nomical Baby Guide.  It’s such a thrill to reduce, reuse and recycle–while saving thousands and ending up with beautiful stuff!)  While you’re pocketing all that saved money, you’re saving the environmental load of manufacturing, packaging, and shipping new products. And your baby will be just as content in her secondhand nursery. Attention daytime T.V.producers, we’re standing by for your phone call!

Garage Sale Shopping for Baby Clothes

Your family and friends may find it tacky to search tag sale tables for tiny outfits, but I personally think it’s budget-friendly, earth-friendly and a bit adventurous.   Plus it gives you the chance to meet people in your community and pick up a thrifty toy or two.

garage sale shopping for babyAt a recent garage sale, we scored four high quality shirts for my son all for fifty cents apiece—plus a Ralph Lauren down winter jacket for a few bucks. Since he’s nearly three, my son will most likely be able to wear those clothes all winter long, but my baby stays in her clothes for a matter of weeks.  Spending fifteen to twenty dollars on just one piece of infant clothing means that some parents pay five dollars or more per use.  Imagine how the expense (or the savings) adds up over the course of your child’s first few years!
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Zwaggle, Freecycle, and Freepeats: Finding Freebies by Recycling Online

Often when I’m headed off to buy a whatzit, it strikes me that someone nearby is probably dying to get rid of the exact thing I want.  And when I drop off a sack full of goodies at a thrift store, I wonder if they’ll make it past the cluttered shelves and into the hands of someone who needs them.

That’s where  the Internet comes in.   For the first time in human history it’s incredibly easy to unload unwanted stuff or search for a used item—all for free! 

Zwaggle is an online resource for parents who are looking to give and get items for their children.  People receive Zwaggle points called “zoints” for giving gently used items to others and then can use then to “purchase” things for their family.  Since it all happens online, you can get things from across the nation so it’s a bit like Ebay without the expense. 

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