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Frugal Living & Freebies

Save Over $2000 in Baby's First Year
by Kimberly Danger
According to a recent MSN study, the average family will spend around $10,000 before their child reaches the age of two. How did such tiny creatures become so expensive? The good news is there are hundreds, even thousands of ways to save money without depriving you or your baby of anything. Here are a few that deliver the biggest bang for your buck:

Not only is breastfeeding the healthiest option for your baby, it's the most economical as well. Breastfeeding exclusively in the first six months of baby's life will give his immune system a head start, and leave more cash in your pocket. However if breastfeeding isn't practical for you, you can still save money. By law, generic formula has to meet the same FDA standards as brand name formula, and costs about 30% less. You can also sign up for manufacturers' mailing lists to receive free formula, and ask your pediatrician for samples at your well-baby checkups. Estimated savings: $700/year

Switch to Generic Diapers
Generic disposables are better than ever these days, and are comparable to their brand-name counterparts. Most come with cloth-like covers and Velcro-like tabs that make refastening diapers a breeze. Favorite brands include those found at Target and White Cloud from Wal-Mart, which cost about 30% less than premium brands. Save even more by making your own baby wipes at home (the instructions are found in the book, 1000 Best Baby Bargains).
Estimated savings: $200-300/year

Buy the Majority of your Child's Wardrobe at Garage Sales
Because babies grow so quickly, they barely have time to wear out their cute little outfits. There are some great deals to be found on secondhand items, especially at garage sales. Often times, you can pick up used clothes in great condition for a dollar or even less. If you're hesitant, don't be. Once the tags are off, all clothes are secondhand anyway. After all, it's a lot easier to watch your child spit up on his $1 sleeper than one you bought for $15.
Estimated savings: $400/year

Purchase Baby Gear at Secondhand or Consignment Stores
Because they have tough standards for the quality of items they sell, you can often find gently used gear in great condition at secondhand or consignment stores. This includes strollers, bouncers, monitors, high chairs, etc. For safety's sake, ask the store if they check items they sell for recalls. One note of caution: you should never buy a used car seat unless you know its exact history. Hairline fractures to the frame could compromise baby's safety and are sometimes impossible to see.
Estimated savings: $250-500

Opt for the Shabby Chic Nursery
Transforming your baby's room into an infant wonderland doesn't have to be expensive. Scout out the best deals on used furniture at garage sales, thrift stores, antique stores, or even your parents' basement. Even parents-to-be without an ounce of artistic talent can paint a mural on baby's wall with the help of an overhead projector. Mismatched dressers, book shelves, and rockers can be given a coat of paint so they'll coordinate with each other and match the room.
Estimated Savings: $500+

About the Author: Kimberly Danger is the owner/publisher of Mommysavers.com, an online resource for parents interested in saving time and money. She is the author of 1000 Best Baby Bargains. Ms. Danger lives in Southern Minnesota with her husband and two kids.

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