Just weeks after spending too much money for travel and gifts for multiple friends’ bridal events as well as my own, my life switched from wedding whirlwind to baby bonanza overnight. I recently found out that three of my friends and two family members are expecting, all with delivery dates this year! Considering the cost of new baby clothes, gear and toys for the endless showers, I decided to get creative in my shopping and gift strategy considering there wasn’t much wiggle room in my budget to begin with. If you’re in the same boat and know someone who’s pregnant, you may be wondering how to save on baby gifts for the new mom without appearing cheap. From my recent experience and a little research, here are 11 ways to manage baby fever on a budget and find shower gifts for less.
1. Stick to the registry: Parents-to-be pick items for their baby registry for a reason — it’s what they want and need! Stick to those items so you don’t waste money on something Mom and Dad don’t really need, like more newborn clothes!
2. Compare prices online: I recently bought a Graco Pack-N-Play for my best friend’s upcoming baby shower from Target, only to find it for 10-percent less on Overstock. I requested and was granted a price adjustment from Target in the amount of $10. It’s important to track the cost of items even after you purchase them so you can get the best deal. Tools like Hukkster can help you easily track sales and price drops.
3. Gather coupons: When you’re shopping for baby stuff, don’t forget to check for coupons before checking out. I always search my Coupon Sherpa app when I’m in Babies ‘R Us and other stores for extra savings like 20-percent off diaper bags. I also sign up for retailer newsletters using a separate email account so I can receive coupons without cluttering up my inbox. You can follow brands on Facebook and Twitter for exclusive savings if you don’t want to register your email address.
4. Go in with a friend: If you want to give a more meaningful item you know the mom-to-be is dreaming about — like that fancy Stokke stroller — get some friends together and split the cost. This is a good solution if your friend already has plenty of general supplies from her first baby.
5. Get gift wrap from the dollar store: I was headed to the checkout counter at a popular department store for my sister-in-law’s shower gift when I realized the gift bag, tissue paper and greeting card were adding another $12 to my total. That just didn’t seem right, so I put those items back and headed to the dollar store, where I found pastel tissue paper, a simple greeting card and a cute baby giraffe-adorned bag for just $3.
6. Provide a free service: If you’re on a tight budget, don’t sweat it; you can provide a free service in lieu of a gift. For instance, I’m helping my friend paint and decorate her baby’s nursery since she lacks such creative vision. If you’re crafty, you can offer to refinish furniture, sew a baby blanket or build a toy chest. Even helping mom-to-be prep and clean her home for the baby or offering to walk her dog during the first few weeks after delivery make great gifts!
7. Buy discount gift cards: Have all the affordable gifts already been purchased from your friend’s registry? If so, look for gift cards to give parents-to-be the funds they’ll need after the baby is born. You can save on gift cards by purchasing them at a discount through GiftCardGranny.com. For instance, you can save up to 10% on cards to Babies ‘R Us and over 12 percent on cards to Gap, which can be used at babyGap.
8. Redeem rewards: Before buying a shower gift, see how many credit card points you accrued during the holidays. You can redeem points for gift cards to use as the gift or apply those funds toward the actual item you want to buy. If you haven’t done so already, sign up for loyalty programs to stores you plan to shop so you can receive new-member perks like discounts or free gifts. For instance, Shop Your Members are privy to exclusive-member pricing on various merchandise at Sears and Kmart. These members can also redeem points earned over the holidays—which is like free money–before they expire to offset the cost of baby items that are already on sale.
9. Scope out flash-sale sites: Popular flash sample sale sites like MyHabit and HauteLook offer big deals on toys, clothing and other baby gear. I recently found deals for up to 60-percent off Melissa and Doug toys at one of these sites. There are also baby-specific flash-sale sites like Zulily offering even more merchandise. Before you click to purchase, read the return and shipping policy. Some of these sites have strict rules and you don’t want to get stuck with something the new mom may want to exchange.
10. Collect clearance items early: Even if that baby shower is still months away, start collecting items you find on clearance now. Since I have four baby showers this year, I’m spreading out the purchase of gifts by picking up items I find on clearance. For instance, I recently bought $5 sets of onesies in gender-neutral colors for each of the parties I’m attending.
11. Personalize It: Remember, it’s the thought that counts not the price tag. Consider more thoughtful gifts like a personalized story book that features the baby’s name from PutMeIntheStory.com. I’ve also like keepsake gifts from Red Envelope that allow parents to capture hand and footprints of baby to display in the nursery so they can forever remember how little this bundle of joy was when he or she first arrived.
Tips provided by Andrea Woroch. Andrea is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert who regularly contributes to leading national news stories. She has appeared on NBC's Today Show, Dr. OZ, Good Morning America, FOX & Friends, MSNBC, CNN, ABC News with Diane Sawyer, and been quoted in New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Money Magazine, Kiplinger Personal Finance, Better Homes & Garden and many others.
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