The Plush Life

Does having a baby really have to break the bank? Our simple answer: No. Here, we give you 25 ways to save.

When you take inflation into account, experts estimate it will cost the average family $300,000—per child—to raise a kid in a middle class family from infancy to age 17, and that doesn’t include college tuition. In fact, that price tag only covers basics like food, shelter, transportation and childcare.

Lucky for you, we’ve rounded up 25 ways to save, right here on the Front Range that won’t leave you or your kids feeling deprived.

While pregnant, get a bellyband to extend the life of your clothes. Then, buy a few key maternity pieces that will last and make you feel like a million bucks from a shop like Becoming Mothers in Boulder. Fill in the blanks with second hand and consignment shops.

Babies grow so fast; buy clothes and most baby equipment second hand from consignment shops like Childish Things in Boulder and Kid to Kid in Aurora and Arvada.

If you plan on having more than one child, buy unisex clothes and toys to maximize the possibility that you’ll be able to use them more than once.

If you’re able, breastfeed as long as possible. You can save roughly $1,000 in formula costs in the first year.

Cloth diapers can be an investment up front, but they’ll save you a bundle over the long run. Try Bundle baby shop in Boulder for cloth diaper needs (and diaper service, if the idea of washing them turns you off).

Make your own baby food to save hundreds over the cost of those little jars and pouches. If you’re not sure how to start, invest in a baby food class from chef Gina at A Delightful Dish or the Baby Food Doctor in Ft. Collins.

Stay at home with your kid to save on childcare, or form a babysitting coop with friends. When you do need to find a babysitter or nanny, Seeking Sitters can help.

Look for furniture and gear that will grow with your baby. Cribs that convert to toddler beds and car seats and strollers that grow with baby are excellent investments over buying multiples. Guys and Dolls Furniture has a nice selection of convertible beds.

Make your own baby wipes. It’s actually super easy: just cut a roll of paper towels in half and soak in homemade solution.

Forget the comforter, crib bumper, and cute pillows for the nursery—infants shouldn’t sleep with anything in the crib anyway.

Ask other moms what you actually need at each stage of your child’s development—before you go out and buy it. Borrow from friends to try before you buy, and use Craigslist and stores like Once Upon a Child to buy gear second hand.

It may seem a little crass, but go ahead and fill out a baby registry. As your child gets older, embrace the Amazon wish list so your tot gets what she actually wants and needs for birthdays and holidays.

Buy fewer but better toys that will grow with your kiddo and offer lots of options for creative play. Check out Ginger and Pickles in Boulder for heirloom-quality toys you can feel good about.

It may sound simple, but planning your meals and sticking to your grocery list can save you hundreds in food bills over the life of your child.

DIY Halloween costumes—especially when kids are really little—can be even cuter than the throw away kind from the store.

Public school can save you hundreds of thousands of dollars over the cost of private school, so before your baby is born, do whatever you can to move to a good school district. If you don’t love your public school options, Colorado Virtual Academy can make homeschooling an option for anyone.

Encourage a love of reading without buying out the bookstore by embracing your library. Many libraries also have free activities and programs for kids of all ages.

Whether you’re talking diapers or school supplies, look for deals on generic or store brand products whenever possible.

As your kids get older, limit the number of extracurricular activities they participate in, which will make for happier kids and fewer fees—then rent and borrow equipment where you can, or buy second hand from stores like Play it Again Sports.

Just say no to extreme birthday parties. Kiddos can have just as much fun with a small party or enjoying a more expensive experience with a single friend.

As tempting as Go-Gurts and Lunchables look, you’ll save a bundle packing your own lunches and snacks (and they’ll be healthier, too). Check out ColoradoBento.blogspot.com for creative lunch box ideas.

Take advantage of free and low-cost programs in your community. Libraries offer story times and other free activities and many rec centers offer low-cost programs for kids. Rocky Mountain Parents as Teachers is a free enrichment program for lower income families. Do your research before you shell out.

Shop clearance racks at the end of each season for things your kids can wear next year. By buying ahead, you can save as much as 70 percent or more off the rack price.

Put teens in charge of their own spending to teach good money habits and curb overall buying. Give them a set allowance each month that has to cover clothes, eating out, gas, entertainment, school fees—whatever you decide is reasonable.

Start a 529 college savings account today. Colorado 529 accounts have special tax benefits for your state taxes.

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