Affording the baby – so far

Before we got married, Laurence and I took a marriage preparation course. It involved a computerised quiz we took separately and it compared our answers to highlight areas of disagreement or uncertainty. When we were shown our answers, every single money-related statement was flagged. We were both floaters and didn’t really want to know about anything financial.

It’s hardly surprising, then, that we’ve spent the last year and eight months of marriage trying to work out why no matter how much we earn, we spend it (though the other side of this is that even when we’ve earned less, we’ve managed).

Modern reasoning would probably have asked why we were choosing now to have a child and whether it was “accidental”, especially with all these scaremongering news reports of how much it costs to raise the little buggers.

Well, with seventeen days until the creature’s estimated due date, we’ve gotten pretty much everything that comes with a baby. It’s all sitting in bags and boxes or in the Moses basket (I never claimed to be that organised) but I’ve realised two things: we’ve used almost every channel for getting stuff imaginable and we’ve really not spent much.

I know a few other baby-making machines read this blog, so here’s how we did it.

We accepted hand-me-downs

They don’t sound glamorous and we did envy other couples we saw walking out of expensive baby shops with more bags than seemed right for kitting out someone so small. But after my cousin’s wife loaded us up with all the 1-3 month stuff that her 4-month-old had outgrown, a bouncing chair and a changing bag that they had surplus, we wised up: babies don’t use anything for very long – secondhand is practically new. By the way, these include the cute bodysuits painted at our “not a baby shower“.

We joined the vultures at nearly new sales

We stalked a moses basket at the Bristol NCT nearly new sale and walked away with almost everything we needed for the creature, from sleeping bags to blankets to bottles to a few clothes in older age brackets. All this for a mere 35 squid. I kid you not. I personally found the experience exhilarating. Laurence, not so much. But the price tag at the end sweetened it for him.

At a quieter nearly new sale at our church, we had a far more sane time and were able to have a chat with a few of the mums plying their wares (I suppose this was dangerous as we ended up buying a few items we might not have done otherwise but I doubt we’ll regret giving BumGenius nappies [£4 as opposed to the usual £12-15!] and Mothercare swaddling cloths a go). For Laurence, the highlight of this episode was likely that he got to buy We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and Mog in the Dark for 50p.

We stalked Freecycle

Or I did, anyway. I ended up getting just about everything for reusable nappies from a couple of generous freecyclers: nappy covers, pocket nappies, all-in-ones, flushable liners, nappy nippas and a nappy bucket with a net. We were also given a chest of draws for the baby’s room.

We did the Gumtree thing

Believe it or not, I almost bought my wedding dress off Gumtree so I was already well-acquainted with the goodies that could be found there. But for some reason, this hadn’t occurred to me when I started thinking about baby shopping until the aforementioned cousin’s wife brought it up. I managed to get the bottle steriliser, a prettier changing bag, a few more clothes and even a couple of newborn toys for 8 squids off someone on Gumtree.

Just last weekend, we got our birth pool (and all the stuff that goes with it) for £50 off someone on Gumtree – and yes, we set it up and it all works.

I got hooked on eBay

I’d never bought anything on eBay before so actually had to be taught because I was quite nervous about the mystery that is PayPal. But now I think it’s so easy it’s dangerous. We needed some newborn wraps (waterproof outers to go over our terry towel nappies), so I got four Motherease wraps for £9 including postage – please bear in mind that I saw these retailing at £11 for one and understand just how accomplished this saving makes me feel.

We said thank you to gifts

Admittedly, the biggest savings have been made because our friends and family have given us things. His parents bought the pram and car seat, mine the sling and all manner of last bits and bobs which my mum is bringing up from Trinidad, not to mention the terry toweling which my mum bought and hemmed. I don’t feel that we can call this something we did, exactly. We’re just grateful to everyone who’s given us stuff – especially books and toys, because these were totally forgotten when we made “the list”.