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Save cash and buy only the baby essentials

Last week, we shared some tips on saving money in baby's first year. This week we're continuing the conversation with new moms who say asking and answering the three simple questions below will help new parents avoid becoming zombie spenders for the first year after their baby is born.

What is my rather factor?

Determining what is most important when it comes to baby will ensure that your priorities take precedence over mindless spending. Sarah Deveau, author of Money Smart Mom: Financially Fit Parenting, and a blogger at, says her rather factor is saving for her children's education. "Whenever I shop for my children, I think to myself, would this be a great deal if it were 20 per cent more? Because if I took that cash and invested it in my child's RESP, the government would throw in 20 per cent. A $10 investment now becomes $12 in my child's RESP with the government's portion – or a $10 purchase means a loss of $2 on top of the $10." It's a simple trick but helps to keep Ms. Deveau's spending in check.

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My colleague Sandra Grahame, who is due in December, is carefully determining her rather factors when it comes to spending. To keep her family on track she has also set up, and nicknamed, separate sub-savings accounts with her bank. Each month a little bit of money is funnelled into these accounts. She also has an account set up for unexpected costs. "If you only have so much money in your spending plan for the first year, then you have to set, and stick to, your priorities pretty quickly," says Ms. Grahame.

What is the cost-per-wear?

"A lot of moms have this fantasy that their baby is going to be the best dressed, without realizing how quickly babies grow out of their outfits," says Erica Ehm, blogger and chief executive officer of Be smart when shopping for clothes and consider the cost-per-wear. "The overpriced dress might fit your daughter for a few months and she'll likely only wear it once or twice," she says. Adding that "in the end, there are so many things you are going to be spending your money on in the first year that you're going to regret that you bought all of that clothing that your child barely wore," says Ms. Ehm.

The same goes for overpriced toys. You can't know which toys your baby will love and which ones will be passed over for the kitchen whisk. New mom Katie Reiach found that her baby really only loves three toys out of the 20-something she bought – and most of all, she loves paper. In hindsight Ms. Reiach wishes she could have swapped toys with friends to see which items her daughter gravitates to most and then spend on similar products. Social media is also a smart resource if you're looking for clothing or toys to swap, or looking to clear the clutter and pass on some items your baby no longer wears or uses. Of course, sites like Craigslist and eBay can earn you some extra cash for your clothes that you can then use to update your baby's wardrobe.

What is essential?

Most new moms say one of the best things you can do is to ask another mom for her thoughts on whether or not something is essential. Asking your circle of moms or visiting sites like or Canadian Parents, will help you narrow your list of must-haves. Of course, you have to weigh the advice. Ms. Reiach says she wishes she combed through every expense, from pre-natal classes to types of strollers, to get feedback before making the financial investment.

"I found the pre-natal class a little overwhelming and to be honest, the session we had at the hospital to meet the doctors and tour the floor was much more helpful – and it was free," she says. "I wish I had asked around for different opinions before we invested in the classes. I would have rather spent my money on post-natal classes instead."

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Along with looking at what's essential, it's key to look into what's covered under your work health plan. Progressive companies can include coverage for a lot of expenses that you might not consider, like a breast pump, so it's worth digging around. For items you are buying again and again, like diapers and formula, consider registering with your go-to brands for free products and coupons. Your doctor will likely also have free samples and coupons, and so will other stores like Shoppers Drug Mart. Every bit of savings adds up, and setting up a spending plan with a savings strategy will help to get you through one of the most expensive years.

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About the Author
Angela Self

Angela Self is one of the founders of the Smart Cookies, a group of five women who specialize in personal finance. They are hosts of a self-titled show on the W Network and the authors of The Smart Cookies' Guide to Making More Dough. More

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