By ZACH NOBLE
A middle-income American couple will apparently spend $245,000 (not including college costs!) raising a kid to the ripe old age of 18, but take a stroll down the aisles at Babies’R’Us™©® and you’ll soon realize that roughly $200,000 of that money will be spent before the kid’s even born.
See, having a kid sets you up for the same financial-emotional manipulation as a wedding, only now it stretches beyond a single day. It’s your whole life. Vendors prey on your vulnerable emotions, knowing you’ll shell out big bucks for “premium” products that will make your baby safer or healthier or more comfortable, because gosh darn it, you love your kid, don’t you? Don’t you???
Nahhhhhhhhh not like that.
In the grand tradition of mommy bloggers and early retirement aficionados, my wife and I realized that we, blessed as Americans to be among the richest people who’ve ever lived, are floating in a sea of material excess. We have Craigslist offerings and consignment sales a short drive away.
There are coworkers who just want their old baby stuff out of the darn house already. Then there are the friends and grandmothers-to-be, ready and willing to purchase all manner of infantile paraphernalia. We are incredibly grateful to those kind souls.
So basically we’ve only spent $150 or so* getting stuff for this kid, and that feels awesome.
|Item||Retail price:||We paid:|
|Glider chair and ottoman||~$200||$10**|
|Graco stroller/car seat combo||$100 + $125||$65|
|JJ Cole fuzzy car seat cover||$35||$2|
|Crib||Dear Lord they can be expensive||FREE (wife's sister didn't need it anymore)|
|Fisher Price puppy-themed rocking swing||$100||FREE|
|Rock n Play sleeper swing||$60||FREE|
|I have been informed there's a third swing somewhere around this apartment||I really don't think we need three separate swings for one child||FREE|
|Baby Moby wrap||$45||$10|
|High chair||Maybe $30? It's older.||FREE|
|All of the baby clothes||How much do you have?||FREE (baby shower, friends dropping off old clothes)|
|3,480 diaper wipes||$90||$60 (we had a coupon)|
|More diapers than you could shake a babys bum at||Set your wallet on fire||FREE***|
So, dear fellow Millennial, YMMV, but we hope our experience gives you some hope. If you, too, embark on the kid-having path, know that it is possible to break the chains of corporate stuff-buying!
Now we just need to decide if we're willing to take the final frugal step: buying a used breast pump.
*Full disclosure: This list obviously omits a few things, like prenatal doctor visit costs (our insurance isn’t so great, so that’s been a bit pricey) and all the extra food Mommy’s been eating. But I think those expenditures are in a different category than “Things marketing tells you to buy” (with the exception of overpriced vegan power drinks, maybe). On the other hand, this list isn’t exhaustive. We’ve received tons of stuffed animals and baby books and other items, all for free, that will doubtless enrich our little one’s life (or s/he will just slobber on them; babies do that you know).
**This was a great Craigslist find. The wood was in perfect condition, but the fabric was pretty stained. My wife had decided she’d go ahead and reupholster the chair, but when she ran the old fabric through the washer, all the stains disappeared. It’s almost as if the people we bought the chair from had just … never … cleaned it …
***We didn’t put together a baby shower registry. We just asked for diapers and books, and boy, did people provide. We are tremendously blessed.
Zach Noble is a journalist who has covered everything from the OPM hack to a rescue dog's retirement party. He's been wrestling to reconcile his bleeding heart Catholicism with his pragmatic libertarianism since that freshman year love affair with Ayn Rand. He tweets erratically as @thezachnoble.