Let's face it, raising children is expensive! When you find out you are expecting it is hard not to go crazy shopping for all of the cute baby things you "need" or just have to have. But once baby comes it doesn't take long to realize that your new bundle of joy really doesn't use much of anything for an extended period of time. And as they grow up faster than you know it, you realize that its hard to keep anything beautiful when you have a pooping, puking and curious little person on your hands! If your not careful having children can not only clutter up your home (and sanity) with "things" but it can also empty your wallet dry.
2. Borrow: If you have a good friend or close relatives why not borrow from them? This works out awesome if you can borrow big items like high chairs etc. You really never know unless you ask and, if you're lucky, you might end up being given nearly everything you will need.
3. Swap: If you're not too attached to clothing and other items it can be very cost efficient to swap items with your friends or family members. I have friends who had a daughter first and are now expecting a son. Not wanting any more children or wanting to dress their little boy all in pink, they were happy to do a clothing swap with a good friend and this saved heaps of money! It can also be helpful if you have a second child in a completely different season from the first.
4. Breastfeed: Breastfeeding your baby is not only a great way to bond with your newborn and nourish them with the food nature intended, but it greatly reduces cost and waste. You won't need to invest in new bottles, nipples, containers etc. or spend lots of money on formula.
5. Make your own baby food: Not only is this cost efficient and really not that difficult to do, but it is also better for your children because you know exactly what they are consuming. Plus, cooking most things yourself rather than buying pre-made and pre-packaged is a good habit to get into and will benefit you as your children grow. I highly recommend cook books from Annabel Karmel.
7. Become familiar with your local library: When I first got pregnant I bought every pregnancy, child birth and parenting book I could get my hands on! Now that my son is almost two all of those books are sitting on the shelf collecting dust. I'm sure I could have saved hundreds of dollars by borrowing from friends and the library. It's also a great resource for books after you have children!
8. Get crafty & creative: Kids don't need a lot of toys, especially when they are young. Often times they are more curious about every day items and will prefer the packaging of any gift you give them. Why not make toys out of thing you have at your house? This can be anything from teething toys, to sensory bottles, or even a box can entertain kids for hours.
9. Buy Ahead of Time: Make a list of things you know you will need and watch for sales. I always buy the size up during end of season clearance sales and watch the catalogues for special discounts or coupons. This way I've always got a stock of new toys for birthday parties or for Christmas and Easter. I never have to run to the store in a panic if my son has suddenly outgrown his clothes or if we've misplaced his hat yet again. Actually, buying ahead of time can not only save money but also give a great thrill because who doesn't love getting an awesome bargain?!
10. Buy multipurpose items: Buy furniture that you can use in the future, not just in a nursery and other items that can double up. For example, why not buy the crib that transforms into a bed, a dresser instead of a changing table and a baby tub that can be used as a toddler tub as well? Although they cost more initially you will get much more use out of them and will use them for a longer period of time.
11. Learn how to sew: You can save a lot of money sewing your own clothing, toys and linens. You can even refurbish clothing that you already have as your children grow. Invest in a sewing machine and learn how to sew or perhaps enlist a friend or family member to do it for you.