I was bored over the weekend so I started browsing for nursery ideas. I came across some really cute things at BabyGap.com. At this stage in the game I’m not paying attention to prices, just daydreaming about how a print will look on the wall, or where I can buy accessories. I passed the computer to my husband and the difference couldn’t have been more stark. “Oh, I do like th….fifty-four dollars? Fifty-four dollars? What is that anyway? What is a bumper and why do we need one?”
According to an online TIME Magazine article published late last summer, the US Department of Agriculture estimates that it will cost me and my husband more than $220,000 to raise our baby and that’s before we pay for college.
I’ve tried to reassure my husband that though we’ll incur a few more monthly expenses, our little bundle of joy will also be our little bundle of tax deductions. That perked him up a little bit but then I showed him the top rated stroller on the market. He grunted something that I can’t repeat and then said “Used was good enough for me. It will be good enough for our kid.”
I’m normally the frugal one in our relationship. When our dog needed $1300 in dental work (don’t judge us), I promptly responded by reducing our monthly grocery bill. When I had a minor car accident and had to pay a $500 deductible, I put my foot down on going out for drinks. Not a cent leaves our checkbook that I don’t scrutinize with the eye of a IRS agent.
But when it comes to the baby, does it really pay to be cheap? “Mommy loves you so much, but not enough to buy the $800 crib.” That just doesn’t sound right. What I’m going to need is a good mommy-consumer coach; someone to tell me where it’s OK to skimp and where I must absolutely buy the brand name.
I’ve been in Babies ‘R’ Us just once: when I was shopping for my cousin’s baby shower. It’s an overwhelming place. Why are there so many choices and how do you possibly make the right one? If you make the wrong one, you can bet the cashiers mock you during their breaks. “Did you see that woman? I can’t believe she bought THAT brand. I feel bad for her kid.”
I saw the sale price of Target-brand diapers today. My seasonal clothing budget is going to become my monthly diaper budget and our entertainment budget will be diverted to a collection of Baby Einstein DVDs (I hear they are supposed to be good for brain development. Who am I to say no to that?) and Rockabye Baby CDs (lullaby renditions of rock bands is better than most of the kiddie music available, right?).
From what I hear about parenthood though, we’ll see a fabulous return on investment in baby smiles and drool-filled kisses and first steps, and first words. And that’s something no one can put a price on.