You too can be a Thrift Store Mommy!

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By Lisa Scarbrough

A year ago, I thought I had the flu. Two other women in our office were pregnant, and I was teased that I would be next in line. Sure enough, I was the third. Two weeks later, our water cooler was removed from the office, though I’m told it was just a coincidence.

While most women are overjoyed with the blessing of pregnancy, I was stunned. I have been an aunt since I was in third grade and have six nephews. I was the cool aunt they could come hang out with in the summer, go to late night movies and bowling. I had all of the fun and none of the responsibility. I never even had to change a diaper. But I knew nothing, absoultley nothing about babies. Where was I to start?

Like every mom, I wanted the best for my baby, but when I got out to stores, I was overwhelmed by sticker shock. I went back home and decided there had to be a better way to have everything my son needed and still have money to raise him. It was then I became Thrift Store Mommy.

There is a good reason we have nine months (more or less) to prepare for a child. Being as project oriented as I am, I was ready in just three (those who knew me in high school were not surprised). While you can take more time, here are the basic steps you need to have the nursery of your dreams and stay on budget.

Step 1: Create a List
I cannot stress this enough. As soon as the doctor confirmed I was pregnant, I ran out and got an organizer, a spiral one full of lists. I love lists, the sense of accomplishment you feel as you check items off one by one and the list gets smaller and smaller. It helps you to stay on track and plan your budget.

Step 2: Get Recommendations
I was fortunate that at the time of my pregnancy, I had over 30 other friends that were also pregnant and having babies. I got recommendations from new moms as well as those who were on second and third babies of the “must haves” and the “can do withouts.” I made edits to my list and used that to create my registry.

Step 3: Price Shop
I created registries on four different websites. This allowed me to see which site had the best deal on selected items. As I received or purchased an item, I removed it from the registry. I also waited for coupons to come via email for specials, reducing the cost even further.

Step 4: Don’t be Afraid to Buy Used
Does your newborn know that the crib he’s drooling over only cost you $100 instead of $600? Of course not. He isn’t concerned about brand names, and you shouldn’t be either. Focus more on safety and neccessities and use the left over funds for decoration or a special date night with your honey before the baby comes. I spent two months shopping thrift stores and used item ads on my local classifieds website. I was able to outfit my entire nursery for less than $400. For $60, we were able to buy a used car seat and two bases locally, and for another $40, I was able to purchase a stroller frame for the car seat, using a free shipping incentive and 5% off coupon I had received from an online website. (Car seats do expire, so make sure you check for an expiration date on the seat before you buy.)

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Step 5: Repurpose Items Already in the Home
We had a bookcase and a nightstand already that we weren’t really using. As it turned out, both matched the crib we purchased used.

Step 6: Start that coupon clipping now!
It is never too early to start saving those coupons and stocking up on diapers and wipes. How lucky we were that our son was just over four months old before we had to go out and buy diapers or wipes. I also recommend you do coupon swapping with friends. I buy one brand of diapers and formula and one of my other friends whose baby was born 6 days before mine buys a different brand and formula. We registered on all the websites so whenever coupons arrive we don’t need, we mail them to the other person. Make sure to take note of sales on those items in your local stores. You can often use a manufacturer’s coupon and a store coupon for the same item to give you even more off your purchase.

These are just a few simple steps to get you started. It’s all about choices, what you are willing to save now gives you more money for something you want to do later, whether it be a college fund for your little bundle or a quick getaway for the weekend!

Lisa Scarbrough offers mom-on-a-dime advice for parents like her who still hold out hope that they’ll be able to afford the rising costs of college tuition (yeah, right). Course, Lisa has some time to prepare; her son, Ian, is three years old. Lisa lives in Guyton, GA, and when she’s not chasing after her little man, she serves as the Digital Properties Manager for Paula Deen.
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Reader Comments:

54321

Never buy used car seats. It doesnt matter who inspects it...there is no way to know if thar carseat was in an accident or what strain the belts were in. Hospitals can provide low cost options.

By momoffive on July 12, 2011

54321

Great advice.......I'm a mother of two 25 year old sons but soon to be a grandmama come November. I am already hitting the thrift stores and the garage sales. You probably will never have to pay full price for anything if you just get out and look. Most baby items are used only a short period of time and are virtually in "brand new" condition.

By Tina on July 09, 2011

54321

I love thrift stores, I love finding a deal, but so many people discount the idea. My husbands co workers think I am nuts for thrifting, he loves it! I have saved us a ton of money and my child as well as myself and my hubby are usually sporting name brands Only we spent alot less than those who pay full price. Thanks for putting this post out there, I think more people should take advantage of the thrift stores and goodwill locations. We love them! smile

By Heather Lemmer on May 26, 2011

54321

Love Paula and just think that she is to darn cute. I am a grandma and would love to know how I can still have fun with the grandkids and save a dime or 2. We have two now and I have a daughter that is getting married here in about a week, so I am sure there will be pleanty more. Love them all and hope that Paula enjoys hers as well. They are awesome gifts from above. Love you all.

By wingandaprayer on May 20, 2011

54321

I do appreciate all the comments about the car seats. We did go through Safe Kids of Savannah to have it inspected and installed. I do agree that safety is paramount and parents should use their best judgement when making their purchases.

By Lisa the Admin on May 07, 2011

54321

I absolutely agree on price ocmparison and thrift/consignment store shopping. I still consignment shop 90% of the time and my son is 11 years old. The only thing in the article that I would have to disagree with is the carseats - never buy used car seats. As a car seat technician, you never know if the car seat you're buying used has been in a previous accident. Car seats that have been in accidents have unseen stress fractures in the plastic and the fabric straps have been stretched. These make a car seat that has been in an accident a very dangerous contraption. And when you do buy new, if you are ever in an accident, the car seat should be replaced immediately. One other note, car seats have a life span of 5-7 years. The extreme heat that's trapped inside a hot car will dry out the plastic of a car seat, making it brittle and dangerous. Other than that, everything in the article is topnotch information for all new moms!

By OcalaMom on May 07, 2011

54321

I had told my daughter that with my oldest son when he was 18 mts, old my doctor told me I was physically and mentally exhausted. Some time later we were shopping and going through the baby department I pointed out all the things I didn't have with my first son. She said Mom maybe that was why you were mentally and physically exhausted.

By Ruth McClung on May 07, 2011

54321

Way to go. Lisa ....

By Anonymous on May 07, 2011

54321

That is great!! I did almost the same with my first, his car seat came from someone I knew. I just want to add, yes car seats have expiration dates, but they can't tell you if they have been in an accident or not. Please Please be careful buying used car seats. There are programs to help parents get new carseats at a lower cost. Also, like she said safety is key don't forget to look online for recall lists!

By stephanie on May 07, 2011

54321

Love Thrieft stores where you can but products, where its for babay or yourself, for low prices.

By carol newberry on May 07, 2011

54321

Lisa is definitely an asset to the Paula Deen community...and this picture of her with Ian is DARLING! GREAT tips and advice, too...many will related! http://pensieve.me

By Robin Dance on May 07, 2011

54321

Lisa you look great and he is just so cute. Glad to see your doing great.

By Brandy on May 07, 2011

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By Anonymous on May 07, 2011

54321

There is lots of places to save money. However a USED car seat is NOT one of them. You do not know the history of the car seat unless it comes from someone you know and trust. Car seats have a lifespan of 5 years from the date of manufacture. Car seats are mostly plastic, we all know how how and how cold the interior of a car gets on a daily basis. Well your car seat is subject to that range of extreme temperatures and those temperatures cause fatigue in the plastic, which can cause cracks that are not seen to the eye. Is it really worth saving some money to put your child at risk? We use our car seats every day, to carry our most precious cargo. An infant car seat averages around $200. You will use this car seat for at the very least 1 year. So that is .55 cents a day. Scrimp and save on everything with the exception of a car seat...

By Maura on May 07, 2011

54321

This is great information for everyone with babies, or with babies coming along.

By Ruby Goss on May 06, 2011

54321

Great ideas and tips for new moms!! Loved the picture of you and Ian...so sweet. smile

By Teresa.Ann on May 06, 2011

54321

Great article and extremely useful information for the mom to be! Great picture of you and Ian!

By Lee Ann Micheals on May 06, 2011

54321

Lisa, GREAT!!!! Love it!! Ideal for any new mom and new mom to be....I would also like to suggest the book " The Happiest mom by Parent Magazine" very nice book for any mom that is feeling overwhelmed... Much love to you and Ian!!!

By Andrea Lepinske on May 06, 2011

54321

By andrea Lepinske on May 06, 2011

54321

Great blog! Love your tips!

By Rose on May 06, 2011

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Paula Deen
Paula Deen
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Paula, I love watching you and your family. I miss seeing your show, I watched you everyday. My son lives in Charleston S.C. He took me to the Lady & Sons to eat. Oh my goodness! People are always telling me that I look just like the cooking lady Paula Deen. I always tell them that you are my hero. May God Bless You Mary Ann
Mary Ann Tharp in A Summer of Burgers on August 15, 2014 at 10:48 pm

Add a few spoonfuls of parmesan cheese to the flour and cornmeal breading and it kicks the tomatoes up another notch. Bev
in Crispy Fried Green Tomatoes on August 15, 2014 at 10:33 am

I just bought Paula's Peach Salad Dressing and wondered if anyone has a good recipe that they use it in?
Melissa in Taste Testing 101 on August 13, 2014 at 8:36 am

Congrats Bobby. Loved the family picture miss you Paula on TV will be watching online. Jack is getting big. Looks like his mom but Matt aka moose has your face. Your eyes cheeks hair even falls to his face like yours except to the left. Good luck on your next venture. You give us other 60+ yr women strength to move on. Keep up the good work.
Carol Bryant in Love at Last on August 11, 2014 at 6:12 pm