Budgeting for a Baby – What I Wish I Knew

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**This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Kijiji. All opinions are my own.

This past weekend, my daughter Scarlett turned one. It’s been a crazy year adjusting as new parents with many ups and downs. As a personal finance expert, I wish I could tell you that we had all our finances under control, but we made some mistakes that could have easily been avoided.

Okay, things weren’t that bad, but despite how hard we tried to keep expenses in check, we ended up spending more than we really should have. The good thing is, the “mistakes” we made can be learning points for you! Honestly. Here’s a real-life look at some of the things I wish I knew when it came to budgeting for a baby.

budgeting for a baby - Disney

Preparing for the birth of our baby

Before Scarlett was born, we focused on the typical things that we felt needed to be new. We bought a crib, stroller, car seat, toys, clothes, and countless other items. We reasoned that we could afford to buy these things so we might as well buy them new?

The thing is, it was easy to have that mentality when we were on a dual income. As soon as Scarlett was born, we were down to a single income, and it seemed like we had many more expenses. Had we purchased a few of those items in the second-hand economy via Kijiji, we could have easily saved around $825 (according to their latest Report).

It’s not like we didn’t try to save money. We purchased cloth diapers at the cost of $130 thinking they would be good for the environment and we would save on diaper costs. Once we realized how often babies poop, we decided to abandon the idea of using cloth diapers. Had we bought those diapers second-hand, we could have got them for about $30. We’re now about to put them up on Kijiji at a $100 loss, but at least we’ll be getting some money back.

Baby-related items are one of the most exchanged items in the second-hand economy and in 2016, purchasing baby-related goods saw an increase of more than 30% according to Kijiji’s 2018 Second-Hand Economy Report. Had we just purchased more things second-hand from the start, we could have used the money saved for other expenses while on a single income.

Also, there was just so much stuff that we received as gifts. Scarlett had multiple outfits that she didn’t even wear because she outgrew them. We also received quite a few duplicate or similar toys which we gave away or donated.

Managing our expenses once she arrived

Let me tell you right now, once our baby arrived, all logic went out the window. We were so caught up with a lack of sleep and trying to figure out her needs, that we were spending money like crazy. At other times, we just weren’t prepared, so we made quick purchases because we felt we needed specific items right away.

Looking back now, I can tell you that there are three stages where you can keep your expenses relatively reasonable as long as you plan in advance.

Sleep –  Every parent will tell you that rest is limited during the first three months. But what they don’t tell you is what crazy things you’ll do to get more sleep. We tried sleep sacks, miracle blankets, and swaddling blankets to help our baby sleep which easily cost us about $150 new. Had we purchased the blankets second-hand, we probably could have saved $75. We did end up buying a Mamaroo and humidifier on Kijiji which saved us about $200.

Developmental –  As your baby grows, they’ll go through different developmental stages. They’ll start understanding colours, sounds, and textures. Of course, there are tons of toys you can purchase during these stages. We didn’t think about this in advance, so we ended up buying developmental toys as needed. It’s not a big deal when they cost $10 – $30 each, but then we ended up buying 15 different items. This is the one stage where we didn’t think about buying items second-hand but had we did; we could have easily saved a few hundred dollars.

Hobbies – This is more for parents, but it’s something to keep in mind. My wife and I love to travel, so we needed a travel crib and stroller. We ended up saving $200 by buying these items second-hand. Think about what you like to do now, e.g. camping or going to the cottage and think about what baby accessories you may need to enjoy those hobbies with your little one. By planning in advance, you can take your time and purchase what you need used.

Why go to all this effort?

Many people wonder why I even bother going to the effort of buying things used when we can afford to buy them new? Well, the answer isn’t that simple. But it comes down to two things: I don’t like spending more money than I have to, and I honestly believe that any money saved can be put towards experiences or more important things.

Think about it. According to Kijiji’s 2018 Index Report, you could put nearly $2,000 back in your pocket by buying and selling second-hand; that’s no small amount.

Our flights to Rome and Amsterdam were just under $2,000. Heck, before Scarlett was born, we went to Portugal for less than $2,000. Way too often I come across people who say they don’t have the funds to travel. I’m telling you right now that buying and selling things used can help you build up your travel fund.

Want something a little more practical to do with that money saved? A $2,000 deposit into your child’s Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) would get you another $400 thanks to the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG). That’s an incredible way to save for your child’s future without making any sacrifices now.

Final thoughts

85% of Canadians participated in the second-hand economy last year, and if you didn’t take part, what’s stopping you? If you’re a new parent and you want to save, check out Kijiji, which is consistently the #1 channel for buying and selling second-hand items.

Budgeting for a Baby - What I Wish I Knew

About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi


  1. Marian on July 9, 2018 at 12:53 PM

    When my kids were small (pre-Internet), I’d be out by 8AM hitting Saturday AM garage sales looking for treasures. I bought lots of 2nd hand clothes, sports equipment and toys for the kids and some amazing furniture, small appliances & decorative items for me. In those days, we had very little extra money after paying mortgage, car & daycare in particular.

    Another benefit? I would sometimes take my kids out with me and I would allow them to choose one or two things. Result? They behaved really well during our trips together. Some of their very favourite toys and games came from garage sales. And another result? They rarely asked for new toys.

    They are grown up now but guess what? I still hunt for treasures but on Kijiji and a couple of other sites. My daughter is moving out of residence into her first apartment. I am furnishing her place with used stuff. It’s amazing what’s out there. I just bought an almost new, top of the line office chair worth $450 for $30 from an ad on Kijiji.

    I’m not sure why people look down upon 2nd hand items. Like a used car, you get more value out of your dollar. Plus it’s also good for the environment to recycle. And like Barry says, you put the money you saved towards some other worthy cause (like a trip!).

    • Barry Choi on July 9, 2018 at 5:28 PM

      Hey Marian,

      Makes sense that you went to garage sales pre internet. I love how your kids got to choose their own things. $30 for a $450 office chair is one heck of a deal! I definitely agree that it’s crazy that some people look down on 2nd hand items when you can save so much money.

  2. Laura on July 9, 2018 at 2:26 PM

    This is a great article! We recently bough a new home and found that there is a constant supply of people moving and selling goods. Another convincing point is the resale value. If you buy something second hand you can likely sell it for the same amount so the use cost is almost nothing.

    • Barry Choi on July 9, 2018 at 5:30 PM


      Heh, yeah I’ve been able to sell a few things that I bought used for practically the same amount I bought it for. Sure it cost me my time and travel expenses, but my baby used some of the items for almost a year!

  3. Jenna on July 11, 2018 at 7:14 PM

    I saved so much money by purchasing the vast majority of my baby items off kijiji and Facebook mom’s groups. I also put out a call on Facebook to my friends asking to borrow items like maternity clothing, a bassinet, and a carrier that I knew I wouldn’t use for long. We also had a diaper party so I didn’t need to buy diapers for the first 10 months. I created a detailed budget in Excel and tracked all of my baby purchases so I didn’t go crazy spending money. I researched baby items thoroughly and was well prepared with all the items cleaned and organized before he was born. I even managed to come in several thousand dollars under budget. The best part is I was able to purchase and borrow the same items in different models (like baby bottles, swings, seats, pacifiers, etc) to see which one my guy preferred and was able to sell the less preferred items at the same price I purchased them. All my hard work paid off in spades when he was born and I didn’t have to run out and buy anything and I even had some extra cash for fun baby and me classes, take-out meals when I didn’t feel like cooking, and, of course, Starbucks!

    • Barry Choi on July 11, 2018 at 8:03 PM


      Woah, you did some serious research and planning. Was this for your first child? Had I done a fraction of the things you did, I could have easily saved big.

      • Jenna on July 12, 2018 at 9:21 PM

        Yes, it was my first child! I am a bit of a type A personality so organization and planning are my way to deal with stress and worry. I was very worried about having a really rough time with my first as I hadn’t been around babies much as well as the financial hit my maternity leave would cause. But the planning really paid off! I got the world’s easiest baby and we even had some money to spare. My mat leave was the best vacation of my life! I don’t anticipate having a second will be near as easy!

        • Barry Choi on July 13, 2018 at 8:56 AM


          Honestly, you are a star! I feel like everything you did would be perfect for a blog post. I may need to write something based on your experience.

          • Jenna on July 19, 2018 at 9:08 PM

            Another tip for parents to be is to figure out their monthly childcare cost and sock that amount away every month in a TFSA during the pregnancy. That will help you figure out your budget in advance and make some necessary adjustments so things won’t be so painful when you have to start paying for daycare. You can use the extra cash during parental leave when your salary drops! It’s a win-win!

          • Barry Choi on July 20, 2018 at 12:29 PM

            Hey Jenna,

            Great tips. We also did a dry run on a tighter budget so we would have a sense of how our income and expenses would be. It helped a lot as we were able to identify things that we really could afford to cut back on.

  4. Owen @ PlanEasy.ca on July 12, 2018 at 8:59 AM

    Beautiful smile! You’ve got a nice smile too Barry 🙂

    We’ve got two little girls and we bought and sold a lot on Kijiji. Both of our girls have single beds that came from Kijiji. They’re awesome, solid wood with a brown mahogany stain. Would have been 5x the price new and you can’t even tell it’s on its second life. Plus it keeps stuff out of the trash. Win win!

    • Barry Choi on July 12, 2018 at 2:20 PM


      Kijiji is the best, I’ve found some great things there.

  5. GYM on July 13, 2018 at 9:25 AM

    We almost bought a tent pod for our baby to sleep in but then I thought what if he doesn’t like it? I we bought a new tent instead lol! To fit the pack and play (previously we had a dole tent which would probably just fit pack and play but not us).

    The things we do for our babies!

    • Barry Choi on July 13, 2018 at 9:31 AM

      You mean the amount of money we spend on our babies =P

  6. Leonidas on July 20, 2018 at 10:47 AM

    As first time parents, it can be difficult to buy stuff second hand. We always think our baby needs the best so if has to be new. We definitely got caught up in this initially.

    We bought quite a few things used as our 2 boys went from babies to school age. Once you get into things like sports, its amazing how cheap stuff can be on Kijiji. You can get skates for $20 that are virtually brand new.

    • Barry Choi on July 20, 2018 at 12:32 PM


      It’s totally a psychological thing. Once we realized that our baby didn’t NEED new things, we ended up saving so much more money. Good tips about sporting equipment, I’m going to check that out when my daughter is older.

  7. James Heidebrecht on September 11, 2018 at 10:46 PM

    Great article. I had my son late in life and have to admit I was a taken aback by how much it costs. The good news is I am frugal by nature so we got most of our nursery furniture second hand. We had family members that were kind of us to provide us with hand me downs and as you well know Kijiji is a fantastic tool. Now on to saving for university 😉

    • Barry Choi on September 12, 2018 at 7:29 AM

      Hey James,

      Yeah, the baby cost more than I expected but I feel those extra expenses were more about keeping my sanity.

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