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Used gear makes babies less costly

Sure, it's the best investment you'll ever make, but dang – kids are expensive!

@Body copy:It doesn't even matter how frugal ?you are. All that baby gear adds up.

Just bringing the baby home from ?the hospital can cost $17,400 once you figure in essentials like a car seat, ?diapers and the delivery bill itself, ?estimates Kinoli Inc.

Raising a kid to age 17 will cost $287,000, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's latest estimates. That's up 25 percent in the past 10 years, and doesn't even include college tuition.

I thought I was frugal with my first daughter, but now that I'm five months along with my second one, I've gotten even better.

The first time around, I took any hand-me-downs anyone would give me, but I thought it was important for her ?to have a brand new crib. My dad spent ?a fortune on a beautiful, matching ?furniture set, complete with gleaming white ?crib, dresser, changing table and a ?recliner that matches the curtains my mother-in-law handmade for us.

This time? I'm trolling classifieds for the cheapest listings. I just found an ad on Craigslist for a cherry wood crib, a matching glider and ottoman, a car seat with a base, a walker, a stroller, a jumper and clothes – all for $200! That's less than the cost of Chloe's crib alone!

I also saw a listing for a car seat, ?snap-in Graco stroller frame and two car seat bases for $50! Even buying ?them secondhand I paid more than twice that.

That's the thing about baby stuff. After ?a while, people just want to get rid of it!

You just have to make sure ?everything is in good shape, hasn't been recalled and meets the most current safety standards.

I also save a lot of money buying store-brand diapers from BJ's Wholesale Club. The Berkley & Jensen diapers are not only the cheapest out there, they're also the best. Those suckers just do not leak.

If you don't have a BJ's membership, Tops has a diaper club you can join. You earn 1 point for every $1 you spend on any brand of diapers (or training pants). Once you hit 100 points, you get a coupon for $20 off your next diaper purchase. Different diaper companies also have their own rewards programs.

Another huge money saver? Breast-feeding for as long as you can. You'll save more than $100 a month on formula.

If you do have to start supplementing, ?ask your obstetrician or pediatrician ?for formula samples and coupons, which manufacturers send them by the ton. You can also try BJ's brand formula, which is about half as expensive as the name brands.

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