Angie Wynne, author of Baby Cheapskate, guest blogs about saving money while preparing for the big day:
Have you heard the statistic that parents spend $10,000 on their kid during the first year alone? Get started early with these five tips from Baby Cheapskate, and cut that amount by thousands:
• Focus on the essentials. Fill your registry with practical items. Think car seats, bottles, a breast pump, a crib, etc. Diapers may not be as cute as a tiny pink dress, but you'll be glad to have them (and people will give you clothes anyway). Try to resist filling in the gaps until all the gifts are in. When you shop for gear, look for open-box items to save around 30 percent. When buying online, always check for a coupon code (do a Web search for the name of the store and "coupon"). Remember to consider the cost of shipping.
• Do your research before you shop. You won't know if you're getting a good deal unless you know what an item usually costs. Find the cheapest nonsale price you can, and try to beat it by 20 percent.
• Discover the items parents love most. Ask around. Join message boards like the ones at iVillage or CafeMom, where moms are happy to give recommendations. Check out consumer reviews at Wize.com, Buzzillions.com, and retailer websites.
• Save 50 percent or more with secondhand gear. Find freebies at Freepeats, Craigslist, and Freecycle and cheapies at thrift stores, yard sales, kiddie consignment shops, and seasonal church consignment sales. Inspect items carefully, and check for recalls at Recalls.gov. Avoid buying a used car seat. The truly thrifty can even pick up used cloth diapers from websites like DiaperSwappers.com. (And consider the cost of driving when making your calculations.)
• Sign up for coupons. You can receive manufacturers' coupons for diapers and more by signing up at the sites on this list.
• Save on consumables. Shop the sales and use manufacturers' coupons when buying diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream, and formula. Become familiar with sale pricing (it's predictable), and always calculate the cost per unit so you can spot the best deals. Start stocking up a few months before the baby arrives, but don't go too crazy. Sales are easy to come by. If you can find a store brand you like, you'll save 30 percent to 50 percent every time you shop.