Ever since I have been managing money, whether as a little girl spending my allowance or gift money or now as a wife in a one-income household, my dad has always joked with me about how “tight” I am with my money. I, on the other hand, prefer to use the terms frugal, practical, or even creative to describe my money spending habits. 😉No matter how much or how little money I have at any given moment, it is my ongoing goal to stretch out each dollar as far as I possibly can without wasting even a dime along the way.
I also tend to be a very practical person, so it should come as no surprise that I try to spend as little money as possible on maternity clothes. When I got pregnant with my first child, my husband was still in graduate school, and we didn’t have a lot of cushion in our budget for me to spend on new, trendy, or name-brand maternity clothes. Fortunately, it was already in my nature to be frugal, but I didn’t have much of a choice either. I really needed to be resourceful and creative in getting the maternity clothes that I would eventually need.
And I should make a clear distinction before going any further. This post is about how to save money on maternity clothes. I’m not offering advice on how to find trendy maternity clothes or how to look fashionable during pregnancy. That’s definitely not my area of expertise. You’ll have to keep searching Pinterest for that!
What I am offering is some tips and tricks I’ve picked up over the years, and hopefully at least some of these will be helpful to you as well.
Tip #1 Be patient
First and foremost, be patient! If this is your first pregnancy, do not run out and start looking for maternity clothes the day after finding out you’re pregnant. You do not need to purchase your entire maternity wardrobe at the beginning of your pregnancy, nor do you need to purchase everything all at once. Instead, you should pace yourself and only buy things as you need them. You’re not even going to need maternity clothes for the first few months or so, depending on your body type and how your body handles pregnancy.
I know it’s tempting to buy a lot of maternity clothes because the petite pregnant bellies on the mannequins in the stores make everything look so cute, but listen to the voice of reason for just a moment. Remind yourself that you are only going to be wearing these clothes for a short time (pregnancy and somewhat in your post-partum days). You are not buying clothes for long-term. Remember, the goal is to NOT fit into them after you have the baby, so why should you invest so much money in clothes you don’t want to fit you later on?!
Tip #2 Borrow any maternity clothes that you are offered
Fortunately for me during my first pregnancy, one of the women I worked with had a baby a few months before I did, and she offered to lend me some jeans and several shirts. I appreciated that so much because, like I said, my husband was still in grad school. It wasn’t enough for an entire maternity wardrobe, but it certainly helped. Also, a woman at my church (who wasn’t planning to have any more kids) gave me a few shirts, a dress, and some nursing tops.
As a side note, when you’re finished with your maternity clothes, try to find somebody you know who would benefit from them. This is an easy way to be a blessing to someone else when the baby expenses are just starting to add up…and the baby hasn’t even been born yet!!
Tip #3 See what you can find at resale shops and thrift stores
If you’re fortunate enough to live near a Clothes Mentor, check there periodically because they have a maternity section. I have been lucky enough to find a few things there for a lot less than what I would have paid at Motherhood Maternity, Target, Gap, etc. Keep in mind that just because the clothes are used, that doesn’t necessarily mean anything is wrong with them. Many pieces you find at resale shops and thrift stores are in like new condition or even still have tags on them. (See Tip #1, but this is probably where all the clothes end up for the person who runs out and buys a whole wardrobe in their first trimester!! 😉)
Tip #4 See what you have already in your closet that you can still wear during pregnancy
For example, vests may still be an option because you don’t have to button or zip them up. You may also find that you have hoodies or sweatshirts that are large enough to accommodate your protruding belly (or you can steal your husband’s). You might also find a shirt here and there that fits a certain way that also works during pregnancy, especially during those tweener weeks when you’re too big for regular clothes and too awkward in maternity clothes.
For things like workout pants, you might find you don’t even need maternity ones. During my first pregnancy, I was able to wear my regular pants low enough, and it worked just fine for my entire pregnancy. However, now pregnant with twins, at 24 weeks I can see that I am going to have to go out and buy actual maternity, workout pants (which are not the easiest to find, I might add).
Tip #5 Check clearance racks at maternity retailers
This is probably an obvious tip but still worth mentioning. Clearance racks are always buried at the back of the store, forcing you to look at all the cute new styles on your way, but don’t get sucked in! Check the clearance rack first. Even though most of the stuff is probably in the wrong season (hence the reason it’s on clearance), you never know what you might find. This is especially true if you live in a more extreme climate. For example, if you live in the South, you’ll notice retailers still bring out the fall/winter styles even when it’s still like 90 degrees outside. You can easily buy a short-sleeve shirt that’s “out of season” and get plenty of wear out of it in the fall and winter. You can also consider layering it with a sweater or vest.
Tip #6 Don’t assume you will need all things maternity
Wait to see what you really need. There’s that whole patience thing again. If your pregnancy encompasses part of the summer, you may or may not need a maternity bathing suit. It depends on how far along you’ll be and how quickly your body changes shape. You might even be able to get away with a regular bathing suit, depending on the style of your regular suit, especially with halter tops and tankini styles.
Retailers also sell things like maternity underwear, which you may or may not need. You might be able to get by without a maternity coat if you live in a mild climate and your due date isn’t too far into the winter. The point is…wait. Don’t buy stuff until you need it, or you might end up wasting your money.
Tip #7 Take advantage of coupons and sales
Quite obviously you’ll want to take advantage of store sales and coupons. However, just because something is on sale doesn’t mean you need it or that it’s necessarily a good deal for you. If something is buy two, get one free, but you really only need one, then you should pause to really evaluate whether that would be a wise use of your money. Just remember to exercise patience and self-control when shopping sales and using coupons.
Tip #8 Try to stick with neutral colors and prints
I know it’s tempting to buy fun colors and designs, but if you do that, you will limit yourself on being able to mix and match tops and bottoms, and you already have a limited wardrobe restricting your options! This tip won’t necessarily save you money at the store, but I do think it’s wise to choose simple/neutral over busy/vibrant.
Tip #9 Wait to buy nursing bras
You will want to wait until after you’ve had your baby, after your milk has come in, and after you’ve gotten into a little bit of a groove with breastfeeding before investing in nursing bras. I know how difficult it is to go out and do much of anything when you’ve got a newborn, but I do think it’s best to wait for several reasons. First of all, your breasts may fluctuate quite a bit in size at first, and you’d hate to buy bras that end up being too big or two small after only a few weeks of nursing. Nursing bras are not cheap! You want to get ones that fit. Also, it’s entirely possible that breastfeeding doesn’t work out for you and your baby. If it doesn’t, you’ll have no need for the bras, you will have wasted money, and the sight of the bras may even stir up unwanted emotions (feeling sadness or regret over something you had desired so much, for example).
I only recommend buying two types of nursing bras before baby arrives. One is a nursing sleep bra, similar to this one, and the other would be either a sports clip down bra or one of the seamless types. You’ll need a sleep nursing bra, and the other two types I recommended don’t have a cup in them, so you don’t have to worry about getting an exact fit. You can get by with just those in the first few weeks when you’re pretty much home all the time anyway. Then, once you feel like your breasts are at a relatively consistent size and you’ve gotten into the groove of nursing, then go out and buy “regular” nursing bras to round out your collection.
Tip #10 Drop subtle hints for gift cards
Okay, so this one’s not exactly a tip, and it may not be one that you can apply, but…if you happen to have a birthday or if Christmas falls during your pregnancy and someone asks you what you want, let them know you’d love a gift card to a particular maternity store. I don’t know about you, but I LOVE receiving gift cards because it’s guilt-free and painless shopping, and you can find exactly what you like that fits.
However, only you know if there are people in your life in which you can subtly drop hints without it being awkward or coming across as ungrateful. And on the flip side, if you know someone who’s pregnant, consider getting them a gift card or buying them maternity clothes with a gift receipt. I can pretty much guarantee any pregnant woman will appreciate getting to buy something new when her wardrobe is already so limited!
If you can be patient, resourceful, and practical, then you can save a ton of money when buying maternity clothes. Just keep reminding yourself that you’re not buying clothes for the long-term, so making a huge investment in your maternity wardrobe is not a wise use of your money. I wish you the best of luck, and I challenge you to spend as little money as you possibly can…because you’ll have plenty of things you’ll really need to buy when baby arrives!!