You came to the right place. As a mom known for pinching pennies and finding ways to save money on baby items, I can give you some suggestions.
See About a Free Car Seat
Step one: See if you can score a free car seat. Free? Yes, free. Some insurance policies will cover the cost of an infant car seat, provided you take a parenting class. Check with both your health and your auto insurance to find out if you are covered.
Another avenue to explore is your employer. It's not unheard of for some companies to offer discounted car seats as a perk of employment.
Buy Two Car Seat Bases
If you are struggling because you need your baby to ride in more than one vehicle, and you don't want to be constantly swapping the seat in and out of other cars, buy an infant seat and purchase additional car seat bases instead. Car seat bases are much cheaper than buying a whole seat and sell separately for anywhere from $40 to $70.
Locate Car Seat Coupons
Be on the lookout in your newspaper fliers for coupons or access the power of the internet and find plenty. About Coupons and Bargains keeps an updated list of baby coupons that you can browse regularly. Always, always shop around for a coupon deal before you buy.
Go With a Closeout Pattern
If you are okay with not having the latest fabric design for this year, buy a car seat with the past year's design. You should be able to get close out patterns at a discounted price. One thing to be mindful of, car seats generally expire 6 to 8 years from the date of manufacture, not the date of purchase. Be sure that although the pattern is discontinued, the seat itself has a fairly recent manufacture.
The "Best" Car Seats Aren't Necessarily the Most Expensive Car Seats
Many times parents are wooed into thinking that a car seat with a high price tag must be the best, safest seat available. Not the case. In fact, all car seats sold in the US meet the federal minimum safety standards. Some do exceed those standards, that's true. But often a higher price tag reflects plush fabrics and comfort features of the seat, not safety.
I do understand investing in comfortable seats for convertible car seats that your baby will be in for a while. However, your baby will out grow her infant car seat much sooner. To that end, I would consider skipping the comfort bells and whistles on infant seats.
Browse Prices in the Months Ahead
Chances are, unless you are a candidate for the show I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant, you'll have several months to be looking for a seat. And again, when your baby is ready to size up, you'll have time to think about the purchase. Spend the months before browsing the listing of your local stores and on-line retailers to know what is a good deal.
If constant browsing isn't your thing sign up for camelcamelcamel. It's an Amazon price tracker that will systematically check products for price drops and alert you when a good deal is on the horizon.
Why Shouldn't I Buy a Used Car Seat?
As much as I am fond of saving money and certainly am a fan of reusing, I do not recommend saving some bucks by going with a used car seat. Make sure you familiarize yourself with buying used, and if you choose to do so, you purchase or obtain used seats with safety at the forefront of your mind.
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