Resistance is not futile

August 18, 2009

I’m very proud to report that I just completed a trip to Target where I successfully resisted the temptations of the baby aisle, and left with only the one item that I went in to acquire.

We just completed a family road trip to NY with me constantly adjusting the hood on L’s car seat to block the sun from falling directly upon her. She seems to be a baby who tans easily (even in the shade), so keeping her out of direct sunlight (even filtered through a car window) is very important to me. I decided it was time to make a baby purchase … one of those baby car window shade thingies.

I like to maximize my efficiency on trips to the store, so as I approached the baby aisle in Target, I tried to think of what else I could pick up while I was there. The only thing that came to mind was that I wanted to get a baby-friendly mirror for Liana, since she likes to look at “the baby in the mirror”, and I’ve read that now is a good age to introduce a (non-breakable) mirror as a play thing.
The one and only item purchased on my Target run. Yay me!
The one and only item purchased on my Target run. Yay me!

I found the car window shade thing, then took a leisurely stroll through the toy and accessory aisle. Oh look! A big mirror for crib and floor-time playing! Oooh! A mirror that attaches to the carseat!  Cool! A floor mat for tummy time! Wow! A vibrating teething toy! Before I became too overwhelmed by consumerism, I stopped and asked myself, Do we really need any of this? Can the same objectives be achieved with what we already have? Doesn’t Liana really like it better when one of us holds her in front of the bathroom or bedroom mirror? And isn’t this a more interactive form of “Who’s that baby in the mirror?” than if she played by herself? As these thoughts came to me, I purposefully strolled away from the baby aisle with my one purchase in hand, feeling proud that I reisisted the siren call of all those brightly colored playthings.


Second-hand, but not second-rate

July 22, 2009

Note: I wrote this entry a month ago but it got indexed incorrectly in my blog, and I couldn’t figure out how to fix it. Now, a month later, I figured it out!

I’m back after an extended hiatus that included the third trimester, childbirth, and the first 8 weeks of life with a newborn!

Before my daughter (who I will refer to as L) was born, I prepared by making sure that I had enough clothing for her first few weeks of life. On the advice of a friend, I bought mostly one-piece pajama outfits for her. This friend told me that while there are many cute newborn outfits out there (dresses, hoodie and pants, shirts and shorts), for the first few weeks I would probably only dress my daughter in easy one-piece pajamas. So, I visited my local children’s consignment shop (Second Chances), as well as the Salvation Army, and stocked up on several good-quality all-cotton pajamas. I even found organic cotton pajamas at the Salvation Army!

Now that L is almost two months old, I’ve realized that I can’t keep dressing her in pajamas all day! So I returned to Second Chances, which has quickly become my go-to shop for all children’s items. I spent under $74, and left with 20 articles of clothing! That’s an average of $3.70 per article, and some of the items were two-piece sets! Before you picture faded and worn-out clothing, let me tell you that these items were in great condition, some of them still new with tags!

Below are just three of the outfits I found or put together at Second Chances.

Why not check out the consignment shop in your area? You may find a great one for adult clothing too! Do a Google search for “consignment shop” followed by your town and state, and see what pops up!

Free Stuff

February 2, 2009

I first learned about about five years ago. The basic premise is that you can a) Give away stuff you don’t need, b) Receive something that someone else is giving away, or c) Ask for something that you need.  Freecycle is actually made up of several thousand local groups, specific to geographic areas such as towns and counties. You join a specific group through Yahoo! Groups. For example, I am a member of the Amherst Freecycle Yahoo! Group. The way Yahoo! Groups work is that when you send an email to the group email address, everyone who is a member of the group receives the email. So, if you had a lawnmower to give away, you would send an email to your group with the subject line “OFFER:  lawnmower.” Then you would sit back and wait for responses from individuals who want to adopt your lawnmower. It’s up to you to decide who to give it to.

When we lived in Maine, I used the Southern Maine Freecycle group to give the following items away:

  • An audio-book version of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, which went to a lady who listens to audio books while she is driving around as a dog-rescue volunteer.
  • Several dozen VHS tapes of M*A*S*H, which went to a lady who would be giving them to her home-bound uncle.
  • A 50-pound sack of whole wheat flour, which went to an avid baker.

In each case, I felt so good that the item went on to a good home in my local community where it would be well used. Also, in each case, the receiver came to me to pick up the item, so it did not cause any inconvenience for me. Full disclosure: I should mention that for the audio book and the VHS tapes, I had already established that the amount I could get for these items on eBay was not worth the effort to sell them. If I could have made a little more money, I probably would have gone that route.

So, I’ve given away several items via Freecycle, but never received any. Today I did a search for “baby” in the Amherst Freecycle group to see what baby items have been offered recently. I found these, posted just in the last month:

  • OFFER: bag o’ baby boy clothing
  • OFFER: Baby Girl Clothes
  • OFFER: 2 cribs and baby boy clothing
  • OFFER: baby stuff
  • OFFER: Graco baby swing
  • OFFER: baby/tot goodies
  • OFFER: Various toddler/baby items
  • OFFER: Misc . baby/toddler toys
  • OFFER: Baby bottles
  • OFFER: baby monitor
  • OFFER: baby bottles 4 oz and 5 oz

I will definitely be keeping my eye on this list in the coming months to see what new baby items come up!

 No Buy, No Cry,
~ Jennifer

Why I Love Hand-Me-Downs

January 22, 2009

A big part of the No Buy, No Cry philosophy is, for the stuff that we do need to acquire, to try to buy it second-hand, or receive it as a hand-me-down. There are so many reasons that I love second-hand stuff.

  1. Giving a second life to a product means that I’m using something that did not require any new resources to be used to create it or transport it to me. No new trees were cut down, plastics manufactured, or fuel consumed to bring this product to me. Of course, resources were used in the original creation of the product, but giving it a life beyond the original owner is like gravy, as they say.
  2. Using second-hand furniture improves the air quality in our home above what it would be with a new piece of furniture. A piece of used furniture has likely outgased most of its harmful chemicals already.
  3. Receiving a hand-me-down from friends or family gives special meaning to an item. When I place our daughter in her bassinet for the first time, I’ll know that it’s the same bassinet that her cousin Jacob slept in for the first months of his life.
  4. Buying gently-used items from my local children’s consignment shop keeps money in my community, instead of sending it to a big-box chain. The local shop makes money, and the family who previously owned the item makes money.
  5. Last, but certainly not least, buying or receiving used items costs less than buying new. By some estimates, it costs $11,000 for all the baby gear that you will need in just the first year of your baby’s life. By buying and receiving used items, I can save money, and then choose to spend it on things that really matter to me, like high-quality child care.

I’ve been telling anyone who asks that I would be happy to take whatever hand-me-downs they would like to pass on or loan. What has been surprising to me is that, before I say this, some people feel that they need to tiptoe around the issue of hand-me-downs, as if I might be offended by the offer. They’ll say things like, “We have a stroller/crib/car seat if you want it, but if you don’t we totally understand.” I think that some people think that I want to buy brand new things for our baby, or that I don’t want to miss out on the fun of doing all that shopping. But once I tell people about my No Buy, No Cry philosophy, they understand and even applaud it (figuratively speaking, that is).

Now, it’s not true that I will not take any hand-me-down that someone wants to give. I’m still selective about what I acquire, even when it’s free. At this point, given our small apartment and upcoming move, I’m only taking those things that I know for sure that we will need in the first few months. In the future, if an item is offered that I don’t want, or don’t think that we’ll need, I will turn it down politely, while letting the donor know how much I appreciate the offer.

One note about safety: In my reading and researching, I have been advised numerous times not to buy a used car seat that is more than 5 years old (some say 3 years old), because the materials can deteriorate, and because safety improvements are made continuously. I have also read advice against buying a car seat in a consignment shop, because you can not be assured that the seat was never in an accident. A car seat that has been in a car accident should be replaced right away, and there is not always visible evidence of the accident. So, I had decided that a car seat would be one of the few things that I would choose to buy new.
Then, the day after I chose the brand and model, a friend told me that she would be happy to give me her son’s car seat, which happened to be a fancier version of the same brand and model that I had chosen. My friend’s son just turned one year old, so I know that it’s still within the 3-5 year safety range. And because it’s a friend whom I trust implicitly, I know that the car seat has never been in a car accident.

So far, here is the baby booty that we have received:

  • Bassinet and crib
  • Maclaren buggy
  • Car seat, extra base, and stroller frame
  • Motorized infant swing
  • Infant tub
  • Bottle drying rack
  • An overhead thing that you put on the floor that the baby can lay under and play with the things that dangle from it.
  • Countless books on pregnancy and infant care
  • Maternity clothes

No Buy, No Cry,
~ Jennifer

The Baby Shower

January 13, 2009

How do you take something that is all about giving things, like a baby shower, and reconcile it with the No Buy, No Cry philosohpy?
Well, since we live over two hours from my family, and over five hours from Stephen’s family, we’ve decided to throw our own alternative baby shower for our local friends and relatives. I’m not even calling it a “baby shower,” but rather a “Welcome Baby Luncheon.” We’re having it at our favorite local Chinese restaurant, Amherst Chinese, about 6 weeks before the baby is due. In lieu of gifts, we are asking people to bring a baby-themed donation to the Amherst Survival Center (I have contacted the Survival Center to see if there is anything in particular that they need, like diapers, formula, etc.).
I suspect that some people will still want to bring a gift for our baby, so I’ve suggested that they bring a book for the baby, a hand-made gift, or a hand-me-down. Check back for more info on the “Amherst baby shower”; I’m still in the planning stages.

Meanwhile, my mom wants to throw a baby shower for us in the town where I grew up, for family and local friends (the “Yorktown baby shower”). I hadn’t wanted to do the registry thing, but she and others encouraged me to do it. A friend told me about, a registry site that allows you to pull in items from various online retailers. So, I signed up for that and have added a few items, like cloth diapers.
I encouraged my mom to send out the shower invitations using Evite, a free, online invitation service. Here is the note that we included in the invitation:
Those of you who know Jennifer and Stephen well will not be surprised to hear that they are attempting to have a baby while accumulating and acquiring as little stuff as possible, and that they want to create an environment for Baby Page that is as natural as possible.
Those wishing to bring a gift are encouraged to give a book for the baby or a hand-made gift.
Or, check out their gift registry at

So, that’s the Baby Shower news so far. Check back for updates once both showers take place!

No Buy, No Cry,
~ Jennifer


January 3, 2009

Welcome to the No Buy, No Cry blog, one mom’s attempt to have a baby while acquiring and accumulating as little stuff as possible.
The title for this blog was coined by my Uncle Hung, who used to say it to us kids when we were little and would pout and cry when we wanted to buy something but our parents wouldn’t permit it.

In this blog I will write about having a baby while trying to resist the consumerism that goes along with it. Wish me luck!

No Buy, No Cry,
~ Jennifer