Millennial Money: Put whatever you want on a baby registry
My husband and I want love and opportunity for our first baby, due this summer. We also want a $95 digital thermometer. And a $160 video monitor.
I initially felt uneasy putting these indulgent requests on our registry. But my husband pointed out that we wanted those things, so who cares if we ask?
I cared. Would my frugal, Midwestern family think we’re yuppies for wanting high-end products? Was it inconsiderate to ask for this stuff while many people face financial insecurity? I was also struck by the two very personal things our baby registry would reveal: what we want for our family and the monetary value we placed on those things.
Of course, I was overthinking it. Yes, baby registries are personal, and sharing ours made me feel a bit vulnerable. But I suspect getting personal and feeling vulnerable will be a theme as we hurl ourselves into parenting. So we’d better get used to it.
If you’re feeling weird about asking people to buy stuff for your family, here’s how I talked myself through it (with help from experts).
DON’T WORRY ABOUT WHAT PEOPLE THINK
A major “duh” moment for me: My loved ones aren’t monsters. In the worst-case scenario, they roll their eyes at the overpriced thermometer, choose to buy the $10 onesie instead and probably never think about the registry again. No one is trying to find fault in our requests.
The best (and more likely) scenario is that my friends and family are simply happy to be involved. “They want to be a part of this life moment,” says Lauren Kay, executive editor of The Bump parenting website. “Your aunt or your best friend purchasing something you’ll love and use for your baby is a way for them to be a part of this journey you’re on.” And your loved ones probably understand that this journey is expensive.
So cut your loved ones — and yourself — some slack. After all, Kay points out, many of the items you need when the baby is born, like a crib, are important and, yes, pricey. Let folks help.
Reframing the registry may also help you feel better. Think of it as a reference point for later, says Samantha Angoletta, managing editor of the Scary Mommy parenting website. You likely poured time and research into choosing the items you want. A registry helps you log and track those items, whether people buy them for you or not.
So if no one gets us that fancy thermometer, for example, my husband and I know to buy it for ourselves. And Angoletta points out that, toward the end of the pregnancy, many registries offer a coupon or discount for items that weren’t purchased.
MAKE A REGISTRY THAT WORKS FOR EVERYONE
There’s no shame in registering for the items you want. There’s also no harm in setting up the registry so that everyone who wants to give you something can afford to do so. Here’s what Kay and Angoletta recommend doing:
— CHOOSE ITEMS IN A RANGE OF PRICES. Some people will want to spend $10 on your family’s gift, others will want to spend $50, and maybe a few will want to break out the triple digits. So register for items that reflect various price points, from pacifiers to a stroller.
— REGISTER FOR GIFT CARDS. This way, friends and family members can spend exactly how much they want. For example, on our registry, I added Target gift cards and left the amount blank. You can also register for a few gift cards with various amounts.
— ALLOW GROUP GIFTS OR CASH FUNDS. Amazon, Target and other registries allow for group gifting, so several people can contribute whatever they want toward one big-ticket item. Similarly, sites such as Babylist and MyRegistry offer cash funds, which allow friends and family to choose the amount they want to give toward, say, a college fund or pricey item. In both cases, you get what you want and loved ones get to contribute without overspending.
— ASK FOR FAVORS. Babylist allows you to register for help and favors. These are printable coupons for housecleaning, babysitting, dog-walking, providing home-cooked meals and other services that will be free or cheap for the giver and useful to you. If your registry doesn’t have this feature, put the call out for favors when the registry link or shower invites are sent.
Whether someone buys us that fancy thermometer or drops off a lasagna, I know how to ensure everyone feels good: I’ll write a thank-you note.
This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Laura McMullen is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: email@example.com. Twitter: @lauraemcmullen.
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