Thursday, June 14, 2012

Baby on a Budget: Encore Baby Registry

I received a pleasant surprise recently when I opened my inbox to find an email from Felicity.  Felicity is the founder of Encore Baby Registry, a new registry tool that allows parents to register for a mix of new and hand-me-down items.  She asked if I would be interested in having her write a post for the Baby on a Budget series and my answer was a resounding "yes"!  I love the concept of a registry for used goods because it allows a couple to let their friends and family know that they are welcome to accepting hand-me-downs as gifts.  Many people feel uncomfortable not knowing whether a friend might be offended by an offer of used items, so this clears the air and lets you request exactly what it is you need.  Not only is this a money-saving opportunity, it's a green one as well! 

Before my husband and I were even thinking about trying to conceive, I remember pondering the cost of baby gear and shaking my head.   Couple that cost with the rate at which babies grow out of baby gear, and I thought to myself, “There ought to be a way to register for secondhand baby stuff.”   A year or so later, with a baby on the way, I was trying to figure out a way to incorporate secondhand baby gear into my gift registry, research the various safety considerations I needed to be taking with secondhand items, and find an organized method to keep track of the hand-me-downs being offered throughout my pregnancy (what I had, what needed, what had been offered and by whom, and what was being given as a loan vs to keep).  Who knew that being showered with generosity could be so complicated!

After my son was born, I created Encore Baby Registry to give other expectant parents a place to make a free budget and eco-friendly baby registry as well as keep on top of hand-me-downs and provide a one-stop-shop for secondhand and hand-me-down information.  Here are some of the features Encore offers:

  • Add a mix of new, secondhand and hand-me-down baby items to your baby registry
  • Specify whether you’d like each item to keep or on loan (or select “no preference”)
  • Use our database of registry items with pictures and descriptions provided so that you can easily ask for general items that are not brand, model, color, or pattern specific
  • Registry item flexibility allows you to upload your own photos, alter item descriptions or create your own items from scratch to meet your needs
    adding new items by selecting pictures
  • Add absolutely anything to your baby registry, including the gift of help (dog walking, help running errands), fund-type gifts (diaper service fund, college fund), the gift of experience (birthing classes, a family photography session) and homemade gifts.
  • Add items from to your registry directly from Encore Baby Registry
  • Gift givers have the option to share pictures and descriptions of the baby products they are giving to help other guests give coordinating and compatible gifts
  • Gift givers can get gifts anywhere, allowing them to shop locally or give hand-me-downs, secondhand baby items, homemade goods, and non-material gifts
    an example registry
  • The site keeps track of who gave each gift and if it is a loan or to keep, so if you asked to borrow certain items, you can come back to the site when  you’re done with them to see what next steps to take (gift givers can choose to remain anonymous until your baby's "expected arrival date" and their name will not be revealed to the you until that date)
  • A variety of information on secondhand safety, shopping and etiquette is provided for both you and your registry guests in our Secondhand Scoop section
A baby registry is a great way to let friends and family know your needs so they can give you gifts you will actually use.  Incorporating hand-me-down, secondhand, homemade, and non-material gifts is a great way to save money for both you, who will likely get more of the baby gear on your wish list, and your guests, who will be able to give you more while spending much less.  Using a flexible registry also allows you to incorporate the varied talents and skills of your support network, who can go to your registry and see that you’d like help painting the nursery, or you’d like some home cooked meals to pop in the oven after your baby is born.  It’s the baby registry I wish I’d had and I’m glad to have the opportunity to share it with other expecting families.

Felicity lives in Berkeley, California with her husband and their 19 month old son.  Living in a small house house with a baby and a new business, she has ongoing experience with reining in all of the stuff that babies "need," sticking to a budget, savvy saving, and being happy with what she has.


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