Having A Baby for Less Than $300!

posted by Andrea | 11/8/2011

Several months ago, after I broke the news that we were pregnant, I talked about Having a Baby on a Budget.

Since then, I have stayed true to my frugal nature and with the help of Craigslist, my mom’s garage-sale addiction, lots of borrowing, and generous gifts from family and friends…

We’ve spent LESS than $300 on our baby so far!

And that includes EVERYTHING for our  nursery, clothing, accessories, books, toys, bedding, diapers, wipes, other toiletries, car seats {yes we have 2}, strollers {2 of those}, diaper bags, towels, changing pad, extra blankets, breast pump, bottles, tons of formula, bouncy seat, Bumbo, Boppy, Johnny Jumper, Pack n Play, all my maternity clothes, and even our maternity photo shoot and classes at the hospital!

I’ve kept track of every penny we’ve spent and even surprised myself when I recently saw that the total was still under $300!

Now granted, we did receive several gifts, gift cards, and cash… but besides a few select items {like sheets, mattress pads, and toiletries} I’ve gotten almost every single thing used, or made it myself.

And you know what, our baby won’t know the difference! 

Do babies really HAVE to be expensive?

I can’t tell you how many people have told me over and over again how expensive it is to have a baby and how those expenses keep growing and growing as the baby gets older. They’ll say things like, “you better start saving now”, or “get used to being broke”, or even “you’re not going to be able to spend any money on YOU once you have the baby.” 

Besides the fact that their advice is completely negative — and probably not the nicest thing to say to a soon-to-be new mom; I also do NOT think it’s truthful advice. Having a baby doesn’t HAVE to be expensive! 

I’m sure it’s fun to get all brand new things for your first baby, but I personally can’t believe how many people go crazy and buy all sorts of brand new items at ridiculously high prices… just because. Then, a year later, you see those same things {sometimes with the tags still attached} for sale at their garage sale or on Craigslist at a fraction of the price!

How wasteful! 

I’m sure many of you already know how frugal I am, but from the moment we found out we were expecting a baby, I decided that we would NOT fall into the trap of thinking our baby needed the latest and greatest of everything. Dave and I were both perfectly fine with garage sale, Craigslist, and other second-hand items for our baby… and boy has that decision paid off!

Oh, and I should mention that just because I buy everything used, does NOT mean that I buy inferior products. As you’ll read below, I’ve purchased many high-end, brand-name items for a fraction of the “new price”.

How I Stuck to my LOW Budget:

1. I borrowed as much as I could.

I have several friends and relatives who are about my size and many of them offered to let me look through their maternity clothing. Most of them had also gotten used maternity clothes and were thrilled that someone else could get some use out of their things too. Over all, I spent $2.67 on maternity clothing — and once I’m finished with it, I can return the items to their owners and I don’t have to store anything!

I’m also borrowing a bunch of baby things from a few friends — like a baby bathtub, baby swaddle blankets, winter items, and some different types of baby wraps so I can get a feel for what our baby actually likes. Once I figure this out, I’ll probably go out and buy our favorite, but for now, borrowing works just fine!

2. I buy everything used.

You would not believe how many clothes, toys, books, shoes, and accessories my mom and I have found via garage sales, second-hand sales, or buying them from friends and relatives — all for pennies {and many of the items still had the tags on them!}

As you may have seen, our nursery closet is packed full of adorable little girls clothes {all the way through 12 months} and we already have a nice little collection of books and small toys started as well.

3. Craigslist is my friend!

I am somewhat obsessed with finding great deals on Craigslist — which has always paid off for me in the past; however I’ve been amazed at how many hugely discounted baby items are available via my favorite shopping website!

Here are just a FEW of the many deals I’ve gotten in the past couple of months:

  • I found the $200 baby monitor I wanted for $30
  • I found the EXACT $180 BabyBjorn bouncy seat I wanted for only $40 {and it came with a bunch of extras}
  • I found a nearly new Pack n’ Play with ALL the accessories for $30 — delivered to my door!
  • I found a Bobby pillow with 2 microfiber slip covers {still in the package} for $10 — normally this whole set would have been closer to $70 or $80
  • I found a really nice Jeep umbrella stroller for only $5

I could go on and on… but I think you get the picture. Craigslist has some amazing deals!

4. I made things myself.

Yes, I suppose you have to be a bit crafty to be able to make many of your own baby items… but you CAN do it! I made all my own bedding for less than $8.00 and a bunch of my own baby hair accessories. I also used furniture from around our house for the nursery — and you’d never know it after a fresh coat of paint!

I encouraged friends and family to give me handmade blankets, burp cloths, and little toys as baby gifts instead of pricey store-bought items. Seriously, you should see all the creative handmade gifts I got!

5. I shop sales and rebates.

I know many of you are still amazed at the amount of free {or almost free} diapers, wipes, and other baby toiletries I’ve accumulated. But with the help of my mom, I am now fully stocked with baby toiletries and baby wipes for at least the first year. And I should have all the diapers I need {Newborn through Size 3} unless she regularly goes through more than 15 a day 🙂

Since I’m not a deal blog, I’m not going to go into all the details of HOW we find such great deals, but it’s basically a combination of saving up a bunch of coupons, and then waiting until a local drugstore {Rite Aid/Walgreens/CVS} has a great sale with rebates or in-store rewards.

6. I signed up for all the freebies.

Not only have I signed up for (and received) numerous free baby items via the mail, I’ve gotten even more free and very high-value coupons for baby items, formula, toiletries, etc.

Yes, I do get a little more spam email now, but I have them filtered directly to my spam folder — which automatically deletes every 30 days; so I really don’t have to deal with them.

Here’s a link to some good baby deals and freebies — but you’ll be surprised what you find if you simply Google your favorite baby brands!

7. I’m a firm believer that “less is more”.

I don’t care how many times someone tells me that I NEED a baby wipe warmer, I’m not going to get one! It’s not necessary in my opinion, and it’s just one more thing to buy and then clutter up my house.

And even though I’m already drooling over the super adorable baby girl clothes in the stores, I know I don’t need to buy any of them because our baby will be born in the Fall/Winter and she will probably live in onesies, sleepers, and sleep sacks for most of her first few months. I can easily get by with a handful of cute “going away” outfits and save my money for super cute outfits once she’s a little older.

It’s amazing how few things a baby REALLY NEEDS — food, sleep, warmth, love — and while it is definitely fun to shop for baby items, and may of the items make life more convenient, I’m sure our little girl won’t care if her baby wipes are warmed or not 🙂


Was It Worth The Extra Time?

I know that some of you might be thinking about all the time I must have spent looking for these deals, making my own things, signing up for freebies, using coupons, sending rebates, etc. etc.

And you’re right, it did take a bunch of time… but I had 9 full months! 

Plus, it’s SO fun for me to bargain shop, barter with people on Craigslist, and hit up local garage sales. It’s a hobby I do anyway… now I just look for baby things as well as other things I want to purchase.

So yes, it was most definitnely worth any extra time it took on my part! 

How do you {or did you} save?

  • Do you buy mostly new or mostly used baby and kid items?
  • Do you have any tips or tricks for finding great deals?
  • Are there certain items you would never buy used?
  • Are there other items you wished you would have bought used instead of paying full price?

I’d love to hear YOUR frugal thoughts {or even if you think I’m nuts!}


Filed under: LifeFrugal Living

Leave a comment


  1. Alecia


    I just had a baby, and I know it seems hard to believe, but I only spent fifty cents, yes-fifty cents on her. That was to buy a little pair of clearance booties. God supplied all my needs through hand-me-downs, and gifts, and a friend offered to let me borrow an exer-saucer. I wanted to buy things, but we truly did not ha e the money. God allowed it to be this way so He could provide for her, and He deserves all the glory for this. I have a testimony about God providing relating to her needs. What a faithful God I serve! Andrea, your frugal tips inspire me! Glad I found your blot. We are kindred spirits regarding saving money, and many other homemaking ways as well.


    Andrea Reply:

    wow –that’s amazing! Good for you Alecia and congrats on the new baby!


  2. Ana


    I love this blog post I have come back to it several times. I am having my third child but I don’t want to go crazy with the spending ( I did that the first time 8 years ago). So far I have about half the wardrobe that I need for the babies first year, a Dutalier glider that I purchased for $50 on craigslist, a swing that my husbands co-worker just offered to us, baby monitors I have exclusively breastfed my other children and plan on doing so again (fortunately I did save my Ameda breast pump). I’m glad I stumbled on this blog so early in my pregnancy it has truly been an inspiration.


    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Ana — and congrats on baby #2
    I’m sure your new baby will not know you purchased used items or borrow things from friends 🙂


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  4. Stacy



    I was just thinking you and your husband always look nicely dressed on your blog pics and you’ve told us how you saved on baby clothes. What about you guys, how do you save on adult clothes? I’d love to see a post about that. Merry Christmas!


  5. Marie


    I think it’s awesome!!! I had to laugh about the comments you mentioned that people say when they hear your having a baby! For me, I heard even more because we were having twins!!!
    But I know better.
    I acquired all my baby stuff much the same way as you. I shopped mom sales, garage sales, craigslist, friends, couponing.
    I just had a baby this past year and saved a bunch!!! I knew that I would breastfeed but probably wouldn’t make it more then 6 months so I planned ahead for formula. With just the formula we saved 93%!!! How? Coupons and freebies. There were coupons for similac for $5 off. this made the liquid formula only .47cents a bottle. Through friends, strangers on blog sites, and my multiples club I ended up with 60 coupons so 60 bottles. Then we also bought Target brand when there was a sale on 30-40% more cans and also used coupons.
    For diapers we hit a deal at Walgreens and ended up with diapers for less then $2 a bag. And the great thing about Walgreens is that we ended up with to many size 1’s and were able to exchange them for the size we needed. Wipes, diaper cream, and shampoe we have gotten all free or under $1!
    I borrowed our car seat, swing, bouncy seat, bath tub, bumbo seat and maternity clothes. I still had some of the larger items from my twins.
    You can have a baby and spend less by being smart about it. Planning is HUGE! I was buying diapers and wipes before the baby came!
    Congratulations to you and way to go!!


  6. Tamara


    I bought a lot of my kids clothes at garage sales. Now that I am a Grandma I go to children’s resale shops and I also go to mom2mom sales. These are like a big garage sale where moms sell their gently used clothing, toys and baby items. They are held at schools, churches and even arenas. So it’s a great place to buy, sell and have a fundraiser. Sometimes you will find homemade items for sale and new vendors.
    I just went to a baby shower where the mom to be got tons of cute baby clothes and very few useful items.
    Your baby will be fine in her next to new outfits she will outgrow so quickly. Best wishes!


  7. Neva


    I love this! I used a lot of these same ideas with my 2 kids (now 5 and 3)

    A couple other things: We used cloth diapers, which can be a huge initial cost. We avoided this by searching for used diapers, or hand-me-downs. I also made my own diaper covers. Some of my favorite expensive diaper covers were the wool ones, they don’t smell and breathe better than any disposable diaper. So I made my own by taking a disposable diaper (we did use these on occasion especially when travelling), and traced it out to use as a pattern. Then I’d look for used wool sweaters at the thrift stores, or use ones I accidentally shrank. You wash them in hot water, and throw them in the drier to felt them. Then cut them out to your pattern, add elastic and snaps. The hardest part is lanolizing the diapers. This is necessary to make the diapers leak-proof. The easiest way to do this is with lanolin soap (you can order it online if you don’t have a cloth-diaper friendly store around) and follow directions on the label. I didn’t find the soap till my 2nd kid, so I used lanolin nursing creme (one little bottle lasted about 6 months). I would then rub this into the inside of the wool cover when I was washing them (it’s super sticky so a very frustrating job, which is why the soap is way better). The wool covers just need air drying for “light” jobs (no smell), and light washing for “heavier” jobs, and a re-lanolizing every 2nd or 3rd washing if using the cream, or every washing with the soap.

    Also, babies don’t need special wipies, which are actually irritating for sensitive skin, so we’d use water and soft cloths. We did buy wipies once in a while and would throw them in the wash with our diapers. Then we’d reuse them till they were little scraps. I’d also keep the wipies package and shove my rewashed wipies in, add some water, and throw these in my diaper bag.

    About washing: we would throw all dirty diapers in a bucket of water with some borax mixed in (with a snap-on lid for safety), we sprayed out “heavier” jobs with a spray hose attached to our toilet (I installed myself), so after a quick draining of the bucket, we’d wash them every couple days, hang them out to dry, and they’d be white and clean for the next job.

    Who says kids have to be expensive?


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  10. Jayme


    I’m in this boat now at 17 weeks pregnant. The biggest thing that I remind myself that very few things are necessary.
    I don’t need:
    A photo shoot showing off my belly.
    Professional photo shoots in the early days or at every milestone.
    A full summer and fall and winter and spring maternity and post-partum wardrobe
    Multiple baby showers, which may or may not cost you money, but certainly costs someone money for decorations, favors, food.
    A carseat for each car that the baby might ever be in.
    A video camera to capture all your child’s life
    To monogram an entire wardrobe for baby
    A nursery set of matching furniture.
    A matching bed set for crib with quilt, bumper, sheets (these run about $100 minimum from what I’ve seen)
    To decorate a room so well that it could be in a Martha Stewart magazine
    A specialty tub for bathing baby
    A video monitor for baby
    To own 3+ different types of slings/carrying devices
    To have toys galore for every stage of life

    Nothing wrong with these things, but it’s okay to say I don’t want to spend my money that way. It’s okay to say I’d rather wait and see what I need rather than what I want. It’s okay to say I can’t afford x,y,or z, so I’ll do without.


  11. femmefrugality


    Wow. Congrats. And wow.

    Do you have a crib yet? How did you do that one? If it’s a used one…did you find out if there have been any safety recalls? That was my biggest ticket item.


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  13. Jennifer


    Wow. And I thought I was frugal! You have me beat by a mile. Very inspiring.

    I’d love to see your homemade baby girl hair accessories. I’ve been thinking of trying that for my ten week old girl.


  14. Jeni


    Congrats on your first baby and your frugal yet thorough prep! Don’t forget about cloth diapers as a money-saver! Takes a little moo ah at the outset even if you make them or buy them second hand, but over the long run it will save ton$ of cash. Tons. Good luck with the journey into motherhood. It is the best.


  15. Chris


    You forgot to add in the hospital bill ! 🙂 LOL
    I love your blog!


  16. Keri M.


    Hi Andrea,

    Have you seen this site yet? http://www.29diapers.com/ She’s doing a Top 10 series now about saving money on baby’s first year, and even compiled a ton of info into her book. She might even send you a copy for review and giveaway. Just a thought 🙂

    Our biggest ways of saving money that first year were breastfeeding (free food!) and gently-used or homemade everything.

    Best wishes to you in your final days!


  17. Lisa


    Your kid will be much happier when you can write the check for college or help them start a business than knowing they had the coolest sleeper or stroller! Most of the toys you ever bring in the house will be played with upon arrival and then pushed aside. (I actually scrapbooked the few toys that were well played with!). Clothing fits for such a short time it makes no sense to buy anything new–but don’t begrudge the gifts of super cute impractical shoes or dresses–it’s just a way for the buyer to enjoy your happiness, too!

    I found one town-wide yard sale where every year for 4 years I got my daughter Limited Too and similar clothing for PENNIES since the twin girls in that family were a little older. Sadly they had a growth spurt and that ended!


  18. Jeanine


    Congratulations on your soon-to-arrive bundle of joy! I enjoy your blog very much and you are in my thoughts and prayers as you await your precious little girl. I just wanted to mention that your philosophy that less is more goes right along with a wonderful book I’m reading called Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne. I love the subtitle: Using the extraordinary power of less to raise calmer, happier, and more secure kids. And I would add calmer, happier, and more secure parents as well!


  19. Firesparx


    It’s so refreshing to see a new mother with such a level head! I don’t have children (yet) but I see my friends’ houses overrun by kids STUFF that only a fraction of which gets used. I’ve just started changing my shopping habits to include mostly consignment and second hand stores and kijiji/craigslist. There’s something thrilling about finding something second hand that is awesome and cheap.


  20. Suzanne


    I sure wish I’d had your blog to read when I was pregnant! We spent sooo much money on things that we only needed just a few months. Tough thing was, I had maybe one friend who was a new mom, and no one to borrow from. Since then, so many of my friends have had babies that I’ve been the one to pass things on, let borrow, etc. At least I can do my part there, right? 🙂 You have just started out your life on the right foot by trying to save so much money! I can’t wait to hear of your baby’s arrival too! I keep checking!


  21. Kristen


    Love, love, love this, Andrea! I’m so proud of you…and pleased! You’ve given me a good goal challenge. I’ll let you know how I do! 🙂 You’ve also proved anew to me the value of Craigslist and garage sales. I’m continuing to pray for you as you await the birth of your little girl. I’ll be looking forward to hearing of her arrival!


  22. Tara


    Borrowing is the best! Especially because lots of the things babies need are really only useful for a short amount of time. I had to laugh at people telling you that you wouldn’t be able to spend any money on you when the baby is born. I found that to be true for me, but only because if I have money to spend I would much rather buy something cute for my little girls than for myself – it’s just more fun! I really don’t think you need a ton of maternity clothes, unless you have to go to work in an office or something. I made do with a few clothes that my mil bought me and then second hand or borrowed clothes as well.


  23. Emily


    Woo-hoo!! Loved this post!! I’ve gotten so many awesome deals on kids clothes, toys and baby gear from garage sales! It’s so not worth paying full price in stores 🙂 Can’t wait to meet your sweet girl!!


  24. .ambre. @ livingasoftheday


    I hope the diapers work out for you! In our experience different diapers work best for different body cuts. Hope it won’t be a big hassle for you! We love Pampers. 🙂


  25. Mae @ WoFin Blog



    Great to hear you were able to achieve this on such a small budget. Your nursery is beautiful and looks like you have plenty of stuff, I think many people hear $300 and go “there is no way I could get the amount of stuff I need for a baby”, but your posting has definitely proved its possible. Another amazing way to save money as the baby gets older is to look at this link for baby food cost comparison. http://wofin.wordpress.com/2011/11/08/ways-to-save-on-baby-food/

    best wishes to you & your family


  26. Pyper


    I wish all this (Craig’s List, internet couponing, etc) had been around 10-20 years ago when I was having babies! You did great!!


  27. sarah


    That’s great starting out for under $300. There is no reason to buy everything brand new especially the stuff that your baby uses for a short time. I love receiving hand me downs from someone who is looking to get rid of an item that I need and then I pass it on when I’m done with it. Its so great when you know your family is complete and you don’t have to hold onto even the basic items. For us it is the sports, medical/dental and groceries bills that are our biggest expense. I cut as many corners cost wise with the groceries but it is the accidents and fillings that have been our struggle. And for that I say BUBBLE WRAP should be breathable so I can create clothing in it. I don’t know what to do other than buy used with the sports especially since my son likes the more expensive ones. If he wasn’t one of the best BMX racers for his age group in the state it would be a no brainer. Things to look forward to….. Hope that baby comes soon!


  28. Jerilyn


    We bought mostly used and got a lot of gifts via our baby shower. There were some things we wanted new (i.e. carseat and pack n play) or had no option of sharing (we were moving across country and having kids at the same times as our friends), plus we knew we wanted several kids. We’re having our 3rd boy and are really getting use out of our baby clothes, gear, and maternity gear! We cloth diaper and are still using those too. I have some issues with sharing with friends. I loaned my friend my nice- and favorite maya wrap. I received it as a gift brand new and she lost it. She says she’ll get me a new one before the baby comes but can’t find the same one online. 🙁 So I’m not loaning anymore. When we’re done having kids I’ll find somebody- or somebodies- to give most of our stuff too.

    I did buy a few things with our first that most people recommended. I.e. the boppy- complete waste for us. I use it to prop up the baby now since we already have it but I definitely didn’t need it. I also bought a new manual breast pump and I was definitely okay with spending the money to have a new one- I didn’t need a fancy or expensive one, but the simple one worked for the occasional time that I need it.

    I am always shopping ahead for bigger kids clothes- i.e. right now size 5 boys and up- I look at consignment stores and on the clearance racks. I’ve spent $50 for his size 5 wardrobe and that includes a new pair of tennis shoes and a winter jacket. He only needs a few summer things that I didn’t catch on clearance, but that would be good bday gifts for him.

    For us the most expensive part of having kids is the medical bills- and someday, when they are all teens, grocery bills 😀


  29. Karen @ Abundance on a Dime


    I’ve never understood the whole “babies are so expensive” thing. I breastfed and cloth diapered my boys and bought everything else secondhand. We spent very little on them for their first few years of life! For baby wipes, we just cut up some old washcloths and filled an old plastic container up with warm water whenever it was time for a diaper change (the used washcloths just went in the diaper pail with the diapers!) Babies don’t care about “stuff”, they just want to be loved 🙂


  30. Irene



    Although you did a lot of savings, once you have your baby with you, you´ll realize that she´ll only need three things: new diaper when needed, breastfeeding & mom´s arms.

    If you practice the attachment parenting, you could sleep with her with no need of a new crib (only for mothers who want ;).
    Later, when she grow up, you should study about Montessori, she was a doctor that found that kids don´t need too much toys or the most estimulating because they can develop the same with usual things.

    My kind advice: you should read about Dr. Sears and Attachment Parenting. (pleeeasee do not do the Gerber Method or similar, it´s cruel)
    I am from Argentina and i hope you could understood me ;).

    Best Wishes!!



  31. Sue


    This is great.. we did alot of this when we had our kids. One problem on the diapers though. Both our kids developed a reaction to certain brand of diapers. SO we could only buy one brand.. So you might want to pick up a couple of small packs of different brands.. just in case.

    sue in NJ


  32. Chalyse Meiklejohn


    Andrea – thank you so much for posting this! I ADORE your blog since I stumbled across it on Pinterest a month ago and I check it religiously! I admire your love for organizing, sanity, family and God. This post is perfect for me since my husband of 3 months and I just found out we’re pregnant – due in July! We are definitely on a budget and without reading this I never would have thought to check garage sales and Craigslist!
    I am obsessed with little baby shoes and whether we have a boy or girl I would want to splurge on those! (Baby shoes are so cheap anyways.) But my mom and I already have plans to check garage sales this spring!
    Thanks for posting this! Can’t wait to see pictures of your little girl! 🙂


    Andrea Reply:

    yay — congrats Chalyse!

    oh, and about the baby shoes — you’d be surprised how many you can find at garage sales for $0.25!! Since they’ll only wear them for a month or so, it might be worth it to get some of them used!

    Have fund shopping and finding great deals for your baby 🙂


  33. Lorna


    Since our daughter and grand daughter lived with us for about a year, we bought a lot of what she needed. One of our best deals was the like new (just needed washed) Graco stroller for just $10 off Craigslist! We also got the cutest bassinet for just $15 from a garage sale and a wonderful wooden play structure for just $50 from Craigslist! Ga/grandmpa added a safe way for 19 month old Addy to climb to the slide so she can do it herself and we added a toddler swing too but it was a wonderful steal!!

    I try to purchase used toys from the local 2nd hand store (it’s a chain and they have very particular standards, which I love!)

    Our biggest struggle is the diapers…. I try to use coupons but they are few and far between AND the stores here in the Metro Detroit area don’t allow multiple ‘deals’ on one purchase.

    Our son and his wife are now expecting and we’ll be holding on to everything from Addy so they can use it! It’s exciting to me to be able to save money and to be frugal!!


  34. Pamela


    LOL! In defense of the wipes warmer:

    I have one for the sake of MY hands, not my baby’s bottom! That’s right, I didn’t want to be sticking my hands into cold water every time I needed to wipe my kid’s behind. We use cloth wipes, and I keep them in the warmer filled with water. The cloth wipes are made to size — about 3″ x 7″, so they fit in the warmer without folding. I love the wipes AND the warmer!

    Very frugal (which I am)and very green (which I’m not). But it works for us! And someone gave me the warmer for free– even better!

    Much luck and good wishes for a healthy baby. LOVE your blog, and can’t wait to hear your good news.


  35. Shannon


    You are so right! A baby doesn’t know the difference between new and used items. We bought used items whenever we could then resold or donated them when we were finished having kids.
    The boots in your first picture are so adorable!


  36. Annette W


    We save in a different way too…in addition to used/borrowed items.

    Neutral! We didn’t learn the sex of our three children…so for those baby showers with the first child, we got lots of neutral clothes and accessories. (And no, a crib quilt and bumper are not needed.) So all three children have gotten great use out of them. No need to buy new crib bedding…the farm animals work for boys and girls, though I love your simple ones!