The Best Inexpensive Stroller

Update: The First Years Ignite Stroller is no longer available for purchase. We’ve updated our recommendation which can be found here.

One of the best money management tools I know is this Rule of Thumb: Match quality with need. In other words, don’t buy quality beyond the need.

Sometimes the cheapest option is the best choice. Other times, you’ll regret having gone cheap when you have to replace that item well before your need for it goes away. In that case, you’d be better off going for a higher-priced option that promises to last longer than the cheaper alternative and its replacement.

Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? You’d think so, but I must admit that when it comes to this quality vs. need issue, I am not perfect. It can be a real challenge.

Case in point: When my grandson was born, I bought the cheapest umbrella stroller Target had to offer. My reasoning was that I would use it only occasionally. I didn’t need a big fancy model.

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Photo credit: Stopthegears Flickr Photostream

Here we are almost four years later and I can tell you that was a big mistake. What a piece of junk! I’ve been kicking myself and fighting with this horrible excuse of a stroller for way too long. Completely disgusted, I tossed it in the trash and set out to find the best inexpensive stroller.

Every Friday Eli and I are off for the day to explore and play. We need a reliable stroller. So he and I came up with our list of must-haves: Storage under the seat, a 5-point harness, cup holder, big wheels, folds easily, is relatively lightweight and has a retractable canopy.

Strollers run the gamut from $15 to $650. I can promise you that we do not need $650 of quality in a stroller. My goal was to buy the best inexpensive stroller that would match our list of needs.

I began my research online. Armed with the list, I started with the cheapest options and rejected them one by one when a particular cheap model couldn’t deliver on the must-haves. As I moved up in price, it didn’t take long to find strollers that had all of the things we need. I easily narrowed down the field of thousands to the three strollers that appeared to match—not exceed—our needs.

We visited stores so we could actually meet our top three candidates. I talked to parents, read tons of reviews. In the end, I made the decision to buy the cheapest of the three, based on reviews and personal recommendations. Quality wise, all three were so close, I couldn’t see much difference. But there was a $50 spread in price.

The stroller that won the first ever official “Everyday Cheapskate Best Inexpensive” seal of approval is The First Years Ignite Stroller. The list price is $79.99, but I paid just $59.99 at Amazon.com, with free shipping.

The First Years Ignite

 

We’ve had Ignite for a few weeks now, and both of us are very happy with our new wheels!

We took  Ignite for its maiden voyage to Knott’s Berry Farm and right off the bat we noticed five other Ignites just like ours in the stroller parking area at Knott’s “Camp Snoopy.” That sealed the deal and prompted a simple comment from the front seat. “That’s cool.”

Everything about this stroller is perfect. It maneuvers well on its 8 big wheels and it is lightweight enough that I can easily open it, close it and lift it into the truck bed in a matter of seconds. The seat back is sturdy and, according to my passenger, “Really comfortable!”

The First Years Ignite_folded_The First Years Ignite_back

The handles are taller than most and the 5-point harness hooks up easily. There is plenty of room to stow stuff under the seat and I have a cup holder and zippered console. This stroller is solid with a seat that is 2-inches wider than its nearest competitor.

I have no doubt that Ignite will last carry us very well through our weekly adventures and right through the day that Eli outgrows it.

And that’s all the quality we need.

Question: Have you ever regretted buying the cheapest option? What happened and what did that decision end up costing you?

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  • Deborah Ragno

    When to BUY the most inexpensive stroller: Friends were making a week long trip to Disney and looked into renting a stroller. They finally decided that buying a cheap one and leaving it behind at the end of the trip was the wisest choice. They paid less for the stroller for the entire week than they would have paid for just ONE day of the rented stroller. (And actually, someone else took their stroller at the end of the week, so it didn’t even get thrown away!)

    • Mary Hunt

      GREAT idea! And you are so right. A one-day rental at Knott’s is $12. I believe Disneyland is a bit more. On the last day, it would be fun to hand it off as a gift to a family just arriving.

  • kaetra

    Our biggest “cheapest item” purchase regret is a mattress. My in-laws bought us the cheapest pillow top mattress they could find (thinking all pillow tops would be about the same) when we needed to add a second bedroom after the birth of our daughter. We put the new mattress in our room and moved my then 10 year old Sealy Posturepedic mattress to my young daughter’s room. After a couple weeks of uncomfortable sleep on the brand new bargain mattress, we went back to my old Sealy. I’ve been sleeping on that Sealy now since 1995 and it’s still extremely comfortable! I’m now a firm believer that when buying a mattress you should get the BEST quality you can afford!

    • Mary Hunt

      You are so right! Thanks for the reminder.

  • Betty

    My husband said the worse cheap things he has purchased is tools. He has over time made a few CHEAP purchases to get by. He learned fairly quickly that a quality tool will stand the test of time and serve him well.

  • Sherry Clune

    Mattress. Don’t buy the cheapest mattress.

    • Mary Hunt

      Ditto! But … how about the top of the line mattress when it’s on sale? Now THAT’s the kind of bargain that’s good to find.

    • Mary Hunt

      That would certainly come up my rule to match quality with need, wouldln’t you agree? Of course you would buy the most quality you can afford when it comes to a mattress you need to last for many years!

  • Renee Shilling Jones

    My husband talked me into buying a stripped down Model Nissan SUV in 2005. After a week and many tears, we took it back and got the one I wanted with all the bells and whistles. It has been the best purchase of our marriage. We passed it down to our son last year, when he graduated from college. He drove it to Canada from Louisiana this summer without any problems.

  • Beth

    We are reminded of our worst cheap mistake every day. Our refrigerator went out without warning (don’t they always?) and I bought the cheapest Sears had. It is too small even at 18 cft for the two of us, I constantly fight for freezer space and the plastic door shelves began breaking within months. I can’t wait to buy a better fridge, but I wait because we don’t have to spend the money this month!

  • Rhonda Coleman

    A comment about stroller decisions… When our first son was born, my husband was in medical school and money was almost non-existant. We begged for a double stroller as a gift because we anticipated having more than one baby. It provided extra space for shopping bags, picnic baskets, etc. and when our daughter came along two years later, we didn’t have to get another one.

  • KathyW

    Mary, why in the world would you wrestle with a cheap stroller for FOUR YEARS? The hassle factor alone just isn’t worth it.

  • Kiera Collins

    There are many good quality strollers in cheap price. You just have to get a review of the perfect one. The stroller which is included in the blog could be the one which you are looking for. The details are very helpful. Thank You!

  • Kiera Collins

    There are many good quality strollers in cheap price. You just have to get a review of the perfect one. The stroller which is included in the blog could be the one which you are looking for. The details are very helpful. Thank You! Get some more ideas here: http://twinstrollers.webs.com/