With the economy going down the toilet, anyone who has half a brain is doing what they can to cut down on spending. Raising a child is hard enough. It’s downright killer during a recession. As a new mother, I’ve been given lots of advice on what to get, what to use, and what to do. Ultimately, you will know what works best for you. However, I would like to share some things that have worked for me.
1) Don’t splurge on clothing
I can’t stress this enough. Children vomit, piss, and poop on EVERYTHING. Seriously, don’t bother on buying anything brand-new. If you’re really lucky, you’ll get hand-me-downs. If not, scour second-hand stores, Goodwill, Salvation Army, and Value Village. The clothing is in pretty good condition and you may find some designer (even organic!) duds. It’s more cost-effective and eco-friendly. When it comes to baby/toddler denim, get plain jeans without embellishments. That way, when it comes to handing them down, they will work as both boy’s and girl’s pants. Also, keep in mind what clothes to get. In the early months, I got very few “going out” outfits. It’s a baby! Unless it’s a photo shoot, going out in a sleeper or pajamas is fine.
2) What not to buy (or not buy a lot of)
Baby shoes. Babies don’t really need shoes unless they are walking or starting to walk. Until then, I wouldn’t bother. Again, this goes back to what kind of clothes you get. As my son was in a sleeper most of the time, shoes were pretty much unnecessary.
Scratch mitts. I had a bunch of these and they were useless. My son always found a way to shake them off. I found that socks worked better. They’re longer and fit better. Anything that has double usage is always good.
Change tables. I’m very petite so I always found these awkward to use. Not ergonomically comfortable for me. So, I just change my son on the floor instead. I use a change pad of course! But, I find that it’s safer and more convenient.
Baby monitor. Luckily, I got this as a present. But, I don’t even use this anymore as I can hear my son quite clearly through the walls of our condo. Unless you live in a house…
High chairs. These are really not necessary. They simply take up too much room. You’re better off getting a hook-on feeding/booster seat. It’s easy to clean and has the advantage of also being portable.
Toys. Be very selective because they have a tendency to overtake your home. I’ve even gone as far as to put a ban on toys as Christmas gifts. Babies don’t need a lot of stuff to keep them content. Use your imagination. Truth be told, my son is very happy banging away with my stainless steel mixing bowls and Tupperware. It’s noisy as hell but he’s having fun. I do admit that he is not completely toyless. But, the toys that he does have all fit into a box that’s no bigger than a case of beer. Mmmm, beer…
Baby furniture. Our nursery was pretty empty for awhile. I mean, what was the point? He slept in a bassinet by our bed for three months. When he got too big, we bought just one new piece of furniture – his crib. The rest were hand-me-downs. There really is no need to splurge on this stuff. It would be nice to have a nursery that looks like it came out of a magazine. But, I don’t think my boy gives a rat’s ass.
Glider/rocker. I can’t believe how expensive these things can be! I did want one. But, I never got one. And, I’m OK with that. I don’t think my son is missing out.
3) Coupons! Coupons! Coupons! (and sign up for everything)
I am a coupon whore. I love them. Using them gives me a rush. I can save $1.50 off a box of cereal? That’s a cup of coffee! Score! There’s a site called save.ca that will mail coupons to your home! How convenient is that? I don’t care if I’m holding up the line. I’m saving money dammit! Also, if you go to a baby show, sign up for everything and everything. You just may get a bunch of swag. But, you can still go to heinz.ca, similac.ca, or pampers.ca (my apologies for not providing any international links). Signing up is free and you get coupons, good info, samples, and free stuff. Woot, woot!
4) Make your own baby food
It doesn’t have to be complicated. You can defrost frozen veggies and throw them into a blender. A 128 ml jar of baby food costs from $0.50 to $0.67. A 2 kg bag of peas can cost $2.37. I saw bananas at the store for just $0.67 per pound. Hello? I won’t break it down into cost per serving. Ugh, math! Trust me on this one.
5) Have mug, will travel
Caffeine is essential as a parent. Get yourself a travel mug. Lots of coffee places (Tim Horton’s, Starbucks) do offer a discount if you bring your own mug. Better yet, make your own at home.
OK, that’s it for now. I know that there are tons of other ways to save money such as making your own burp cloths out of old T-shirts and using generic diapers. But, these are the ones that have worked for me so far. As I move along this path of motherhood, I hope to discover more ways to economize. But, I’m FAR from being an expert. Just keep an open mind and try them out. Better yet, share some cost-saving tips of your own. I appreciate it.