Caring for a child is the most rewarding thing that has ever happened to me. It might have drained my family’s savings yet it has filled us with so much love. It is said that the best things in life are those that are free, yet caring for a baby isn’t cheap. So unless you are living somewhere in a far-flung jungle, no matter how much you had saved up, budgeting will always be a struggle.
Shopping for a baby is physically daunting and is equally draining to the wallet. Unless you have deep pockets or have a frugal friend who can guide you, you’ll need a bit of help and advice somewhere. It is unwise to wallow in debt and worry so let me help you based on my personal experience. Been there, done that; budgeting isn’t easy. Yet with a little bit of planning and some wise choices along the way, you can balance your expenses and have one less thing to worry.
The Struggle is real: How I learned to budget the hard way
During my first-born’s arrival, I thought I am wise enough and got everything covered. I am pennywise by nature, since every bit of what’s in my bank account is earned from my own sweat and blood.
Yet when my baby came, my money slowly trickled out. I was tempted to give my child the best. I am just like a regular parent who wants to give the world and has fallen short.
A month into delivery and all my savings’ gone. All that money went into the department store, the thrift shop, and the online shopping sites as well as to the pediatrician and to the drugstore.
I came to the realization that unless I change my spending habits, I will have to look for another stream of income. Here’s what I learned and done:
It’s not about fashion
You’ll be tempted to buy lots of baby clothes. They may look cute but they rarely come cheap. What’s more, your baby will immediately outgrow it.
Cut your baby’s clothing expenses in half by buying less. Do not be tempted to buy a bunch of clothes just because they are on sale. At the rate in which my child has grown on his first year, he has managed to outgrow his size in as short as six months.
You only need about a dozen per item of baby clothes if you will be washing them every week. You can get by with just three booties, three bedding sets, and six sleepers.
For baby, there is no such thing as a shopping spree! Limit your purchase to half a dozen pieces per item in various sizes, no more or no less.
Use second-hand and hand-me-downs
Be as wise as Yoda in terms of where you put your hard-earned money. Why buy new when you can also get something for less and even for free?
One of the best ways to save is to ask your friends and relatives for hand-me-down clothing. Make friends with mothers and parents like you.
Aside from getting some parenting advice, these mothers usually have a stash of outgrown baby clothes somewhere at home. They might even have a used diaper bag or portable chair that is still intact and usable. Just ask and you shall receive. Do not worry; you’ll rarely come as cheap.
Explore garage sales and consignment stores. You might not have an idea but most economical mothers are doing this. Your baby hardly cares whether what they are wearing is brand new or second-hand.
Besides, most babies clothing was only used for a few months, they are likely still in good condition. Your child’s comfort is all that matters.
Read product reviews and look online
Before you buy an investment item like an infant chair, a car seat, a stroller or a crib, look for honest product reviews by moms online.
You must weigh the safety features of a certain product and whether it will be a fit for your needs. Do not simply go to a store and buy these items based solely on the sales pitch.
Look online for shopping sites that offers these same items. Online shops usually offer them for less than the store price. What’s more, you can also utilize the discount power of vouchers and coupons.
Be wary if you will be buying these items at a garage or consignment sale. They might not work as intended if a part is missing or is torn.
Since you are relying on these items to protect your child, better buy new than be sorry. As always, do your homework before you swipe!
Buy diapers and baby wipes through wholesale or in bulk
Do not buy your diaper and baby wipes in small packets. Buy them in bulk and you can save more per piece. Count the number of diapers that your child consumes in a week and use this as a basis.
Take note also not to buy more than a month’s supply, as your baby can usually outgrow his size in a month or two. Test various diaper brands before you buy in bulk. Some diapers are cheaper but they can barely hold up baby’s urine. You will likely use more diapers in a short amount of time.
Check also if baby’s bottom doesn’t get irritated. As for baby wipes, this is a must-have item that makes a mom’s life so much easier so better test then purchase in hoards.
Try cloth diapers to save your environment and your money
If you are like me, you might have also thought at one time that throwing large piles of diapers a day is a big waste of money. This can also pile up at our dumping sites, taking decades to rot and thereby contributing to the global pollution.
Cloth diapers are your next option if you are moneywise and environment-conscious. Cloth diapers nowadays come in various sizes and functions. Some brands can even hold up to three times more urine than the regular cloth.
You’ll be surprised that certain cloth material can even be used overnight with barely a leak. Before you go cloth-diaper shopping, be informed first on the number of cloth diapers that you need.
Go all-natural by shunning completely everything that is disposable. Some moms around the world have already done just that and they have never looked back ever since.
Ask some moms out there for advice. As of me, I’ve managed to fit my small income and still give my child some comfort because I’ve been given some help and support.
You’ll be surprised to find that there are a lot of people out there that are willing to help and to give you some hand-me-down items for free. Just don’t forget to pay it forward someday.
Having a child is priceless. My little mini-me has inspired me to be better and to be wiser. We are not living in a perfect world so every necessity comes with a price tag.
It is just comforting to know that your child doesn’t need everything. At the end of the day, it is your presence and dedication as a parent that truly matters.
About the auhor: Sarah Morgan. Being a mother makes me realize that life is a great adventure. No day is always the same, which makes every day so much more exciting.