Since my last post about living on the cheap seemed to be a hit, I thought I would share some of our tricks for raising this baby of ours on our one income budget. Please don't think that I am claiming to be an expert or even a wise, experienced mother yet (I don't get that card for a few more years), but we have learned how to cut a few corners and avoid extra expenses in our baby raising experience thus far.
1. Breastfeed! Not only does this provide hundreds of benefits (literally- I have a book on 101 benefits of breastfeeding), but it is completely free. I can not say enough wonderful things about breastfeeding.
2. Borrow baby stuff! Not only do we have an awesome wardrobe for Kyler thanks to hand-me-downs, but we have also been able to borrow gear as the need arises just by asking around. Once Kyler was starting to get more head control, we heard a Bumbo was a great thing for them to sit in, so we asked on Facebook if anyone had one we could borrow and a few days later we had one in our living room. This would be a great avenue for borrowing things that are only necessary for stages, whereas strollers and long term items are worth the investment.
3. Babylovers? This is the term I just invented (like right now) as an alternative to babysitters. Going on a date can costs $$ and a babysitter just adds to the cost. Find friends that are willing to love on your baby for free or who you can later give them a night out in return. We are blessed with people who happen to love our baby enough to come over and watch a movie while he snores away in his crib so we can get out and enjoy a date.
4. Try not to go to the Doctor for every little thing. This was hard for me. Being a first time mom and having no idea what I was doing I would be tempted to take him in for every little rash, sneeze, weird poop, etc. I quickly found that you leave with a bill and a subsequent prescription that would cost more than our grocery bill for the month. Now of course some things require medical attention, but there are somethings that also just come along with a baby...like "reflux". One of the doctors diagnosed Kyler with this and wrote me one of those triple digit prescriptions, which I ignorantly filled and administered to him, only to find out that by altering some feeding habits and letting him sleep inclined (in his car seat) most of his issues cleared up.
5. Cloth diapers. I know I've mentioned this before but it has been a life saver! And these aren't your Grandma's cloth diapers! These can be expensive for the initial start-up cost, but we were actually able to register for them and received some as gifts so we were lucky to not have to spend too much on purchasing. Check out my girl Steph's post on cloth diapering...she taught me everything I know about the subject!
6. Don't overload on toys! Not only will you end up spending a ton of money on the toys, but if you are like me, then you will also end up spending a ton of money on decorative baskets to hide all the toys! Babies have actually been around since before the invention of Fisher Price Laptops and what not, and they survived and still grew up to be intelligent contributing citizens of society. I'm not trying to hate on ridiculous toys, I know I won't be able to forever hold off Cody on buying Kyler his first baby Apple product, but we don't have to always have 3 dozen toys with flashing lights and sounds fighting for our child's attention. Tupperware and blankets have provided Kyler with hours of fun. Look around the house, check to make sure it's safe, and present it in a way so alluring that even an adult couldn't resist. Kyler's number one activity right now is riding around in his train that we made out of a box. I also save big boxes (like one that a vacuum came in) that I come across for down the road when Kyler can crawl and I can turn it into a castle or something. Free!
7. Make your own baby food. It is not as time-consuming as it sounds. A few hours on a Sunday provides a batch of baby food for the whole week! Buying seasonal fruits and veggies also saves on costs. Steam, puree, serve. That's it.
8. Free activities. The library at our mall (Dallas is swanky like that) offers free classes every other day that consist of nursery rhymes, singing and dancing, and story time. It's 30 minutes long and so fun for little babes. You'd also be surprised at how watching the dogs run by at the dog park, feeling all the different textures on carpet swatches at Home Depot, or just going about your daily play time in a different environment can really buy you time and save you money. Play dates are also heavenly. This probably sounds ridiculous for all you non-baby-havers but its great for kids and even better for moms!
9. Thrift stores. There's nothing a bottle of Clorox Bleach or Lysol can't fix. Well maybe there is but you get the point. I found the cutest little outfit originally from here, but snagged it up for less than 2 bucks! Thrift stores are great for toys and gear that can be thoroughly disinfected or revamped.
10. Ask for help! People love babies and enjoy helping an appreciative parent. A girlfriend and I swap days that we watch each others baby so the other one can run some errands or just enjoy a few hours of sanity. This is our alternative to Mothers Day Out, which costs an arm and a leg but is probably a life-saver for stay at home moms. Don't be afraid to accept help.
Please post a comment if you have some of your own money saving tricks when it comes to little ones!