Alva is now 3 years old and currently - not counting the expenses for his kindergarden - we are spending about 20 $ a month on things for him, and believe me he is perfectly happy. He has fun, quality toys, clothes that he likes to wear (for most part) and we never kept something he needed from him just to save money.
Here is what we did :
--------- 1. We only bought baby stuff we really needed ---------
Of course, there is a whole industry built around newborns, new mothers and fathers, and kids of all ages. This industry makes you feel like you need a lot more for your baby than you actually really do. Here are just 5 random example items that came to my mind that i thought we would absolutely need, because i read it somewhere or saw friends using those items with their small ones. We never bought them and we did fine without them. I will risk the assumption, that you and your baby - like us - don't really need those:
- Baby bathtub and thermometer
- Bottle sterilizer
- Bottle warmer
- Diaper bag
- Diaper changing table
Alva was, till age 2 taking his bath in a plastic bucket from the market (cost 5$). We always checked the temperature of the bath with our hands and arms. We sterilized the bottles with boiling water, we put a washable small blanket on our bed to change his diapers and i always carried diapers and a package of wipes in my handbag. Today i calculated that we saved around 350$ just by not buying those 5 "basic" items. I am happy that Ohad kept telling me: "Did you have that when you were a baby?", "Did your mother buy this when she had you?" And i had to agree time and time again, that my mother had nothing of all this.
--------- 2. We don't spend (much) money on kid's clothes ---------
It's so tempting to buy cute kids clothes, it's most mother's (me included) favorite thing, to dress their children nicely.
Well, i gave up on it. Alva is not wearing any cool, hip clothes from local designers made of organic cotton. Instead, we are getting passed on clothes from cousins, friends or from clothes swaps (look on facebook for kids clothes swap groups, if you don't find any in your city, open one, it will catch really fast). I am very rarely turning down clothes we would get for free, even if i don't like the prints or colors. For one, it's helping with the savings plan. Second, Alva couldn't care less about what he is wearing, and third, it's sustainable (yeahie to recycling).
The day i realized that the main reason i wanted my kid to have cool clothes was because i wanted my kid to be cute, i also realized that this is a pretty strange thought, since kids are cute even when wearing terrible clothes. That's when I agreed to the "no money on kid's clothes" thing. And let's look really deep into our mother hearts and be honest: if you/we are secretly worried about the nice pictures that will not look so nice anymore, well, just make them black and white. All clothes look good in black and white. :-)
--------- 3. Buy stuff only when you need it ---------
Don't buy stuff before you really need it. So many things i bought in advance ended up on the bottom of a drawer without me ever using them. I bought all of them thinking i would really really need them at some point or another. Every child is different, has different needs and likes. I realized that something that worked wonders for a friend of mine when her kid was younger doesn't necessarily mean that it would work the same way with Alva. I am now waiting till the need is real and then research what would fit my child best before i actually buy a product.
--------- 4. Research (try out) the products you wanna buy before you buy them ---------
Trying out the products you wanna buy before you actually buy them will prevent you from many disappointments. Maybe you have a mom friend that has exactly this one product that you would like to buy. Maybe you can ask her if you could borrow it for a day and try it out. Maybe you will find out that although it seems nice at first, it doesn't fit your child's or your needs and you will be happy you didn't buy it. In my case this was particularly true for slings. I tried 3 different slings from friends, till i found the one that was right for Alva, Ohad and me. We are still using it.
--------- 5. Get your kid to be diaper free as soon as possible ---------
That sounds a bit crazy but the earlier your kid will not need diapers anymore, the better. Not only for your kids independence, but also for your finances. Disposable diapers cost tons of money. From all things we bought for Alva in the last 3 years, the biggest amount by far in the list goes to disposable diapers.
So what about cloth diapers?
We got a set of 12 cloth diapers from my mom when Alva was born and i really like them. But according to my experience, specially if your baby is small and needs a lot of diaper changes, 12 diapers are not enough if you want to use essentially cloth diapers (i would usually ran out of cloth diapers during washing/drying cycles). We combined cloth and disposables. At the end i guess we did use more disposables than we had planned on, also because sometimes cloth diapers tend to leak, which rarely happens with disposables. And quite honestly, using only cloth diapers is quite some work if you don't have a diaper washing service in your city.
So that's why not using any diapers at all can really help you save some cash.
--------- 6. Do it yourself! (toys, games ect) ---------
There is tons of toys and games you can do yourself instead of buying them. They will be just as educational and maybe your kid will even be able to contribute to their making! Have a look at diy kids toys and games on pinterest, or on one of the amazing kids toys diy blogs like madebyjoel, mermag, mrprintables or just get creative yourself.
Do you also have some tips on how to save money without feeling you are missing out on something?
I would love to hear about it!
Just today Ohad reminded me that if you manage to save 400 times your monthly expenses, you can be financially independent, meaning you don't need to work anymore and can just take time to be with your family, like Mr. Money Moustache...we are still far from there but on the way...more about it in the next post.