thoughts about saving money #2 - with kids

Here comes the promised second post about saving money. If you wanna catch up on the first one, you can see here (bolded text is link).

There is things in life as a family that cost a lot of money or that you can potentially spend a lot of cash on...Those cute baby clothes, cool toys ect. (Specially when you like scrolling through all the blogs out there like me). When i was pregnant with Alva, i spent hours looking for all the things i would buy for him and for his room. In the end, mostly thanks to Ohad, I never bought all that stuff i wanted and it didn't take any of my happiness away.

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.



thoughts about saving money #1

"Consumerism tells us that in order to be happy we must consume as many products and services as possible. If we feel that something is missing or not quite right, then we probably need to buy a product (a car, new clothes, organic food) or a service (housekeeping, relationship therapy, yoga classes). Every television commercial is another little legend about how consuming some product or service will make life better. Romanticism, which encourages variety, meshes perfectly with consumerism. Their marriage has given birth to the infinite 'market of experiences', on which the modern tourism industry is founded. The tourism industry does not sell flight tickets and hotel bedrooms. It sells experiences. Paris is not a city, nor India a country - they are both experiences, the consumption of which is supposed to widen our horizons, fulfill our human potential and make us happier. (...) Like the elite of ancient Egypt, most people in most cultures dedicate their lives to building pyramids. Only the names, shapes and sizes of these pyramids change from one culture to the other. They may take the form, for example, of a suburban cottage with swimming pool and an evergreen lawn, or a gleaming penthouse with an enviable view. Few question the myths that cause us to desire the pyramid in the first place. (...)" Yuval Noah Harari - Sapiens, A Brief History of Humankind 

I have never been a saver. I used to live according to the motto: "i have some money on my account, let's buy stuff." I had a credit card some years ago but it got me into so much debts that i had to cut it into pieces and throw it into a fire to "save myself". There was always something i wanted or felt i needed, and usually I finished the month eating pasta because the fridge was empty and so was my bank account.

Then i met Ohad, who is really good at saving and suddenly, i felt a bit stupid and irresponsible for my lifestyle. So i tried to spend less, to not be as impulsive about my shopping and to start saving.

Some time ago, we read an article about mister money moustache and i decided that this is my new challenge to take. Our first step as "moustachians" was to create a spreadsheet, monitoring all (yes really ALL) our expenses, one column for Ohad and one for me. We had no clue about how much money we are using and we were really surprised. Turns out, we were spending a lot more than we thought and  a lot on unnecessary stuff. I became aware of how much money I could save per month just by skipping the extra coffee to go on the way to work (even though I just had coffee at home and would have coffee at work in a bit). I started working on my shopping decisions as follows:

These questions every time i was about to pull out my purse made me better at saving. Another thing i started doing is, to convert the price of things into "time currency". In example let's say you make 10$ an hour, so this really nice pair of pants for 70$ in reality cost 7 hours of your time, almost 1 day of work. Is it really worth it? During the next 7 work hours, think that you are working to pay off those pants. See if you still want them after that.

It's been almost a year now that I am a moustachian. Every once in a while i am still using the "questions before you pull the purse" or the "time currency" to help my decision, but most of the time i just don't feel the urge for buying things anymore. It's a crazy thing that happened to me. I (and all the people around me knowing me well) never ever ever would have thought this possible. The awareness changed my relationship to shopping completely. I became kind of immune to consumerism.

Now you are asking yourself: but what is all that effort good for? Just to have more money in the bank that you are not using...

Well, bottom line it could be called "time optimization". We all work hard to make the money to buy all those things that we think we need. But the time we spend at work is the time we don't spend with our families. If we can live with less, we can also work less and spend more time doing all the other stuff like being with our kids and loved ones, reading, biking, being in the nature, traveling cheap...The plan i am working for is early retirement.

In the next weeks i will share a few tips about how we managed to save significant amounts of money. In the meanwhile, i can warmly recommend you to have a look at mister money moustache's blog. Here is a post that i really liked (bolded texts are links). 

(thanks to Renato for sharing with me the very inspiring video above)