Saving Money On the Crunchy Side

by Beth Montgomery on February 4, 2010 · 1 comment

in Tips & Basics

The following guest post was written by Megan at Camp Raymont.

Megan is a SAHM of 10 month old Anastasia.   I started blogging to help discover my identity as a mom, and to share skin care tips and tricks since I’m an esthetician as well.   Stop by my blog at Camp Raymont.

When my husband and I found out we were going to be parents, I immediately started figuring out where the extra money was going to come from.   My husband was bewildered.   The words what do you mean? Babies are free! ACTUALLY came out of his mouth”and only about half-kidding.   He simply did not understand how much our financial world was about to get rocked.

It’s not all about money, though.     Just like any other mom, I wanted the best for my child.   The cutest clothes, best medical care, safest/funnest/most educational toys, healthiest diet, and coolest parents were all paramount on the list of things my baby needed.   I was overwhelmed at how to provide all these things without breaking the bank”except of course the coolest parents part.

As I set out to check things off my list, I found some things that helped us save a TON of money.   In doing so, I inadvertently uncovered my crunchy-granola mom-self”a person I never even knew existed.   Here are some of the things I found on my journey to becoming a financially savvy”and slightly crunchy”mama.

Cloth diapering“you’ve heard it all before.   It’s so much cheaper than disposables”about $800 cheaper on average just in the first year!   When you consider you can use them with multiple children, the savings skyrockets.   Too much work?   When you become a parent you’ll be doing laundry every other day (if not every day) anyway, so what’s an extra load a week?   There are some diapers that require washing every 2 days (the ammonia in urine will degrade the elastic if it sits too long in the hamper) but prefolds and covers are the simplest version.   No diaper pins needed.   Place the prefold inside the cover (convenient Velcro wrap-style”works just like a disposable) and put it on the baby.   It’s just as convenient as disposables but you throw them in the washer instead of the trash.   There’s a ton of information available online if I’ve sparked your interest at all.    I can’t say enough good things about cloth”it’s become a bit of an obsession for me!   Go here for more about the benefits of cloth.

Buy used when you can“I only spent $75 on the first six months worth of baby clothes by searching Craig’s List. I found a lady who has 3 girls, the youngest of which is almost exactly 1 year older than my daughter.   I have continued to buy used bins of clothing from her and have been very pleased!   It’s so exciting when she emails me to tell me she has a couple more bins.    I love getting home and going through all of Staci’s new (to her) cute clothes!

Aside from Craig’s list, local consignment sales are wonderful resources for used clothing as well as other baby gear.   I especially like them because I don’t have to inspect the clothes as closely as I would at a garage sale.   Most are in like-new condition at a fraction of the price.   You can find information about these seasonal consignment sales in your area.

Buying used can be tricky in some cases”such as cribs and car seats.   We saved a bundle by getting a used crib, but I did a ton of research to make sure this particular crib hadn’t been on any recall lists and that it met all the newest safety requirements.   Saving money is wonderful, but it means nothing if safety is compromised.   We also borrowed a unisex infant seat from family eliminating our need to purchase one altogether.   The seat was only a year old.  The same model is still on store shelves, and it had not been in any accidents.

Used merchandise is not only significantly less expensive, it’s better for the environment since it results in less trash.

Breastfeeding“it’s free!   (well, it can be) There IS a huge adjustment period and learning to do it is not easy, but it’s so worth it.   It doesn’t work for everyone, but I urge you to give it a fair chance.   It is also the superior form of nutrition for a baby.   Simply put, no formula comes close.   Even when you add in the cost of a breast pump and a few bottles, nursing bras, and a nursing pillow the cost is far less than formula. Since I borrowed a pump from a friend (with brand new tubing and attachments) I have spent less than $200 total on all breastfeeding accessories.     Formula, depending on which brand, can be anywhere from 100-200 dollars a month or more.

Baby-wearing“strollers can cost hundreds of dollars and are a pain to get in and out of the car.   Buy a sling or wrap (you can get them on sale and from work-at-home-moms for $40 or under) and grocery shop hands-free while your baby takes a nap.   There is nothing I love more than wearing a sleeping baby.   My heart swells a bit more every time.   Baby-wearing is also a wonderful way to calm a colicky baby, keep your milk supply up, get better sleep at night, and to get things done around the house with a baby who doesn’t want to be put down.     I personally would recommend a Moby Wrap (or similar wrap carrier) for the beginning and an Ergo for a bigger baby.   Ring slings are also an option, but they take a few tries and constant fussing on my end to get it comfortable.

Make your own baby food or practice Baby Led Weaning“Jarred baby food is lots of things, but it is not tasty or cheap.   Making your own baby food is easy and significantly less expensive than buying jars.   I personally think it is healthier because it doesn’t have any of the added preservatives present in jarred food.  There is a basic cost benefit analysis online you can check out.   At our house, we practiced baby led weaning.   My daughter was exclusively breastfed up until 6 months of age, and from then on ate meals with us.   She fed/feeds herself suitable sized pieces of whatever we were eating.   At 10 months old (and completely toothless), she can eat almost anything without my help.    For more information on BLW, visit Rapley Weaning.   I have made a few purees in an effort to get her to sleep better.   She loved them, but, much to my dismay, it didn’t result in larger blocks of sleep.

The combination of all of these things has saved us thousands of dollars.   The best part of it all is I don’t feel like I’m sacrificing anything, it’s just more money in the bank.

Note from Beth: I never considered my self “crunchy”, but I do almost all of these things (except the cloth diapers).   It is possible to have a baby without breaking the bank.   And, I do love that our kids eat with us early, instead of spending so much money on special food for them.   In fact, it’s great, because it forces me to cook healthier for them.   Check out the recipe list for baby food recipes you can eat for dinner too!

Share with me! Are you a crunch mom?   How do you save money on your children?

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1 Maggie February 4, 2010 at 1:49 PM

Ditto on I wouldn’t necessarily call myself “crunchy” but I do all of the above (though we use both cloth and disposables, depending on the setting). Honestly I don’t think we would meet our financial goals without that frugal mindset that lends itself to every aspect of life. We used a pack and play exclusively for the first year, and finally found a nice crib on Craigslist when our oldest turned one.

One “splurge” I made was an expensive breastpump, the Medela Pump in Style Advanced. I used a 20% off coupon at Babies R Us to get it. I loved it (…as much as anyone loves a pump!), and even as a stay-at-home mom, I felt it was a wonderful investment for our family.

Biggest waste of money out there- – full price nursery sets! Just be creative if you really have to have a nursery theme. The baby doesn’t care.

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