Money – How to Reduce the Cost of Kids
I read an article in Metro News yesterday about a recent study that showed that the average age than men and women become parents for the first time is increasing. If the trend continues, having kids will be something you do when you retire. The main advantage is that when you are older, your hearing is worse, so the baby crying doesn’t sound as loud.
Actually, the main causes of this trend seem to be money and career. Since career basically equates to money, you can say the main reason for this trend is money. People believe that having kids is expensive. They want to be sure they have established a career, house, car, yacht, etc, before they establish a family. To me, this just doesn’t make sense and is kind of sad. Do we all need to be Donald Trump before we can care for a child? I certainly don’t think so, and I think if we were, our kids would be making fun of our hair anyways.
So, I plan on writing a series of articles, starting with this one, to debunk the myth that you have to have a ton of money in order to have kids, and to share my tips for reducing the cost of having kids.
Part 1: The Newborn Baby
Kids are actually at their least expensive when they are between the ages of 0-6 months. If moms are able to breastfeed, this is the time when babies can be exclusively breastfed. I highly encourage feeding babies breast milk exclusively for at least the first six months of a child’s life. But don’t take my word for it, The World Health Organisation recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of age as well (see here).
Guess what… breast milk is free! Your baby’s entire nutrition for the first six months of life can be free! A woman who is breastfeeding has higher energy requirements, so probably needs to eat a bit more, but not so much that it is going to break your budget. Plus, breastfeeding reduces the need to buy bottles, bottle warmers, bottle sterilizers and all that other gadgets that the media moguls tell you that you need when bottle feeding, most of them unnecessary anyways.
What else does a 0-6 month old need, besides your love and attention? The most important things are a place to sleep, clothes, diapers, wipes, cream, blankets and some small simple toys.
Additional things that you may need are: a way to transport your baby and lots of coffee.
For all of these things, there are ways to save money. Here’s how:
- For a crib, you can consider buying a used crib and just buying a new mattress and sheets. I recommend buying the mattress new, because there may be links between used mattresses and incidence of SIDS. But the crib frame itself can be used. You can find a lot of good used ones. People don’t use them for very long, so they are still often in good shape when they are sold.
- For clothes and blankets, there are so many people who I have met since having kids that have offered to give us clothes and blankets that it is almost obscene. People can be so generous with clothes, it is very heartwarming. Oftentimes, they just want to get rid of the stuff so they are happy to give it to you. That’s okay too, we’ll take them, and pass them on to the next! Honestly, some of the clothes that you can get used from others have been worn one or two times and look pristine. Its because babies outgrow things so fast. This is the same reason why you don’t need to, and shouldn’t, buy Armani or Gucci for your baby.
- For diapers and wipes, I recommend cloth. I, myself, was a bit afraid to use cloth diapers with a newborn baby, but I tell ya, it works and it saves lots of money. You have the one time cost of buying what you need, but then after that, you only have the cost of doing some extra laundry. The total cost to you is much less than the cost of disposable diapers. At the same time, you are doing the environment a huge favor. For wiping, we use little face cloths (let’s call them “cheek cloths”) that we dampen in warm water.
- For simple toys, you don’t need a lot. Don’t worry about getting a huge stuffed bear for the corner of the room. Your baby won’t even notice its there. What you need are a few simple rattles and plush toys that your baby can look at and grab at. You don’t even really need these for the first two months. You’ll probably find that a ceiling fan is enough to capture your child’s awe and attention in the early stages (read proof here).
- For transporting your baby, if you have a car, you’ll need a car seat. We have a savings right there because we don’t have a car. Luckily for us we live in a great city where we can reach everything we need by foot, bus or bike. Even if you plan on walking or busing around (not highly recommended to bike with a newborn), you’ll need to move the baby around somehow. A stroller is good for that, and you can find used stollers in great shape to save some cash. Like cribs, they are not used for a long time, so are not really worn out when sold, unless the previous owner was a hiker or avid jogger. Alternatively, you can use a sling, like we do. A sling costs less than a stroller and is fun to use. If you are up for it, you don’t need a stroller at all for the first six months, if you always carry your baby in your sling with you. We have a stroller and a sling, but find that we like using the sling much more. A stroller is needed eventually, when the baby is too heavy to always be carried in the sling, but for the first six months, a sling will do you just fine and give you a bit of a workout at the same time. The other advantage of using a sling is that you have a lot less baggage with you whereever you go and you have your hands free. I also find that sling time is a nice bonding time with the baby. You can read more about our love for our sling by clicking on the “sling” link above.
- For the coffee… there is no avoiding it. You’ll need it. Be prepared and find one you like, because you’ll be drinking lots of it.
So there you have it, for the first 6 months, your baby is not going to cost you an arm and a leg. He may cost you some nights of sleep, but won’t break your piggy bank. He will break your piggy bank when he is a bit older and you give him the piggy bank as a toy to play with – so don’t do that.
Stay tuned for Part 2 where I will cover the next six months of life.
Join the jam and tell me if there is anything I missed for this stage. Also, what are your ideas for reducing the costs of having kids?
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