I wrote this post as a guest post but thought i’d like to share it all with you too an see if you agree? I’d love to know your thoughts….
Why is it that the words baby and expense seem to go hand in hand? The number of times recently iv’e heard couples say they cannot afford to have a family is shocking and quite sad really. There is the assumption that babies are expensive, that they put huge financial strain upon their parents and unless you have a “comfortable” secure yearly income, or a huge savings account you simply cannot have or bring up a little one. Of course a little addition to your life is going to add some extra expense but does having babies really have to be expensive?
This notion of having and bringing up a baby costing a fortune, I feel has come from the “baby industry”. An industry that is vast, built upon expensive “must have items”, which are marketed to new parents as essentials, which they must purchase, else they are not doing or giving their baby what they need. It has been estimated that parents spend between £10,000 and £14,000 in their babies first year! That to me is a crazy amount on such a tiny person. Babies have not got more expensive over the years, we as a society have developed more expensive tastes we all want the best and why shouldn’t we but this can hit our pockets hard. The items that our grandparents and in some cases parents would have deemed luxury items for little ones are now seen as essential items for many modern mums & dads. But does it, have to be this way? In my opinion no! Women have been giving birth to children and raising them just fine since time began, without spending hundreds of pounds on prams, car seats, entertainers, highchairs, walkers, all singing all dancing baby monitors, toys and much more. Now don’t get me wrong I am not saying do not buy a pram a baby walker etc I have all these things, I love baby items and we as a family have more than enough pieces of baby equipment to keep a small nursery going but we simply refuse to let it ‘break the bank”.
I have always been a savvy shopper, I love a good bargain and when I found out I was expecting our first little one in 2012 I couldn’t wait to go “baby shopping”. During our first few trips to baby stores I had my eyes well and truly opened to just how expensive all these baby items were and I started to feel really overwhelmed and stressed at how we would afford everything. I’ll never forget how gobsmacked my hubby looked when he saw the price tag on the first pram he looked at, he must have said a hundred times to me “£556.00, for a pram, just a pram nothing else just a pram, £556.00” . With sales staff insisting that we needed this and that and this was a, must have essential and you need this many etc etc we went home feeling daunted and a bit panicked.
It was during a conversation with my gran who comes from a family of 15 yes 15, that everything hit home. My grans family truly had very little and yet they managed the very best, she is still to this day relaying stories of how they coped at home with the arrival of a newborn every 11 or 13months over a period of 20 years or so ( can you imagine that) and that snapped me back to reality. I was having one little one we would be just fine. So I decided to put my sensible head on and write a list of everything we must have and everything we would like to have. The first thing and the one I was most excited about on our must have list was a pram, I fell in love with a black modern pram with lovely silver frame the price was £499 in the shop I first saw it in, I was determined I was not paying that for it and went on the hunt to see if I could find it any cheaper elsewhere. I came across the same pram priced at £550 at £399 at £450 £475, I was assured by the retailer selling it for £475 that I could not possibly get it any cheaper. I got it, wait for it for £200 from a local family run nursery shop. That was my first coo and it spurred me on and gave me hope that we wouldn’t have to break the bank to get what we needed for our little one.
We had (just into the bigger seat now) the same infant carseat carrier as the lovely new HRH Prince George had on his debut from hospital home in the car (our little claim to fame) we however did not pay the £100 + price we got it at bargain £45 during a local baby event. Likewise we got a fabulous funky print well known carseat we now use also rrp £100+ for £65 at the same babyevent. I purchased my nursing pillow and baby sleeping bags from another local shop which has a baby club that sent me out info when offers came up. This saved me £60 on those items combined. We felt that a baby monitor for us was an essential and as I am a natural “worrier” I wanted to get a monitor with a breathing sensor pad, hubby told me they were too expensive well over £100 for a monitor set but i was determined and bargain hunted until I got the same said monitor for £65.99, a small price to pay for peace of mind I think. Many local baby shops offer payment schemes which although we didn’t use I have friends who have used and have found them really helpful as you pick your item put a deposit down and pay off the item over a time frame that suits you, most cases up until babies born. This also works well for things like prams if you are superstitious (which here in N.Ireland includes a lot of people) and you do not want any items such as prams carseats at home before arrival of baby as you can pay over time and pick up after baby gets here.
I kept the bargain hunt theme for all my baby items allowing us to get all our essentials for a quarter of what it could have cost. For me being prepared is the key. I know many mums do not like to buy items such as nappies as you don’t know what size they will need but I added one packet of nappies to our weekly shop each week / other week starting at size 1 – 3 by end of pregnancy we had as many nappies as we would need for a few months and have only now had to start to buy nappies and our little one is 8months. We are now venturing into the world of cloth nappies as the longterm money saving and eco benefits outweigh disposables, if it’s a success for us we will use them from start if we ever have baby no 2.
Now the real expense I found was in the lovely bits and bobs I just wanted, we didn’t need them but I wanted them. Like our changing bag, we got a perfectly good plain changing bag from a babyclub free with a coupon, but i wanted a fancier more expensive bag. Again the brand in particular that I liked prices started at £75 and the bag i wanted was £120, but there was no way i could justify that so hubby got online and got me the same bag but preloved for £40 now maybe you’ve never bought anything preloved ie second hand and you maybe think it’s a bit icky as some do but you can get amazing items for a fraction of the price they would be new and still in great condition. My changing bag was in immaculate condition it had been used only twice.
There are great preloved baby boutiques popping up all over the UK which specialise in great quality second hand baby and children’s items. They are worth checking out as great bargains are to be had. If you are on a very tight budget these shops are a real life line. These stores often will sell your items you no longer need on your behalf for a small commission fee which is a great way of earning some money back on items you no longer need. Online local advertising websites are also a good place to source preloved items. I got an absolute bargain last month, i walk alot and we live in the countryside and our little fancy pram isn’t cut out for the countryside so I went online to local for sale adverts and got a jogger style pram as good as new £30! I had to ring and check they hadn’t left a 0 off the end but it really was £30. And as i mentioned before we are putting our old pram into the local preloved boutique to sell on, helping our budget go further.
Finally handmade items are often thought of as expensive but in reality there are amazing crafters, independent companies etc who provide fantastic handmade baby/children’t items of amazing quality for reasonable prices. I adore handmade items and have made many items such as bibs, blankets etc myself for my little one as I run my own baby biz on the side, but i have purchased lovely handmade toys and clothes as well as art and bedding for my little one from independent crafters mainly on etsy.com at prices cheaper than i would have paid on the highstreet.
Budgeting may sound boring but i’d rather be boring pushing a fabulous pram with a great changing bag and money still in our pocket than pushing a fabulous pram with a great changing bag without a penny to spare.
Thanks for reading whats your thoughts?.
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