Feb 23 2010

It doesn’t have to cost that much to have a baby!


Even before I was pregnant with Johnny, I was skeptical of the thousands of dollars per year that it would supposedly cost to raise a child.

I’m sure that upcoming years will be more expensive, but the first year of Johnny’s life was barely a blip in the budget. Here’s a few things of note:

  • Thanks to our fantastic HMO, my prenatal care and the birth cost us about $280. I realize that for many people, births can cost in the thousands.
  • We bought one carseat — a convertible First Year’s Trufit that’s supposed to be good from 5-65 lbs. and is good for extended rear-facing. Johnny was under six pounds when we brought him home from the hospital, and he did indeed fit properly. I do see how using an infant bucket seat for the first few months would be convenient, but we made it work. Having one car seat means one fewer item to store, and less money spent.
  • Because we went the one-carseat route, we didn’t get a “travel system” with a bulky stroller. We got the cheapie umbrella stroller from Babies R Us. We don’t use it much, but it’s handy to have and it takes up hardly any space in our trunk.
  • I took advantage of drugstore deals and got about 6 months’ worth of disposable diapers for around $100.
  • At 6 months, we switched to cloth diapers. I spent about $400 on the diapers and accessories. We do have some disposables on hand for long trips and such. We’re also switching to cloth wipes and a homemade wipe solution.
  • I was able to breastfeed exclusively. By this, I mean that Johnny didn’t use bottles. We had one bottle that came with some items at Motherhood Maternity. We tried using it a little but it wasn’t worth the trouble. By exclusively nursing, I didn’t buy bottles, pumps, ¬†formula and whatever else that you have to buy. Someone did loan me a pump for a time, but I found it to be too much of a hassle. If you’re pregnant and are thinking about breastfeeding, do your research now! Take a breastfeeding class from an IBCLC, go to a La Leche League meeting, read “A Nursing Mother’s Companion.” Get phone numbers of lactation consultants and a LLL leader. Breastfeeding is natural, but it doesn’t come naturally for everyone (myself included!). The first few weeks were really tough, and I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to continue. By some work, help and¬†perseverance, we’ve been able to continue nursing beyond 14 months. The benefits are absolutely worth it for us.
  • We do a lot of homemade baby food. We’ve done some of the jarred stuff, but Johnny doesn’t seem to like it as much. I can’t really blame him. Plus, that stuff is pricey. I can cook a sweet potato and freeze it in individual meal portions in an ice-cube tray and it’s truly minimal work. Plus, it’s cheaper! Check out this site for more on making your own baby food.
  • Johnny was mostly clothed in second-hand clothes or clothes that were gifts. I did buy him a few new things at retail stores, but I’ve also been fortunate to receive some second-hand clothes to borrow or keep. Also, I picked up some deals from yard sales, consignment shops and thrift stores. My favorite is the $5/bag of clearance clothes at one area consignment store. Johnny has more clothes than he could possibly wear thanks to those deals and the generosity of friends and relatives.
  • We didn’t buy many toys for him. He had a few little things when he was itty bitty, but itty bitty babes don’t really seem to care about toys. When he got older, we got him a few toys he could enjoy. Some bigger items we were able to borrow from a friend (Hi, Renee!). And then we experienced the 1-2 punch that was his birthday (December 20) and Christmas just five days later.
  • His birthday present from us was a membership to an indoor playground. His Christmas present was a contribution to his college fund. If that sounds stingy, well, maybe it is. But lemme tell ya, my kid has TONS of toys now thanks to family. It was a miracle that we were able to fit it all in our car on the way home! The gifts from us were intangible because our space is so limited, he lacks for nothing, and for pete’s sake — he’s one. He doesn’t know the difference. :)
  • Since I’m a SAHM, we don’t pay for childcare. Yes, you could argue that there’s an opportunity cost with keeping me out of the workforce, but for our family, this is what works.
  • There are plenty of free, fun activities for little guys. In our area, there are several libraries that offer baby story time, sing/sign/and play time, and others. There are meetup groups for moms and tots to get together and play. We also use a shared museum membership for some outings. Plus, at this age, anywhere we go is an adventure. We have fun at the grocery store, parks (if the weather is ok) and anywhere else we might go.
  • Lots of baby gear that we have, we’ll be able to use it for future children, loan out, and finally resell.

When I was pregnant, we put $1,000 aside to buy things like his car seat, crib and mattress, diapers, and other items we wanted to have. That was more than enough to get us started.

So for now, no, I do not think it has to be costly to have a baby. I’m really irritated that someone told my friend Mrs Money that she can’t afford to have children. Yes, you might have to change your financial priorities around and make some sacrifices, but it’s worth it!

What other ways can you save money with a baby?

Feb 18 2010

I’m canceling my oldest credit card


The experts say you shouldn’t do it. They say you shouldn’t cancel your oldest credit card, since part of your credit score is based on how long you’ve had an active credit history.

Well, too bad!

My first credit card — a Citi card I opened in 2004, I think, has been inactive for more than a year. We have one credit card that we still use for some large purchases (and we pay it off right away, of course). It earns us cash back, whereas my first card had no rewards program.

The old card will start charging a $60 annual fee unless I spend at least $200/month on the card, or some nonsense like that.

I think it would be a challenge for me to put that much on the card each month.

Closing this account will leave us with one credit card account only. I think that’s enough.

Our credit score is already starting to creep down, in part I think because we no longer have a car loan and don’t carry other types of debt. It’s funny how you can be penalized for being financially responsible, ya know?

We’ll still use our active credit card from time to time just to keep that active. We’d like to buy a house in a few years, and that’s the only reason I even remotely care about my credit score.

I want to get the best possible mortgage terms we can get.

Hey! I'm Kacie, wife and mother of 3. I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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