How many time have you heard someone make a comment to you about how expensive having children can be? When I was expecting Mr Monster it seemed to be one of the stock comments people would make ‘oh you’ll never have any spare cash again’ or something similar. That and ‘how many weeks are you?’ Closely followed by ‘gosh aren’t you big then!’
I think like many Mum’s to be (especially if it’s their first time) I was really excited about starting to get together all the things we would need for our new arrival. I didn’t want to fall too much into the trap of being really superstitious about things, but also didn’t want to get too carried away before we’d had both our 12 and 20 week scan, just in case there was anything wrong. We were lucky that our 20 week scan happened to be on the day after Boxing Day so the sales had just started. We went straight from the hospital to the shops to buy a cot and a push chair and got great deals on both. One of the things we did was buy our buggy from Boots online. They had a big selection (much bigger than in the store) and it meant we got boots points, because I was a member of their parents club I got 10 points per £1 spent we got enough points for me to buy our change bag on points alone and still have some left for a few treats.
When looking around before we brought anything it became clear that you could spend an obscene amount of money on even the most basic things, I mean £300 for a high chair (not that you need one of those to start with) and £900 for a cot and that’s before you’ve even brought a mattress seemed crazy to me and these were from a high street store, if you went to high end stores you could pay much, much more that that. These are things that you will need however so I can understand that people want to get it right and get something that they are really happy with making it easier to visit a range of stores where you will have a range of choices. There is however so many things people are enticed into buying that you may find you never use, special jugs that help to avoid getting water in your babies eyes for example. I think we were lucky in that respect the only thing we had that we didn’t really use was a top and tail bowl (we maybe used it once) but it came with the baby bath so it didn’t cost us any money.
Over the last 17 months I have picked up a few tips on how to keep costs down though. Some of them I would guess would not suit everyone, for example we’ve chosen to use washable nappies and wipes once they are wet or dirty they go into a bucket (any poo is emptied off and flushed down the loo) and once that is full they simply go in the washer (rinse first and then on a normal wash). They can be expensive to buy to start with, they range from £10 to £18 per nappy and you will need around 20 for 1 child you will save around £600 for one baby and more if you have more than one, some sites even put it higher than that. There are also lots of places where you can buy them second hand, for more information about using washable nappies and even hire a trial kit check out www.growupgreen.co.uk Along with the nappies I also choose to breastfeed, but that wasn’t a cost saving choice it was just something I wanted to do.
When it comes to buying things for your baby there are lots of places such as Ebay and Gumtree where you can buy second hand furniture and things for your new arrival, although it is always recommended that you have new mattresses for each child and that you shouldn’t buy car seat second hand (as it is impossible to guarantee that they haven’t been in an accident and they should always be discarded if they have) there are even sites such as freecycle where you can either search for things that people are wanting to pass on for free or if you are looking for something specific you can post a wanted add and people will respond if they have something to suit.
After the initial outlay of things like cot, buggy, changing table etc the biggest on going cost for me is clothes, we don’t know anyone who has older boys (all Mr Monster’s Cousins are girls as are the children of my close friends) when buying things new I have found the children’s clothes sold in supermarkets are great, inexpensive and good quality, plus Sainsbury in particular often have a 25% off sale (usually around bank holidays and one in late September) which make them even better value. They probably wouldn’t be everyones first thought when it come to baby stuff but the discount supermarkets like Aldi and Lidl are also a great place for a bargin especially once you start weaning. Aldi in particular have new things come on offer every Thursday and Sunday, the big items they do can be an excellent deal but sell out quickly so it is worth keeping a check on there website to see what is coming up, one week we picked up a light weight buggy for £22 in Aldi, Mr Monster’s Daddy was there at 8:00 just as they opened that day and there was already a queue. Still even with these things the cost add up, for even better bargains nearly new sales are great. There are more and more companies and charities now that are doing them; nationally there are groups like the NCT or The Baby and Children’s Market around me there is also an excellent charity the Tiny Lives Trust that hold regular sales.
The final and probably the favorite money saving tip that I have found is local pass it on groups on Facebook. They may take a bit of searching for I found the one local on to me though someone I met at a baby group. They are often closed groups so you have to ask to join, but they offer a place where people can post about things they are looking for or things that the have to give away. My local one has a meet once a month as well where you can bring along anything you have to swop or simply just take away what you need.
Babies are expensive or at least they can be, but they don’t need to be as expensive as you might think. There are lots of other people out there who have been through it before and are more than happy to help other parents out and keep the cost down.