Paying a mortgage and being on maternity leave, can leave a mother beyond stretched for extra cash. In fact, I have no clue how single mothers can do it. It’s quite unfair. Our government has made it impossible for mothers to make extra money on the side (if they find out, they take dollar for dollar from your EI payments) and unless you are one of the lucky few that has top-ups from work, you earn about 55% of your wage on EI, which I’m not sure about the rest of you, but this just doesn’t pay the bills especially out here in the country! Thankfully Hubby has an okay job, but in this day and age that can always change in a second. In such a progressive time, I’m not sure why Employment Insurance leaves moms out to dry. My rant aside, I’ve always been a thrifty person, so even if I was rich and rolling in mega paychecks, I think I would still be re-using, up-cycling, and gladly taking hand me downs.
Here is a list of things we did to cut costs for our baby prep:
1. Shop ahead and shop sales: Stock up during your pregnancy on items you will need, and buy them on sale. You know you’ll use those diapers, and all that cream, so if you see a deal, snag it!
2. Check your local “used” website: This saved me some mega bucks and I found items such as baby carriers, curtain rods, mobiles, dressers, and a few outfits, all for a small fraction of anything new. Make sure you thoroughly wash everything of course and if you plan on haggling the price down, make sure you do so before you show up at the sellers doorstep. We even found a free chair on our local Kijiji site, and in order to have them hold it for a few hours, we offered to pick up some lattes as exchange. You may want to save and get a deal but never forget that these people need to make a few bucks too, so be courteous!
3. DIY wherever you can: Can’t find the perfect crib skirt to match your décor? Make your own from a single bed skirt picked up at your local thrift store (I sewed mine in less than 30 minutes). New curtain rod doesn’t match the rest of the room? Paint it. Use what you can and just make slight adjustments to make them fit. And check out Pinterest for amazing tutorials to make cute baby items. Also, check out out the picture of my mobile, I couldn’t find an owl mobile that I liked so I bought a used one from Kijiji which was a Winnie the Pooh theme…. I snipped the teddy bears off it and exchanged them for cheap owl christmas ornament that we found and touched up. And yesterday I went to my craft store and found the perfect sticker to cover the Pooh Bear sticker on the sound box… it says “Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale”.
4. Talk to friends and family: Even more so than a wedding, you will receive so many hand outs from friends and family at this time. Everyone loves a new baby, and most moms have tons of stuff to hand down to you. We luckily received our crib and change table from good friends, and so many outfits from pretty much every mom I know. I think Hubby and I only bought a handful of new onesies. Make sure you clarify if these items are gifts or are to be returned after you are done using them, and keep them as clean as possible if that’s the case. My crib already came pre-chewed by the past toddler, so I plan on simply making a crib teething guard to cover the existing fang marks and to prevent any further damage in case my friend wants it back.
5. Have a shower: It’s OKAY to ask, it’s OKAY to register (just don’t go hog wild or be too picky!). Maybe like me, you have no clue what you “need”, so being open to a shower allowed my friends and family to gift me items that they think is important to a new mom and baby, AND I snagged that awesome diaper bag I was eyeing. Make sure you send thank you cards so keep track of what everyone gifted you! And don’t forget to send thank you cards for items that are loaned to you. It’s a nice added touch. Which reminds me… I’ve got to get some thank you cards out to my work peeps!
6. Second hand shops: No, no, no… don’t you dare stop reading….get back here! Yes, I said it… second hand shops are awesome. Think about it… do the math… a baby has soooooo many outfits… baby might wear an outfit once and never wear it again since they grow so fast. Your local thrift shop will have racks upon racks of used baby clothing that look brand new. Throw on top of that semi-annual sales and you have mega deals! Be selective when you go, and buy for all ages up to a year. And of course, wash whatever you buy.
7. Be realistic: If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it. Don’t expect other’s to buy it either. Baby doesn’t need 125 sleepers and 20 pairs of shoes, so resist the urge no matter how cute they are. Budget for essential items that you may not receive for your shower. You will need car seats and high chairs and monitors. And you need to prioritize those items over that giant stuffed teddy bear you really want for the nursery. To help out, we basically registered for only essentials, and a few inexpensive items, and as an added personal note on our registry we mentioned that gift certificates to box stores or grocery stores were very much appreciated. Where we live, we are limited to one store for baby registries and the prices are stupidly high. Receiving gift certificates to other stores meant we could get essential items on sale somewhere else, or simply buy much needed groceries and diapers.
All in all we may have spent about $50 on decor, including curtains, new rod, an owl statue, and the mobile. My dad offered up some paint he had in his basement and he even found someone who tinted it for him. All the furniture is second hand and the dresser we already had. I spend $100 I think on the second hand but perfect condition glider and the mural I did myself with a bit of Hubby’s help. Of course I wanted the nursery to be totally adorable, but in the end you have to remember that in a few years Junior will want it painted over and he’ll outgrow all the furniture before too long.
I hope that the above points help out, as we all need to remember that having a baby isn’t JUST about adorable outfits and a Pinterest-perfect nursery. Someone has to pay for these little thugs to get through school, and I hear teenagers eat a lot of food. Budget now and stay thrifty and we might just make it through this without putting ourselves into too much in debt!