It’s true that having a baby can be pretty challenging and quite COSTLY. Take it from a first-time mom who relies on single income and who lives in a faraway island where everything is twice expensive compared to any other places. But, you can also do something to get away with large expenses (yet unnecessary) if you want to. Let me share with you some of the tried and tested (by us) ways to save big bucks. They are tremendous help to us. They might work for you too, so read on.
- Prepare for a normal delivery
The truth is, delivery via C-section is expensive anywhere you go. So this is probably the most practical thing you can do not only to save money but also for your baby’s health and yours. Except for cases of serious preexisting medical issues, the woman’s body is made to deliver a baby normally just as it is capable of nurturing the fetus in the womb. Trust God and trust your body. It’s all in the mind and if coupled with enough preparation, you can nail it on your due date. Having a normal delivery wasn’t out of sheer luck in my own experience. It was a conscious decision that my husband and I made at the time we learned that we’re pregnant. We put a lot of effort on it. We read the book called “the husband-coached childbirth” by Robert Bradley, enrolled in a birthing class and thoroughly followed all the recommended exercises, all of which helped me a lot to have a smooth, fulfilling, unmedicated, uninterrupted normal delivery experience, even though Alyanna came almost a month earlier than expected.
What even got me motivated to work hard and aim for a normal delivery was learning that my medical insurance only covers normal delivery and not surprisingly, the cost of C section in Bermuda is ridiculously HIGH. We nonetheless saved up for the expected cost of C-section, just in case, but since we didnt have to use it, we now have more funds to add to our emergency fund. The funds we saved gave us extra sense of security.
I was very determined to breastfeed my baby mainly for economic reason at first until my pedia told me that “my breastmilk is the best gift I can ever give my baby”. I gained more confidence to breastfeed when I joined the pro- breastfeeding facebook group called “Breastfeeding Pinays”, where I learned a lot about the benefits, techniques, and more importantly, the consistent encouragement from other moms in my breastfeeding journey.
One of the benefits of breastfeeding is strong immunity for your baby so he/she rarely gets sick, therefore less trip to the doctor and big savings on medication. With my experience, trust me, no formula can ever match the power of mother’s milk. How cool is that, being able to give the BEST nourishment to our little one without spending a penny at all. Instead of buying formula milk, I could save the money for my child’s education or other life enriching experiences like our dream family vacation. I’m a fulltime mom, but working moms need not be discouraged. I know a lot of working moms who still give expressed (pumped) breastmilk to their babies. It’s very doable. I suggest you do your own research about breastfeeding or join pro-breastfeeding groups ahead of time, before giving birth. It is difficult at the beginning, I have to be honest. The thing is, nobody teaches about breastfeeding. Most people think or assume that the ability to breastfeed comes naturally once a woman give birth but the truth is, it doesn’t. It’s not straightforward too. Therefore, you need to think ahead of time, prepare and commit to it. You need all the support, the right information and encouragement especially from your husband. Once you get the hang of it, everything else will be a piece of cake. I will have another write up about breastfeeding in a separate blog so watch out for it.
3. Save Yourself from Buying Unnecessary Baby Stuff
When expecting, it is just right to prepare things before your baby arrives. I’d say just buy the basics like clothing and decent beddings for your little one. Other things can wait until you need them or perhaps after your baby shower. Don’t be too obsessed buying the things you think you need just because your friends have them, only to find out they’re unnecessary. What other moms/babies need may not be the same with yours. Your baby will tell you what he/she needs or you need for her/him. I learned this the hard way when I was still pregnant. I wanted everything to be organized so I got so crazy about shopping for baby stuff. For instance, I bought this top-of-the line electric breast pump during my 7th month upon the recommendation of my friend because she used to pump a lot when she had her first born. I gave high priority to breastfeeding so I didn’t mind spending more for a breast pump. Although it served its purpose, it was taxing to use as it is bulky and complicated to clean. I ended up buying another set, a much cheaper one (a hand pump) because it’s more convenient and perfect for relieving late night engorged boobs. I think, both pumps have the same efficiency in expressing milk. But the cheap one worked better for me, ha! I also bought some feeding bottles and pacifiers in advance only to realize that my daughter didn’t like to use them.
Don’t just buy out of whim. Know what you really need and research about the product before you buy. Read forums/reviews and compare. Depending on the need, expensive stuff doesn’t always mean the best option.
4. Go for hand-me downs and second hand items.
Although everything is expensive here in Bermuda, I appreciate that there are various thrift store or “ukay-ukay” shops like the Red Cross, The Barn and Salvation Army. These are nice places to find cheap yet quality items, from clothes to furniture, appliances, toys and even books. We got the crib, car seat and stroller from emoo – a website that sells second hand products, and even got the changing table for FREE. We also got lucky that we were given two huge bags of hand-me-down clothes by a friend who works as a nanny. Plus the brand-new clothes my baby receives as presents on special occasions just keep piling up, that we really don’t have to buy new clothes for Alyanna, maybe until she’s 3. I LOVE buying second hand items. It’s good for the environment and of course our pocket. Think of it as recycling. Some moms may not want “ukay-ukay” for their babies, I completely understand that. But if you don’t mind second-hand stuff for your little one, go for it. There is nothing wrong with hand-me-downs or “ukay-ukay” as long as you check them for safety and clean them well before using if you don’t know where they come from. Some westerners use/ buy secondhand items too. Also, babies grow very quickly you may end up using a set of dress in 2 months only. So why spend a fortune on that $159 dress from amazon when you won’t need them after 3 months. My former employer used hand-me-down clothes for their kids even though they have all the money to buy brand new.
5. Just Cook for your baby.
There are so many jarred/packed baby food nowadays that claim to have all the vitamins and minerals your child needs and if you’re a busy mom, it’s really easy for you to get lured and grab them. But nothing beats a home-cooked meal especially for your babies. It’s healthier and cheaper. You don’t have to be a chef to cook a decent meal for your kids. Even though fresh veggies/ fruits are not cheap here I still end up saving if I cook/ make my own puree. For example, a jar of gerber pureed carrots costs almost the same with a pound of fresh carrots. For sure, I can make more than 1 jar of baby food from that 1 pound of carrots and I can be assured that there are no added sugars or salt on it. My suggestion is, if you are a busy working mom, you can prepare food in advance on weekends and store it in the fridge and thaw when needed. Keep simple recipes and think local ingredients. Now if you’re dealing with a picky eater, we’re on the same boat and it’s a different topic in my blog.
6. Don’t go overboard with your baby’s monthly birthdays.
I observe that many parents these days make a big deal of their babies monthly birthdays. Don’t get me wrong here. We recognize and thank God for our baby’s milestones. We just don’t buy cakes and have a feast every month. I save at least 30$ a month for not buying a cake. It’s not much, but hey, it’s more than a minimum day’s wage in the Philippines. It’s still worth saving. I could invest the $30 I save each month in my favorite company in the Philippine Stock Market and watch my money grow in due time 🙂
Celebrating milestones is fantastic. It’s always nice to create fond childhood memories. However in our household we like to celebrate longer or bigger milestones like our child’s 1st birthday, baptism, 7th year birthday etc. It saves us some money and energy from preparation as well.
I understand that as parents we only want the best for our children and shouldn’t be scrimp on them; however the BEST things in life don’t always come with a price tag. More than the material things, the baby needs a secure family and a loving home. All I really want to say is that, having a baby shouldn’t be a financial burden. With a little practicality and a bit of prudence, ours turned out to be the most wonderful experience without necessarily hurting our purse.