Anyone who knows me knows that I love sales, discounts, freebies, rewards and anything that allows me to save a few Rands. It’s not that I don’t like spending money. I do. I just like spending on things that make sense to me (like good internet). Everything else that makes partial sense, I try to make sure I get it on discount. This includes all toiletries, cleaning products, toilet paper, bank fees, etc. I have a “never pay full price” policy for all these things.

So obviously when the baby stage came, I was going to raise that baby on a budget. This stage is known to get very expensive but I was determined to not let it run away from me. So far, I’m happy to say that besides child care costs (nanny) and medical aid, my child is not breaking the bank just yet.

Children are not expensive, parents are!

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Here’s some of the ways I’ve tried to keep costs to a minimum…

Our nappy stash

Nappies

Long before I even thought I would have kids, the cost of nappies stressed me out. I longed for the good old days when our moms using those bulky towel nappies with giant safety pins. Maybe “long” is too strong a word but I liked the idea of not spending money every month on nappies. I was happy to learn that the world had moved on and the world of cloth nappies had become less bulky and very cute. Best yet was the idea of a once off payment for nappies I could reuse on multiple children for years to come. I have embraced the cloth nappy lifestyle and so has my budget and my baby’s bottom. I do however make exceptions and use disposables when travelling. I’m not a cloth snob.

Hand Me Downs

Friends used to laugh at me when I would mention that one day when I have a child, s/he would wear clothes only from 3 letter stores (think Pep or Jet). I wasn’t joking. The idea of spending more than a R100 on an item of clothing that will only fit for 2 months doesn’t sit well with me. I have relaxed this though and buy clothes from stores with more than 3 letters (Ackermans ).

I’ve been fortunate though to get a lot of hand me downs from family with older boys. This has been a blessing for me. He has a wider range of clothes than he would have had if I had to buy everything. I only buy missing pieces in his wardrobe like vests and sometimes an outfit for a special occasion. I think hand me downs are great. Babies grow very quickly and you never really get full use of the things you buy for them anyway.

Second Hand

Along with clothes, I’ve discovered the beauty of second hand things. As a first time parent, you sometimes go overboard when preparing for your little ones arrival and buy a whole lot of things that you  think you need but never do. And where do these things end up? Either in the garage or on sale online. So if I’m not sure I need something or it seems a bit too expensive then I search for it online.

An example is a rocking chair. I thought I needed one but there are quite pricey. I ended up finding one on Gumtree for cheap and now that I have it, it will probably end on Gumtree again. Point being, you can find a lot of things for cheap on places like Gumtree. Just make sure that you buy that you can easily sanitize because you are probably getting things that might have been gathering dust. I actually bought a few things “second-hand” that were actually never used and still in the box.

Cub playing on his baby mat bought new on Gumtree

Baby Food

Babies don’t really eat much food before turning one. And if they do eat, it doesn’t have to be food with the label “Baby”. I’ve seen the premium charged on baby food. But why must babies eat baby food. Food is food. I just make sure that for the most part the ingredient list is kept short when choosing his food. For example, he eats oats (sometimes with fruit) for breakfast. Except for some artificial flavours, I don’t see how “baby” oats are superior to normal oats.

He will eat most vegetables we eat and his nanny purees vegetables for lunch. He loves munching on fruit and rice crackers for snacks. Shredded chicken or eggs are great protein for baby without having the label “baby” food. On a few occasions on the road, I have bought those sachets of baby puree. They are convenient from time to time but I find them expensive and unnecessarily sweet to eat every day.

Toys & Books

No one can enjoy an empty box like a child. My cub loves his drawer full of Tupperware. My child has toys but he doesn’t always want to play with them. Instead of becoming a toy factory, I give him household items to play with and his loves it. A plastic serving spoon, an empty pringles tin with rice inside, yoghurt containers… The possibilities are endless. Then there is nature. He loves playing with grass, sand, leaves, the dog… 

When it comes to books, I love buying books so he does have a few but I have also rediscovered the library. It means that he can have variety and he won’t get bored of his books.

Cub’s room before and after minimal decor

Baby Room

I’m a practical human being and a blue wall in my baby boy’s room doesn’t change my life and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t care. Where I come from, I know zero people who paint rooms when babies are born. Heck, you’re lucky to even have your own room. But while I was heavily pregnant, I was tempted to do something special so I spent R60 on decals for the wall. I think his room looks nice enough without my wallet being empty. Maybe one day, we will redecorate it together if he still has his own room.

Other random stuff

A chest of drawers and a compactum can serve the same purpose. One is just few times more expensive than the other. 

A pram can be expensive and highly advanced. But your child might hate it and never use. So think twice before parting with all that money.

There is a whole lot of random things that are sold to us that we are told are essential. My advice if you want to save as a first time mom is, hold off on buying the whole baby shop while you’re pregnant. Just make sure your baby has some clothes, food and a warm place to sleep. It might not be the most convenient, but if you buy things as you need them, you’ll realize that your baby doesn’t need a lot.


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