Thursday, April 29, 2010

How having a baby can actually HELP you save money and go easier on the environment.

Here's something you may not hear that often: For me, living frugally has actually been easier with a baby!

"How is this possible?," you may ask: "Everyone is always going on about how much babies cost! Layettes, strollers, baby clothes, nurseries, more mouths to feed, etc.!"

It's simple: We don't have any time to spend money. And we rarely leave the house.

Also, we made some really cheap parenting choices. For example, cosleeping: Who needs a nursery? Who needs a crib, even? (We do have a crib that was handed down to us - it works great as a dog bed.) I mean, cosleeping even saves money on warm fleece sleepers! Now, this wasn't exactly a "parenting choice" - it was more Joseph Roscoe's choice. Newborn Joe just expected to sleep in bed with me, next to a breast (you just never know when you might want a little warm milk, right?). And he protested loudly when we attempted to arrange things otherwise. And, well ... what can I say? What Joe wants, Joe gets.

Or, breastfeeding: It's great for your baby, and breastmilk provides perfect nutrition, and bonding, yada yada yada, you've heard it all before. But it's also super convenient, great for the environment (no packaging!), nearly free, and helps you lose your baby weight while eating buttermilk pancakes for dinner! It's like, win, win, win, win. (For the record: So worth the early struggles, and I had me some early struggles.)

We love second-hand and hand-me-down stuff in this house. Our stroller and (unused) crib were both hand-me-downs, and they work great (as mentioned, the latter works great as a dog bed). Second-hand baby clothes are totally the way to go. Fancy baby clothes (think teeny button-down shirt and baby sweater vest) seem irresistably cute, until your baby pukes all over them, smears curried sweet potato on them, and then crawls through the mud in them - all before 10 a.m. (and that's assuming the outfit survived the morning poop). Plus they grow out of them in a nanosecond. Yeah, I got over expensive baby clothes, and quick. (Of course, Joe looks cute in everything, right? He would, in fact, look cute in a paper bag. Might need to try that.)

But mostly, the "Babies are Costly" theory fails to take into account all of the money you can save by never leaving the house. Restaurants? Once the child is mobile, the pain-in-the-ass factor starts to far outweigh the someone-else-is-cooking-and-cleaning factor. Movies? Concerts? Bars? Even if we could stay awake past 9:30 p.m., babysitting is not that cheap. Shopping? Grocery shopping is a production these days. Clothing shopping is just not happening.

Which is okay, because I've decided that really, I only need one pair of jeans (or maybe two), as long as that pair is really cute.

Someone, please check my pulse!

So I have been taking Joe on strolls around the lake, going to the park, taking my lunch to work, going to the library (revolutionary!), and staying home to make casseroles and loaves of bread from scratch. Steve and I drink beer from bottles (although I do miss ordering a cold pint now and then), and we wear the same beat-up, snot-smeared clothes forever and ever. And we tell ourselves that this is frugal and environmentally sound, rather than just, you know, dull. And here's the real secret: It's not dull at all. It's a ton of fun. I mean, have you seen how cute this child is?

 (Here's Joe with a genuine sock monkey, made by yours truly. And as you can see, we have spent a little money on baby gates.)

P.S. What was that you just said? "College?" I'm sorry, I can't quite hear you - I have curried sweet potato in my ear.


  1. Ha ha ha ha! You are so right! A teacher friend of mine recently compared staying home with a baby to summer vacation and said that she wouldn't want to stay home because she always ends up spending a lot of money when she has free time on her hands. Free time? Spending money? Seriously? I should just send her the link to your blog. We're all about hand-me-downs too. I WILL say that Miles just grew out of his 3-6 month pajamas and I had to actually PURCHASE pajamas for him for the first time. They were shockingly expensive! Time to start begging his aunties and uncles for more hand-me-downs.

  2. This is so true! Um, assuming you keep handing down the hand-me-downs :)

    I just started a 529 for Maeve this weekend - it was super easy. Funding it... well... that's another story i guess.

  3. the part about never going out anymore? that's where our money savings is going. i mean the kid prefers taco truck fare to fancy restaurants so even when we do stumble out for a meal, it's quesadillas! (here's also a place to plug the cloth diapers. we buy so few disposables or formula.) we haven't bought a toy for eli in months-they all come from somewhere/one else. yay for fellow parents, right?

  4. I've discovered second-hand toys at Toy Safari in Alameda. I take Joe down there, we play with some stuff, and I leave with an armful of toys, for like $15. This is important for us, because our dogs eat Joe's toys, so they tend to have a very short lifespan.


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