Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Why Staying Home is Possible

I have a lot of friends ask me how I am able to stay at home and afford to live comfortably. Here is a few things I have learned about making the most of working at home. Foremost, I think that when you make the decision to stay at home and raise your children you need to realize that that doesn't imply that you aren't working. In fact, I feel like I work very hard to make the most of my husband's income and to live in a manor worthy of his hard work. So...here goes.

Evaluate if you need…


Two cell phones or two cells and a home phone


Two cars (if husband works near home could he get a ride or could you shuttle him?)

How can you get rid of…

Car payments, could you buy a cheaper used car that you could pay for in full?

Credit card bills, why use credit if you don’t have the funds?

High mortgages or rent?

Unnecessary baby costs: formula, diapers, baby food?

Eating costs: eating out or buying pre-made frozen foods?

Money Saving Tips that have worked for us:

Evaluate diaper costs:

Could you cloth diaper? Disposables cost around $2000-3000 for the 2-4 years a child uses them. To outfit a child with cloth diapers for birth to age 3 is around $300 total. Even if they are only used half the time you still save at least $500 a year and cloth diapers can be reused child after child. If you use cloth diapers it is logical to use cloth wipes too. It is honestly the easiest way to save great amounts of money. The key is to get into a routine of using them that works for you.

Could you use the cheapest disposables? I like Walmart’s brand “Parent’s Choice” we have very few leaks and they are about $6 cheaper than the name brands, even after coupons. I also make my own wipes at virtually no cost. All that is needed is a few circular Tupperware tubes, paper towels, an electric knife and the soap and oil of your choice.

Evaluate how baby will be fed:

Will you nurse or formula feed? By staying home can you avoid the cost of formula, bottles, pumps, and the extra medical costs that will come with a formula fed baby? To formula feed for a year (using the cheapest formula) you will spend at least $1500. That is not including equipment costs (bottles, nipples, brushes and dish washing costs) or extra medical costs that you will surely save on a better immunized baby that has all of your antibodies. We took Addie to the Dr. one time during her first year of life, other than well baby check ups and never had to pay for prescription meds for ear infections or other things. Do you need to buy an expensive pump? Most mothers find that there is little difference or that pumps just don’t work for them. If you are staying at home the majority of the time would a hand pump allow you to store up a minimal amount of milk for outings?

How will you solid feed your baby? Will you use generic brands or want to use organic? Do you have the time to make your own baby food? To spend one day a month making and storing up frozen baby food is money and time well spent. I found one large sweet potato would make from 8-12 containers of baby food because it is thick and must be diluted. It was about 10 cents per container, a far cry from the organic food that costs from 49-69 cents. The same was true for most squash, apples, carrots and frozen greens. However, peas, green beans and other watery veggies produce much less. All that is needed is 5-10 cheep ice cube trays, and food mill or blender and the food of your choice. It tastes so much better too!

What talents do you have? What could you make for your baby? I found that it was very simple to sew a baby ring sling and have gotten months and months of use out of it, where the Baby Bjorn carrier was only used for 4 months (a waste of money!) Can you make your babies bedding or get a unisex bedding set that can be reused for multiple children?

What kind of clothes will baby wear? You will likely get lots of beautiful clothes for baby from 0-3 months and from 3-6 months. Take back the unnecessary and buy older age clothes, 12-18 and up. By then people will stop buying for you. Does your new baby need fancy shoes? Just get some cozy blankets. I also found that it was a good idea to buddy up to moms with older children, because they want to get rid of old clothes eventually. Always look for clothes at thrift stores, children’s consignments and garage sales first. See if your community has a consignment clothing sale on a regular basis. Trade clothes with close trusted friends or family. Sell what you don’t like on Ebay or at a consignment shop, no use hanging on to it.

What baby equipment do you REALLY need?

Do you need both a bouncer and a swing? In reality a swing will only be used for 0-4 months. Try to barrow one or buy a used one from a friend.

Do you need a pack ‘n play with all the “bells and whistles” Most of those extras (canopies, vibrators, changing stations) will only be used for the first 4 months, if that. If you are for going a crib it might be a good idea to get a well built pack ‘n play, but if not, don’t spend the extra money on it. Remember you have to store all those extras some place too!

Do you need a changing table? Most normal dressers are much more practical and can be used much longer.

Do you need a high chair? A booster high chair is $25 compared to $100+ for a high chair. Boosters are portable and much easier to clean too.

Do you need a Bjorn front carrier? Evaluate how much you will actually use it. They only accommodate a baby up to 15 lbs. The Ergo carrier will carry a child up to 40 lbs and carries on front, back and hip.

Do you need lots of toys? Toys create clutter, messes and usually break with in the first year? Do you need both a play mat center and a exersaucer or a jumper? One will probably do it. I thought the exersaucer was the best. Could you borrow one from a friend? For the price of a junky plastic toy could you buy a nice wooden toy? Wooden toys are better for babies and last much longer. Expect any electronic toy to short out, they will and they eat up batteries too.

Other Saving Ideas:

Food costs are what we always go over budget on. Can you sacrifice eating out to only once a week? Make it a special thing. Go some where nice. Learn about meal planning and investigate where the cheapest places to shop are.

I also have been investigating the Once a Month cooking. It takes lots of planning but would seem to save lots of money. What could you cook a double batch of a freeze?


merrell said...

you are amazing! i love your tips. can you be my coach?!! loves, merrell

Sheri Ludlam said...

I agree. You could be a type of "life coach". I mean that seriously. Or maybe put together a book or something. I know, you are having a baby, but maybe an idea for your future :)