Parenting on a Shoestring Budget - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 17 Old 02-09-2004, 07:13 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi. I'll be a new mom this year--ifallgoeswell--and am absolutely petrified of starting a family on one person's student salary. I am the breadwinner currently, but I plan to stay home as long as I can. We'll be making an income that seems impossible to live on. We will qualify for SCHIP--federal health insurance for pregnant women and children.

Is there anyone else out there raising children on a tight budget? How do you manage? What tips do you have for diapering, clothing, maternity clothes, food, etc? I plan to cloth diaper, but I really won't even be able to manage the start up costs...

There has got to be a way! Many people raise children on poverty wages, so I can too...but how?


--Steph
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#2 of 17 Old 02-09-2004, 08:46 AM
 
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Congrats on your expectant bundle
When it comes to gathing supplies for bubs, when anyone asks if there is anything you would like for baby, tell them! If you need fitteds for bubs, give them the brand and the cheapest place to buy them. Or clothes whatever.
I really don't think that it is expensive gathering stuff for babe, we borrowed some things, bought others 2nd hand, the only brand new thing our babies had were car seats. He used the same nappies that my siblings and I used, grandparents were sent lists of things that we couldn't afford but wanted although not necessarily needed. Ask around, there might be people you know that have an attic full of baby gear they just haven't gotten around to getting rid of.
My maternity clothes were either borrowed from dh's wardrobe, or found in charity shops, if you really look you can find some great clothing in them.
HTH
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#3 of 17 Old 02-09-2004, 10:58 AM
 
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Hi!

As a single mom, I know ALL about raising kids on a budget. Like Linda, the only things I bought brand new were my kids' car seats. Everything else was given to me or bought 2nd hand. I am fortunate enough to live in a very crunchy area with lots of Waldorf schools that have LOTS of fabulous rummage sales with high quality cloth diapers, organic blamkies, natural kids clothes, etc... I got the slings I wanted at my baby showers (be sure to make a list for your shower...NO, it is not greedy to ask for what you need), and other than that, babies don't really need much, IMO. I had a lot more stuff with my first kid and now that I look back, the more stuff I had, the more cluttered my house got and the more I had to think about. Parenting with the basics; sling, clothes, car seat, etc- is way easier! I also made my own laundry soap (cheaper and more gentle than store bought stuff) and washed the diapers at home by myself, grew some of my own food, made homemade baby food when it was time and luckily held onto a lot of DD#1 clothing to pass on to DD#2! As far as maternity clothes go, I found the COOLEST stuff at 2nd hand stores, and lucky for my 3 closest girlfriends, who all got pregnant, one after another, about 4 months after me! We handed all of the clothes down to each other as our babies were born.

Don't stress! People do it all of the time and the more relaxed and carefree you are, the happier your babe will be!

Good Luck!
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#4 of 17 Old 02-09-2004, 11:24 AM
 
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"Four magic words, "we can't afford it," should be a part of every child's education. A child who has never heard those words--or also has never been forced to abide by their meaning--has surely been cheated by his parents. As exercise strengthens the body, frugality strengthens the spirit. Without its occasional discipline, character suffers." ~ Morris Mandel
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#5 of 17 Old 02-09-2004, 11:35 AM
 
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Cloth Diapers can be really expensive or really inexpensive. Get the barebones basics like prefolds, prowraps and a snappi. Look at the Trading post for gently used deals. You can probably start out for $60 used and that's about a month's worth of newborn disposables! Get less and wash more often.

Get clothes gently used at the TP or garage sales and thrift shops. Lots of brand name quality clothes if you look.

Food figure out your budget and meal plan. We splurge on pizza once a week but otherwise I cook everynight and make meals that stretch. A crockpot is great for a busy mom and it makes the less expensive cuts of meat more tender.

The library is a great source for borrowing books and movies. They even have passes for local museums.

Forget about the expensive newborn equipment. You won't use them at all or only for a few months before baby outgrows them. Get a used sling or make your own pouch. It's about $5 to sew one with clearnance fabric from Walmart. Co-sleep and you don't need a crib.

Make your own baby wipes with cheap clearance flannel. Takes a few minutes to sew up a dozen. Toss them in with your dipes.

Things like cutting cable and internet by using the puter at the library can save you quite a bit every month too.

Just figure out your budget and cut out the unnecesaries. It can be done
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#6 of 17 Old 02-09-2004, 12:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Great responses! I agree that "sorry we cannot afford it" is essential. I also like the idea of making and growing your own food when possible, and I love the crockpot. Pizza night once a week is also good with videos or books from the library. My dh will like this thread!

Luna, tell me how you made the laundry soap! That is an excellent idea, particularly if I'll be washing nappies all the time.

Do you know of any other magazines with practical ideas for simple living? I'd like to start collecting recipies and other ideas while I still have time. I live in Africa right now and am thinking of buying cloth nappies here to take home. I bet I can get them for about 1USD each! The snappies too! The quality is another thing.

I'm really interested in other simple living ideas, not just for saving money because I have to, but because it really is a creative and kind way to live!

Thanks all!

Steph
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#7 of 17 Old 02-09-2004, 12:11 PM
 
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I never had any children when I was a broke college student, but I wouldn't stress about it too much. I think it's part of our culture to think kids are ultra expensive. So far daycare has been the biggest expense at our house (I WOH three days a week). Cloth diapering and yard sale clothes will get you a long way. We bought a beautiful and basically never used crib and a pack and play. Save your money and skip it. I never used any formula and used almost no baby food either.

If your current housing is a one bedroom I wouldn't necessarily thing you would need to move. We have three bedrooms, but unless we have guests one would be adequate.
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#8 of 17 Old 02-09-2004, 12:55 PM
 
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Been there, done that.

I was single with my daughter and in college on financial aid.

I milked the system. I went into school the DAY after my daughter was born and had my school budget raised and got declared independant, which got me more money for school and an additional grant check within a few weeks.

I also took advantage of WIC and other programs that help out with things like childcare.

And, to be totally honest, it wasn't that bad. I never had a ton of extra money or anything but we always got rent paid and had food on the table and I got through school just fine.

I'm a huge thrift store shopper, so that helped. And I was raised to be VERY farmiliar with the grocery outlet store, so that helped too.
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#9 of 17 Old 02-09-2004, 01:24 PM
 
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Find the book, The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn. Borrow it from the library or buy a used copy from half.com

A lot of this book is dedicated to helping you figure out what the most economical solution is to a problem. There are also several specific tips, but I found them less useful. She also spends a lot of time discussing her mind-set when it comes to money.

Breastfeed. Start going to LLL meetings. Make contacts with the leaders and other local moms. I've brought bags of hand-me-downs to women who have gone to LLL meetings throughout their pregnancies.

Cloth diapers: Put out the word that you will be using cloth diapers. If you start soon, it should be easy to find plenty of used CDs for cheap or almost free. I got all of mine as hand-me-downs. Our total "start-up" cost on CDs has been less than $20. Add in the cost of additional water, gas, electricity and detergent, it's still sooooo much cheaper than disposibles.

Clothing: Start now by going to yard sales. If you see a yard sale with zillions of kids' clothes, size up the woman doing the selling. Ask for maternity clothes. I stocked my maternity wardrobe with clothes from women who hadn't even thought to put the clothes out. You don't need much. I had two shirts, a couple of pairs of shorts, and one pair of overalls. I made due to larger T-shirts (DH's) and more strechy clothes.
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#10 of 17 Old 02-09-2004, 03:08 PM
 
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Our church has been a big help. A lot of people there have given us their used kids' stuff. If you go to one, that's something to think about. Also, if you can register for things that you want for baby, do it. If not, make up a list and when people ask you what you need, tell them. Some of the best things we've gotten (that you could ask for) are:

* Hand me downs from friends with kids, some of it very nice
* Grocery store gift certificates
* Money towards our diapers and diaper service

Midwife (CPM, LDM) and homeschooling mama to:
14yo ds   11yo dd  9yo ds and 7yo ds and 2yo ds  
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#11 of 17 Old 02-09-2004, 03:38 PM
 
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Remember you do not need half of what *everyone* says you need--so save yourself a lot of time and worry and ignore all ads directed at new parents!
Basically I agree with everything everyone said--cloth, nurse, make own baby food, etc. One thing we have always done is to stock up on clothing and shoes the season before--especially as we live in a cold climate and found that buying used winter boots and snowsuits and mittens and such was not always a good option--they tend not to be waterproof anymore or have too many tears, etc. So the season before they need it we wait out the sales until the very end and get good new winter gear for about 75% off. I have also done this at outlets--buying winter things in the middle of summer. This is more for older children but something to think about already when your little one is, well, little!

Good luck.
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#12 of 17 Old 02-09-2004, 05:04 PM
 
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ITA with what everyone has posted. Esp. with ignoring what "everyone" tells you that you "need".

You **don't** need a diaper bag!!! DH uses my backpack from college, I use a large bag I got years ago. Put wipes in zipper baggies. I don't cloth diaper (ducking flames), but store brand dipes & wipes are as good as the brand names.

Buy store brands when you're food shopping. Take advantage of every thing on sale that you usually buy. Discover "ethnic" cooking if you haven't - it's usually pretty cheap. I learned how to cook & how to stretch the food budget this past year.

Cheap "toys" (baby approved): empty egg cartons (DS loves both the cardboard & styrofoam kind), clean & empty milk/OJ cartons as blocks/storage things (with the top cut off), measuring spoons, cups, and all metal bakeware. Empty yogurt containers with/without lids, cereal boxes, storage containers, the wipey boxes & lids (can be used as blocks, too), & bottles of water.

Definitely look around & ask around to see if people are getting rid of baby gear. Sometimes they're happy to just give it away (like me). Oh yes--- stretchy maternity pants are a must. I had gotten mine (maternity yoga pants) from Old Slavey mat. & wore the he** out of them during the preg. & for about a year after.
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#13 of 17 Old 02-09-2004, 07:27 PM
 
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As far as toys go, my son's favourite toy for his first year was an empty coke bottle, squashed a little with uncooked rice in it. (with the lid glued on to avoid choking) He LOVED it.
All you really NEED at the beginning is nappies (diapers) and clothes if you live in a cold climate. A sling is also really useful. You don't have to buy one, you can make one. (or you can even use a cheap piece of fabric by itself)
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#14 of 17 Old 02-10-2004, 05:24 AM
 
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I forgot to add that Counting the Cost--a free e-zine about frugal living with a spiritual perspective--just asked their readers this question, how to have a baby frugally. They should get all the reader responses by next issue (I think next week) and all repsonses are posted on their site as well: countingthecost.com. Could be worth checking out.
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#15 of 17 Old 02-10-2004, 10:53 AM
 
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badomama~ The laundry soap is EASY to make and cheap, too! I don't have the exact ratios right here but all you need is 1/2 a bar of DR. Bronner's castille soap, a couple cups of baking soda and about 1 gallon of h2o for one batch. you grate the soap, melt it in about 2-3 cups of h2o while you have a bucket of the remaining hot water mixing with the baking soda. After the baking soda is mostly disolved or blended with the water, you slowly mix in the soap mixture and stir for a few minutes. You also need to stir it every 15 minutes or so as it is cooling so it doesn't seperate. Sometimes, if I make it in a hurry, it gets all clumpy and gross looking, but I just give it a stir before putting it in the washer. You can add essential oils or leave it nice and gentle for baby's bum!

Happy laundering!
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#16 of 17 Old 02-10-2004, 11:00 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by *Luna*
badomama~ The laundry soap is EASY to make and cheap, too! I don't have the exact ratios right here but all you need is 1/2 a bar of DR. Bronner's castille soap, a couple cups of baking soda and about 1 gallon of h2o for one batch. you grate the soap, melt it in about 2-3 cups of h2o while you have a bucket of the remaining hot water mixing with the baking soda. After the baking soda is mostly disolved or blended with the water, you slowly mix in the soap mixture and stir for a few minutes. You also need to stir it every 15 minutes or so as it is cooling so it doesn't seperate. Sometimes, if I make it in a hurry, it gets all clumpy and gross looking, but I just give it a stir before putting it in the washer. You can add essential oils or leave it nice and gentle for baby's bum!

Happy laundering!
is this ok 4 cloth dipes?
nak
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#17 of 17 Old 02-10-2004, 11:18 PM
 
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Luna: I am assuming it doesn't suds a lot, but... does it suds a lot? we have a front loader washer and have to make sure that our soap doesn't make a lot of bubbles. My experience with Dr. Bronner's soap doesn't involve a lot of suds, so I'm assuming that's still the case...

I have to pitch Bi-o-kleen laundry soaps, we use them and like them very much. My dp is very sensitive to fragrances and this stuff works great and has no borax, which is supposed to be kind of hard on natural fabrics. If you've got space for it and can/are willing to make a one-time long-term investment, around $100 will get you a 50-lb box that does over 500 loads of laundry. You can double that number if you have a front loader because with a front loader you only need to use half as much soap. It's all environmentally friendly, too. Not as cheap as making your own, though. They have a website at http://www.bi-o-kleen.com and a link to online merchandisers. delivery of the big boxes is FREE!

Does anyone here can? I enjoy canning but I've only ever canned for enjoyment and gifts, not for subsistence. I know you can can (that looks funny!) lots of things, but I personally don't consider jam a staple. Perhaps I will feel differently when Sprout is around. I have great memories of canning with my grandma but all we ever, and I mean EVER put up was green beans. Any experienced puter-uppers here? Do you find it worth it beyond the satisfaction of preserving your food? - i.e. does it save you money?

Jen

: mama to T 9/04 and E 11/08
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