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Kids cost Cash …. But not as much as you might think.

The cost of having a child can seem daunting to some, but in reality, kids don’t have to cost that much. Sure the cute baby stuff, and toys, and what-not can cost your right arm, big toe and a knee cap or two, but if you’re smart, cost conscious and lead a modest life, they in reality, don’t cost that much.

I’ve realized that a baby needs five basic things; a roof over their head, food, clothes, an education when they get older, and most importantly LOVE. With love, anything is possible (cliché, yes, not true, no).

We’re very blessed as a family. We have generous friends who share used baby things (<3 hand me downs), grandparents who are able to ‘spoil’ our child, and we’re both employed.

We save, and try to think before we buy (most of the time!). We still try to lead a modest life (I bring my lunch to work), we save our money, and put it where we think we will benefit most (be it family vacations, a need for a new car, or just plain old savings).

We paid off our debts (minus school loans, and our mortgage, but this is KEY), and cut back on things we don’t have time for like cable (who has time for TV with a 4 month old AND a job). This makes time for the LOVE portion of baby needs. We spend time playing and chatting as a family. Most importantly, in the journey, we keep on learning. You can’t put a price on that.

While trying to be economically efficient, we found we have become slightly greener.

When we bought our house we knew we would have to remodel the majority of our home, we “thought green to save green”. We have installed new windows, insulation (our home had none on the exterior walls), new doors, and energy efficient lights. We’re looking into getting a tank-less water heater (to save on space and money, and energy). All of this is money up front, but we had to do it, and spend it, so we wanted to get as much savings in the end out as possible.

We managed to lower our gas bill $200 in the course of the year, and electric was cut by $100. With that we’ve had extra money to save/spend on baby things we need. I always make sure to look at what we have, what we ‘NEED’ and compare it to what we want.

We’ve also started to go green with baby things.  

I got tired of buying diapers, throwing away diapers, buying bags for the diaper genie, etc. ect.) Lil’ man is a pee machine (as of late a poop machine too). We were spending $35 on a box of diapers that would last 2 weeks maybe. That was after cost comparing stores, signing up for coupons at Pampers.com, and printing out coupons from Target. So we switched to cloth. See previous post “Enter Cloth Diapers…switching over”. I’m happy to say I haven’t spent more than $10 on diapers in 2 months.

We still use Pampers Sensitive wipes (which I use a coupon for and buy in bulk), and collect the Gifts to Grow points to get our photos printed.  I’m tempted to switch to cloth wipes, however ‘baby steps.’ I still need to have time after my 12 hour work day to be with my family, and not doing wash!

Switching to cloth was more money up front, but will be more cost effective in 2 months. We will have broken even, at that point. Then it’s savings from there to potty training. In addition, if I wanted to save even more money, I could have used old school flats.

Side NOTE: Right now there is the flats challenge going on (#FlatsChallenge). You can read in detail about it here on the Cloth Diaper Blog. Basically, people who cloth diaper are being challenged to use flats and hand wash them.

Side NOTE2: So because I work in community development, I’m often hearing about impoverished areas that are looking to develop and change. These areas often do not have easy access to healthy food, grocery stores, etc. etc. Daycares don’t accept cloth diapers, which would save parents money. I was reading this article, No Butt Left Behind and thought you might enjoy.

Back to the point here:

We clip coupons. I recall being a child and making fun of my mom for doing this, but it works. I’m not a crazy coupon’er like you can see on TLC’s Extreme Couponing, but I do look through the Sunday paper for the coupons. I only clip the things we use. I watch for them to go on sale, and use the coupons. Yes it takes some time to figure out a system to make this work for you, but once you get started you can build on it and save.

This coupon idea goes for baby things as well. We have target, buybuyBaby, and BabiesRUs at our disposal. buybuyBaby and BabiesRUs accept competitors coupons if they are for a percentage off. Target lets you use manufactures’’ coupons, and Target coupons, and then if you bring your own bag you get $.05 of, and as of late they have been offering in-store credit for certain purchases, so we save on our next visit as well.

We also are blessed and are able to use our family nearby for day care so we can work. There are advantages to living close to your in-laws!

Over all we’re saving money on the things we need and use.

As for lil’ man we find the only things we must have are clothes (side snap under shirts, and rompers, the rest he only wears once in a while if we go out, but he’s so little, footed and non-footed sleepers are easiest). We will probably start formula soon. Diapers are taken care of, and then baby needs a safe place to sleep which could be a variety of things (we have a crib, but a pack and play would work just fine). The rest is optional.  So there you go, for just a little, you can afford a kid.

I believe there is never a right time to have a baby financially. We live in a society where we always “NEED” more, and could put off baby for a long time, but if you think you’re close to being ready, I say you probably are, just take a leap, not all great things can be planned!

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Gardening 101 – How to…or wait you tell me!

I hate dirt. I’ve always HATED dirt. For as many summers as I can remember my mother would beg me to help her outside. She wanted me to plant flowers, vegetables for the summers we had a food garden, basically she wanted to teach me how to grow things: I’d refuse. I would have rather done anything than ‘play’ in the dirt.

Since buying our first home, and having a baby, I now respect my mom’s beautiful garden beds and the hard work she put in outside over the years. I never thought I’d care about being outside and making things grow. I was determined to be a city, concrete loving girl forever. However, now that I have my son, I find I’m slightly more inclined to give growing things a try (and make an attempt to please my neighbors with a nice looking yard). Perhaps my mom did rub off on me!

I want the lil’ guy to see how things grow, appreciate what it takes to put food on the table. I want him to know that getting dirty is ok, and then you can take a bath and be clean, only to get dirty all over again! I want him to see nature, know animals (my son loooves to follow our backyard chipmunk and crazy squirrels, he looks at it with awe in his eyes “whats that lil’ thing running around mommy” style!), and then hopefully one day teach his kids (though this is waaaay down the road of course!) how to take care of a yard, how to grow things.

Even though I still don’t like to get dirty, I am planting my first ‘garden’ this summer. So far it’s going ok. I started my seedlings indoors, and I bought bags of Scotts Miracle-Gro Organic soil, some MOOnure organic comport with manure, and called my mom for directions. She told me to mix it together, by hand (which I did, with gloves of course), and to put it in my new cedar planter that my super handy husband built for me.

I decided to start small. I’m growing 2 tomato plants (in large pots), 2 cucumber plants (also in large pots), some green beans, a whole handful of herbs (basil, oregano, cilantro, parsley, chives and sage), bell peppers, finally for good measure and fun, baby carrots (which hopefully I can cook and mash-up for the lil’ guy). We’ve also planted four types of small hot peppers ‘for color.’ (I’m really getting into this!). So let’s see how the summer goes and what actually ends up producing vegetables for us to eat!

Do you have any growing suggestions, tips for keeping these lil’ plants going and producing throughout the summer months!

What kind of outdoor garden stuff do you do with your kids? Do they like to play in the dirt? Do they have their own garden tools? A sandbox?

Let me know in the comments section! I could certainly use suggestions in the garden department*

 

*it should be noted; every plant I’ve ever owned has died, or almost died.  I’ve desperately tried to grow them, but they never last more than a year. Usually right before they are dead I give them to my mom to ‘bring them back to life’! She then gives them back to me and the whole cycle starts again! So fingers crossed, let’s see how this goes!