Going from two incomes to one when you first have a baby is hard. You might think you’ve got enough in the bank, or you might just wing it. But either way, you’re going to have to tighten your belts, as she loosens hers.
1. Say ‘yes’ to hand-me-downs
Clothes for babies get almost no wear and tear and aren’t used for long because the little darlings grow so quickly. Here’s the thing – no-one cares if you bought a cute outfit or were given it. Next time you’re at the shops, take a gander at all the kids running about pulling sugary treats off shelves and screaming at their parents to buy them. You can’t tell who’s wearing new stuff.
It’s not being povvo to accept hand-me-downs from friends and loved ones, so always say ‘yes’ and ‘thank you’, and then pick the eyes out of what you’re given, before passing the rest on to the next freeloader.
2. Whip up some freezable meals
Once baby arrives, you’re both going to get very, very tired. Freeze some simple meals, like a pasta dish or a curry, in microwaveable containers for those nights you couldn’t be stuffed peeling a potato, let alone washing a saucepan from last night’s dinner just to dirty it again. At least you won’t be reduced to calling for budget-busting takeaway to be delivered.
3. Embrace potluck parties
When you have friends over for dinner, you can no longer afford Angus beef and seafood entrees. Tell them it’s a sausage sizzle and to bring a plate like salad or chips and dip. It feels odd the first time, but this is standard parenting protocol. You aren’t there to eat fancy, you’re there for adult company and to brag about the milestones (or alternatively, the dumb stuff) your kids have achieved.
4. Get a tent
Holidays are no longer about travel – they’re about getting away from the grandparents. Camping is a fantastic option because you can set yourself up with gear for less than a weekend trip to NZ, and old people don’t like to sleep on the ground.
Seriously, if you’ve the inclination, camping is the perfect holiday for families. It’s relatively cheap, gets you away from the busy world of instant information, feels like an adventure and it’s a great learning experience for your kids.
Warning: stars, firelight and feelgoods in general might cause you to come back next year with two kids.
5. Add formula to your gift registry
Not everyone can manage breastfeeding, but formula is downright expensive. If you are going to do formula, ask your friends for a tin instead of the usual baby clothes as presents, which are inevitably too small and never get used. They won’t mind. They’re just glad they’re not pregnant and can still drink champers at the baby shower.
There are more ways to save money, of course, but I hope you get the idea. Don’t worry about spending money – you don’t have to impress people who don’t care. If you’re going to spend anything, spend time enjoying your new bundle of wonder and cuddles. Good luck.