Baby On A Budget: How We Avoid Unnecessary Spending
Baby on a Budget is a series of posts that I'll be doing to share all the ways we've managed to save money while bringing up our baby. When I read the stats about how much money new parents supposedly spend getting ready for a baby and caring for a baby in its first years, I cringe! I can certainly see how it happens though.... These posts are meant to help you stay away from that awfully high number!!
While it's certainly difficult to keep from buying every single thing your kid might possibly be able to use when you're still expecting, it's near impossible to exercise a reasonable amount of restraint once your child is actually born. Suddenly, nothing is too expensive for that cute little face! Every piece of baby clothing becomes essential. $500 photo shoot? Completely necessary!
Luckily, I've devised a way that has become so effective in keeping me from spending excessive amounts of money on my child that it surprised even myself: I make my baby pay for his own stuff. (And he's much less likely to buy yet another pair of pants to add to his overflowing collection.)
This method came about somewhat by accident. If you've read the post explaining how we budget, you know that we use ledgers to delineate how our money is to be spent. When our son was born, I started a ledger for him intending to save for his education in this fund. I also put any monetary gifts that he received from family onto this ledger and thanked our family members for contributing to our son's education fund in our thank you notes. The money that we receive from the government for having procreated goes into this fund as well as a small amount from us each paycheque (when I realized how little our kid costs us I brought this amount down to $10 every two weeks).
By lumping the money for his education in with the money for his daily needs in together, when I spend money on him I feel like I'm robbing his future! The first time I realized this I was browsing the baby section of our local Gap store. Their clothes are gorgeous and I do like to make sure that we have one nice outfit for each size that my son can wear for special occasions but as I've mentioned before, we've already hit the jackpot when it comes to baby clothing! I picked out a few nice items and walked around with them as I browsed and that's when I started to feel a bit guilty. I realized that my son didn't need the clothing; he had plenty of other nice clothes. I couldn't justify spending his money on clothing he didn't need when it could be put towards his future. I put the clothes back and left the store feeling great. I didn't regret not buying the clothes and since I hadn't bought them, I didn't have to regret buying them afterwards!
This has worked wonderfully for me. It provides an extra question to ask myself that makes me really weigh how much we actually need the product. It is one thing to steal from my own savings- but my kids? That's not OK with me! I don't feel guilty when I do buy my son stuff because I have thought about it and determined that he does need it. I've bought cloth diapers, disposable diapers, supplies for wipes, his halloween costume (OK so maybe that one is a little grey...). I even used this account to purchase his Christmas presents- which might be a little weird but by keeping it all in one account I can tell you exactly how much we've spent raising our son so far... so it helps me out that way.
Overall, this method is really just a trick to help change your mindset and make you evaluate the purchases you make for your children a bit more than you might otherwise. And when tiny little baby Gap pants are calling your name from the clearance rack, you can use all the help you can get!