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This is part 2 of “How to Pay off Debt With Kids” we’re focusing on baby essentials this week – (You can find the Introduction on this series HERE, and Part 1 Here) a 4 part series that encourages and guides you to believe you CAN pay off debt, even when you have kids! It provides practical tips, and includes a Free workbook, to guide you in changing your money mindset, beliefs and behaviors to create lasting change!
Last week we talked all about how mindsets matter when it comes to dealing with our money. It especially matters when we’re trying to tackle our money in an “outside of the box” way – like paying off debt and decreasing our consumption rate. I hope you found the “money mindset workbook” helpful! If you didn’t get a change to work through it, I encourage you to start there as your mindset will guide the success you have with money from here on out.
Oh, one more teensy little thing.
You can’t have everything.
Especially when you’re paying off debt. There are choices that will need to be made (we can use our values to guide those choices or make those choices without thought – usually leading into more debt) monthly, daily, hourly – in order to conserve enough of our income to put towards debt payments.
You’ll have to choose if: your baby having the most on trend clothing is valuable enough to you to spend money on (money that you could be using to put towards debt). Or, if going out to eat is more valuable than saving $50 and putting that towards your debt. Maybe your sweet baby could sleep in a hand me down crib – saving the family hundreds of dollars – and making your debt free scream all the sooner!
I’m just saying, you can’t have everything…right now. You’ve committed to paying off your debt, so, brand new trendy baby clothes, a pottery barn crib and mommy meetups at the coffee shop every week may be out of the question.
No worries though! Honestly, you’ll be killing your debt, and living from your values – sounds like an amazing way to live!
Alrighty, so, let’s tackle baby essentials.
I want to start right now and just say that babies do NOT have to be crazy expensive. We paid off $100,000 in debt all while having a toddler, and a newborn. And then, because we’re crazy town, we had our third child – all while paying off debt. Since we were committed to paying off the debt and saving as much money as possible during this time, we learned ways to have healthy, happy children without spending thousands of dollars! You better believe that I realized pretty quickly that I would much rather use $20 to go on a date with my hubby than spend it on cute clothes for the kids.
Remember that “you can’t have everything” I said earlier. It may be tempting to think,” well, it’s only $20, why don’t I go out to eat with the hubs AND buy that cute outfit from babyGap? It won’t break us.”
That is what the old you would say. The new you, who has gone through the money mindset workbook, has realized that you have to make choices and always move towards your goals. And your primary goal right now is to pay off debt.
Does buying clothes at babyGap get you to that goal? No. And it’s in no way necessary. Will going out with your hubs get you to that goal? Maybe. Or maybe not. Maybe you’re having a hard time connecting emotionally and you’re really needing some space to be together and alone (and not have to cook and clean up for just one night). I could argue that going out with the hubs for $20 will get you to your larger goal of paying off debt. If you’re just going out just because, then no, it will not get you to that goal.
Of course this is MY logic, but once you know what’s important to YOU (defining your values anyone?) it’s easy to know what will get you towards that ultimate goal – becoming debt free.
Here’s the thing with kids and babies in general:
- They grow REALLY quickly. That cute outfit will only fit for a few months, max. Is it worth $20? That’s $6.33 per month for one outfit. You decide. Also, babies don’t need shoes until they’re walking – even then it’s debatable. Don’t buy $50 shoes for your baby.
- They grow really, really quickly. Those baby contraptions you think you’ll die without, usually are not worth it. And, you can usually find them lightly used (since that person’s baby grew really quickly as well) for at least 1/2 the price on local Facebook groups, craigslist or consignment stores or sales.
Here’s a list I’ve put together of things you’ll actually NEED for the baby years. This is, by no means, meant to be true for every parent. It’s based on our own experience with 4 children and living very frugally with 3 of them. I put this list out there as a jumping off point to help you shift through the longer list of sh!t that Target gives you when you register 😉
Without further ado: Greatest Worth Baby Essentials:
- DIAPERS – $19.99 per diaper – We primarily cloth diapered our children during the day and then used disposable diapers at night. We used Bum Genius One Size Diapers for all 4 of our kids. Yep. We used the same diapers for all 4 of our kids. We registered for about 20 of them with our first child, got a few more when our 2nd was born and probably only paid for about 2-4 of them. I always washed them in ALL free and clear (we never used that super expensive detergent that all the cloth diapering people recommend – my babies never had a reaction) and then hung them to dry (hanging outdoors in the sunshine will decrease odors and naturally brighten – but leaving them in the laundry room because you’re an exhausted mama works fine, too) – and honestly, they still had life left in them after our 4th moved to undies. So, we passed them on to a friend of ours!
- DIAPER SPRAYER – $39.99. I do NOT like touching poop. Even of my own baby. So, this sprayer was seriously awesome. It hooks up to your toilet and you use it to spray out the diaper before sticking it in the diaper pail. No fuss. No poopy hands. Happy mama.
- DISPOSABLE DIAPERS – We used disposables at night. It was mostly for me and my need for rest. I don’t regret that decision one bit. Our babies would sleep longer and more soundly in a disposable diaper. Because I only used these at night I would only use 1-2 disposables per day; 60 per month. Even using premium diapers, at the price of $.16 per diaper, that’s only about $4.80/month vs. $33.60 (7 diapers per day). That’s a savings of about $691.20 over a 24 month period.
- BREAST PUMP – $228.98 – If you breast feed, you’ll want to get a breast pump so that other people can help out with feeding your baby at times. The pump can also be something you register for. With the introduction of Obamacare, all insurances must cover the cost of a breast pump! My advice, get a good one. There’s nothing worse than having to pump 4 or more times/day (if you went back to work) and the pump taking forever or malfunctioning. So annoying! I tried multiple different brands and found Medela to be the best!
- HIGH CHAIR – So, this isn’t the high chair I used personally, but it’s super affordable, minimalist and will fit in anywhere without all the busy print that would normally clash with your decor. Honestly, there will be SO much stuff everywhere once the baby comes, why not cut out the noise a bit. The ANTILOP Highchair is from IKEA and is only $25 if you get one at the store. If you don’t live near an IKEA, Amazon sells one for $47 and free shipping. Awesome sauce Amazon. Seriously.
- BOTTLES – Listen, you are NOT going to want to have to feed that baby with your breasts ALL the time. Because that is exactly what your baby will want. ALL. THE. TIME. Use your sweet, paid by your insurance pump and put the milk into bottles. These are easily bought “lightly used” through consignment sales or on Online Mama Groups. Don’t freak out. Wash them in boiling water and good as new. We even got glass bottles this way. Here is a cheaper glass option from Evenflo.
- CLOTHING – ask for hand me downs. Go to goodwill, consignment or other thrift stores. You’ll likely get some clothes as gifts at some point. Post your needs on Facebook. Once mamas are done with babies they want those baby items out of their house! They will be happy to pass along bags upon bags of clothes. You shouldn’t need to buy much or any clothes at all. Look, I like a cute baby as much as the rest of them, but your hand me downs will likely have some clothes in there you really love. It will be OK. Your baby is beautiful even without moccasins and a tunic.
- SOAP & LOTION – You’ll need one bottle of soap for all of baby. A nice simple lotion for dry spells and baby massage is nice to have. But plain coconut oil will work just as well, probably better, and last way longer.
- BABY TUB – these are usually about $20, but, please, do not buy one. There are likely 5-10 of these that you could find within 5 minutes of posting your need on Facebook. Put a call out to your friends and friends of friends. Don’t support the “brand new is best & one per family” myth that the baby industry tries to pedal.
- BOUNCER – My sister in law lent me one of these to borrow with our first born. All 4 of my babies loved these things. And, truth be told, sometimes you just need a place to set the baby down for a little bit that’s not on the ground or in a crib! These help a ton. Once again, consignment stores or sales will have LOTs of these at a great discount. Not one of my kids liked the swing – I know you’re probably wondering. Everyone will tell you it’s essential. I don’t think so.
- BLANKETS – All 4 of our babies loved to be swaddled. We used these Velcro Swaddle Blankets until they were about 8 months old. After that we used fleece zip up jammies – you’ll get TONS of those in your hand me downs! All those muslin receiving blankets are adorable, but I mostly used them as burp clothes and as a nursing cover. So, maybe just a few of those as well!
- CRIB & CHANGING TABLE – Put the call out once more! Facebook buy/sell pages or craiglist or your local consignment sale. Ours has lots of cribs and changing tables at a deep discount. You may even find a friend willing to give hers away. Ask around. You don’t get what you don’t ask for. But, don’t buy new.
- CO-SLEEPER – We borrowed one of these or sometimes one of these and used it for each of our 4 children for the first 4-6 months or so. It was just way easier to nurse on demand with the baby right next to me than to walk back and forth in the dark! You could register for one of these, but ask around. Likely you have some friends who aren’t using theirs right now and will let you borrow it for a few months. That’s what we did ALL. FOUR. TIMES.
- BABY CARRIER – We were given a Beco Baby Carrier with our 1st child and used it for the first 12-18 months of each child’s life. Seriously. We couldn’t have made it without this thing. If you’re not sure which carrier to get see if you can borrow a friend’s for a day or two before you buy. Around here people either have the Beco or the Ergo. It doesn’t seem like you can go wrong with either of those.
- CAR SEAT – They’re regulated. Just pick one. No biggie. Register for it and some aunt will totally buy this for you. If you need an extra one, they also sell them at consignment sales. The sale manager should be checking but just in case, car seats do have expiration dates printed on them. Make sure the seat’s time isn’t up and you’re golden!
- STROLLER – My husband and I were fighting about the “essentialism” of a stroller, but we both decided that even just to get out of the house and get a bit of exercise, this was essential to both of us. We used our stroller A LOT with all of our kids. I was a runner – so took them each running with me at times. I’m not going to pick your stroller for you, but you can most definitely find a good jogging stroller used. It will be at least 1/2 price. That’s a good couple hundred dollars you’ll save if you go used.
- DIAPER PAIL – We just got a cheap one and put the cloth diapers in it directly after changing (with a wet diaper) or after we rinsed the diaper in the toilet (if a poopy diaper). I would was diapers every couple of days because we didn’t have enough cloth diapers to wait longer than that. Plus, it gets kinda stinky if you wait longer than that.
While this list is for people who are expecting their first baby I think it’s worth mentioning that if this is your second or third (or more) baby you’ll likely have most of this stuff already. I would encourage you to think outside the box when it comes to adding more “sh!t” to your life once your next little miracle comes along. Here are some guidelines around that.
Don’t buy MORE clothes.
Our first was a boy, our second was a girl – and we didn’t know that until she came out. She lived in her brother’s newborn clothing for about 3 months until we got some gifts and hand me downs from friends who began questioning why we would dress our sweet girl up in “boy” clothes. Because they’re free, yo. And they keep her warm and she’s got no problem with that. (She actually still loves her brother’s hand me downs!) Of course I wanted to buy her some adorable dresses from Target and babyGap but we were broke. And acting like we weren’t was not going to get us to our ultimate goal – TO PAY OFF DEBT!
Don’t buy baby food.
That stuff is expensive! Feed your baby what you’re eating – just smash it up first. All four of our kids are pretty adventurous eaters, still to this day. I wonder if it’s because we began them on real foods, with spices and lots of flavor from an early age. All that aside, you’ll save LOTS of cashola. Basically, the baby will eat so little it’s pretty much free if you just smash up some of your dinner, (mix it with water if you need it thinner consistency) and feed him that way. You’re basically paying for water and jars. Don’t do it!
We created a nanny share when we started going crazy town and working 60 hour weeks. We needed someone to watch our kids at home (for ease on us) and not cost $20+ per hour! So, we found a capable candidate that could handle multiple children and shared the cost of her with another family in our neighborhood. At the time we only had 2 kids and then we had another family with 2 kids – so we each paid $10/hr and the nanny made $20/hr. Win-win!
Creative Work Schedules.
In one of my jobs I was able to switch to a weekend rotation – so I worked Fri, Sat, Sun & Mon (10 hour shifts) and got paid more per hour AND Sam was able to adjust his schedule – so, basically, we only had to use the nanny 2 days per week – which saved us hundreds per month on child care!
Use Consignment Sales or Online Buy/Sell Groups to get kids stuff.
I found a lot of stuff I needed in my neighborhood “mommies” Facebook group. I sell stuff twice a year at my local gigantic consignment sale – I make over $200-300 every time. When you’re a seller they give you a pre-sale pass to shop first. Clothes, toys, shoes, etc are usually 1/3 of the normal price. These are GREAT places to search out some of the bigger items you haven’t been able to find on Facebook or Craigslist.
Well, that’s my list of baby essentials for when you’re trying to pay off debt. I’d love to hear if you think anything is missing from the list. I’ll update it as needed to keep it relevant.
Good luck friend and remember to keep your long term goal in focus. Don’t let the day to day baby decisions keep you from realizing that debt payoff goal. I totally believe in you!