Being on two incomes is a balancing act. But being on 1 income is bloody tough too! Financially, we don’t have much wiggle room at the end of the month once everything is paid for. That’s me being honest, my husband might cringe to know I’ve put this out there into the world but that’s our reality. We’ve gone from two incomes to one, plain and simple. The choices we’ve made are for our growing Whanau; me at home while Lily is little.
It has been, and still is hard seeing friends and family have more of a disposable income than us. But that’s the way it is. So I changed our mindset. We could sulk. Or we can find ways to have things (I’m talking toys, books and clothes predominately. For Lily). And shut up and be thankful.
So below are a few tips, from advice given by others and using my foggy brain to come up with.
- Op-shopping and buying second hand. I love a good trawl of an op shop. We (Lily and I) make a fortnightly browse to one of the 7 local stores. We don’t always buy something, but if we do, we stick to a budget of $10. And ohh the delights $10 can get you! What do we look for? Quality toys and books! One of our local charity shops has 4 kids books for $1, regardless of if they a ‘popular title’!
- Library books. Books are so super expensive, yet such a valuable resource for growing little minds!! Every month we toddle to the library to get some books out. The ones Lily has a tad obsession with, we will look into buying new. We try to buy NZ authors books brand new (A few faves are by Betty Gilderdale, Bob Darroch, Brett Avison, Margaret Mahy). Someone said book depository is pretty good for buying books?
- Toy library subscription. If you’ve ever been shopping for kids toys, you’ll know that shit is expensive! And you never know if it will get used. Yet at times, the old sock and wooden stick doesn’t quite cut the playing mustard. Cue the toy library. Payment options, vary; we pay $20 a term and can take out 5 toys for 2 weeks. I have to do a 2 hour duty every term but that’s it. Other payments are more or less $ depending on what you want to do. If Lily thinks its pretty cool and it keeps her entertained while mum lies down (kidding) then we may look to purchase it. If it’s shit, we wasted 50c or something like that instead of $$$. We’ve had slides, mini roller-coaster thing, trainsets, kitchens, water toys, bikes = so much variety.
- The famous Farmers half price sale. Thinking ahead to the upcoming season and what size your little one will be in. We stock up on winter woollies. And in the off season (summer) you can get 70% off merino woollies at farmers!
- Buy a couple of nicer pieces of seasonal clothing (we try shop NZ made to support local…Nora’s closet, Littleflock of horrors, Nature baby to name a few) and then second hand to buy the rest. ‘Cause they are only going to get messy, and grow out of them quickly anyway right? Seriously, the decent quality clothes I’ve found at the op shop is crazy. Except that one time I found a skiddy pair of kids undies. Spew. I’m not embarrassed to put Lily in second hand clothes. Why should I be?
- Breastfeed. I know this isn’t for everyone. I know it’s not possible for everyone. It just worked for us. For free.
- Make your own mashed up baby food when starting solids. And freeze. That store bought stuff is convenient, I know, but it’s expensive! 1/4 pumpkin and a stewed apple cost 70c and would make 8x what one jar can provide at $1.50.
- Using cloth nappies. We aren’t full time at this (although I want to with baby number 2) but try to do one change a day using them. We bought some new, second hand and were gifted a couple. Gross you say? The feral second hand ones I binned, the lovely clean non-feral ones we kept. Hot wash, sunshine and a bamboo liner against her butt and we are good to go. Kate, the Nappy lady worked out some facts comparing costs. On average for one kid to 2.5 years cost $5500 disposable vs reusable nappies $2070. I’ll take the ‘hassle’ (it’s not hard once you get into the swing of dealing with cloth naps) if $ saved.
- Playcentre. We started attending playcentre end of last year. So far, it’s been awesome. Not only can Lily go somewhere with almost unlimited things to do, but I get support/make friends/build our village. And it costs a donation of $25 a term.
I’d LOVE to know your little tips to saving $ whilst still giving and doing things to your kiddies, regardless of your income. Because we all love a bit of tightassness right?