Monday, July 21, 2008

Low-budget babies

In a few months, we expect we'll need to equip ourselves with all the things necessary for the arrival of a new baby. We don't mind getting most of our baby stuff second-hand, and hand-me-downs are very welcome as well. Many people raise their eyebrows when they hear this. "Don't you want the best for your baby?" - they inquire.

I think it's a sad, sad thing that in our culture, giving your child "the best" is often meant in the sense that both Mom and Dad spend most of their waking hours outside the home, working to buy lots of expensive things for their baby - things that won't have any long-lasting impact whatsoever on the child's happiness, well-being, or development.

We don't think babies care for brand-new clothes. As long as they are comfortable and made of natural, breathing material, the baby won't care if they were used by another baby before, and maybe there's a stain or two that won't come off - there will be plenty more anyway. We don't think babies care about perfectly matching furniture (as a matter of fact, we don't either) - as long as it's nice and sturdy, they won't mind a few scratches.

Babies need to be fed, warmly and comfortably held, and loved, loved, loved. Babies need their Mommy to play with them, and sing to them, and coo with them, and take them out on a nice day to relax on a soft blanket outside and drink in the world's beauty. Babies need Mom with them during this special, fleeting time in their lives that will never come back.

The industry of baby items often uses subtle techniques to make us feel guilty if we don't buy this or that "necessary" item for our baby. Much of it is propaganda that takes advantage of the parents' natural desire to provide the best for their child. We plan to stay as far away from it as possible, buying only what we really think we can't do without.

Some time ago I came across an article on LAF which illustrated this particular matter. It was called "Babies on a Budget". It's not a new article but certainly worth reading.

Often young Moms don't realize that returning to work and leaving their babies in daycare isn't a good option even financially (apart from the simple fact that babies need Mom). If the mother has a typical, average salary, daycare and gas expenses will easily eat away a large part of it (at least here). Then we also have to consider the fact that some mothers will stop breastfeeding because it doesn't work into their schedule - and therefore they give formula to the baby (more expenses). They might have used cloth diapers if they stayed home with the baby (a big potential money-saver) - but if they work outside the home it will probably be too much trouble. Then there are all the expensive items they will buy, as if unconsciously saying, "See? I'm working hard to give my baby everything!"

Sometimes women know this, but will still go and work outside the home. Not long ago I talked with a lovely young Mom, who was about to leave her baby behind (with a heavy heart) and get a job. She knew her family won't gain anything, financially - anything at all. Why, then? "In a few years," - she explained, - "I might start earning more"; she might. She might not. In the meantime, precious years will be lost. The social pressure to work outside the home is just so strong.

Please note that I'm not accusing anyone of being a bad mother. We are all victims of a huge scam, which led us into thinking that working and wasting all our hard-earned money on institutionalized services and objects of material value is better for the family than a frugal and creative full-time wife and mother.

47 comments:

Terry said...

I couldn't agree more. This culture makes chilfren objects of materialism at younger adnd younger ages, thet only care about such superficial things after years ofmom and dad twaching them to care.

Anonymous said...

Anna,

While I agree with the general gist of your post and the post you linked to, there is one thing that neither post mentions. All readers should be cautious when purchasing a car seat. Many countries and states have guides rating safety and effectiveness and can give detailed information on what componants are essential. Please advise your readers that a car seat should never be purchased used unless you can absolutely guarantee that it has NEVER been in any sort of impact. Their function can be greatly jeopordized and many people do not realize that even though it still looks fine, it might not be. By all means, save money on baby clothes and furniture. These things won't be used for long by the baby and there is no point paying for new items. But please research car seats. The impact of an accident on an unprotected or ill-protected baby deserves caution.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Anon, thanks for the tip. I didn't touch this point in my post, but certainly, saving money while baby-shopping does NOT mean risking the baby's life by using damaged equipment.

Anonymous said...

I agree with much of what you said, and wish women in Israel felt freer to stay home if they wished.
Still, I think it isn't quite true that a woman who goes out to work is left with no salary at the end of the day. I'm going back after a rather long break.

Daycare for my 2 yr old will be very heavily subsidized by the state, as she is my fifth child and we're in a regular income bracket. I believe I will be paying about 800 NIS per month ($250 or so?) for a good daycare. If you don't get any discounts for a large family or low income, it costs more than twice as much per month. Still, daycare in the states is MUCH, much more expensive.

Gas: I will work as a teacher 5 min away from my home. So I won't be spending much on transportation. We have 2 cars anyway, so no need to buy a new one.

So all my salary will stay with me, pretty much. I'll be home by 2 pm or so almost every day, so no need for babysitters for the other kids, who are in school.

I would be putting my youngest daughter in a 'gan' (preschool) at this age anyway, since I think kids really enjoy the stimulus and company (at least all my girls loved daycare. My boys, less so. Interesting, no?)

I would have liked to continue staying home, but must admit (shamefully) that with my littlest at preschool, I'd spend the time reading novels and going downtown rather than scrubbing or cooking, so my time is probably better spent earning some money.
Tammy

Kacie said...

Once again, I agree with you.

I blog about frugal living/personal finances, so I'm keeping track of how much money we're spending on baby things before the baby is born, and hopefully through the first year if I have time and a brain that can remember to do that!

I discovered a great second-hand children's clothing store that also sells used toys, books and furniture. I'm sure I'll be a frequent visitor of that place!

We'll be sure to get a safe car seat and crib without worrying too much about the price, but just about everything else can be purchased second-hand.

I'd rather save money where I can and put that savings toward other things for our family.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Tammy - not all of us live in an area where it is realistic to find a job 5 minutes from home. We, for example, live in a settlement that is about an hour from the nearest place of (realistically) possible employment. Gas is a MAJOR issue for us.

Also, not all Moms have jobs that will allow part-time employment. For example the young mom I mentioned is an engineer. She is required to work much, much later than "normal" daycare, which means private babysitter/daycare every day.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with you. I honestly plan on having my kids (if I am ever blessed with some) on wearing second-hand clothing. My aunt got rid of my cousin's clothes after he got older and many of them still had tags still on them. People are often shocked about this but, really, they grow so fast what's the point of buying Gap clothing? I was recently reading an article on either CNN or MSN about how parents are spending more money on their kids because of feelings of guilt and that they want their kids to have it better than they had it growing up. You know what this is producing? A generation of people who feel they are 'entitled' to something. They don't have to earn anything since it will be given to them. When something is given it is never as appreciated as something that is earned through work and effort!

Throughout college most of my roommates sucked, did not know how to compromise, and were just bratty but I had one roommate who was great and guess what, she was the second oldest out of 7 children. She knew how to compromise and didn't go beseerck about having her privacy invaded (privacy? in a one-room dorm???). I think parents need to stop worrying about their kids' material possessions and focus more on their kids' character and morality which is seriously lacking in this 'me' generation.

S

Anonymous said...

Anna,
Again, I agree with you on most points. I don't know how women with 9-5 jobs do it, especially in the summer, when the kids are out. That's the main reason I'm going back to teaching, although other professions are more attractive (more pay, and more in line with my career ambitions).

However, one point you may not be aware of. I believe it's the law in Israel to pay for an employee's transportation costs to and from work. At least in the public sector that's true. There is a maximum distance that will be covered (you can't live in Eilat and expect the gov't to pay for transport to your job in Tel Aviv), but in general all teachers and gov't employees have gas costs covered. Not sure how that works in the private sector.

Just wanted to give another perspective. For many, a mother's salary does provide much added income. It's just a challenge to find a job that doesn't steal too much time from your family.
Tammy

PS. I always find it amusing when people buy designer clothes for baby. There is no bigger waste of money. Ditto on baby toys; you will discover most of them are extremely expensive. I love the ones called 'university' in Israel...as though if you buy this toy for 200 NIS your child is guaranteed a degree.
(Don't buy cheap dollar toys though. Most are dangerous, even if they don't seem so at first glance).

Mrs. Anna T said...

Oh, about work covering gas costs: my husband does get a certain sum each month, but not nearly enough to cover his travel costs.

Courtney said...

you said it anna. I have never yet known a baby to care so much about what it was wearing to not spit up on it or to take careful precautions that he or she didn't play in their spaghetti.

Anonymous said...

Very fine post, Anna. There is so much good stuff to be had second-hand, it amazes me sometimes. Truly, babies neither know nor care if you picked up something at a regular retail store, or in the used markets. I built our children's library this way too. Many, many books were even in the boxes marked "free" at rummage sales. A friend learned that I would be cloth-diapering my babies & gave me a dozen as a gift. Other friends went together & bought us a fold-up playpen. Clothes, toys, bedding, fabric for sewing items for the baby....all these things we managed to buy at second-hand places, or friends & family kindly provided. I, in turn, shared items I no longer needed with other moms whose children were younger than my own.

This will be such an exciting time for you & your husband, Anna. I believe you are wise to begin modestly, & provide for your young ones as your income allows....not as the beautiful magazine ads dictate, or a wealthier acquaintance is able to afford for her children. Comparisons will only make you depressed, & take your focus off of giving your children the best thing you can: your love & attention.

Brenda

Stefanie said...

Anna,

Congratulations! I am so happy for you and your new blessing! One line stuck out for me:
"The social pressure to work outside the home is just so strong"
I would love to hear more thoughts about this in a future post.
I feel like I am facing this strongly right now.

Gothelittle Rose said...

To the second Anonymous: It depends on your lifestyle. You can't just take daycare costs and gas costs when deciding how much a second working mother takes in pay.

In my household, for instance, I would have to add 15-20% on the electrical costs, since that's how much our electrical costs have dropped since I left work. Much of that is use of the dryer instead of the clothesline. There are other considerations too that drive it down.

Then there's food costs. I feed my family good food on a third less the amount of money that a family the same size would get in food stamps, which we don't qualify for of course. It takes time and energy to do the kind of cooking and baking that results in less expensive and healthier food to eat. One example: Last week I went to a local farm and picked my own blueberries. Not only were they fresher and better selected, but they were nearly half the price. Working full-time, I could never have done that. I also grow some of our own food and coordinate with other stay-at-home moms to buy rice and beans in bulk.

Add to that clothing costs. Working as a software engineer, I often had to wear rayon, linen, and other such outfits that require special washing and ironing techniques. Now the only outfits that require extensive care are my husband's work pants. In addition, a stained or worn shirt can be worn if you know you're going to spend all day at home, and there's no pressure to look Sharp, In Style, etc.

Same goes, btw, with hair styling and makeup. I don't look frumpy. My haircut is top-notch style. But I can 'afford' to go longer between cuts and maintain a longer hairstyle than as a professional woman. It's ok to have a hairstyle that, while beautiful, is a bit more casual.. more apt to be sexy.. less suited towards climbing a social ladder. As a professional woman, I might have worn hairspray, moisturizing lotion, foundation, powder, blush, eyeliner, eyeshadow, and mascara. To be ready for home life, I put on an SPF-15 facial moisturizer and that is it!

So now that we've taken into effect not only daycare and car maintenance, but personal care, clothing, food, electricity, add telephone under certain circumstances (a lot of dual-worker families have at least one land line and two cell phones)... There's more, of course, the little subtle things like more doctor visits and medications for children who get colds more often, or that more expensive/frequent vacation because the family is overstressed more often.

All of this, of course, is speaking of nothing but money. It doesn't begin to touch on things like level of contentment, strength of bonds between family members, and memories to sustain all of you as you age!

Anyways... Babies, yes, they don't have to cost a whole lot. Get your carseat new. My son spent the first six months of his life sleeping in his carseat, actually. He seemed more comfortable there, and he was easier to move without disturbing him. Otherwise, what do you need? If you walk a lot, a sling. With a sling and willingness to walk, you don't need a baby swing, special carrier, or rocking cradle. Clothes sure can be used, and if you're a good launderer, try cloth diapers. If breastfeeding works out, you've got a simple and natural system by which you will always have baby food on hand in safe storage. Having a baby doesn't cost anything like everyone assumes it does!

Anonymous said...

It took me three babies to realize the savings that can be had by using cloth diapers. Not knowing anyone who used them and thinking that it couldn't possibly be worth the trouble, I really never even considered using cloth. When my 3rd baby was potty training, she only needed a diaper over night and only wet it about 1/3 of the time. I found myself with a ton of "pull-ups" that had been used but not wet in, yet they were no longer clean, much like panties would be. I was literally throwing away money for nothing. That is when the idea of using something washable came to me. I looked around online and was blown away by the world of cloth diapering. There are tons of choices, methods and options for cloth diapering, it is very frugal and not difficult at all in my opinion. I am still using cloth on my daughter over night and will try to go full time cloth with my next baby. I cringe when I think of the thousands of dollars I wasted on paper diapers with my children.

Beth

Mrs. Mordecai said...

I remember feeling overwhelmed by all the baby gear that we "needed" when I was pregnant with my son. My husband was in school, I was planning to stop work when the baby came, and debt was not an option for us. I didn't know how we could make it work on our small income.

Then I sat down and listed out the things that we actually, really needed. Clothes, diapers, and a car seat. We didn't need bottles (just in case), a stroller, a baby sling, a crib that turns into a bed, or a matching set of expensive furniture.

We did end up getting some of the things that we didn't need, but after I looked at the baby's actual needs, as opposed to the societal norm, I relaxed much more.

Heather said...

Anna- I totally agree with anon earlier the one thing that should never be purchased used is a car seat. It is the one thing that I have splurged on with all of my children. I used the same Infant carseat with my first two and then had to purchase a new one for my third. (we have a law that it can't be more than 5 years old) and for all of my children they had a new convertable carseat when they were out of the infant one. I know some people purchase used carseats but unless you know where it came from and who used it, it may be unsafe. One other thing if the car seat is EVER in a car accident it will need to be replaced.

I did buy almost everything new for my 1st child because I knew I would be having more and it made more sense to me to spend the money the first time and then be able to reuse everything for my others. I have still bought a few new things for each one as they have come along but mostly we have just used what we already have.

I totally agree that what babies need to is be with there mommies and that is the most important thing.

God Bless
Heather

lady jane said...

I've always been a thrift-shopper and intended to carry that through as I prepared for children oh so long ago.

Imagine my socialite mother in law's horror to learn the crib bedding was purchased from a thrift shop! It was in excellent condition and within our budget.

When you get right down to it, preparing for the coming of a child doesn't require all the bells and whistles of designer brands, fancy furniture or pre-birth enrollment at a high end preschool.

A few necessary items do just fine, thank you. The basics. Keep it simple, sweetie. :o)

Cheryl said...

I totally agree with you. I did, however, splurge on some clothes for my first. It took us a while to have her and I had 2 miscarriages previously, so I didn't know if we would have a second. We did, and God blessed us by having them almost exactly 2 years apart. Now, my 2nd can wear all of her big sisters clothing since they are the right season! We do buy her some new things now and then, so she can have some things of her own. Also, now that dd #1 is getting older, her clothing is not holding up as long as it did before. We are blessed to have a great 2nd hand store that will pay you on the spot for clothes, toys, furniture, etc. or you can use it for credit in their store to buy other things. I frequently take stuff in from #2 dd and buy for #1 dd. That is also how I got my Christmas shopping money last year by taking in toys they were too old for. As for working outside the home, this link will actually show you what you are bringing home to contribute to your family to see if working outside the home is worth it. http://www.crown.org/Tools/Calculators/Work_OneIncome.aspx
Most times, it isn't. But, it is a choice a woman will have to make between her, her husband and God.
Cheryl

Erin_Coda said...

My dear friends (parents of my goddaughter) inherited or borrowed most of the baby supplies from friends and more-established relatives. The crib and the changing table came from the baby's uncle, who had already used them for each of their 3 kids. Most of the baby clothes came from a friend whose children had already outgrown all the little sleepers. The nursery was hand-painted in an undersea theme by another artistic friend, at no cost but companionship (and plenty of it). And baby's favorite toy is a white plastic slotted spoon, the kind you cook with, bought for a couple of dollars at the grocery store. So yes, it can be done!

justme27 said...

Lovely post Anna. I agree wholeheartedly. One other thing that mothers can do while staying at home is to practice pottytraining (for lack of a better term) at an early age.

http://www.diaperfreebaby.org/

Check out the site for some info.

mumsybyrd said...

I don't think I have seen anyone more frugal than how we started out with our children. I must had about 5-8 changes for each baby for each size for at least the first two years. We had a store where I could bring the smaller clothes, and trade up for the next size, it was wonderful. It meant washing more, but hey, so what. With nice bibs, the tops won't get so messy or stained. We also never bought baby bottles, formula, rarely baby food, or even a crib, or baby bed. We made a pad on the floor, covered with wonderful blankets, and never worried about them falling out of bed, or climbing out of a crib, and they did not need to cry to be 'let out'. We traveled a lot, (in the US and other countries) and this way the babies could sleep comfortable anywhere, and did not require a certain bed in order to sleep. Yes, our car seats were always good, that was important. In traveling, you could not bring many toys, so my husband was very creative. He made mobiles out of milk cartons, or anything else that was light and he could string up. Then we found sturdy toys, like duplos that could stand up to travel and home, toys were minimal, as there is so much more in our surroundings to stimulate and teach creativity to children.
I have been to a couple baby showers this year, and I don't think I could go to another. They are given so much, I don't think half of it could be used enough to warrant the purchase. There are so many gadgets and clothes and on and on. The best purchases we made was a new front pack and used back pack, and a stroller.
Keeping life more simple we thought made it easier to raise our children who are grown up now.
have a wonderful time in your family adventure,
blessings,
Debbie

Fruitful Vine said...

You are so right. I speak with women who say that their husband wants them to stay home., how life was less stressful etc, etc, etc but they still can't see their way to stay home. I just pray for them and feel sad for them.
Jenn

Kelly said...

Well said Anna, totally agree. Keep in mind too a lot of the "products" for babies are designed to separate mom from baby. For example you "need" a swing to rock baby to sleep, what's wrong with mom or dad's arms is what I say.
The only thing I can say I needed was a sling to carry my girl around in and you know what it was the cheapest thing I had. Ha. Looking back I didn't need the swing, playpen, even the high chair wasn't used much. Luckily they were all gifts to us and we didn't buy any of them.

The time is fleeting too and is best spent in mom's (and daddy's) arms, lap, and presence. My daughter will be 3 in September and I'm shocked now how quickly the time went by. I am grateful she was, and still is, with me all day and I have no regrets.
Kelly

baby girl said...

I agree the most expensive thing you can give your baby is time.

Anonymous said...

So much to think positively in planning. As the blog progresses, it seems that much is already taken care of, with both parents finished with school, credentials for jobs and skills intact, relatively set with firm foundations--both separately and together, an openmindedness, courage, and determination to the do the best in the best interests. Babies need the love and comfort to survive and thrive.

As for clothing and play equipment--a local Montessori school, as well as I'm sure other preschools, used to sponsor exchanges and rummage sales in the fall and spring. Well-played toys remained sound by the third or fourth time-around. As long as parents interact, a lot of toys are not necessary.

For my own creativity, I liked to make my children's clothing when they were toddlers sometimes, because it was so easy and I could select fabrics that were especially attractive. Or, take a decent item of clothing and modify it a bit i.e. line a lovely wool anorak with silk, and sew a little frog button in the pocket. Except for some dependably rugged brands e.g. FrenchToast, Carter's, Healthtex, most kid's clothes is outrageously expensive, when money is better spent on a downpayment on a fine set of encyclopedias or saved for the future.

Anonymous said...

YES, Yes, yes!! There is NO substitute for Mommy taking care of baby. No one will love your child as much as you will! You can NOT pay someone to give your child all the love and attention they need. Is it always easy to sacrifice, no. But it is an avenue to the road of learning self-discipline. I hit the mother-load of garage sales and got a huge bag of very nice clothes for next to nothing. My little one was set for clothes for nearly 2 years! They those he outgrew I took to a very good consignment shop and took store credit and bought other things and clothes he needed. I accept all items given to me. Those I can not (or will not) use are passed on to someone else. This was out last child as we are unable to have children. If I was 'planning' on having more children, I would pack up the outgrown items for the next one to come! So many parents today are only having the requisite 1 - 2 children that they have no one to pass the clothes down to and are happy to give them away! We are in a position where we need more clothes and I realize it is time to hit more garage sales here in the USA! I have not bought very much of my little guys clothes and he is now 9. It is a huge savings in the tight budget.
Blessings,
~Mrs. Evelyn Mae R

Suzanne said...

I totally agree with you, Anna. (On the working and the children's items!)

My daughter is almost 2 and I have *never* bought her new clothes. I got all of them secondhand (she did/does receive new from relatives as gifts sometimes.) She has not suffered in the least! I am always getting compliments on how cute her clothes are. And I don't worry if she messes them up somehow; I can toss them without feeling guilty that I spent a lot of money on them. I don't have a huge stash for the next baby (God willing), but I have been able to put some up, too.

Let your friends, relatives, neighbors, etc know you want baby items. You will probably have more than you need that way! My DD has received a *huge* playhouse, a bike, a play kitchen, a crib, tons of toys, a Jumparoo, etc, just by letting people know we would take used items.

Persuaded said...

well, well, well, now how in heaven's name did i miss this wonderful announcement? i am just as thrilled as i can be! warmest thoughts wishes and prayers to your dear little family((hugs))

as to the subject of this specific post, i'll go even a bit father and say that many of the "cheaper" "budget-wise" options for baby are actually better and healthier (both physically and emotionally) than bigger, brighter and newer things. breastfeeding is ever so much better than formula feeding. homecare so much safer and healthier than at a childcare center. quality hand-me-down toys such as those made of wood don't have the worry of dangerous chemicals and lead in the finishes. even soft older cotton and woolen clothing is more comfy and healthier for the skin than the new synthetics... i think it's a whole lot cuter too, but hey maybe that's just me;)

i completely think you are on the right track and i'll be praying that you are blessed with the perfect items for your precious little darling!

Anonymous said...

Hi there. Second-hand prams and carriages, clothes, bouncers, high chairs etc they are all available cheaply, and are all temporary pieces ! Why spend money on new?

Also, a sad situation, my friend has started leaving her 18 month boy at childcare, and when she got back he had broken capilliaries on his face for crying so hard. :-(

Anonymous said...

anna,

one of my midwives told me when I had my dd: that all a baby really needs is their mom, a sling and a few diapers.

J in VA

Anonymous said...

Dear Anna,

You have the right idea. Don't waste your time and money on silly things. The bare basics for us would be to nurse the baby on demand, carry the baby in a nojo sling (askdrsears.com..these are a lifesaver) and our two babies have slept with me (safety precautions are taken) till about one. Then I transition them to a crib. I also use the swing as much as I can to let them sleep when I need to get stuff done. Much will depend on your baby's personality and they have very strong personalities very young. You are your baby's Mom for a reason and will be given the wisdom to care for your little one. What a blessing it is to be with my little ones everyday, all day long. I am pouring myself into them and not leaving them at the mercy of some stranger who does not love them and has no reason to care about their eternal soul, let alone character.

Children left to fend for themselves in daycare are not taught and socialized. They simply survive until Mom comes back ( I know, I vividly remember daycare! also see daycaresdontcare.org for stories from daycare workers) Children are taught and socialized best by their loving parents modeling behavior for them all day long. Stand firm on this! It will make a huge difference for generations to come. I remind myself each day that I am raising my Grandbabies' Parents.

Many Blessings:)
Ace

Linda said...

ha, shall I tell you something..

'giving them the best' in our case often DID mean buying things second-hand.

Say you have 50 dollar to spend on a baby bed.. with that money you could go to ikea or some other cheap store and buy one. Chances are, that it's bad material and the bed will break down within a year or two.

With that same 50 dollar, you could find a lovely second-hand bed on ebay.. one that has proven its strength and usually has cost a lot of money to the first owners..

This is what I'm trying to explain over and over again when my family gives me the 'but don't you want the best for her' lecture ;)

(same goes with clothes.. you could take 5 bucks and get some cheap, new clothes.. which won't last half a year.. or you could get pre-washed, proven second-hand ones, which even brothers and sisters can wear eventually)

or at least that's my philosophy..
greetings from the netherlands!

USAincognito said...

My dad hand-made a wooden crib for my sister when she had her first kid. And the second kid was able to use it when she came along, as well. The crib was actually appraised at over $5,000 because it was hand-made, custom built. But yet it cost pennies for my dad to build it as a gift for my sister.
I always shake my head at people who spend $100's on name brand, brand new baby stuff. Just think of all that money that could go toward bills or paying off debt or savings account, etc.
As long as babies have their needs met and are loved, it does not matter how much (or how little) their clothes cost.

Michelle Potter said...

In 7 years and over the course of 5 new babies, I don't think I've ever had to go out and buy anything to prepare for the birth of one of my children. We did have a shower and received many gifts for the first, but much of what we have used over the years was, well, used. The only exception was carseats, which should always be new.

In our extended family, the idea of shunning used clothes is unheard of. My in-laws have 16 grandchildren, from 16yo down to the 38 hour old baby in my lap. Clothes (which often started out as my MIL's thrift shop purchases) pass from sibling to cousin and back again. When they reach the end of the line, I pass them on to friends. (I have both the youngest and smallest kids in the family.) We weed out anything too stained or worn, but we all save a lot of money.

As for the question of whether working is worth it -- not for me. I quit work when our 3rd was born, and it was a relief financially. I was only making about $20,000 a year. I had no transportation costs because my husband and I worked in the same office, but between the sitter and lunches out my whole salary was gone.

These days when people ask how I can afford to have so many children and stay home, I just ask if they have any idea how much daycare for 7 children would cost. There's no way I could afford it. Additionally, since my husband is opposed to public school, right now I'd be paying 3 private school tuitions. The fact is that at some point I would have had to choose between quitting my job or not having any more kids. Gladly I'd already chosen.

lady jane said...

Oh! One more thing.

A sling. Invest in a sling. In hindsight I believe that would have been the best purchase of all, save for the cloth diapers. :o)

Bethany Hudson said...

Anna, Thank the Lord that you were led to this worldview before marriage and children! I know I'm thankful that I was! Of course, I'm still learning so much and I'm sure you are, too, but it's the perspective that is so lacking in modern culture and that you already have that is going to make all the difference in these precious "early" years of marriage and motherhood.
~Bethany

Anonymous said...

I think mothers shouldn't work full time because it can over stress the entire household, not because they won't earn enough to cover expenses.

Let's face it, not all women have entry level jobs. More than enough mothers earn far more than daycare and gas combined. And personally, I spend the same amount on clothes, make up and hair whether or not I'm working (I just like to look good).


I think couples are smart enough to budget and figure out how much money a mother is actually 'bringing in' after expenses.

For me, part time work is ideal. I earn enough to hire a cleaning woman once or twice a week. I'm home when my kids get home, and don't have all that intense deep cleaning to do. I still have money left over, after gas, daycare, and cleaning, to justify leaving the house.

And I actually spend more on electricity when I'm home than when I work (a/c). I admit to being a die-hard fan of the dryer; I do 4-5 full loads a day. I hate to see clothes hanging all over the house to dry in winter (what a mess) and I have nowhere to hang them outside in summer (at least nowhere that the pigeons don't like to leave 'deposits').
Tammy

Persuaded said...

oh and i just want to second what lady jane said: you must buy (or make) a sling! i don't need a crib, or bouncy seats or any of that stuff, but a sling is the most wonderful thing for a healthy happy baby and mama. i haven't had a baby in years, but i still keep my sling hanging at the ready on a hook near the kitchen...

not sure why, maybe i'm hoping a baby will suddenly appear inside one day;)

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your pregnancy! What wonderful news!

Of course, I disagree on the notion that it is always a bad idea for a mother to work outside the home. First, the same arguments apply equally to fathers. Second, I do not understand the reason for subtracting daycare costs from the mother's salary when calculating the costs and benefits of a mother working outside the home. It seems to me that daycare costs should be subtracted from the couple's combined salary. Third, these types of calculations never seem to factor in the loss of the mother's future earning capacity, which necessarily decreases the longer she is out of the workforce.

It may also depend on the types of values the parents want to instill in the children, a factor that has no price at all. Working mothers are often unfairly castigated for selfishness and materialism. In fact, while many on this forum may disagree, many working mothers believe they are setting a good example to their children of what hard work can accomplish, and the many options available to their children of both sexes. I am certainly grateful for the years my mother spent at home, but I am even more grateful for the years she spent working outside the home. Her example helped make me the woman I am today. Her salary may not have contributed that much to my standard of living but her example and her efforts on my behalf were priceless and much appreciated.

-- Pendragon

Karen said...

I will 2nd (3rd?) the need for a sling. I LOVED mine, and so did baby. It's like being in the womb again! I got mine - can't remember what it's called, but it's a padded one invented by Dr. Sears - for $12 at a children's consignment store.

A lot of those new baby "must haves" are really harmful for babies. They don't develop as well being left in a swing or bouncy seat for hours on end. And you're absolutely right, babies don't care a lick whether their clothes are brand named or plain and 2nd hand. Cute baby clothes are for the PARENTS! LOL

Jennifer said...

make sure you check into cloth diapering for your baby. very "wallet" friendly, earth friendly and baby friendly. they have LOTS of diffrent styles and types of cloth diapers these days and they'er not hard :)
oh and breastfeeding too :)

Mrs. Anna T said...

Pendragon: I don't think the same arguments could possibly apply equally to fathers. It's me, not my husband, who is carrying this baby. I will be the one to deliver and breastfeed (due to purely biological reasons ;-)). I will be the one, Lord willing, who will be pregnant again (and again...). Therefore I think it's natural for *me* to be in charge of the child-rearing department.

As for future earning capacity, that's exactly what my poor neighbour is thinking of. She is sacrificing (because she feels she has to) precious, irreversible years with her children for the sake of the chance that one day, she might not work outside the home for free, but actually have something left of her salary.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Jennifer - we are definitely thinking about both breastfeeding and cloth diapering! Look out for future posts.

Lauren said...

I love the photo of the baby feet! So simple and precious. Perfect for this post.

I am thoroughly enjoying getting rid of a lot of our "stuff," and I find that the more that I give away or donate, the more free time I have. Time that used to be spent organizing and cleaning is now freed up to give me children what they truly need. I've heard it so often, and it really is true!

Anonymous said...

I meant to leave this link in my previous post. These are free instructions for making your own baby sling. If I were having more babies (I am one of your grandmother readers, yet raising our 9 year old grandson) I would make some of these and I would carry my babies with me!!

http://family-centered.com/needleworks/?page_id=154
Blessings,
~Mrs. Evelyn Mae R

MarkyMark said...

Anna,

I haven't had time to read all the comments in response to this post, but I'll offer my thoughts on this issue anyway...

I think that where a lot of this comes from, i.e. the mentality for 'getting the best for your baby', is the overall preoccupation in society with materialism in general. This just happens to be one FORM of materialism.

I think that this is a complex issue, but it ultimately goes back to AFFLUENCE. As a nation becomes more prosperous, those in business see that the people have more money to spend. Their next thoughts turn to figuring out ways to get folks to PART with some of that money, and spend it on their products or services. Their reasoning for this is that, since the people have more money to spend, they might as well GET some of it for themselves.

This is done by making folks DISSATISFIED with what they already have; businesses, particularly corporations, have spent DECADES studying humans on how to best do this. GM, which was the world's largest automobile manufacturer for many years, came up with an INGENIOUS way to do this-the model year. I believe it was in 1919 that they came up with this idea. Anyway, they coupled this with incremental improvements to the car, so as to make you dissatisfied with what you already have.

Another genius idea that GM had was the different car divisions: Chevrolet, Pontiac, Buick, Oldsmobile (now defunct), and Cadillac. The idea was that a car buyer would start out with Chevrolet; as he increased in affluence, he'd move up through the various makes of car that GM had. Think of it as climbing a ladder of status, and you'll have the general idea. Now, even though it doesn't COST GM much more to build a Caddy vs. a Chevy, they can CHARGE more for the Caddy, thus making a lot more money for what is basically the same thing-a car. GM totally glossed over the fact that, even though it was more basic, the Chevrolet would provide transportation just as well as the top of the line Cadillac would. But, by engaging in their marketing trickery, they got people to spend more money on their product, and they got them to do so more often.

Another trick corporations have engaged in is planned obsolescence. That is, they make their products so that they'll either fall apart after a certain amount of use, or they'll be FUNCTIONALLY USELESS after a period of time. We can look at cars & appliances for lack of durability, and examine computers for functional obsolescence.

If you look at cars or home appliances built decades ago vs. those of today, you'll note that the cars & appliances of years ago were much more durable; they simply lasted LONGER. My first car, a 1966 Chevrolet, had more metal in its ENGINE ALONE than my 2003 Ford has in it total, ok?! Newer cars are feel as though they're made of tissue paper. Oh, and they're too complex for the average man to work on anymore! I used to work on my first car; if you had a good set of hand tools, a dwell/tach, and timing light, you were good to go for 95% of your maintenance. Now, on a newer car, you almost HAVE to take it to the dealer, since they require all these special tools, equipment, and knowledge specific to your car.

If you look at computers, after your machine becomes a few years old, it's not useful anymore. Sure, it'll still do basic things like allow you to write letters and stuff, but it will not run the newer software, nor will it run files created by that newer software. For example, if you have a machine running Office 97, and someone sends you a spreadsheet done in Office2003, you will not be able to read what they sent. Sure, you can hang on to your old machine, but after so many others get newer stuff, you have to upgrade too, even if it's not truly necessary for you to do so.

That is not to say that GM is the only guilty party for doing this sort of thing; they were simply the pioneer at this sort of thing, and other corporations, both American and foreign, followed.

You see, in the early 20th century, people didn't have that much money. If they bought a refrigerator, it HAD to last a lifetime, since they wouldn't be able to afford a new one any time soon. As folks got more money, companies built their things more cheaply, so that they'd fall apart after a set period of time. This way, they'd FORCE people to buy stuff at regular intervals. Again, the corporations saw people with more money, and by golly, they were going to GRAB some of it for themselves!

Another dimension to this phenomenon is the psychology of marketing. Though I touched on this earlier, I'll go into more detail now. Corporations, via advertising, have come up with all SORTS of ingenious ways to make us unhappy with what we have, and the only way we can be happy is to buy a bigger, better ______________. Why do you think they spend BILLIONS on advertising on TV, on radio, and newspapers? Because they believe that they can influence you to spend money on their stuff-end of story. They've been studying this since the 1920s with the advent of radio, the first truly mass medium. If you want some interesting reading, Google the name of Edward Bernays...

Who, pray tell, is Edward Bernays? Even though I took a psychology class or two in college, I never, ever heard of him; I doubt that many have. However, we've ALL heard of his uncle, who was a pioneer in the field of psychology; we've all heard of Sigmund Freud, Bernays' uncle. To make a long story short, Mr. Bernays studied the human psyche on behalf of corporations, so that they could figure out ways to pry money from their customers' hands.

For example, the tobacco companies wanted to expand their customer base; they wanted more buyers for their product, which was cigarettes. Thanks to Mr. Bernays' work, the tobacco companies did something slick-they marketed to women. If they could get women to smoke along with the men, then they could basically DOUBLE their customer base overnight-wow, twice the buyers equates to more money the company's coffers!

What did they do to get women to swallow the bait? They said that if women smoked, it would be LIBERATING! They would no longer be limited, kept down, etc.; they could do what the men had done! The tobacco companies, with the help of Mr. Bernays, figured out how to play on women's insecurities and make them want to do something against their best interest. Gee, where have we seen THAT before?! You know what? It worked! In only a few years, millions of women smoked too...

For men, corporations played on our insecurities. Though they're not the same as women's insecurities, men have their own hangups too. For example, car and motorcycle companies pitch their products as being the best, most powerful, most advanced, etc.; if you buy THEIR product, you will be THE MAN!

For example, some years ago in the USA, Chevrolet had a famous advertising campaign, 'The Heartbeat of America'. Any American ladies who are over 35 or so will remember these ads. Anyway, one of the first ads they ran closed out with seductive, sexy music playing, while a man kissed a woman in a Corvette (known as America's sports car) as he put up the convertible top. The implicit message was this: hey guys, you want the hot, sexy babes? Get yourself a Corvette, and you can!

On a personal level, I got some marketing materials from Kawasaki a couple of years ago. You see, I joined an online forum devoted to the bike I used to own, the ZRX1100. After I joined, Kawasaki evidently got my name from zrxoa.org, the site devoted to that model motorcycle.

Anyway, I got this letter extolling the virtues of their then new Ninja ZX-14, the world's most powerful, fastest production motorcycle ever. The letter started off by saying that they knew that I liked to lead, to be out in front, etc.; they then said that, if I wanted to continue doing so, that I'd naturally need their new ZX-14 to stay out front-wow! You see, every man wants to be the leader; every man has the instinctive need to be the hero, and they tried to play on these instincts in me. Unfortunately for them, I know about their tricks...

My reaction as this: why the HELL do I want to spend $12,000 on a bike for? I would have had to take out a loan to purchase the thing; since Kawasaki, like many companies, also has a financing arm, would have made money on me twice-once with the bike purchase, twice with loan interest. Well, I owned my ZRX110 free & clear, and I wasn't eager to assume a greater debt burden.

My second reaction was this: why in blazes would I want a bike with almost 200 horsepower, and is capable of almost 200 mph out of the box?! Why?! My old ZRX, which put out 130 hp and could hit 160 mph, was too much bike for me as it was! Why would I want a bike that was too much for me, but only more so?! Why would I want a bike with even MORE excess than what I already had? I couldn't think of a good reason why I'd want to do that, so I didn't. I did keep the letter for a few weeks, so I could have some laughs when I needed them... :)

There's a fellow rider I eat lunch with at Wendy's once in a while. He just got himself a new Suzuki Bandit, while trading in his old one. Granted, his old one was in good shape; it was mechanically sound, and had a lot of life left in it. Anyway, he got the new bike, saying that he loved the new bikes, and wouldn't go back to older ones like I have. I told him that, while I could see his point, that my 1999 ZRX1100 (which I've since sold) and 2000 W650 were the nicest bikes I'd EVER owned! Compared to my old Honda, or my brother's old Yamaha which I rode when I visited him, they were awesome; compared to what I'd had, my bikes were great, and I was in no rush to get rid of them for something newer-not when I owned them free & clear. Now, if I'd gotten a new 2008 motorcycle, I would no doubt think like Bill does; but, since I haven't, I don't know what I'm missing. And, like I said, what I have is good enough, and it doesn't make sense to take out a loan when I don't have to.

What does this have to do with anything? Well, new mothers naturally want to do what's best for their progeny. Companies making baby stuff play on these insecurities by insinuating that you're not a good mother if you don't get ___________ for your baby, e.g. the nice baby clothes. They never tell you that your baby will spit up on them, mess them, and play with food, hopelessly STAINING whatever clothes you get for your baby! Other than getting a new car seat, I can't see why any young, expecting couple would need or want to buy the newest, the latest, and greatest baby stuff...

Ladies, if you get your babies used clothes, cribs, toys, etc., they won't remember; they won't care, either. By doing so, you're not being a bad mother; you're just being a thrifty, responsible one! No, you're being a good mother by BEING THERE FOR YOUR CHILD; never forget that! If you go to work when you don't have to just to chase money, then you're being a bad mother. But, if you stay home, spend time with your children, and raise them properly, you're being the best mother you can be. Don't listen to the baby products companies; they're just trying to separate your money from you, nothing more; they CERTAINLY do not have your best interests at heart...

I'm going to sign off for now. Ladies, do NOT listen to the marketing hype, please! Other than the car seat (which is a safety issue), you do not need the newest, the latest, and greatest. Whether it's clothes, cribs, or what have you, do NOT listen to the marketers; they're only trying to pry your husband's hard earned money, and get in THEIR hands-end of story. When you have time, read or watch a video about Edward Bernays; he was a pioneer in the field of applied psychology; he was on the vanguard of figuring out ways to manipulate you into parting with your money. It's a crime that so few people, even those who've been college educated, know about Mr. Bernays; if anything, he's more significant in some ways than his famous uncle. Check him out, and you'll never be the same again! Good night...

MarkyMark

Anonymous said...

Everybody had such great comments! With 4 children myself pretty much everything is used unless they get it as a birthday gift or something. I even got 2 twin beds, complete with mattresses and a sheet set each, for $15 apiece because my parents' elderly neighbors were moving to the old age home and wanted to sell them. The only other thing I would say is that it's not only a carseat that is crucial for safety. Be very very careful about crib mattresses too. Secondhand ones can apparently increase the risk of crib death, and even new ones need to be used with caution. Check these links and see what I mean: http://www.babysake.com/ and http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2000/11/05/victory-over-sids.aspx
According to their research, crib death is caused by baby breathing poisonous gases created by mixing otherwise harmless household fungi with the chemicals used as fire retardants in the mattress (which is why back sleeping reduced it - baby's face is higher away from the gas, and why tummy sleeping wasn't a problem before WW2) so either get a mattress from them or wrap it in special plastic to prevent the gas. The fact that this continues to be buried and lied about while babies die is too galling to dwell on...
Fortunately my babies hated cribs and slept on plain foam on the floor or with me until they were toddlers.