Monday, April 6, 2009

A foolproof way to bankruptcy

This article (in Hebrew) was great food for thought for me; it's a fantastic example of why people expect to spend lots and lots of money in a baby's first year - and usually live up to that expectation. For my visitors who don't speak Hebrew - it's basically a record of "average" baby costs. It's written from the ridiculous assumption that a baby needs a vast set of brand-new equipment.

I know most of my readers don't read or speak Hebrew, but I'm sure all of us, no matter in which language, had the chance to come across lists of items we "need" to buy for our babies - or else.

You know what, we still have a long way to go in the realm of frugality, but my husband and I seem like a pair of penny-pinching geniuses when you compare our so far very modest baby expenses to the "average" described in the article. The author somehow reached an astronomical sum of around 15,000$ - in the first year alone.

There is a reluctant disclaimer in the bottom saying that costs can be reduced by using second-hand, but it is mentioned in such an off-handed manner that it makes me wonder if baby product manufacturers pay independent authors to promote extravagant new arrival expenses.

Of course, childcare constitutes a major part of that ridiculously inflated sum. Obviously, mothers who stay at home with their babies don't need to pay for childcare. This is the way things have been for mothers of small children since the beginning of time, but somehow today this isn't even mentioned as an option. Some upper-class women have high-paying careers they are passionate about, but for many more women, work is boring drudgery and much of their paycheck passes straight into the hands of their childcare provider. Is this the sort of progress and liberation we are supposed to praise?

A great thing about baby equipment: it takes much more than one turn to wear it out. It's true about furniture, clothes, toys and more. Shira's newborn clothes, which are already packed away, will be almost as good as new next time they are used. And how many of them did we actually buy? That's right, none. They are all gifts or hand-me-downs. Many people turn up their noses at used baby items, but they are often in like-new condition, and using them can save so much money. All you need to do is ask around - and many times, people offered us baby things even without being asked. We have a used bed, stroller, and more than enough clothes for Shira, and I think those "old" items can still easily serve several babies after she is done with them. There's also the option of buying used, at the fraction of the cost you'd pay for a new item. If you have a lot of money and can't wait to get rid of it, buy brand-new baby equipment and clothes. Otherwise, what's the point?

There are also the many items which are usually listed as must-haves, but which we don't actually need. For example, we got a used stroller (in excellent condition) for free, but if we didn't, we probably wouldn't buy it. Changing table? We could get one for free, but didn't want to take up the space. Changing can be just as easily done on the bed. Speaking of beds, why does the baby's bed need a matching drawer, when any suitable-sized drawer can be used?

And don't even get me going about "developmental activities for infants". I'm very sorry, but a baby doesn't need yoga. Mine, at least, is wonderfully entertained simply by watching Mom do housework. Us talking to her is enough to produce the most adorable coos and smiles.

The most basic need of a baby is to be with his mother. To be fed, held, and loved. How, and when, and why did we let someone convince us that this need can be replaced by a great number of expensive gadgets?


Shannon said...

I agree Anna that people in general spend way too much money on non-essentials. $15,000 in the first year? That is insane! It is enough for a vehicle or down payment on a house. Many young parents do not have the principles of thrift as you do and are paying for it dearly as can be seen in the state of the economy-at least here in the US. I am curious to know how the economy is there in Israel. Have a good week!

Persuaded said...

you wrote:
"The most basic need of a baby is to be with his mother. To be fed, held, and loved. How, and when, and why did we let someone convince us that this need can be replaced by a great number of expensive gadgets?"
and (once again) i thought, how did this young gal get so smart so fast??☺

with my first baby, i thought i *needed* all of the paraphernalia.. the bouncers and walkers and seats, the bottles and sterilizers and storage units. then i had my daughter and most of that junk sat idle. she nursed exclusively for the first six months, then added a smidge of table food... all i needed to feed her was a single spoon i really liked, a hand-cranked food mill, and myself! she hated her crib in her beautiful nursery on the other side of the house, so she slept with us while the nursery (and all its finery) sat empty most nights. i carried her around in a sling while some of the other equipment never even made it out of the boxes! by the time i had my second babe i had gotten rid of most of the "necessary" equipment and we traveled light indeed.. except for clothes. i am an absolute nut for baby clothes, and baby shoes. oh, how i love those tiny little shoes♥ but the baby didn't need those- i did, lol;)

may said...

I can't read Hebrew so can't comment on the article, but I thought that one of the reasons that classes for babies and small children were so popular was because it's really disguised socialising for mothers with children of the same age. I can see that if you don't know many other women with small children that it must be a nice opportunity to get to know other women in the same situation, swap stories and techniques, and hopefully establish some friendships for your child. Particularly helpful perhaps for a woman who doesn't live in a tightly-knit community or who has been working outside the home before her baby was born and so perhaps doesn't have that support network already established?

Agree though that baby yoga itself sounds stupid and completely unnecessary. I think that it probably plays into the parents' fear that they're not helping their child to develop or that their child will fall behind.

Tracy said...

So true! A wonderful post...

Terry @ Breathing Grace said...

Baby YOGA? Really?

Elizabeth said...

I totally agree with this! The only thing I plan on buying new is a car seat for my kids because of insurance policies around here...and I don't want to chance a crashed car seat.

...not that I'm having any kids right now!

Tammy said...

Wow. Our U.S. government could take some lessons from your post. Use, and reuse. Take advantage of the resources you already have. Don't spend money on things you don't need. Stick to the basics...


Mrs. Amy @ Clothesline Alley said...

There is a reluctant disclaimer in the bottom saying that costs can be reduced by using second-hand, but it is mentioned in such an off-handed manner that it makes me wonder if baby product manufacturers pay independent authors to promote extravagant new arrival expenses.
I wouldn't be surprised. Much as with wedding stuff, put the phrase 'bridal' or 'baby' in a product's name and watch the price go flying.

I read an article in the current issue of the Economist discussing the shifts in consumer spending here in the United States and how this is not just creating further economic issues currently, but will likely do so for a long time to come, as consumers cease the non-stop spending spree that has been American life for quite awhile now. Companies depend on us buying heaps of ridiculous and frivolous items, things we do not really need, and must take every opportunity to promote their products. Much of the baby "necessities" are no more absurd than the kitchen applainces that are supposed to replace simple human labor, all while taking up bunches of space in the kitchen and requiring more care & upkeep than their manual counterparts.

Without a constant new flow of "stuff" for us to buy, the economy cannot grow and our current economic model might collapse. A pretty stupid way to run an economy if you ask me, for what goes up must someday slow down or fall. I absolutely believe the growth economy is why we are told we have so many "needs" not just for new babies, but in general as well.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna,
I completely agree with your post. I'm a pre-school teacher and see the difference when a mother picks her child up from school and when a nanny picks the child up from school. The preschooler is so happy to see his or her mom. They begin to tell the mother about their morning and you can see the excitement in their eyes. The children are so nurtured and loved. Honestly, their speaking and social skills are even a little better because the mother teaches them and is engaged with her child. The nannies are mostly on their cellphones, meet up with their nanny friends, ignore and are disengaged with the child. I do have to admit that some nannies are really loving and caring, however it never compares to the love of a mother. It's frustrating to watch at times.

And the funny thing is, people wonder why society is the way it is? ...we constantly put ourselves first and not others. It's always our needs before anyone else's needs. We always need to be "happy" and it doesn't matter if our short-term "happiness" is effecting other people. I pray that the family will be vital again. That people will realize and come to their senses that a two-parent, mother and father home, where the mother is there with her children, is the best and most stable environment for a child to grow up in. But from the looks of thing, I'm not so sure.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Anna for your sensible thoughts as always.

My husband and I are finally at a stage where we are starting to consider all the costs that are likely to come with a new arrival and I can assure you that even IF our budget stretched to the amounts that you mention, we wouldn't even consider spending such a ludicrous amount on so-called "essentials" for our child. As you quite rightly put it "A great thing about baby equipment: it takes much more than one turn to wear it out" - Second hand is perfectly good for virtually every baby item you are ever likely to need. - The one exception would have to be carseats - unless you know the person you are getting it from and know that the seat has NEVER been involved in an accident, but even with new seats there is such a variation in price from the cheapest to the most expensive and they all comply to the same safety standards!

Anonymous said...

You are wise not to "invest" in such a lot of extraneous items for Shira. It's so true that it can be fun & exciting to look at everything that's offered for babies; in practical terms (and I would most definitely place budgetary considerations in the "practical" category) it just doesn't make sense. As you say, simply talking to & engaging with your baby is enough. And as for material needs there are so many good, gently used items to be had it can hardly be worth it sometimes to look at the new markets.


CappuccinoLife said...

As usual, you are right on.

These are the kinds of attitudes that result in people insisting that children are *so* expensive and that it's not possible to have more than 2 without neglecting them. :( And why families like some we know can have two doctor's or lawyer's incomes, and just can't fathom being able to afford 4 children!

Babies have very few needs. Fewer still if they have their mama with them and don't need to be distracted from her abscense all day. And "developmental activities"? Again, what they really need is mama, not classes. Yoga, my foot!

S. Belle said...

I agree wholeheartedly. I often get annoyed when people talk on and on about how expensive raising children is.

I've been really insulted by well meaning relatives who talk about how smart my son is, and that he needs to be involved in this activity and that, so that he can reach his full potential. And, he's only 18 months old! At this age, I don't have to have him in various classes for his intellectual stimulation! I can educate him right here at home, in many ways.

People are so conditioned into thinking that you have to have loads of money to give your child the best in life. And, it's about so much more than that.

Heather said...

Anna~ I agree that babies really don't need all those expensive clothes and toys. I did however purchase all new items when I had my first knowing that I would be having more children. Everything that we purchased has gone through all three boys. For me it was a good investment and since it was all new to begin with I never had to replace anything.

God Bless

melissa said...

Hi Anna,

Thanks again for another wonderful article! My DH and I want to start trying for a child soon (he was diagnosed shortly after our wedding with cancer, and though he is ok now, having a child will take some medical planning). We sat down and figured what we wanted to buy, etc and it was surprisingly little. We don't plan on a 'changing table' or any of those other 'necessities' stores push. When we were discussing this with friends and family, it was amazing some of the responses we got! Many thought not buying brand new this and that was almost akin to abuse! However, we just don't see the necessity for the majority of items stores tell new parents they must buy. As a little side note, I recently went to a baby shower of an was just so excessive! She registered for items I've never thought necessary, such as a 'slider chair' that a new mom 'needs' to sit in to help her baby sleep. Anyway, there's a huge rift in her family now as her parents are refusing to buy it for her and she sees them as denying her child something necessary. It's all very sad.

Shorty said...

This is along the same lines of over spending for Pesach i you really need all the convenience foods? I am choosing to go "fresh" this week, making everything from scratch, and if it means not using some random sauce then so be it.

Happy Pesach!

Raven said...

Oy, it's SOOO true that babies do not need all the "educational" or "labor-saving" stuff that they try to get you to buy. For our daughter, we bought maybe $50 in clothes and blankets and about $100 in diapers and covers. I didn't even buy a diaper pail--I use a 5-gallon bucket that the people who lived in the house before us left in the garage. :) As for cribs, I'm with the commenter whose baby wouldn't sleep in it. My daughter is 16 months now and in a secondhand twin bed with a siderail ($20), and the crib/bassinet that we have will work for her brother who's scheduled to arrive any day.

$15000? That's a tuition bill, not a baby.

Wenonah4th said...

There are certain things each family, even those of us who are at home with our little ones, will make a priority. If a daddy likes to run, having a jogging stroller might be a priority, for example. (Actually I think my uncle has one for taking his grandson out!) I'm very willing to spend the money to take my dd to YMCA swimming lessons from early on (she's pushing 3 now, but we hope we'll start a little younger with the next one) because swimming is a priority. But it has to be involved parents setting those priorities.

Bethany Hudson said...

$15,000--oh, that made me laugh! We did spend quite a bit on our firstborn (purchased cloth diapers and covers, needed to buy some used furniture for the nursery such as a dresser, baptismal gown since we don't have one in my family, carseat, digital camera so we could take pictures of her, birth announcements). We were pretty thrifty, but we certainly did spend some money. I think, all told, we probably spent $1500 the first year-- 1/10 the listed cost. This time around, we bought a second carseat for our son, some newborn cloth diapers and covers (we didn't switch Sophia over until she was a Medium size), and a new sling since I finally found one that I really enjoy using. That's pretty much it. Other people have given us enough little boy clothes for now, and this time around, I am making the birth announcments and baptismal invitations myself.

We are blessed in that we really don't have to budget too tightly for such things; we do, simply because we are thrifty people and want to be good stewards of our resources, but we do splurge every once in awhile (like when we bought a new camera to take pictures of our little girl--but this means we take all our holiday photos and stuff ourselves; in the US, it's common to have such photos taken at a studio or in the mall, but my husband is a very good amateur photographer, so we've managed happily without that)

Anyway, I agree, Anna. And, especially with toys! For the longest time, our daughter's favorite things were a little silk scarf, a basket that I got for 50 cents at a garage sale, a large smooth stone, and a pinecone!


may said...

S Belle said:

"I've been really insulted by well meaning relatives who talk about how smart my son is, and that he needs to be involved in this activity and that, so that he can reach his full potential. And, he's only 18 months old! At this age, I don't have to have him in various classes for his intellectual stimulation! I can educate him right here at home, in many ways".

You know your relatives best of course but I'm sure they're not trying to be insulting. I think that most people really don't understand how we learn. Children, particularly those under 10, are like machines for learning, beautiful little sponges that sit there and soak everything up and then reproduce it so well that we forget how hard that is to do. (It's wonderfully optimistic to watch, isn't it? Like having Spring in the air all the time).

Once you get older and lose this facility, we need to study, and apply ourselves because nothing is ever as easy to learn again. And because our own recent experiences of learning (whether it's a new language, or how to drive a car) are all bound-up with memories of effort, slog and hard work, we forget that a child is so good at learning that he learns an entire language perfectly just from hearing it spoken. It need not even be spoken to him. (There is research to show that despite the Western middle-class mania for speaking and explaining things to their children, such children don't have a better grasp of language in its essentials than a child who didn't experience that, although I suppose arguably he may have a better relationship with his parent).

Anyway, how many adults remember all this? So when they see a bright, 18-month old boy, do they think, "wow, he's appreciably improving all these physical skills every day and learning 20 new words a day? How amazingly astoundingly astonishing!" No, they just remember how hard learning is and think, "well you fix that through solid application, so wouldn't a class be just the thing to make him even better?"

There is of course a place for classes in a child's world. In fact, after a certain point, it's to be encouraged I think. However, depending on the kid, I can't why you'd start much before five or six, and even then the more informal the better.

Baby yoga is a cunning marketing ploy, I reckon, aimed at women who like yoga so that they can meet similarly-minded women with babies of the same age and have a nice cup of coffee with them and talk about babies. If that's what floats their boats, then good luck to them, I say. Isn't the truth of it that even though new mothers want other new mothers as friends (because by the point you feel up to leaving the house, probably not even your own mother is interested in talking about the contents of Johnny's nappy again), after a while they would also rather like it if these new friends were people like the selves they were pre-kids?

A friend of mine is already been pressurised by her competitive friends with children about tutoring for her four-year old son so that he can get into a decent school when he's 11. Think of it; 11! Good grief, the kid won't even get a childhood at this rate. His mother quite sensibly thought, "oh, for goodness' sake, this isn't normal ..." but because she's a good, conscientious mother who worries about doing the absolute, very best for her children, she started to think, "well, of course I want him to do well, and I didn't go to school in this country, so how do I know whether this is what you should do ... " so you can see how you get sucked in, even if your first reaction is bang on target.

I think that people do it to each other, in part because as people have smaller families and leave having children until later in life, they have little experience of any children, bar their own. Whilst being a slightly older parent may be better in some ways, I wonder whether that lack of experience makes it easier to freak them out about whether little Johnny is behind already?

If I were you, I would just concentrate on the fact that your relatives clearly love and like your little boy and want the best for him, even though their idea of best is probably not appropriate just yet. Take and appreciate that sentiment for what it is (kind, generous and well-meaning) and ignore the rest.

may said...

The author somehow reached an astronomical sum of around 15,000$ - in the first year alone.


Isn't this about lack of experience again? People who've been around kids don't bother with a lot of this stuff, but I think that people who haven't (particularly first-time parents) worry about what they're going to do with the kid once it's born so it's easier to fret about stuff than the real, big, hidden, unanswerable questions. (What will it be like? What will I do with her? What if she doesn't like me?) After all, not having stuff is totally fixable. Just buy the changing table, and the big, heavy stroller and all the books and there you are, you'll be fine, ready and prepared.

Strollers are a case in point. Now that men are supposed to be more involved, they come along and want to help out in choosing and buying everything. And since a stroller is the nearest thing to a car for a baby, they get really into getting one with all the bits and gizmos and attachments. (Car manufacturers, particularly the ones that supposedly have a better safety record, have cottoned on to this by the way and now sell strollers branded with the car's marque. They're huge, four times as expensive and guys lap this up because even if they can't drive a Range Rover, their kids will). The result is that their poor wives end up with something that (a) no woman can lift, particularly if she's carrying a baby and (b) is really not good at the basic job of wheeling around a baby. Have any of you tried wheeling around one of those jogger strollers? They don't fit anywhere. And Bugaboos are even worse. The centre of gravity is in the wrong place, so I'm always afraid of the kid slipping out when you go up and down over kerbs unless the harness is very securely fastened.

Wears off by no. 2 though and then frugal parents who actually want or need this stuff get some nice, gently-used items at reasonable prices. Nice upside, eh?

Front Porch Society said...

I agree.

Expensive baby items, name brand items, and "developmental activities" for babies is just ridiculous! Babies grow so fast that having name brand, expensive clothing is just plain stupid financially. Nothing wrong with buying stuff at Walmart or other cheaper stores. And whoever came up with yoga for babies had to have been taking drugs!! That is just plain dumb!! It's a baby!! All they want at that point in time is to be fed, sleep, be held, and feel loved.

Bethany Hudson said...

Oh, and as far as baby classes (which are VERY big in my area--yes, we have several Baby Yoga studios)... I can understand what May is saying about it being socialization for the mother. However, in my area, those mothers who attend these classes seem to convince themslves that the classes are necessary for the child's development. Being significantly more frugal than these moms, I have found myself shut out of many groups since I will not give gifts at playdates or go to museums or classes every week. I have found that the classes actually make it HARDER to socialize with other moms, because I wouldn't choose to keep up with their spending or busy schedules. On top of that, many moms have patronized me or basically treated me like a bad mother because I'm not "enriching" my children through classes. I find this attitude very destructive. Just a thought.

Nurse Bee said...

While I consider myself neither a career woman or having a boring job, I have to tell you that I (even as a nurse) make several times the cost of my childcare....the idea that women work to pay for childcare is mainly a myth, I think.

I'm with you on all the expensive toys, etc. My baby's favorite toy is an empty babywipes container and her socks!! Many of our friends act like we are mistreating her because we haven't bought her expensive toys. But she's happy and thriving!

Rachel said...

Right on! And.....reusing stuff is good for the environment.

Anonymous said...

I love this post. I was raised in India and moved to the UK and British friends are horrified when they look at my baby photos. "your batting around a scrunched up piece of paper?" and wondering why I didn't get 'real' toys. And I have to point out how happy I look, entertaining a baby is not rocket science!

may said...

Being significantly more frugal than these moms, I have found myself shut out of many groups since I will not give gifts at playdates or go to museums or classes every week. I have found that the classes actually make it HARDER to socialize with other moms, because I wouldn't choose to keep up with their spending or busy schedules. On top of that, many moms have patronized me or basically treated me like a bad mother because I'm not "enriching" my children through classes.

Bethany, that's awful. Good grief, it's hard to believe that these people are grown-up. It sounds just like school!

Why would anyone take gifts to a playdate anyway? It's not like it's someone's birthday, right? (I don't even like party bags at children's birthday parties. Originally kids just got a piece of birthday cake and then there was a bag to put it in, and now there's a bag, with a cheap plasticky nasty toy and more sweets). Do they really expect this or is it just that no one wants to be the first to say no? I would have thought that it was a bad idea for the children anyway. You don't want them to start expecting gifts, do you?

I hope that you find some more congenial people to mix with soon.

Kyle, Amanda, and Tobias said...

I was also surprised when I read similar studies on the cost of a child that always included childcare costs. By profession, I was a teacher and when I got pregnant I sat down and did the math. With the money it would take to keep a second car with insurance and gas expenses, pay childcare, and keep my teaching license up to date, I make more money staying at home. Childcare in my area is $1000 a month on average, more if you want a reputable place that also includes educational activities for the children. And most don't take infants anyway because every at-home daycare is limited to no more than 2 infants under 12 months of age.

So for us our childcare cost is significantly less than that figure because I do a lot around the home to keep it low. I sew my son's cloth diapers, I babysit other people's kids, I prepare all my son's baby food myself, I search stores for sales to get baby clothes, etc. I have learned though that the cost of a baby is far less in the first year than the second because in the first year everyone gives you hand-me-down clothes, equipment, and toys as well as new things or handmade things as gifts. But nobody thinks to buy a 2 year old many clothes so you are left to buy all the shoes, socks, winter hats, boots, snowpants, and enough pants and shirts to last the year on your own. (can you tell I live someplace cold? haha!)

As always, I enjoyed this post. It is encouraging to see that other women are striving for frugality just like me.

Anonymous said...

Chuckled at the commenter that said $15,000-that's a tuition bill, not a baby -- totally hearing you! My college tuition annually wasn't even as pricey. The number shocked me.

Smart and great post, Anna! As an expectant mother, I'm now already researching way to still be able to live frugally once the baby comes. Already we've been offered used baby furniture, which is such a blessing - we'll only need to add a few more necessities that we're planning on buying at garage sales/ or online through Craigslist and the such.

As for baby clothes, we're also blessed that my Mother still lives where I come from where everything is significantly much cheaper than here in the US. She's already sending us baby clothes. We can't be more blessed!

And as for baby yoga? I must've had a blank clueless expression on my face as I read that. I do yoga myself (through DVD at home), but never had any idea that such thing exists. Certainly I plan on doing yoga together with my child once (s)he is old enough - the frugal way, at home with a DVD (classes can be so expensive)! But not when my child is still an infant, that's just a little too extreme for me.

As for socializing with new moms , I found out from a friend that she's found her best friend when she was a new mom - through the internet! They did playdates at the park, free museums, and the such. And homeschooling communities can help as well (especially if you plan on homeschooling your child - we are), I think. Church or any religious community is definitely another idea. But to have to pay ridiculous amount of money to socialize w/ other new moms -- I thought, c'mon now, be creative!

There's never a better time to be more frugal than now - at least here in US, as our economy isn't doing well. And as my mother taught me, living frugal is an art to master.


Anonymous said...

I completely agree with you about baby expenses being very inflated. I agree about finding used baby things and about babies just plain not needing so many things. BUT I have to disagree on one point- right now, I work because my husband wants me to. If I were to have a baby, we agree that I would quit. If I quit my job, we would be out a lot of money every year. We save my salary and don't spend it, so we're prepared for this, but me staying home would still cost us significantly. (And yes, I am taking into account the costs of working- transportation, work clothes, etc. I have always kept these expenses as low as possible and we are very conscious of these things.) Staying home with my future children is worth it to us, but it is definitely not the "cheaper" option.

Julie from Georgia (USA) said...

I first ran across your blog a few weeks ago and have been a regular reader since. I find it so very inspirational to know that there are other women who believe as I do that a woman has such an important and irreplaceable role in her home as wife and mother. Our society is so materialistic and consumer driven at every level. I have realized that I cannot be truely happy and at peace unless I am fulfilling the role that God intended for my life. We must learn that there is such peace and contentment in the little things - the most important things! ~Julie

Lady Pilgrim said...

AMEN! Wonderful post!

motherofmany said...

Along with the product manufacturers, I think many reporters were educated in liberal schools where there is a big push for population control, and they are doing their duty to pass on this indoctrination. It is taught under the guises of environmental resource management and humanistic psycological fulfillment, and one of the best ways to really seal the deal is by using economics. People are forever saying they can't have kids because they can't afford them, and it has become the 'rule' that you are being irresponsible if you have kids before you have saved all that necessary money. It is, unfortuantely, very effective.

Every generation says they want to give their kids what they never had- how about a mother who is always accessable and a safe home with good food and good morals? That would be something the previous generation likely missed out on.

Ivy in the Kitchen said...

I think you said it best with, "The most basic need of a baby is to be with his mother. To be fed, held, and loved." There's no better place for a baby than Momma's (or Daddy's) arms. :)

It really is crazy how much is spent on 'stuff' that will be thrown away after a season or two of one's life. I'm from the U.S. and here we have a 'new tradition' of registries - baby, wedding, housewarming, etc... There was one wedding registry I decided to add up to get the total cost and it was over $10,000.00! This wasn't even including major appliances or furniture.

When I was a baby and toddler one of my favorite toys was a brown plastic laundry basket! Really, other than a couple of cherished 'real' toys, that I still have, it's the stuff like laundry baskets and cardboard boxes, where I had to use my imagination that I remember best.

-Miss H.

Anonymous said...

A great response from May about older parents not knowing what they don't need, but I also want to chime in on Nurse Bee's response that "the idea that women work to pay for childcare is mainly a myth."

So true! Yes, childcare is a big bill, but -- a woman who makes $60,000 year, when you do the math, makes nearly $30/hour. You can hire your own personal babysitter for more like $10/hr (not sure what more formal daycare programs cost).

And honestly, the whole idea that when you stay home, you save money on clothes and lunches? Aside from the fact that many working women are frugal, cooking at home doesn't always save much if you're just cooking for 1 or 2, and especially if you are self-employed or freelance (and hence could have used your cooking time to make money). I've done the math, and every time I actually make something, the time I spend buying ingredients, cooking, and cleaning the cookware works out to a loss. It all depends on what you make per hour. (Of course home-cooked meals are lovely, but so are restaurant meals, and if home-cooked is costing you cash, you tend to limit that more to special occasions). And the clothes are not a big deal -- if I had no job at all, I wouldn't dress that much differently.

Childcare, if you need or want it, is just another big bill, like health insurance or student loans or a bunch of other things that can be burdensome if you don't plan or if you take on too much, but these are all ordinary expenses that don't prevent people from gainful employment.


Raven said...

I think the childcare thing must vary significantly by where you live. Where we are, it's extremely expensive to have someone sit for an infant and most daycares won't take them.

I do know that when my husband and I crunched the numbers, if I had continued to work (as a nurse) after my baby was born I would have been making about $4 per hour (from my $18 per hour salary) after taking out all the expenses for travel, food, taxes, and childcare. For me, the stress of having to leave my baby wasn't worth $4 per hour, but I suppose some might need that $4 enough to make it worth it. (My salary bumped us up into the next tax bracket, so by me not working we saved a hefty percentage on our tax rate.)

I encourage moms to actually run the numbers. You may find that it's expensive to stay home, or you may find it really is the cheaper option. You don't know until you actually sit down with the calculator.

momof3girls said...

I just stumbled upon your blog -luv it! How refreshing to hear the views your saying posted out there in writing! Thank you!

Jessica said...

I agree that we don't need to spend anywhere near $15000 on a baby in it's first year! However, I do like to have nice, coordinated furniture for my baby's rooms. This doesn't have to be new, as you can paint things to match. We bought a cheap raw pine dresser for our little boy, which my husband painted white to match his crib. And his "big bed" was free from a friend. However, it wasn't the right color so I painted it white to match.I always prefer to buy things on sale or on eBay, etc. But I have to say that I can't resist buying a few special outfits myself for our babies. :-)They are just too cute to resist sometimes.

Ace said...

Hi Anna,

As long as you don't use a USED mattress. SIDS has been linked to mold that grows on mattresses (it gets worse the more kids that use it).

I disinfect mine everyweek and have a light fan blow on the baby for the first year

Many Blessings :)

Deanna said...

My Father tells a story about when he and my Mom were a young married couple expecting baby number 2. He was telling his mother-in-law that her daughter was again pregnant. Grandma was a rancher's wife that knew tough times. She told my Dad, who had come from a farming background, "Now that's one crop that won't fail."

My children are grown and having babies of their own. Yes, over the years, it cost some money to raise a family and there are creative ways to cut expenses. With God's help, we did it and lean on Him today for more blessings over the weariness of not knowing how were we going to make it? He will show you the way in which you are to go.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with those who state that women don't work to pay for childcare.
Sending your child to full time daycare may be a large expense but it's still far less than a minimum wage salary, especially in countries with subsidized daycare. Or a mother can hire a private nanny- usually they don't earn much more than minimum wage- and unless she is also near the bottom of the pay scale, she will still come out ahead.

My salary is far from high but I always earned several times more than I paid for daycare. Also I have the added plus of having my pension taken care of.

All those extra expenses that seem to be assigned to the working woman....well, I don't see them as relevant, at least not in my case. I don't buy many clothes and don't think I'd spend any less were I to stay home (one still needs to look respectable!) We do have a second car, but not for my job - we are a large family and it is very useful for us. As it is an old junky car, insurance is very low, and gas is almost nil (I only drive around town). I cook home cooked meals anyway, as I'm sure many working moms do. OK, so we have a weekly pizza or falafel - but I doubt my kids would agree to give that up even if I stayed home!

I'm not saying a woman should work (personally, I would love to quit). I'm just saying it's certainly not cheaper to stay home!

Absolutely agree that a baby does not need all the gadgets. They could not care less, and certainly my toddlers (like an above poster) loved empty laundry baskets and the like. Save your money for when they're teenagers and are no longer so easily appeased!

Anonymous said...

Something I just thought of- in the United States, many women keep working in order to keep their health insurance. I work for the government and I can get health insurance coverage for the entire family for a little over $400 a month. My husband is in the private sector and it would cost us over $1000 a month through his job. Buying decent insurance coverage for the entire family without an employer helping out just wouldn't be possible- you can find cheaper plans, but they tend to have very high deductibles and not cover much of anything. I can tell you that it is going to be really hard to cover that insurance bill on one salary. I realize that this isn't an issue in countries with socialized medicine, and I am not sure exactly what Israel's situation is. But there are some women in the US at least who have to keep working just to keep the family insured.