Amidst the joys of pregnancy, a nagging question that is often on the minds of mothers is – should you quit your job to take care of your child? It is an extremely difficult choice to make, and there is never a definite right or wrong answer. This question becomes even more pertinent when the child is born, as the amount of adjustments to be made and the lack of time and energy forces every mother to reconsider her career options.
If you do decide to work less, or stop working altogether, the number one concern will be the drastic reduction of income, against the backdrop of an increasing expenditure with the new addition to the family. Since the choice has been made, rather than fret on what you will be giving up, why not focus on reducing your monthly expenditure, and enjoy watching your child grow up instead?
A mum of two, Joey Chong with her 2 children
Here are some tips Joey shares with us on making every penny count since she stopped working when she was pregnant with her first child, who is now 2 years old.
- Breastfeeding: Joey breastfed her elder boy for 20 months till her younger girl, now 4 months old, was born. Breastfeeding not only saves you from buying milk powder, it also provides the most nutritious food for the baby. For Joey, because her children are direct latch-ons and reject milk bottles, she’s even saved on sterilisers, bottles, and all the cleaning accessories.
- Hand-me-downs: Joey gladly accepted hand-me-downs from friends and relatives that were in good condition. This gave her substantial savings as babies outgrow their clothes and get bored with toys rapidly. For items in good condition, she even sold some on a parenting forum or exchanged them for other items.
- Steaming baby food in a multi-tier steamer: This is her best friend for cooking! Not only does the steamer make delicious and healthy food for the whole family, it saves on electricity, gas, water and time as different dishes could be cooked together.
Here are more tips for cutting costs.
- Buy in bulk. Non-perishables like diapers, baby wipes and tissue paper can be easily stored for a period of time. When there is a sale for these items, stock them in bulk to capitalise on the savings rather than buying only when things run out.
- Compare prices. Prices may differ for different shops even if they are located just beside each other! For household items such as shampoo, soap and washing powder, compare prices at a few shops and you might be surprised! Little savings here and there will add up to a substantial amount over the long term.
- Change brands. Cheap may not necessarily mean lousy. Try cheaper or house brands for items such as groceries and toiletries and you may find that they don’t differ much from the usual brands you have been using.
- Be resourceful. Some neighbourhood shops sell items cheaper than major supermarkets, while some items are cheaper at supermarkets. You can ask your neighbours or friends for some tips, and you may be handsomely rewarded for your efforts. A seldom-known tip is that some neighbourhood medical halls actually sell milk powder cheaper than supermarkets, but their stocks run out very fast so you may have to place an order with them.
- Online shopping. There are many items that can be bought online at lower prices (yes, even after adding shipping costs) as compared to local stores. These items include baby clothes, diapers, toys and even milk powder. If you do not want to do your own shipping coordination, some local motherhood sites have a section for spree organisers (usually other mummies) who will co-ordinate the bulk purchase and shipping for a particular product. By joining a spree, you can save on product and shipping costs. However, it is advisable to join sprees where the organisers have a good following and track record.
- Cut down unnecessary spending. Now that you or your spouse is no longer working or working less, it is also a good time to cut your monthly shopping expenses. Do you really need another pretty dress or cute bag? Buy items as rewards on special occasions to make them even more special!
- Reorganise your wardrobe. Now that most of your time will be spent tending to your child, or running after an active toddler, your old office wear and killer heels are no longer suitable. Clean out your wardrobe, get more functional but chic clothes and you may even want to sell off your items that are still in good condition to get some cash as well. What a great way to kill two birds with one stone!
- Try to eat out less, and if you have to eat out, choose more “economical” places, now that you have to watch your expenditure. Cooking is a great way to relieve the stress of tending to a child 24/7, and especially rewarding when your spouse comes home tired from work and appreciates your piping hot home-cooked meal. Keep restaurant dinners as special treats for the both of you, and you could perhaps limit them to once a month. There are currently many cafes, bistros or mid-range restaurants that offer great food at reasonable prices. You can also learn to make your own bread and cakes. The process of baking is a great way to bond with your kid/s, and it improves their motor skills.
The above are just some of the many ways for you to tighten your belt. Cutting costs does not have to be a painful process. Be creative, treat it as a game, and enjoy the savings that come your way!
I Love Children recommends 3 good reads:
1) Motherhood Without Guilt – Being the Best Mother You Can Be and Feeling Great About It, By Debra Gilbert Rosenberg, L.C.S.W.
2) The MomsTown Guide to Getting It All – A Life Makeover for Stay-at-Home Moms, By Mary Goulet & Heather Reider
3) how to be a happy mum, with Siobhan Freegard