Savvy mothers can get a great bargain on everything from maternity to toys and toothpaste. Discover the secrets of smart-spending mothers.
One of the oft-cited reasons for couples not wanting children is that kids are expensive, but does having a baby necessarily mean you will be in your own personal recession for the next 21 years?
It is true that there are some things that you can’t scrimp on (like seeing the doctor, getting the shots, buying diapers), but there are also more than a dozen ways to stretch your dollar.
Mums are resourceful creatures and the Internet has brought about a new “savings” industry for parents on the hunt for a good bargain.
The Mummy Forum
Mummy forums are a great way to exchange tips and scout for bargains. This ranges from cots and prams, to diapers and milk bottles.
A sharp-eyed mother can find a wide range of secondhand items that are new or in very good condition.
Says David Tan, 30, whose wife trawls the Singapore Motherhood forum for items for Janine, their 3-year-old daughter: “Mothers buy a lot of products to try. When it doesn’t suit their needs, rather than throw it away, they can sell it off at a cheaper price.”
Mrs Tan buys First Teeth toothpaste online for about $8 a tube ($15 at the pharmacy). She also bought unopened packets of diapers that would have cost $18 at the supermarket for $13 from another mummy whose baby outgrew the diapers too quickly.
Alyssa Evans, 32, a stay-at-home-mother of 20-month old twins, checks on the condition of the items before she buys them and compares the store prices before she commits.
Her best buys to date? An activity centre and a safety gate that would have set her back $400 had she bought it at retail price.
Another mother on the forum, desperate to clear space in her home, sold both to Mrs Evans for $80.
In recent years, renting has become popular with mums. It is possible to rent almost everything from maternity wear to nursing equipment and nursery furniture. Deborah Ng of Maternity Exchange revolutionised the concept of renting maternity clothes in Singapore because she found maternity clothes in Singapore expensive. “Add to that, you outgrow them so quickly!”
A typical maternity dress can cost between $80 and $200. At Maternity Exchange, the same dress can be rented for about $40 for a month.
Says Deborah, “Usually, by renting, a mother-to-be saves about 65 per cent of what she would pay for outfits at retail stores.”
And the added bonus? A mum gets to wear a wider variety of clothes through her pregnancy.
In the same vein, the Toy Rental Club rents out toys, nursery furniture and feeding equipment.
As such, mums can now constantly rotate the toy options for their children without having to buy up half of Toys “R” Us.
Another plus point of renting is that mums can test out the equipment before committing to a purchase.
Koh Chern Yi discovered that even though the Medela hospital grade breast pump was an expensive, well-reviewed breast pump, it just wasn’t for her.
“Thankfully, a friend recommended that I rent it to try it out. If not, I’d be stuck with an $800 breast pump that I couldn’t use.” She subsequently found another breast pump which was more suitable for her.
Buying cheaper online
Karen Goh, a mother of two, finds that she can buy her favourite brands direct from overseas online stores at a much lower price.
It began during her first pregnancy when she spotted some nice, unusual maternity wear on an overseas website. The only barrier was shipping costs.
“When I shared my discoveries with my other pregnant friends, they liked what they saw too. So we pooled our orders together and split the shipping costs”.
The outcome: An $80 shipping charge was divided five ways. Karen ended up paying 30 per cent less than retail price of a similar item from the same brand in Singapore.
Paying it forward
A practice that’s catching on here is to “pay it forward” where mums pass on what their children have outgrown to their friends who have younger children.
Lee Ee-Lin, 31, clears out her daughters’ wardrobes, toy chests on a regular basis and gives away what is still usable.
Once, she found a running buggy pram she bought before the birth of her eldest daughter, barely used, in her storeroom.
“Some of its parts were still wrapped up. So, I asked a friend who was an avid runner if she’d like to have it.”
The pram, according to her, has since been well used. It has gone to the zoo and off –road locations like the Treetop Walk and Sungei Buloh Nature Reserve, instead of being left in the storeroom, or worse still, thrown out.
Thrift shops are making a comeback, and mums who have time to rifle through them have found good bargains.
Rosa Ng uncovered a tricycle and a rocking horse for $5 each at Something Old and Something New, a thrift shop run by Anglican Welfare Services. “The wood on the rocking horse was still good!”
As long as it worked, and was clean, safe and fun, it was good enough for the kids. Ng noted that more mums would consider shopping this way, they really would have more money than they think!
Recommended Forum Sites
Common Items Found
Diapers, formula, toys, clothes, prams. Just about anything baby-related.
Expect to save anywhere from 20 per cent for something new and up to 80 per cent for a well-used secondhand item still in good condition.
- If you are buying perishables like baby food and formula, check expiry dates.
- Always try to ask for a photograph to see the condition of the item and always ask if there is a return policy if the buyer finds it unacceptable.
Recommended Rental Sites/ Stores
Common Items Found
Toys, maternity wear, baby equipment and nursery furniture.
Depends on the duration. Typically, at Maternity Exchange, a mum can rent about three to four pieces of clothing for about $120.
- Most of these rental stores also allow you to buy the items which may sometimes cost just 10 per cent of the retail price.
Recommended Concierge Services for Online Shoppers
- Make full use of the credit card discounts off shipping rates.
- Also make sure you check the store’s shipping policy and how much your shipping costs.
- There is a difference between actual weight and shipping volumetric weight.
Recommended Thrift Shops
Something Old, Something New Thrift Shop – Simei Care Centre near Changi General Hospital
Salvation Army Thrift Shops – Locations all through Singapore
New 2U Shop at Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations (SCWO) – Waterloo Street.
- You will need time to go through the racks to sieve out a good deal.
- Seasoned ‘thrift shoppers’ know to go back regularly.
- The thrift shops are also a great place to donate the children’s old but good-condition toys and equipment.
- Pay it forward!