I did not used to be this way, not in the least. In fact, the area in which I grew up, buying things used was pretty much a frowned upon thing. I'm talking, like, even in high school, when we were the age of driving for the first time, I had classmates showing up left and right with brand new, beautiful, expensive vehicles. While some of those bad habits or inclinations to buy big or expensive things have stayed with me much longer than they should have, after becoming a parent, my whole attitude turned around.
Financially, there are a million things I would have done differently had I known just what the value of a dollar was before I had my son. After having little man, with so many other things in my life, my attitude about money just changed. Now, I am interested in doing whatever I can to save money and put our family in a better position. I have to say, it would have been a lot easier had I figured that bit out earlier in my life, but I think that DH and I are in a good place that we are still in our twenties and have learned how to plan, how to budget, how to save, and how to use our money wisely.
There have been a few things that have REALLY changed our day-to-day financial picture. The first was tackling our grocery shopping. I will be the first to admit that we spent WAY too much at the grocery store when we were dual income-no kids. We spent probably $200-300 every 1-2 weeks, averaging at least $ $600-800+ per month only on groceries, for two people. It was just crazy. Now we are able to get out of the store with mostly organic, fresh food for our family of three at just around $100-130 a week. Once we got that under control, we really looked at other areas of our spending.
I think that DH and I spent poorly in two different ways. He liked to buy very expensive, big things, as I think that most men do. Game systems, golf equipment, stereo systems, phones, pretty much any kind of electronics. I was a different kind of spender. Over the course of a month, I would spend a little at this store, a little at that store, buy some things for the house, buy some new clothes for me, etc. It would all add up so much.
Since we've had little man, both of those poor spending habits had to end. We both have drastically reduced any money we spend on either of those areas, pretty much just giving each other once or twice a year to spend a reasonable (read: small) amount of money on ourselves. Also, in the quest to find better ways to spend our money, we've found used.
Initially, I was kind of just lucky enough to be given a really good option to try out using things second hand. I have a very generous family and group of friends who donated SO many things to our family when they found out we were expecting or since little man has been here. I have one cousin, who I will forever be grateful to, who has given us BAGS and BAGS of clothing from her two boys. In the past, this was something I would have probably turned my nose up to, big time. However, I had an open mind about it and thought, okay, I can use some of this stuff, it is pretty cute, and it would be pretty expensive to buy him a new wardrobe every three months in the beginning.
|Little man in his hand-me-down Halloween costume!|
As time went on, I began to put more of the used items from my cousin into rotation than even the new items I had purchased. There were tons of adorable little outfits she sent that were already so soft and worn in from washing and wear from her boys, they were so comfortable for little man, and he looked so cute in them. Looking back on his first year or two, the outfits I've thought about keeping for memory's sake after we finish having children are ALL outfits that my cousin gave me, or that we were given as gifts. There is not one item I can think of that little man wore enough for me to save and treasure that I had actually purchased. And, to be honest, after the first several months of being entirely supplied with clothing from my cousin, who was so ridiculously generous, I only had to buy a few small pieces to supplement his wardrobe, like shoes, socks, or sweatshirts/coats as they live in a warmer area of the country. And when I did buy those, I went straight to the second hand shops, because that fit my budget and my comfort zone much better. I have also gotten plenty a good deal by going to garage sales in some of the nicer neighborhoods around my area, where you could see exactly the home/family the clothes were coming from, if you were more concerned.
|A few of my garage sale finds- I believe I scored all of this for around $10.|
In total, since little man was born (I did buy a bunch of clothes before he was born, and I'm not sure how much those cost), I have probably spent less than $200 in the almost year and a half he has been with us. And, to clarify, he has had a full wardrobe in all of the following sizes: 0-3 months, 3-6, 6-9, 9-12, 12-18, and now even in the 18-24 range that he needs because of his cloth diapered bottoms and 26+ lb baby self.
But not only has it saved me money, it is better for him as well. Some parents choose to buy all organic for their children's clothing for a certain period of time, like Selfie over at the art of making a baby, who chose to clothe her daughter in only organic clothing for the first 6 months of her life. But here's the thing, if you have used/pre-owned clothing, by the time it gets to you it has likely been washed and worn enough that many of those chemicals used to treat the clothing are no longer present. We also own a steam-sanitizing washing machine, so I feel comfortable with even the second hand store clothes that didn't come from family because I know they are truly clean by the time they come out of the dryer. For a similar benefit of decreasing all the bad things that your child's gentle skin absorbs, you can purchase used clothing that is absolutely leaps and bounds cheaper than buying all brand new, organic clothing.
We also have been extremely lucky with family and friends who have provided toys and baby gear to us. A few of my amazing aunts, cousins, and especially my awesome SLP coworker/friend have been so generous as to pass along any toys they have laying around. Sure, we get a lot of the noise makers (thanks Tara! ;)) But we also get a ton of really great educational toys as well, so it is a really nice mix. So far, other than a few new distraction car-ride toys for long trips, and tot school toys, we've only purchased one big toy for little man so far, and that was his Christmas present last year. We've been able to use all of the gently-loved toys and little man LOVES them and has not a clue that each toy wasn't purchased by us for crazy amounts of money for him. And this isn't even mentioning any of the eco-friendly benefits such as less money/energy spent on production, packaging, transporting, and distribution/sales of clothing/toys!
At the end of the day, since giving birth to little man, it is really a numbers game for me. Every time we spend something frivolous, expensive, or even the necessary-but-expensive items, in the back of my head I am equating it to how many hours of work I have to do at my PRN job, away from little man, to make up for it. If I can save hundreds of dollars by having joy in accepting or purchasing gently used items, that means hours and days more of time that I am able to spend with my child. And really, with that as the bottom line, there is no better motivation.
♥ the naptown organizer