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2.05.2014

Saving Money Before Baby: Evaluate Your Daily Spending

Before I get into saving on cribs and birth and all of that nonsense, I thought it would be good to start at the beginning.

You see, pregnancy is long.  Actually, I'll let you in on a little secret- your pregnancy doesn't actually last 9 months.  It's more like 10.  There, I ruined your day :)

But really, you have lots of time.  No need to run out and buy anything baby related for the first several months.  In the first and much of the second trimester the more prudent thing to do would be to evaluate your current financial condition and spending habits and make some changes.

Because even if you're as frugal as the day is long, you're going to need some money to spend on baby.  And if you're currently spending every penny you make (or worse, going into debt) and living paycheck to paycheck, you're either going to be pinched or you're going to go further into debt.

Now, I'm no financial whiz.  In fact, for this step I'm just going to tell you to clean financial house- for the particulars I strongly suggest going to an expert.  Dave Ramsey is a popular one.  I also like Melanie Hobbs.  I will, however, share a few of the ways I've saved money around my own home.
  • Cancel your cable/satellite (but don't give up TV if you don't want).  This one took me a long time to figure out.  No, it's not hard to cancel your cable, but I'll let you in on another secret- I LOVE TV.  I understand it's shortcomings.  But it is my second favorite form of entertainment, and I won't give it up completely.  About a year ago I actually called the satellite company and had the service turned off, then immediately called them back and had it turned back on.  Because one of my small joys in life is sitting on the couch in the morning with a cup of coffee and watching the news.  And while you can stream pretty much everything now, you still can't stream the news (in clips you can, but not as one ongoing program).  So I balked.  It took me months to come to the following realizations- 1) 99.7% of what I watch is on network TV, and 2) network TV is still free.  So for the price of a $28 set top antenna I was able to get most of the channels I watch for free.  That one time purchase saved me about $1200 a year.
  • Stop buying mixes, coffee creamer, expensive cereal, and other luxury food items.  Start learning to either do without or make them at home- you will save tons, and the at home versions are almost always healthier.  You're not going to want to learn to make things from scratch once baby is here, but if you learn it now you may be okay continuing after the birth, or you can make bulk batches and stock up beforehand.
  • Start meal planning.  Just planning what you eat each week can save you tons of money, because it prevents you from impulse shopping and from needing to make spur of the moment trips to the store throughout the week.  Take into account what's on sale at the store, what's in season (and therefore cheaper), and what's already in your pantry, and spend a little time planning once a week, or even once every few weeks.  Then carefully make a grocery list and stick to it!
  • Do not be afraid/ashamed to buy things second hand.  Craigslist is your friend, as is the Goodwill and the Salvation Army.
  • Borrow before you buy.  The old saying "neither a borrower nor a lender be" only applies to money.  If you don't have a friend you can borrow from, look for rental places.  
  • Get your energy use in check.  Do you run your thermostat high in the winter or low in the summer?  Get over it and start adjusting to a slightly more, ahem, seasonally appropriate temperature.  That alone can result in big savings- we reduced our thermostat 4 degrees last week (from an already chilly 68 to a cold but still tollerable 64) and our propane usage went down by almost half (we monitor how much we use each week).  You can also turn your fridge temp down (most run them too cold), make sure you're turning off printers or anything with an "on" light, and not leaving your phone or laptop plugged in all the time.

2 comments:

Dorothy said...

I've wondered about the digital antenna. What sort did you buy? Are you happy with the way it performs?

Brandislee said...

That was the hard part, because you don't know what will work for you until you try it. There are websites on the internet that make recommendations (antennaweb.org is a good place to start... it will tell you how many channels you're able to get with different kinds of antennas, ) but they can't know all the specifics of your location. I decided to start with the cheapest, then go from there. I wanted a rooftop antenna to start, but it was below zero with about three feet of snow on the roof and ground, so that wasn't going to happen yet. Instead I got a better multi-direction antenna from walmart (it was about $50) and a super cheapie one ($14) plus the digital converter box for the older upstairs TV. Ironically, the upstairs TV gets more channels (notably two channels I want badly downstairs- CW and TPT) since it is higher up. BUT what I learned from this is that we don't need to go to the trouble and expense of a rooftop antenna. Between the two TV's we get all the channels we want, so this spring I'm going to have my husband install an attic antenna that runs to both TV's.

And yes, I'm happy with the performance. I can't tell a lick of difference in the picture from our expensive Direct TV, and while there are occasional hiccups in reception, they aren't bad and are usually weather related... and are actually less frequent than hiccups we had with the satellite! With Direct TV we lost service if there was any snow on the dish, if there was a storm of any magnitude, or even if it rained hard. So far with the antenna it's never gone all the way out, only had some hiccups during a few bad snowstorms.

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