Since conceiving my second child, J2, we knew that our financial situation would be tight. The mere cost of formula milk (FM) topped the list of must-buys, followed by disposable diapers and other necessities such as visits to the PD for a thousand and one reasons and the big ticket purchases like the baby cot.
Second time round, I resolved to keep spending to a minimum, yet maximising the quality of life J2 would have. How? Needed to be creative and think minimalist. Banking on previous experience with J1, I realised how much we could save if we made deliberate changes to the choices we made for J2’s growing up years. Of course, as a family, we need to make some changes to lifestyle and expenses as well.
Let’s calculate how much would possibly be saved with implementing these changes on a monthly basis (with the exception of points 1 and 5)…
1) Grit my way through delivery and go natural (this one needed to thank God, because not everyone is able to choose the delivery method):
In my earlier post, I shared about how dramatic an exit J2 decided to make. Water bag burst and all… I had made up my mind not to enlist the help of epidural regardless, so as to minimise cost and the use of drugs which may affect milk supply at the start of my BF journey again. With my Hubby’s help (to forcefully mask me with laughing gas whilst I was shouting out ‘EPIDURAL, help!!!! I need it NOW…’, it was well worth the pain endured.
Savings: At least $700 (epidural), at least $300 (anaesthetist fee). Total savings >$1000.
2) Total breastfeed:
This decision would have been no surprise to 99% of Mums, as breastmilk is natural and FREE!! Free leh… No dispute about it, I’ll take it on. With J1, breastfeeding was a super rocky journey with low supply right from the start. He was fed FM 80% of the time because of an inexperienced me succumbing to a lot of pressure about milk-not-enough, baby too thin, blah blah…, as well as a necessary major operation at 6 months post partum, which further impeded my milk supply. Upon discharge from the hospital, my supply was almost a big fat kosong. Left with no choice, FM was given to J1 and it literally sucked my savings dry.
Before the arrival of J2, I made sure I had the necessary equipment and support to last my breastfeeding (BF) journey for at least a good one year. Went for BF seminars, read up about common myths and how they are debunked, bought a good electric pump (invested in Pigeon Electric Breast Pump Pro, $279) and joined a few Facebook (FB) BF Mums forums for additional support. I had to set my mind to be unwavered towards this decision regardless of who made sniggering comments and criticisms about BF, as well as to give as little FM as possible (unless necessary, like TMC did, when J2 was just delivered because he had hypoglycaemia). Looking back, the most important stand I made was to UNfollow all routines written by various well-meaning authors and let J2 feed on demand. I had a very strong intuition that he would know what is best for himself and his routines (including sleep patterns) will adjust to a comfortable routine so long as his hunger needs are adequately satisfied. It turned out right.
Now, at 5 months, he is still TBF and, if I were to calculate savings from FM, considering that he would probably finish a tin of FM (about $50?) every fortnight, that would make up approximately $500 of savings in 5 months.
Savings: $100 a month
3) Cloth diapers:
Since diaposable diapers ranked so high on my list of expenses, how could I simply ignore this? Every bit of savings is still savings and I saw the value of using modern cloth diapers, casually introduced by a friend, Elisa. A set of 6 cloth diapers costs about $200, with a variety of inserts, depending on the brand purchased. In case you wonder if I tried this with J1, yes. Haha, and I gave up in 2 days! So messy, so troublesome, so dirty, so smelly, so much washing… aiyoh! Well, I guess the motivation to switch from disposables to cloth was also the cost. J1 used up an average of 1 pack of disposable diapers in 2 weeks! Thankfully he is able to take the more affordable brands such as Drypers and Pet Pet, which did not give him any skin allergy. Still, it was a significant hole burnt in my pocket.
Being more determined to maximise savings with J2, I revisited sites on cloth diapers (CD) and learnt how to use them again such that I do not experience as many leaks. I learnt how to launder them as well as to experiment on a combination of 3 materials to maximise the use of them throughout the day (and nights now!). I started CD with J2 when he was 6 weeks old, when his poop was lessened to about 2-3 times a day. Coming up with a system needed a bit of planning, like how long it took for the diaper to be rather wet to change, where to hang the CD after rinsing and before throwing them into the washing machine, when to use disposables (when he had some nappy rash, or when we went out of the home, or simply when I was tired out and needed a break from CD. I got the hang of it after 2-3 weeks and actually loved the idea of CD J2. It is so environmentally friendly and bum friendly! The materials were soft and breathable such that he did not have any nappy rash at all. The fabric was so absorbent that he hardly had diaper explosions and overall, he loved the comfort that fabric provided.
So, how much did I spend on CD? A basic set of 6 from Raf Raf ($220) and another basic set of 6 from Moomookow ($180) and 3 hemp inserts (to add on to his normal insert, in order to last him dry throughout the night) for $33. Yes, the upfront payment is huge yet the savings are coming in. Or so I choose to see. Hee!
Well, let’s calculate how much would have been spent if J2 had used disposables (remember that J1 is still partially toilet trained and still on some diapers!).
Average diapers used in a day is 10. This is a super conservative number, but anyway… This makes the total diaper usage to be about 10 x 30 = 300 diapers in a month. Taking the cost of a pack of 80 diapers from Drypers (M size),that would cost $18.55 x 4 = $74.20 a month. J2 has already been using CD for the past 3.5 months, making savings to be about $260. This is quite a bit and if you’re still reading this post, I think you see where I’m getting with maximising costs…
No doubt it’s tedious, and need to share with J2’s caregivers on how to use CD as well.
Savings: $74.20 a month
4) Insurance coverage:
The first thought that comes to mind when bringing up this subject of insurance coverage is “the money used for premiums never comes back. Might as well save it and not buy.’ Well, I used to harbour this thought, till my insurance agent educated me of the importance of having coverage so that my nest of savings, however much, will remain largely protected. I’m thankful to his advice as I’ve made so many claims throughout he years. I’m a self-confessed klutz and the accident plans that I pay for annually has served me very well. I don’t mean to say I get into accidents in order to make a claim yet I seem to need it rather regularly. Haha…Hospitalisation coverage is most important for self, and especially when there are dependables like children and elderly parents. It would be the family’s greatest nightmare if one of us had to be hospitalised without a plan. Furthermore, a hospital stay includes everything used (or unused but provided for) and payment is hefty. Protecting savings with appropriate insurance coverage for every member of the family was one of our top concerns. For J2, we applied for him the day he turned 14 days old, the earliest one could purchase a plan. When the application was approved 2 months later, we were relieved, knowing that any unforeseen stays in the hospital would be covered by the plan.
Savings: Well, it really depends. So far none… 🙂 Spend about $200+ a year.
5) Cook at home:
Not only is this a healthier choice, savings are substantially great! I used to think that only stay-at-home-mums (SAHMs) could afford such an opportunity but I was gravely wrong. There are many full-time-working-mums (FTWMs) who are into preparing healthy and affordable home-cooked meals for their family. Being an SAHM on some days and giving tuition on other days, I’m more like a work-from-home-mum (WFHM). This makes juggling chores and work preparation as well as running errands a big stretch before J1 and my Hubby returns home in the evenings. Still it is possible. With the help of social media, many mothers have shared how they made decent-looking dinners possible for their families on a daily basis. They made use of thermal pots, slow cookers and pressure cookers to whip up a healthy and fast dinner despite their busyness. Of course it is tedious and the easy and super tempting way out is to tapao a hot and delicious meal from the kopitiam or to place an order with the tingkat. Thinking in terms of cost, a meal from a kopitiam or tingkat cannot be customised and cost of somewhat fixed, perhaps a $5 a meal. That would amount to $15 for my family on a daily basis. A homecooked meal would take up about 30 minutes of preparation and cook time and the cost per person (cooking live produce, not processed food) would be about $3 per person, making about $12 per family.
Savings: $90 per month
I never thought that typing this post had that much Math involved. Anyone who has come across other ways to maximise savings with kids and would like to share too?