If you have just become a parent for the first time, it’s probably safe to say that you are a little concerned about how you are going to afford to take care of the new addition and how you are going to stretch your money. Caring for a baby is not cheap but there are ways that you can reduce costs and still give your child the best that you can.
Shoestring parenting is becoming the norm for a lot of parents who have come to realise the importance of saving. Whether you are saving up to put down a deposit on your first home, for a new car or just saving for a rainy day – cutting back and carefully budgeting has its rewards.
- Second hand is just as good! Your baby will not be offended if you purchase a second-hand car chair, crib, pram or high chair. Shopping at second-hand baby stores or using the online classifieds will let you find tons of good-as-new baby furniture. Most of the furniture has been barely used and is in excellent condition and the best thing about second hand is that you pay a fraction of the price of new. Speak to friends or family members who have had children – they may have a garage full of baby goods which they want to sell.
- Buying new baby clothing can also be costly but you can also find good quality second-hand baby clothing. Again, call on those who have had babies and find out if they want to sell or get rid of clothing. As long as they are in good condition, there is no harm in reusing baby’s clothes.
- Use towelling nappies rather than disposable ones. Granted, disposable nappies are convenient but they are costly. You will need to buy a nappy bucket and soaking detergents as well as nappy liners but even with these extra items added into the equation – towelling nappies are much cheaper. It’s a good idea to keep a few packs of disposable nappies on hand. You may want to consider using cloth nappies in the week and disposables on the weekend. Not only will you be saving cash but you will be doing your thing for the environment!
- Breastfeed! Buying baby formula is expensive and besides the formula, new parents will have to buy bottles and sterilising equipment. You can breastfeed your baby for free and there is no need to buy any specialized equipment. Apart from saving money, breast milk has been designed just for baby and this means that the infant will be receiving all the nutrients, minerals and vitamins it needs.
- Make your own range of baby food. When your infant starts on solids, you can either buy commercially-prepared baby food or you can save a little money by preparing your own baby food. By visiting wholesalers, you can find great deals on fresh vegetables and fruits and if buying in bulk is too much, partner with a friend or with your mom, or sister. You can also use the veggies for adult meals. Once the baby food has been prepared it can be frozen.
- Babysitters do not come cheap. Rather than doing away with date night, barter with other parents. Find out if you can share babysitting duties. In this way both couples will be able to spend some -alone’ time with each other and they won’t need to pay for a babysitter.
As baby grows, the need to stick to a budget is just as important. Preschoolers are demanding and they will want you to buy virtually every toy and treat they see. Do not give in to their whims! It’s important to teach kids the value of money and if you buy them everything their heart desires, you will not be teaching this lesson.
Entertaining kids on a limited budget
Luckily there are ways to keep kids entertained on a shoestring budget. You just need to know where to look.
- Local libraries run regular holiday programs. These programs are geared for kids aged 4 – 12 and they are free of charge. The programs include story times, movie times or outside guests spend an hour or two with the kids teaching them great lessons. Kids are provided with juice and snacks and the programs generally run until 12pm. Visit your local municipality’s website to find out more about the holiday programs offered at local libraries.
- Duck feeding. There are a many inner city parks with lakes which are home to ducks and geese. Entrance is usually free or a nominal fee is asked. After feeding the ducks, kids can play on the playground equipment and to make the day extra special, take a picnic basket along.
- The Bunny Park. Entrance is free and kids can spend the day following the bunnies into their rabbit holes and what’s more they can feed the bunnies. You can take your own carrots or buy at the venue. The venue is ideal for kids aged 3 – 10 and enjoying a picnic among the rabbits is recommended. Farm animals can also be seen and city kids will be amazed to see donkeys, cows, goats and chickens roaming freely. The Bunny Park is in Benoni and is open from 7am until 5pm.
- The Johannesburg Zoo is R34 per kids and R55.00 per adult. When you consider the assortment of animals seen at the zoo, the entrance fees are reasonable. A season ticket is also available and this allows for year-round access to the zoo. The price for the annual ticket is R300-00 for kids and R500-00 for adults.
- If you are lucky enough to live on the coast – the beach will always offer free and fun family entertainment all year round (weather permitting). Landlocked parents are urged to explore the many local public parks, such as the Bunny Park that has been in existence for years, and has been explored and enjoyed by generations of South African kids.
If you are saving up for your dream home or to replace your old car, you can parent on a budget and still keep your child happy, healthy and entertained.
– For budgeting and baby costs, use Calora’s tool: www.calorababy.co.za/baby-costs-calculator