Raising a child in Singapore can be pretty expensive, just childcare alone can reach up to over a thousand dollars a month even after deducting subsidies given by the Government. When I was a new mother, there were some financial mistakes which I had made and wished that I wasn’t so consumed by the excitement of having a baby while making certain decisions. If I could turn back time, there are definitely some things which I would have done differently.
If you find yourself overwhelmed by the increasing expenditure due to the new headcount in your family, here are some tips which you might find helpful.
#1 – Be open to hand-me-downs or buying second-hand baby items
I remember being paranoid about wear and tear or germs as a new mother and insisted on buying new items for majority of Asher’s items. The only hand-me-downs I permitted were baby clothings because they outgrow from it so fast. But that didn’t stop me from purchasing more either just because they look so cute.
Baby products usually have a short usage life, your child will grow out of that Bumbo seat or walker within months. And brand new products can be quite costly, for example, a Bumbo seat with tray would cost you around S$80.00. Whereas second hand ones in good condition are going for less than 50% the retail price. Try Carousell or local Facebook sale groups to find a bargain.
If you know of friends or relatives who had a baby before you did, don’t feel shy to check if they have any hand-me-downs to pass to you. You would be astonished by the amount of money you could save simply by reusing.
#2 – Go for convertible items & estimate how long you might use an items before purchasing it, especially if it is a pricey one
Being the first among our friends to start a family meant that we were pretty much on our own. I didn’t have a girl friend to consult on which items should we splurge on or avoid. Some of the big ticket items required for a baby would be the cot and stroller. Asher’s cot was a convertible one, you could remove one side of the bars so that it could convert into a toddler bed. Some strollers come with seats that also double up as a car seat too. Getting convertible items are a great way to save money because you could extend their usage life, giving your more bang for your dollar.
We also had a heavy-duty stroller for Asher which I kind of regretted buying. I still can’t figure out to open or close it and it was only convenient to bring out if we were driving. You would need to weigh your pros and cons in situations like these. The advantage of a heavy pram meant that it won’t tip over and you could hang all your shopping bags on it. But that also meant that there was no way I could luge that bad ass around via public transport.
We eventually stopped using it and I ended up buying a light-weight stroller that was 18 times cheaper. We were lucky that both the cot & (heavyweight) stroller were sponsored by family members. However, imagine the money that we could have saved and spent on other useful items instead. So always do your homework and estimate big ticket items’ usage life before committing to the buy. Lesson learnt.
#3 – Cheaper items are not necessarily of poorer quality
You just need to make sure you are getting a good bargain and that would be decent quality that comes with a reasonable price tag. While it is tempting to get the best and expensive brands for your baby, it can also put a strain on your finances.
High chairs are another baby product that can cost a few hundred dollars for the big brands out there. However, it isn’t a product that you would be using for a long time. If I recall correctly, Asher was in his high chair for the most around 6 to 9 months only. So yes, even though the solid wood high chair with a state of the art design is pleasing on the eyes, it will set you back at a whooping S$399. Whereas the basic Ikea high chairs are going for S$25 to S$29.90 only. Some restaurants are also using these Ikea high chairs so they are a pretty durable option to consider.
#4- Stock up when there is a sale
One of my favorite past times as a new mother back then was to go for every baby fair. I would usually stock up on baby wipes and diapers at such fairs. But always do your homework, because sometimes the participating brands also offer the same or even better deals in supermarkets or online. I’ve stopped braving the crowds after I found out that I could purchase diapers via Qoo10.com at the same price (with free shipping) as compared to what was on sale at Expo.
Do also check out warehouse stores when it comes to buying your baby items. Baby Kingdom and Baby Hyperstore along Kaki Bukit do offer items at good discounts. These 2 baby shops are well-known for their lower than retail prices and wide range of products. I also remember scoring bargains from the Lucky Baby warehouse sale at Chai Chee Lane, they had car seats going at 50-70% off the retail prices. Just sign up for their mailing list to be notified of future warehouse sales.
#5- Skip the luxury brand diaper bag
Your diaper bag is most likely to get stained with poo and vomit on more than one occasion so unless you have the spare cash, I would suggest that you skip the luxury brands. Of course, I am not saying to skimp and buy a cheap bag because trust me, you need a bag that is durable with all the stuff you would be carrying around. I’ve been through several diaper bags that cost below S$30 because I didn’t want to waste the money. But going through that many diaper bags meant that I could have just splurged S$150 once on a decent bag and use it for a long time. So don’t make the same penny wise pound foolish mistake as me.
Personally, what I did in the end was to buy a large backpack to use as a diaper bag. You could also check out Baby Centre’s 2015 picks for diaper bags and realize that a good diaper bag won’t require breaking the bank.
#6- Join a mummy group
You can find them via Facebook, Motherhood forums and so on. Not only do such mummy groups provide you with the support you require as a new mother, they sometimes also hold bulk purchases where you get to buy baby products at massive discounts due to the volume.
#7- Request for samples
Some babies are allergic to cow’s milk or could develop a diaper rash from using certain brands. It would have been a waste if you just stocked up a carton on products which turned out to be unsuitable for your child. But good news for parents, most milk and diaper brands (as well as other baby-related products) offer samples for you to try out before committing to their full sized products. You could visit their website or Facebook page to request for a sample.
#8- Go easy on the toys
Each time you get your little one something new, have you noticed that your baby is more fascinated with the packaging of the toy than the toy itself?
If you could DIY, even better! Imagine all that money you could save on from spending on noisy, plastic junk that overstimulates. Head over to Fun At Home With Kids & The Imagination Tree for ideas on sensory play and activities. You could learn to even make your own play dough and more. Pinterest is also a great place to start for ideas on how to make your own DIY toys and activities to stimulate baby.
If you are considering quitting your job to become a stay at home mom, do read up on my blog post: How I Prepared Financially To Become A Stay Home Mom.