a state of rest or balance due to the equal action of opposing forces.
After my last post you now know the news. There is a baby on the way! Yes. The wifey and I are very excited. But I must admit, from a frugal perspective, I am terrified. Perhaps this is because for nearly two decades, I have carved out a quiet and prosperous frugal oriented life for my existing family. Now, change is on the horizon. Change is scary because of the unknown.
As we prepare for this new life in our house, an interesting opinion is forming based off my observations, the baby selling industrial complex is alive and well. Please allow me to explain. About 15 million children in the United States – 21% of all children – live in families with incomes below the federal poverty threshold. And yes, that is a sad statistic that I hope my writing can reduce. But it also shows us, one does not need to be super rich in order to afford a baby (My parents were able to rear 8 kids on a single blue collar income too).
However, shopping at your local department store would paint a different picture. I am seeing cribs, simple little baby cribs, for sale going for thousands of dollars. And the selling pitch… Don’t you want what’s best for your baby. These pitches are just targeting the tender emotions of expecting parents. It nearly makes me lose my grits.
Don’t give in!
With all the changes on the horizon and the cultural brainwashing of our consumerist society, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tempted to just spend thousands of dollars on Amazon and purchase everything that my indebted friends recommend.
Nonetheless, my family persists in gritty frugality! And a funny thing that I am noticing is the statement mentioned by Elizabeth Willard Thames in the book Frugal woods, is correct there is a thriving second-hand market for used baby items.
Case and point, I bought a used crib off Craigslist for $50 (I did buy a new mattress for the crib starting at $20). Likewise with a stroller, I picked one up for $50 used. It’s dusty, but only a few years old and it allows me to jog with the baby. I don’t plan on buying any books or toys new whatsoever either. I’m already browsing the local garage sells on the weekend as we speak.
When I tell my peers that I am buying used baby crap though, they look at me like I have grown a third eye. Why is this? All the baby stuff is made out of strong rubber and plastic. A quick soak in bleach will kill any germs leftover from the previous owners. On the items such as used books, a swipe of rubbing alcohol and a paper towel can clean the pages.
And that brings me to a bigger question, should I allow the baby to break the perfect fiscal equilibrium I have fostered in my home? Obviously, the answer is an enormous “HELL NO!”. Does that mean things will be perfect and I will have a perfectly balanced budget each month? Nope. Not at all. I have never been a parent before so there will be mistakes. But the overall philosophy is, I am an adult. I have financial goals. Emotions based on the safety of my child will be ruled in a rational sense. Yes, that means, items like a car set will be purchased relatively newer than the other items. But note that I said relatively. Meaning, there is nothing wrong with a used car seat made last year.
The goal I have for this baby is to not buy anything new or at least use Amazon as a last resort. That is the principal to abide by. Someone wise once said, when you have all your principles defined all the tough decisions are already made.
And that reminds me of my next point.
The child is chaos, and I am order
Surely experienced parents may laugh at my optimism here. But I can tell you, here at the Average Joe household, the parents call the shots. That being said, below is a creed. A set of principles I have put in place to help maintain the frugal order in my house. Please feel free to list your ideas in the comments. I’ll do a follow-up post in a year or so. Let’s see how this plays out in execution. 🙂
- Now that I have a kid. Do I spend my weekends driving my child all over the place? Nope. Driving is reduced on the weekends to preserve our stash of cash (among many other benefits). Surely, there is a neighborhood soccer game going on or monkey bars my child can swing on to burn up their precious energy.
- Do I lose valuable home real estate due to toys being scattered everywhere? Nope. My child will have a box for toys. And what they own must fit in the box or they will be donated. In addition, I will request that family and friends do not send gifts. Instead, I’d rather they use their precious dollars to pay off debt. I will teach my child to find joy in the non-materialist things (fingers crossed).
- Do I lose money buying plastic crap that my kid will immediately discard? Nope. As mentioned, the principle of fun in my house will focus on experiences, not amazon.com. That is not to say that frivolous toys won’t exist. I believe in the power of play. But can’t we have fun without consuming? We are so brainwashed that we forget of a time where; we used the sticks in the woods as guns and swords, went on walks to catch weird bugs, played on the jungle gym till the sun went down, and we picked flowers for Mom. These are things an “App” can’t do.
Hopefully my aspirations for parenthood will be successful. Please chime in with any tips you may have. Thanks for reading!