Thanks to Heather for sharing her expertise on having a baby – or two – on a budget!
On December 8, 2008, I was eight weeks pregnant, and my doctor was doing a routine ultrasound. What she found changed my life forever.
“It looks like there are two babies!”
As you can imagine, nothing in life compares to that moment. Even though twins hadn’t crossed our minds, my husband and I embraced our TWO babies from that moment on. However, I had planned to continue working until our second baby came along … and that time was approaching a couple of years earlier than we expected. Instead of living comfortably in a two-income household with one baby, we were suddenly in a one-income household with two babies!
Very quickly after the girls were born, I realized that my responsibility as a stay-at-home-mom was to save money wherever possible in order to relieve the stress of living on one income. With two extra mouths to feed, twice as many diapers needed, twice as many clothes to buy and wash … this was going to be a challenge.
Good, I like a challenge!
So, how did I survive the first year of twins on a budget? Here are a few things that any mother can do to save money, regardless of how many children lived simultaneously in your uterus:
Breastfeed. It’s practically free, you don’t have to spend time washing bottles and measuring formula, and we already know it’s best for baby. Multiples moms: don’t be scared! I breastfed my girls until almost 11 months and loved it. (I know there are reasons why this won’t work for every situation, but if you can, I would encourage it!)
Cloth diaper. I have to admit, I don’t cloth diaper, but I’m still seriously considering it. For now, I stock up on disposables when they go on sale. I know that I have diapered my two babies for the same or less than a full-price shopper diapers one baby.
Make your own baby food. Did you know that jarred foods cost up to twenty times more than making your own? I bought a used Beaba Babycook on Craigslist, used the freezer cube method for storing big batches, and just pulled cubes out of the freezer for mealtimes … and with babies who didn’t graduate past purees until 11 months, I made a lot!
Accept hand-me-downs. Accept any offers of clothes, even if you don’t think they’re right for you. I promise you can find at least a few things to use! I’m fortunate to have several family members who pass clothes along to me. So far, other than a few items that were too cute (or too cheap!) to pass up, we haven’t purchased many clothes.
Coupon. This one is a little obvious, but of all these things, it has the most impact on a budget. I buy in-season produce for baby food and stock up on laundry detergent and diapers when they go on sale, as a part of keeping my entire household grocery budget low.
Now, a few things that are a little more unique to MOMs (Mothers of Multiples):
Shop multiples sales. The bi-annual sale in Castle Rock is amazing, and I’ve heard the one here in Colorado Springs is good, too. The prices are good, and it’s a great place to buy matching sets of things!
Multiples can share. I just mentioned matching sets, but you really don’t need two of everything. Obviously, we have two cribs and two car seats. I also appreciated having two bouncy seats and two portable cribs. Other than that, our girls have shared almost everything.
Borrow the second (or third) item. Turns out, both of my girls loved being in the swing. We didn’t own two, so I borrowed a second one from a friend for a few months. Phases go so quickly that these items hardly get any wear and tear. Plus, you only have to store one for the next baby … unless you have another set of multiples!
Ask for multiples discounts. There are several online retailers that give BOGO or 50% discounts for multiples. I’ve heard of pediatricians who give a multiples discount. Here’s a crazy one – the college that my husband and I attended gives BOGO tuition to twins … and so do several others!
Contact companies for coupons and freebies. There are TONS of freebies and coupons available to multiples. We received free diapers, blankets, sippy cups, diaper rash cream, and bibs. We also received coupons for diapers, Gerber products, Johnson & Johnson products, and baby food. It does take work –calling or mailing letters to the companies, and some even require that you send copies of the birth certificates – but it’s totally worth it. You can start here, but there are several more that aren’t listed, which can be found by doing an internet search.
Splurge when necessary. Yep, I’m going to say it! Sometimes, buying a new item at close to full price is worth it. For me, it’s our high chairs. They’re portable, hook-on, swiveling, with an attached tray and a machine-washable seat. Our dining room is very small, which makes these perfect, and it’s nice to be able to swivel the seat so that both of the twins face me … or turn them so they can’t fling food at each other.
How have we done, living on one income in my house? By learning how to coupon successfully and implementing these tips, we are living more comfortably on one income than we were on two incomes. In fact, we paid cash for a minivan a few months ago, which we never could have afforded in the past.
And I’m not Super Woman – with one-year-old twins, I can’t spend much time saving money. I estimate that I spend 1 – 2 hours per week outside of grocery shopping. And the truth is, the intangible “income” that I’m receiving by being a stay-at-home mom outweighs any money I could possibly earn.
How many of you are MOMs? Do you have any tips that saved your budget during the first year or two? Singleton moms, please share your thoughts as well!
Heather VanHorn is a stay-at-home-mom to 14-month-old twins and a 3-legged dog … which she’s pretty sure statistically makes her family one-of-a-kind! Read about her family’s adventures on their blog.
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