Budgeting with a baby

Before Lara came along I was never really one to budget, neither was my husband, so I guess we were a bad influence on each other when it came to money matters.

We were both living out of home at 18 years old, renting with friends. When Aaron and I met back in 2006, we moved in together a year after we started dating. We still rent the same place we first moved in to which is pretty special I think, and I guess pretty lucky to be able to rent the same house for 10 years and counting.

Let’s be real, renting is dead money! And it’s so hard to save for a house while you’re paying someone else’s home loan. Unfortunately we don’t have the privilege of moving in with parents to help save for a house deposit, so it looks like we will be stuck in the renters trap for a few more years yet!

Before Lara we basically lived pay cheque to pay cheque! We had new cars, we went away all the time, we travelled overseas, went out to dinner at expensive wineries every weekend, and basically just lived life not really caring about the future, and just lived in the moment, splurging on anything and everything we wanted.

Realizing how much money I used to spend on hair, beauty and clothes blows my mind now! I used to get my nails done every two weeks, spray tans, facials, hair colour every 6 weeks, extensions, eyelash extensions, shopping sprees every week… the list goes on! Buying pointless, unnecessary shit that I thought would make me happy.

When we got married last year we did the first grown up thing and opened a joint bank account and got private health insurance. When I fell pregnant a month later we knew things had to change because not only was a baby on the way, we knew that I would be finishing up at work soon enough, which meant we would only have one income. The company I worked for were closing up around the same time Lara was due to be born, so once I finished work there was no job to go back to.

We started off with our mobile phone plans. We switched them both to the same network and cut down the plan and immediately saved $100 a month! How crazy! We then got onto all the amenities and researched cheaper providers, and we did the same with our car insurance. It took us both by surprise at how much money we could save just by doing a bit of research for cheaper providers, but still get the same quality service and cover. We should have done this years ago!

We wanted to save as much money as possible while I was still working, but we both had quite a bit of credit card debt and thought it would be best to pay them off and clear all debt before Lara came.

We ended up having to pay around $5,000 for Lara to be born in a private hospital which didn’t help the little savings we had. If I could go back and change it, I’d still have Lara at the Bays Hospital because it was the best experience and care anyone could ask for! We will be having all our babies at the Bays, so I guess we better start saving!

We stopped eating out so much, and became quite mindful of our spending habits. One of the biggest money savers we found was our grocery shopping bill. We never did a big weekly shop EVER! We would just pop into the shops every night on the way home from work and buy ingredients for dinner which was such a trap because you’d end up spending $40-$60 a night!Now we plan out the meals for the week and write a shopping list. It’s actually a bit of fun trying to keep the bill under $100 every week, the lower the better and more exciting! Did I really just say that? Ha! Obviously the weeks where we need to buy formula, nappies and wipes, the bill goes up by $70 but that’s expected.

Before I fell pregnant with Lara we had a big clean out at home and threw out clothes, homewards and just stuff! It was a huge declutter, and the thought of clearing out the clutter and creating more space was so refreshing! I read a lot of books about minimalism and slow living and it really changed my mindset about the accumulation of ‘things’. Everything I buy now is thought out. “Is it necessary? What is it’s purpose? Do we actually need this?” I hate clutter, and everything in our home is there because it has a purpose. It’s quality over quantity, and that’s the mindset I have especially for Lara’s belongings. She has a small amount of toys, but they are quality toys.

Life is definitely very different to how we were living before Lara came, but that’s the sacrifice you make when you decide to have a baby. I no longer go to the day spa for pampering, and I get my hair colored maybe once every 6 months. I did find it very hard in the beginning not being able to just buy what I wanted when I wanted, but it really does make you think about what you’re spending your money on. I know from Aaron’s perspective he feels a lot of pressure to be the sole income earner, and it makes me more aware of my spending habits. Each pay day I withdraw myself $50 cash for the week and that’s for me to spend as I wish. It’s my coffee date with friends, tickets to the maze or aquarium, or a little something for Lara or myself. Or I can save it up for something big. It’s money I can spend without feeling guilty that I’m just spending all Aaron’s hard earned wage and any big purchases we always discuss before doing so.

Having the cash in my purse really makes me question what I spend it on. When you just use your card, you just constantly ‘tap’ purchases and you don’t realize how much you’re actually spending. There’s something about having the physical cash in your purse that you can see that makes you stop and think if you really need or want a coffee.

People keep asking when I’m going to go back to work, and truth is I probably won’t be on the job hunt any time soon. We want to have more babies and we want to have them within the next 4 years (before I’m 35) so there’s no real point in starting a new job and then having to leave again, plus I don’t want to put Lara in day care. I also just don’t want to work for anyone. I know that probably sounds a little selfish but I’m just being honest. I don’t feel called and I have no desire to be in a 9-5 mediocre job. If I’m going to work I want to do purposeful work, something I absolutely love…

I recently just started up my own online business which was a little scary to get started as we had to outlay some money to get things up and running. Starting your own business is risky because you don’t know if it’s going to work or not, You just have to jump in and see what the universe has to offer in return. This project is a great creative outlet for me which does wonders for my mental health. I get so much enjoyment from creating things with my hands, and it makes me excited to put myself out into the world and have people purchase my creations. It’s even better that I can do all this while being at home with Lara! I’m hoping that this little business can keep me busy and hopefully help us toward our savings goal.

Life doesn’t have to boring when you’re on a budget. There’s actually a lot of things you can do that don’t cost anything! Entertaining babies/kids isn’t hard and doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. We spend our days going for walks, the park, beach, gardens, & foraging. We have picnics with our friends, and go for hikes to magical places. There’s free story and activity time at the library, local play group for $2, and music, messy play and so much more that has very little costs involved. When we’re having home days we play in the back yard, and make our own sensory games and messy play. We still go out for breakfast and lunch etc but it’s once a week- once a fortnight if anything. You don’t need to have money to have fun!

While our dream to purchase a farm house over looking the hills is now further away than ever, and the luxury lifestyle is now no longer… Having Lara in our lives is all worth it. I don’t care if I don’t have the newest clothes, expensive makeup, or fine dining, I couldn’t care less for material items anymore. As long as Lara is clean, healthy, there’s food on the table and a roof over our head, then I’m happy! You don’t need alot to have a happy life. And with having less than I ever had before, I’m actually the happiest I’ve ever been in my whole life.

Your priorities definitely change once you have babies, and it’s a good thing!

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