Cost of Raising Baby on the Cheap

October 13, 2008 · Filed Under Frugal Parenting · 1 Comment 

Have you ever read those reports on the cost of raising a child?

The last time I checked, I was told that it would cost the astronomical figure of $430,470 to raise my baby… and that didn’t include college tuition!

The people who come up with these figures must not be very creative. Some of the best things you can do for your child are free or very inexpensive.

Here are some tips for raising kids on the cheap.

1) Breastfeed

You can save roughly $1,000 in formula costs alone in your baby’s first year by breastfeeding. Check out this report:

This figure doesn’t include the extra costs you would incur from Doctor visits and medications. Breastfed babies are less likely to need medical care and don’t get sick as often as their formula fed peers.

Formula feeding increases a baby’s risk of both acute and chronic health problems not only during childhood but well into adulthood. If you’re a working and breastfeeding Mother, you’re less likely to miss work than if you were formula feeding.

In addition, a breastfed baby can go straight from the breast to an open cup, thus eliminating pacifiers, bottles and sippy cups.

Even baby food is not necessary. The healthiest first foods for baby are fresh fork-mashed avocado, banana, sweet potato and the like. If you’re breastfeeding, you may be able to delay the introduction of solids until as late as 8 or 9 months.

2) Use Cloth Diapers

All I am saying…is give cloth a chance!

The modern cloth diapers are nothing like Grandma’s. The nicer ones are made from high tech materials that wick moisture away from baby, and utilize snaps or velcro to close instead of pins.

They save you a lot of money especially if you save them and use them again for subsequent children. You can buy them cheaply at thrift stores, online auctions, and diaper services (check your phone book for listings). Or ask for cloth diapers as shower gifts.

3) Rethink your Needs

Think about what you REALLY need to raise your baby. A lot of the expensive items sold in baby stores are completely unnecessary and some are even harmful. Most of the people raising children on the planet today do so without cribs, walkers (which Pediatricians recommend against anyway!), playpens, changing tables, swings, “educational” toys, etc.

Many Moms have found that a soft cloth carrier or baby sling was the only gadget they really needed. Baby is happy, stimulated by your activities and entertained. And Mom can get stuff done!

The best toys are simple and classic and require imagination. These are often the least expensive too! And most kids do best with few toys that are rotated. Think back to your own childhood…what were your favorite toys? If you can even remember them, they were probably not loud, flashy electronic battery powered gadgets. Your best childhood memories probably come from activities…playing in Grandma’s backyard, going places with Mom and Dad, the simple things.

For the baby stuff you really can’t live without…

4) Buy or Obtain Used

Let friends know that you welcome hand-me-downs and you’ll be blessed with all sorts of great stuff!

High quality clothing and baby equipment generally doesn’t wear out from just one child’s use. For safety, check to make sure items haven’t been recalled and get the owner’s manuals from the manufacturer’s websites. (The one exception would be child safety seats. Always buy those new.)

Shop at thrift and consignment shops and online auctions. Some of the very best deals can be found at regional consignment sales. Check local parenting magazines and websites for the locations of these.

Personally, I prefer used clothing because much new clothing has been treated with flame retardants and other scary chemicals that can be absorbed into children’s softer skin.

Being a frugal parent minimizes the impact on the environment, saves you money and models a healthy lifestyle to your kids. Teach your kids what really matters in life…people, not things!

Carrie Lauth publishes an informative newsletter for Moms doing things the natural way. Get your free subscriber goodies at

Save Money:How to Make Baby Food

October 13, 2008 · Filed Under Frugal Parenting · Comments Off on Save Money:How to Make Baby Food 

There are so many ways to save money raising your baby! If you’ve wondered how to make homemade baby food, keep reading…

Make Your Own Baby Food- The Easy Way!

Is your baby about to start solid foods? Are you thinking of making your own baby food?

When you make baby’s first foods, you can save money and reduce waste. You also can choose more nutritious options. Fresh foods are typically more nutritious than canned, and you can purchase organic food to prepare for baby if you wish. You can also avoid unwholesome ingredients that show up in commercial baby food.

Making baby food doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming. In fact, the easiest and cheapest way is the best way!

The easy way to making your own baby food:

1) Don’t bother with buying one of those baby food grinders. They’re hard to clean and too much hassle.

2) If you wait until your baby is 6 months old to start solids, you can almost always just mash with a fork to the desired consistency.

If you’re breastfeeding, you can even wait until baby’s “pincer grasp” is developed and offer him small finger foods like peas, bits of grated apple, and the like. The pincer grasp is developed when baby can pinch small objects (like those bits of carpet fluff or food on the kitchen floor!) inbetween his thumb and first finger. In fact, if you have a family tendency towards food allergy, waiting longer to start solids may be preferable. No matter what baby’s age, always offer one food at a time and wait several days to watch for signs of allergy before offering another. Take it slow.

3) Start with fresh single ingredient foods like:

Steamed carrot, turnip, potato, yam
Ripe pear, peach, melon, plum
Cooked squash
Grated apple- raw or steamed
Well cooked beans
Hard cooked egg yolks (avoid the whites until 1 year)

Some of these foods could be served raw. Others are lightly steamed (steaming retains more nutrients than canning), to make them softer for baby.

4) It’s not necessary to make a big deal of preparing baby’s food.

If you want to take a lot of time blending food and freezing them in ice cube trays, you could certainly do that. But I’m all for the easy approach!

Although you do want to avoid giving baby salt and sugar (and spices that may upset the tummy), you can usually just take an ingredient from your own menu and “make” baby’s dinner.

For instance, if you’re steaming veggies to serve at dinner, take a tablespoon of them out of the pan before you add butter and salt. Put this in baby’s plate and mash away. Voila! Instant baby food with no extra work. Or take a bit of beef from your roast and mash mash mash until it’s very soft.

Even when you’re at a restaurant, you can either bring an apple with you and “grate” it finely with a spoon at your table, or bring along a banana or other portable food. Any restaurant with a salad bar would have cooked beans or avocado. Or give baby a bit of your baked potato (before you add the goodies on top).

Life with a new baby is challenging enough. Keep starting solids simple!

For more helpful tips on simplifying life with kids, visit:

About the Author: Carrie Lauth, mom of 4, publishes a free newsletter for Moms doing things the natural way. Get your copy plus free subscriber goodies at:

Frugal Decorating Ideas

October 13, 2008 · Filed Under Cheap Home Decorating · Comments Off on Frugal Decorating Ideas 

Cheap and Easy Ways To Give Every Room In Your Home A Mini-Makeover

You may be looking around your home thinking “Oh, I wish I had money to decorate!”

Anyone who has watched Trading Spaces knows that giving your house a quick makeover doesn’t have to break the bank!

Simple Ways To Spruce Up Your Space
A gallon of paint will give any room a complete facelift! Always check out the ‘oops’ gallons at places like Home Depot. People request colors and never pick them up, or the person mixing the paint doesn’t get the shade quite right. Oftentimes these colors are just putrid, but sometimes you’ll find a gorgeous color that’s a steal! I’ve decorated plenty of rooms from other people’s leftover paints — and loved the results!

Fresh flowers in a vase make a wonderful addition to any room in your home. Pick the flowers from your own yard to save even more money.

Framed pictures of family and friends are a must. If you have them printed in black and white, they’ll never go out of style!

Add mirrors to open up a small room. Mirrors are a great way to decorate, especially in rooms with low light.

Richly scented candles make every room feel welcoming. Between the soft lighting, and the scent, you can’t go wrong with candles.

New throw rugs and runners at the entrance to your home make a great first impression.

The Bathroom

This is the least expensive room in your home to completely redecorate. A new shower curtain, a rug or two, soap dispenser, cup, some decorative hand towels – and your bathroom has a whole new look.

Try a bathroom theme! How about one of these ideas from the standard to the very original?

* Ocean or Sea theme
* Medieval Times
* The Orient
* Western theme
* Rubber Duckies
* Floral – victorian
* Floral – funky

Or work from one of your favorite paintings and take a color scheme from it. Let Dali or even Andy Warhol inspire your color palette.

Your Kitchen

If new cabinets or the island you always dreamed of are not in your budget, give your kitchen a fresh look by shopping for new decorative kitchen towels and potholders and new matching tablecloth and placemat sets. I love changing my kitchen for the seasons and holidays! A wine rack or framed placemat from a fun restaurant can be the inspiration!

Your Living/Family Room

A few new lamps, a large area rug or an art piece on a bare wall can add life to a dull and tired living room. While these items can be costly, they are certainly more affordable than an entertainment center or sofa.

How about some funky toss pillows and throws for chairs and couches? A little imagination and makes up for not having a big wallet!

The Bedroom

A new bedding set is enough to give your bedroom a major boost! Treat yourself and your spouse to a set of silk or satin sheets to match your new comforter! Search for quality, inexpensive silk sheets & save up to 80% at!

Super Savings Only From!

Budgeting for the Big Change

Treat yourself to a home decorating magazine. Dream big and set your goals high for what you want your house to eventually look like, but start on a smaller scale.

Plan! Mistakes cost money, so really plan your look thoroughly.

Start a Home Improvement Fund by saving change in a jar. When the jar is full, deposit it into a savings account specifically for redecorating your home.

Pick up things here and there slowly. Eventually, you’ll have enough to re-do a room. Buy one new item for the room you plan to spruce as you can afford to.

Don’t forget to shop in places like estate sales, charity sales, and moving sales. You’ll never know when you can find an amazing piece of furniture for a great price!

Sometimes the smallest changes equal the biggest difference in decorating. Don’t start out too big. Good things come to those who wait…and those who are bargain hunters!

How Clutter Chases Money Away

October 13, 2008 · Filed Under Cheap Home Decorating · Comments Off on How Clutter Chases Money Away 

Have you ever heard that having a cluttered home can cause money to run away from you?

I know, I know…it sounds like airy-fairy mumbo jumbo, but think about it for a moment…

Has your desk ever been so cluttered that you forgot to pay a bill and incurred a late fee?
Has your cluttered purse caused you to forget to enter in a debit card purchase and you then overdrew your account?
Have you ever injured yourself in your own home when you tripped over “stuff” cluttering up walkways?
Have you ever bought something that you already owned, simply because you couldn’t find the item in question? Have you ever found overdue late library books or movie rentals under your messy car seats?
Are you getting my point here?

To save yourself time AND money, implement some of these tips:

*Every evening when you turn off the computer, spend just 2 minutes clearing off your desk or workspace. When it becomes a habit you will do it without thinking and it then takes seconds.

*Once a week (or more often depending on your habits!) take a minute to clear out your purse. Pick a day to do this and do it every week.

*Enter your purchases in your checkbook immediately before the receipt has a chance to disappear!

*Open your mail standing over a trash can. That way you can immediately toss the junk mail instead of laying it aside.

*Once a day (before bed is a great time) take just 2 minutes to walk through the house with a trash bag in your hand, and throw away paper trash, magazines, junky plastic toys that seem to multiply overnight, etc.

*Before you log off your computer at the end of a workday, take a moment to delete any favorite places or organize them into folders. Do the same with email. (Better yet, set up your email program to automatically file certain emails into folders as they download.) This will save you time when you need to find things later on.

*The day before you go grocery shopping, clean out your fridge. It’s emptier now so this is easy to do, and you can grab all the leftover bits to make “Refrigerator Stew” instead of letting those items go to waste.

And my personal favorite:

*Never own more than one laundry basket. The more you own, the more you fill up with clean,unfolded laundry!

And just for fun, here’s the airy-fairy stuff:

Having a cluttered home or office can make you feel tired and overwhelmed, because you have an emotional attachment to everything you own. It’s as if a tiny string is connecting every possession to your subconscious mind.

Do you have kids?

Have you ever noticed how your child behaves when s/he has too many choices? How about when they’ve been given a ton of gifts? Do they not get irritable and frenzied? They can’t decide “what to do” with so much stuff around that they pitch it all and play with the box…it’s simple!

I organized my kid’s room the other day (I go on a tear and do this periodically), putting all the toys into categories, organizing them into containers, throwing a lot away,puttting some things away for later, and lo and behold! They NEVER played in there before,and now they’re in their room all the time playing peacefully.

It’s the same with us!

A cluttered home means you will have less energy for your business or other work.

I hope these ideas help you save time and money.

Carrie Lauth publishes a free “no fluff” newsletter for the Mom new to internet business. Get your free subscriber goodies at

Quick Kids’ Meals

October 13, 2008 · Filed Under Frugal Meals · Comments Off on Quick Kids’ Meals 

Kids have to eat. Three meals a day, every day. All moms know how important it is to have an arsenal of quick kids’ meals handy. You never know when you’ll have to put healthy food on the table in a hurry, or when you need quick ideas so dad can help.

Dunk It

“Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.” ~ Jim Davis “Garfield”

Lucky for us, kids love dip. Cut some fresh cucumbers, carrots, zucchini, broccoli, celery, and bell peppers and serve them with ranch dressing. Even finicky veggie-haters will eat their veggies with dressing on them.

Saved by a Sandwich

“All sorrows are less with bread.” ~ Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote

Start with two waffles, an English muffin, bagel, croissant, or a hotdog, hoagie or hamburger bun. Simply add jam, peanut butter, fruit slices, meat, hummus, veggies, eggs, or cheese. The possibilities are endless.

Oodles of Noodles

“The trouble with eating Italian food is that five or six days later you’re hungry again.” ~ George Miller

If you’ve got noodles, you can make a meal. Add some salad dressing and some meat, garbanzo beans and veggies and you’ve got pasta salad. Or, start with noodles and add a little butter and parmesan cheese to make buttered noodles. And, there’s always the classic standby – add pasta sauce and a dollop of cottage cheese onto noodles and you just made lasagna.

Wrap it Up

“The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.” ~ Calvin Trillin.

If you’ve got tortillas and leftovers, you’ve got a wonderful meal. Warm up your leftovers and wrap them up in a tortilla with some cheese. Voila! Leftovers Burrito.

Spuds from Heaven

“My idea of heaven is a great big baked potato and someone to share it with.” ~ Oprah Winfrey

Potatoes are a meal waiting to happen. Microwave a potato, pile on cheese of any sort (cheddar, mozzarella, cottage cheese) and some meat, veggies, or even salsa or sunflower seeds, and you have a delicious dinner.

Soup Warms the Soul

“Worries go down better with soup.” ~ Jewish Proverb

Fill a pan with broth and veggies. Then, just throw in whatever you have in the house, meat or beans, leftovers, a can of diced tomatoes, noodles or rice, and spices. You just made soup in minutes.

Turn the Day Upside Down

“I went to a restaurant that serves ‘Breakfast at any time’. So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance.” ~ Steven Wright

You can have breakfast any time, too. Cereal, eggs & bacon, waffles, or pancakes. Breakfast is always better at night.

Next time you’re in a position to magically make a quick kids meal, refer back to this list and presto – you’ll have dinner on the table in minutes.

Visit for more food ideas. And, if you’re looking to save money by making frugal meals, visit .

Our Budget Basics

October 11, 2008 · Filed Under Being Frugal · Comments Off on Our Budget Basics 

By ClubMom Member Janette, Omaha, NE

When we were in college and first married, my husband and I made $7,000 – $8,000 together annually. Now that we’re out of college, my husband works and I stay home with our children. He makes more than we made during our college years, but we use the same budgeting method.

We were both able to get out of college debt free, and remain debt free other than our house payment and the minivan we just purchased. Here’s how we do it:

First, we make a spreadsheet. On top of the spreadsheet we list the amount of money we have each month to spend.

We then list in order of necessity the things that we’ll be spending our money on, starting with essentials such as house payment, food, insurance, gas, and so on. As we get down towards the bottom we list things like “date money, spending money, clothing,” and so forth.

Janette is a ClubMom Member from Omaha, NE.

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