Knocked up: Cutting the cost of maternity clothes

Once upon a time there was a pregnant woman. She soon realized she couldn’t wear her “fat” jeans for long and had to buy real maternity clothes. She went to the store and bought an entire new wardrobe and spent a ridiculous amount of money. She then went home, poor. Sound familiar?

When I became pregnant with our first child I was pretty excited about having the belly. I wanted to wear cute maternity clothes and I hoped like crazy that I would be one of those cute pregnant women who only carried in her belly and not in her a$$. (I was neither… face and arms, bleh). Here’s a shot of me a few days before I gave birth to baby number two.

Notice the shirt barely covers me. Sigh.

I went from a Medium size to an Extra Large and almost a Double Extra Large within 6 months. What I didn’t realize was how many clothes I would go through over that 9 months. I know you all know where this is going so I will get there, fast.

It is nice to buy something for yourself to celebrate this moment in your life, but it shouldn’t be a strain on your household finances. Kids already add enough to the household budget, plus all the expenses of preparing for the child and paying for the medical bills associated. Maternity clothes is one thing for which I can offer a solution.

My sister was pregnant before me, and before her so were many of her friends. They simply saved their maternity clothes, put them into a trash bag and every time someone was pregnant, the trash bag migrated to their house. I would always purchase a few things of my own during my pregnancies and at the end, I would deposit those into the trash bag for someone else to enjoy. For at least 6 women I am aware of, the burden of purchasing everything new was relieved. With my second child I only purchased 5 new items! (most of those were late in the pregnancy when nothing would fit because I was having “giganta-baby”.)

Here are a few ideas to help reduce the cost of maternity clothes during one of the most exciting and expensive times in your life: Continue reading

Analyze your spending and stop nickel and dime-ing yourself

It is most difficult to start saving if you feel like you have no money at the end of the month to save. Every penny is accounted for… well, I beg to differ. I PROMISE you anyone can find places to cut back. Here are a few steps to take to analyze your spending and stop nickel & dime-ing yourself to hell.

  1. Stop carrying cash. There are varying takes on this. Mine is to use your debit card for EVERYTHING. This will allow you to truly track your spending down to every dollar. If you implemented the jug after my previous post then you don’t have much cash at the end of each day anyway. Use the debit card for all purchases for at least a month so you have something to analyze. (If you really MUST use cash, then take a little notebook and write down everything you spend money on during the month)
  2. Download your statement. Most banks allow you to download your previous months statement into Excel. Do that.
  3. Categorize each transaction. Take a look at every single little thing and put it in a bucket. Some of my buckets are: Dining, Entertainment, Shopping, Memberships, Utility, Gas, etc. Naturally this allows you to sort the list and see how much you’re spending in each category. If you have several months to download, it is worth the extra effort for the ability to see averages.
  4. Examine $10 and under. This is where most of us get into trouble. How much money did you spend on transactions under $10? These are unlikely NEEDS and most likely WANTS. Be honest, do you NEED to buy lunch at the local fast food joint 5 days per week?
  5. Cut deep but be realistic. Now be honest with yourself. If you commit to stop eating lunch out every day and bringing your lunch, then honestly you probably won’t sustain that. However if you commit to bringing lunch twice per week and cutting that cost down by 40% then you’ve made sustainable progress. The idea isn’t to cut every single unnecessary purchase but to give yourself a reasonable chance at making sustainable changes.
  6. Examine memberships and monthly subscriptions. These items are often things that are under utilized. Take a look at these and examine them on a PER USE basis. For example, if you pay $40/month for a gym membership and you actually went 10 times last month, great job, you only paid $4 per visit. More likely, you went 3 times and paid $13 per visit. Many places will allow you to pay per use, look at if that is a better option for you.
  7. Get Creative. Did you know if you subscribe to Netflix you can watch it on your TV with a $99 device like an Apple TV? My brother does this now and eliminated his TV Cable bill. He simply watches shows online for free or through his $8/month Netflix subscription. He is utilizing a subscription he already had and was able to cut over $1000/year in cable costs. He also watches less TV now and exercises more. My other brother (not Daryl) decided to drop his internet and keep his cable TV. His wife’s mobile phone can get access to the internet for small things and they go online on the laptop when they are out and about.
  8. Add it all up. Ok so you’ve now found some extra cash. What will you do with it? Will this be allocated to saving up that emergency fund? Or will you deposit into your kids’ college savings accounts? You could also increase your 401k contribution if you haven’t maxed it out.
  9. Pay Yourself FIRST! This concept is one of the most important things to grasp when becoming more financially sound. Once you’ve added this up and determined where you are going to put your extra money, schedule a regular transfer of these funds the day after you get your paychecks. That means if you found an extra $200 per month and you get paid on the 1st and 15th of each month, you are scheduling a regular transfer of $100 on the 2nd and 16th. Paying yourself first means you take it out BEFORE you spend it on Taco Bell or Starbucks. If it is just lying around in your account you will find a home for it, I promise. 401k contributions are the best example of this. The money doesn’t even make it to your bank account. If it is not there, out of sight, out of mind.

Have you done this? What are your weaknesses in spending each month? Mine is Starbucks. It has absolutely NOTHING to do with the attractiveness of the drive-thru guy.

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Today Show Clip: Money rules that can save your relationship

The Today Show aired a segment on “Money rules that can save your relationship”. I completely agree with ALL of these but specifically the one about declaring your own independence with money. I’ve talked about it before and we live this rule every day.

Take a look at the video clip here