Welcome to the Carnival of Breastfeeding!

February 16, 2009

This month’s Motherwear Carnival of Breastfeeding is about saving money while breastfeeding. Be sure to check out the links below (updated throughout the day) to other frugal mommies!

I’m terrible at being frugal. If I reeeeeally want something, I’m willing to pay almost anything for it, as long as I can scrape together the money somehow. I wouldn’t say I live beyond my means (or rather, our means, now that we’re a family) in the sense that I live on credit and spend money I don’t have. No, it’s just that I spend money on things I don’t really need, but really badly want, and then find myself short at the end of the month and just barely scraping by for a few weeks. We really don’t have that much money, but I suspect that if you looked in our pantry or closet, you would assume we have a lot more. For better or for worse, my husband’s pretty much the same way, so neither of us can really whip the other one into shape when it comes to money.

Breastfeeding was, of course, a godsend when it comes to finances. It really doesn’t cost anything. Of course I spent quite a bit on cute nursing-friendly clothing (my favorite brands are Motherwear and boob), but the breastfeeding itself is free. Indirectly, though, breastfeeding taught me some lessons that have ended up saving me money.

1. You don’t need nearly as many clothes as you think you do. I have a large closet and large dresser full of clothing, and there are some garbage bags in the basement full of stuff I haven’t worn in years. I’ve never counted them, but I probably own 200 or so tops. Know how many of them I actually wear? About ten, I’d say, including tank tops, short-sleeved tops and long-sleeved tops. That’s only 5% of my above-the-waist wardrobe! Part of this has to do with the fact that the vast majority of my tops aren’t nursing-friendly, but to be honest, I don’t miss the variety. I invested wisely in nursing tops that I really, really like. Sure, they weren’t cheap (although I made a point of watching for sales), but I only bought ten or fifteen altogether over the past year and a half. And by combining them with cardigans and shawls, I never get tired of them. I strongly suspect that I will continue this “wardrobe management” well beyong my nursing career, and in the end, this will save me money. I won’t deny myself expensive clothing that I really want, but I will limit myself to those few versatile articles of clothing that I know I won’t get sick of. I won’t have the same variety to chose from, but I will no longer be a victim of, “clothing, clothing everywhere, and not a thing to wear.”

2. My boobs are hungry. And I mean H-U-N-G-R-Y. I eat more than everyone else in the house combined, and I’m still a bit underweight. Nursing has really made demands on my body, and those demands mean that I need to eat smart. I need to pack the calories and healthy fats and vitamins and minerals into every bite. But healthy food can be expensive, especially when you’re like us and you want to buy organic, local grown food whenever possible. Too often, I have found myself starving and in dire need of something to eat RIGHT AWAY, and so rather than cooking a healthy meal or preparing a nutritious snack, I’ve resorted to fast food, empty calories, thus spending money on additional food even though my kitchen was fully stocked. The answer has been meal planning. We get a basket of local, organic fruits and veggies, along with locally produced dairy products, delivered every Friday morning. Over the weekend, I sit down with a list of the things we got and the current advertising from our area health food and grocery stores, and I put together a plan for our meals for the coming week. On Monday, I go shopping and buy everything we need for the entire week. When I started this, my goal was to stop wasting food (by having to throw it out because I hadn’t used it up before it went bad) and to stop resorting to fast food whenever I felt my blood sugar drop. An unintended side-effect has been that it saves us LOTS of money. I estimate that we spend HALF of what we used to on food, despite the fact that 75% or more of our groceries are still organic. Part of it is that we spend less on take-out and fast food; part of it is that we pay more attention to what’s on sale and what’s in season; and part of it is that we buy only what we need and actually use what we have. Plus, I no longer need to force myself to stand in the kitchen and cook when I feel like I’m about to fall over due to hunger.

So while I never set out to save money with regards to breastfeeding, it has had some pleasant unintended consequences for our financial situation. My husband and I have even been able to pay off our debts over the past year – they were never really that high, but it’s a great feeling not to have that looming over us anymore!

Check out the other posts for more money-saving tips!

Tanya at the Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog writes about inexpensive home remedies for breastfeeding problems.

Janda at Mamas Worldwide has a tutorial on how to convert a normal bra into a nursing bra. What an awesome hack!

Hobo Mama shares her tips on how to avoid spending lots on nursing supplies.

Blacktating shares DIY tips to save money of breastfeeding/pumping equipment.

Angela at Breastfeeding 1-2-3 shares a recipe for a Pedialyte alternative.

Zen Mommy explains how breastfeeding helped curb her shopaholic tendencies.

Breastfeeding Mums offers a great list of alternative uses for breastmilk that can save you money!

2 Responses to “Welcome to the Carnival of Breastfeeding!”

  1. Layla said

    “My boobs are hungry.”

    I feel ya, girl!

    Mine are too!

  2. Great insights! I feel that way about my clothes when I go on a trip. I really like having only a few favorite choices, and I feel overwhelmed when I come back home and see all the options. I’ve really pared down my closet a lot, and it could still use more pruning.

    And my appetite has been through the roof with breastfeeding! I’m ALWAYS hungry. I could eat twice as much as my husband (if I let myself…). We throw out a lot of food, too, sadly, and of course it’s the good, fresh stuff that goes bad. I’ve been suggesting meal planning to my husband, because he does the cooking, but so far he says he wants to stay spontaneous. Oh, well! I’m glad it’s working for you.

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