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A Lighter Side of the Recession: Having a Baby in 2009

June 25, 2009

Welcome Babies of 2009 Carnival Readers! Once you’ve read my story, wander on down to some of the other links at the bottom of my post!

It doesn’t matter what news media you read or listen to – everyone, everywhere is telling you we’re in a recession.

re·ces·sion An extended decline in general business activity, typically two consecutive quarters of falling real gross national product.

People everywhere are losing their jobs, which is especially hard if you’ve just had a baby. My heart goes out to all the parents who have lost jobs recently, but especially those from our prenatal class. Some of them just keep pushing on and make ends meet. Others see it as a great time to get in on the reality tv show trend, like one couple who is a top 5 finalist for the My Rona Home show (CityTV this fall), where they build their own house in a head-to-head competition against another couple. The winners get to keep the house they built, plus all the furniture and accessories in it. The “losers” get to keep the furniture and accessories, and have the option to purchase they house they built. All in all, that’s not a bad deal, I’d say. From what I understand, the participants will be able to get friends to help them, as long as they are not tradespeople. The couple we know are well… not housebuilders by trade, so hopefully getting to watch them build their house is going to be amusing to say the least. Our fingers are crossed for them that they are one of the two couples who get to compete. They deserve the house!

For those who, thankfully, didn’t lose their jobs, times are tough. I’ve heard of normally-annual raises not happening, as well as salary increases being rescinded after the fact. When you’ve just started maternity leave and are bring in 55% of the bacon you used to be, the BLT is looking more like an LT. Then you find out that your amazingly hard-working husband is getting a raise, YAY! It lifts a bit of a load off your shoulders, you can afford the name brand diapers again. Wait… nope. Come February, hubby’s company decides that times are tough for them too and they’re going to take away the aforementioned raise. Oh well, we didn’t have it long enough to enjoy anyway. But speaking of name brands… Whether you have a baby or not (but more often when you have a baby), you do constant battles with name-brand versus generic when stretching your meager dollars out.

When to buy the name-brand:

  • Kraft cheese slices
  • French’s yellow mustard
  • Heinz ketchup
  • soft drinks
  • baby food (the generic contains almost 10x the sodium in the two I compared)
  • electronics (you have a new baby – you really think you can afford new electronics? ha!)
  • some people say Oreos – personally I like to store brand cookies, but Chips Ahoy, definitely name-brand!
  • Kraft peanut butter
  • Kraft Dinner (the generic is edible, but it ain’t no KD)

When to buy the generic brand:

  • Q-tips (or whatever the non-branded product is)
  • Superstore or Costco diapers (apparently work well, I haven’t personally tried them yet)
  • Fruity-O’s (generic Fruit Loops)
  • over-the-counter medications (they contain the same amounts of the same ingredients at half the price)
  • organics (according to AOL Money & Finance certified organic is certified organic regardless of the brand, so you will pay more than non-organic, but still less than branded organic)
  • pasta
  • Ichiban noodles (can’t think of the generic product name)

Obviously there will be other products in each category, depending on your preference and experience with them. Just keep in mind with food, check the labels. Quite often, generic brands have high sodium content which is a concern if you’re overweight like me and my husband. Then again, like Chad Skelton says in his recent article “Are Cheerios too high in salt to be healthy baby snack?“, some brand name products are high in salt too. Apparently Cheerios have as much salt as 30 potato chips!

Looking at the generic versus brand-name debate, I think I am going to embark on a weekly test of which is better. I will keep it focused on items bought at the grocery store (which is Safeway in my case – go AIRMILES!). Check back on Monday for my first review – peanut butter!

Money Talks … but all mine ever says is Goodbye!

When you have a baby, you quickly learn that you need to cut costs. But where do you cut, and where do you splurge? In a nod to my health, the environment and my wallet, I walked to the grocery store the other day. Packed up Penny in the mei tai, put the leash on the dog, and walked the 11 blocks. I only bought 2 small bags of items meant for dinner that night (thanks alot, Melodie! I was attempting her Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad and didn’t have any of the ingredients). While in the store, it started POURING outside. I mean, the heavens let loose and if I’d bought some shampoo, I could have gone out and had a shower in it! The kid was bored and fell asleep – dead weight on my chest, the dog was terrified of the storm, and I was stuck 11 blocks from home. I couldn’t cab it, a la dog. If I started walking, we’d all be soaked. I seriously thought about calling my husband to leave work early, take the bus and come help me get us all home. Then I realized that would just make 4 of us soaked. In the end, another wonderful mother going in offered us a ride home, which we declined. So she lent us a blanket to cover sweet, sleeping, sack-of-potatoes kid. 20 minutes or so later, the storm passed on, we gave back the blanket, and slowly trudged home. Lesson learned: little bit of gas saved, maybe 0.2 ounces of weight lost, and 1 less footstep in our carbon footprint, but next time I’m driving to the store!

My one last attempt at saving money because of having a baby, is a library card. Invest in it! Stop supporting the big-box stores and buying $35 hardcovers that you read once, languish on your bookshelf (or stacked on your floor or dresser or even your couch), then get donated or recycled. Go spend the $13 or whatever it was on a library card. But, and this it a HUGE but, while you are still standing at the library counter, having checked out 6 books on parenting, 4 baby lullaby CDs, a recipe book for the husband, and one fiction novel that mostly likely won’t get read – take out your phone and program your return date in the calendar! If you let those 8 books and 4 CDs sit on your kitchen counter with the intent to return them the next time you head that way, you’ll find yourself with $21.85 worth of overdue fees when you finally make it there.

The biggest money saver at any time, no matter when you have your baby, is to breastfeed. It’s FREE! You can invest in some nursing clothes, but you don’t NEED them. You can invest in a breastpump or rent one (from OneTinySuitcase.ca), but you don’t NEED it. You don’t need bottles. You don’t need to worry about sterilization. You don’t need to carry everything with you when you go out. There’s just you. You and 2 built-in bags of pre-sterilized, customized-for-your-baby milky goodness!

There really are ways to save money when you have a new baby during a recession. The most useful one though, is to not be me.


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4 comments

  1. Another great way to save money is to shop online. Saves gas for the car, sales tax, your precious energy and it doesn’t matter if it’s raining.
    http://www.newmommyteesandjeans.com


  2. I’m actually lamenting the day we start feeding our baby solid food because breastfeeding is so easy. Although I do have to pump and bottle feed because of work, so that takes some of the convenience away.

    I find shopping online to be hit or miss on saving money. Sometimes I find a great deal, but paying for shipping is sometimes outrageous.


  3. I know! I tried to buy 2 t-shirts from ThinkGeek yesterday. They’re “grab bag” shirts, meaning they’re clearing them out and you don’t know what you’ll get. $5.99 for a men’s and $8.99 for a ladies. And they wanted $19.24 to ship them! I love ThinkGeek’s stuff, but for that much for shipping, no way!


  4. I loved this post :) I walk almost everywhere, not to save money, but because we only have one car & my husband takes it to work… but yeah, when you have to stand around waiting for a rainstorm to pass, it SUCKS.

    Library cards are fantastic, and you have a GREAT point re: writing down the return date somewhere. I have two calendars, and both of them get the return date written on them — and my library sends me an email 2 days before books are due as well, which is a huge help.

    Looking forward to reading more name brand vs generic comparisons!



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