5 Baby Essentials I May Do Without.

A post on r/BabyBumps got me thinking about all the things that we have around now for babies that we really didn’t use to use in the past. Some are great innovations. Expecting a baby and having a family history of clotting disorders makes you appreciate things like Vitamin K shots. But others seem… not so useful. So here are five “baby essentials” I can’t see myself using.

1: Bath thermometer.

I know the temperature needs to be right. But I also know how to use my elbow to check temperature. I’m sure a thermometer is more accurate, but I’m not sure the water needs to be exactly 37.50000C. Plus, if I really do panic we have a few waterproof thermometers in the med set that work just fine.

2: A full cot.

There is not a lot of space in the cottage. It’s not a small house, but we have a gym, a tutoring room, two pets and a lot of books. And I don’t think having one cot in one room in an old, cramped cottage with a dog running around will help in the long run. Baby will be in a moses basket, then I will move her/him onto a travel cot, with a decent mattress installed. That way baby can be with me when napping, watch me when I need to keep her/him confined and the cot can go away when we need floor space.

3: Baby bath.

Almost every site for second hand baby goods lists numerous baby baths “never used” or “used once”. Apparently everyone finds it easier to use a sink, or to just hop into a few inches of warm water with baby!

4: Maternity clothes.

Have you seen the prices?! Even the cheaper ones are in the £20 range, for something I will wear for 3 months and store for a year before I need it again.

I’m sticking with my usual strategy for general clothes: good charity shop buys. I have two dresses now that should fit me the whole way, and if I need any more I can just throw on a big dress and go out shopping again.

I struck lucky with bras and have found some sports bras that have no underwire, are soft and elastic and can be comfortably rolled up and down, even one boob at a time, so I might not need maternity bras either.

5: Disposable nappies.

Bit of a trick one here. I know I will probably use a few in the first days as I get the hang of having a baby. But I got what looks like hundreds of reusable nappies for free and in no way do I want to spend money on something I already got.

So those are five “essentials” I really don’t see the point of. What is your angle? Am I getting anything wrong? Is there anything else we can do without, in your experience? Would love to hear from other veteran mums and mums-to-be on the subject!

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.
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5 Common Money Mistakes.

Everyone would like to save a little here and there. But some common decisions can result in you spending more money than you intended, over and over again.

1.- Using cards too much.

Cards are a very convenient way of buying things. Too convenient, if you ask me. When we use cards we’re less able to keep track of what we’ve bought. We don’t have a certain number of notes and coins to keep track of. And we’re more likely to splurge when we carry more in our accounts than we do in our pockets.

Try and leave the house always with the money you need and only bring the card out for big purchases or if you see something genuinely too cheap to pass up, that just happened not to be on your list, like a reduced price lamb’s leg.

2.- Virtual over real money.

In a similar vein, we have a hard time conceptualizing real over virtual money. We often accidentally think in terms of our net worth rather than our spending money. We think we have £400 of eBay stock on sale, so we have £400. We think our paycheck is £2000, so we have at least £24000 this year.

Any money that isn’t right now in your bank account or home is not real. That paycheck you’re getting doesn’t exist. If it’s delayed or your company goes bankrupt you might not have it for a very long time. Think in terms of what you have right now, not what you could have.

3.- Physical over virtual media.

On the other hand, we place too much value on physically possessing something. Even when that thing is not really something you hold in person. Everything from films and music to cards and guides, we like to have the thing in our hand rather than on our screen.

But most of these things can’t be used without putting them into some sort of a device anyway, degrade over time and are often more costly. Get your media cheaply, digitally and make it go much further.

4.- Not negotiating.

More a problem that Brits and some Americans suffer than anyone else, but: we just don’t negotiate! We pay fixed price for everything every time and then bemoan it when we find it half price online two days later.

A bit of a haggle is good for the soul and most things can be haggled down, especially in small stores and online shopping. Just asking for a discount via email can result in coupons and reimbursements, so don’t be scared to ask for a little off, especially on big purchases.

5.- Fallacy of sunk costs.

It’s all too easy to fall for this one. We’ve already spent so much on this renovation project, making this dress or planting the garden that we “may as well” throw another pile of money at it and try and fix it. And then we end up spending more money on our cheap way out than we would have spent buying the items anyway.

If something just isn’t working, you’ve spent twice as much on it as you would have spent on the alternative and it looks like it will still cost more, cut the costs and buy the alternative.

And those are my top five common money mistakes that we all make and that can cost us a lot over the year.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

What money mistakes do you fall for? What traps do you take pride in avoiding?

How to… keep household accounts.

Keeping accounts is a pretty useful thing. Whether you own a small business, are saving up for something or keeping a home, having a record of your incomes and outgoings can be useful, insightful and even life saving.

It is also boring, gets complicated and can seem very time consuming. Otherwise, everybody would be doing it.

The great thing is: everybody can do it. You just need to follow these tricks to make your accounts something simple and easy.

1: Create a table of outgoings. The fixed costs.

Usually your incomes will be fairly fixed and, even if they aren’t, outgoings are the more important one to track. You can easily guess at what your income is, but outgoings are mysterious numbers on your bank statement at the end of the month.

Your table will be divided into two. The first half will be fixed costs on a monthly basis. These are everything that goes out on the regular, like phone contracts, insurance, unmetered bills, etc.

2: Yearly costs in your fixed cost table.

When it comes to yearly costs, make a separate bank account to save for them. Divide the total cost by 12 and make a payment of exactly that much every month. Then, add that payment to your fixed cost table as a monthly payment.

3: Random costs table.

Random costs are the ones that move around a lot, like fuel, food, pets or metered bills.

Your random costs table will not be like your fixed costs table. It should cover every day of the month, from the 1st to the 31st, including weekends. It should have a column for bills, one for groceries, one for car, one for services and one for unexpected bills.

4: Payment method column.

Your payment methods also need to be kept track of. Make a column for every payment method you use. Every single account, credit card or online money trader. Also keep a column for coupons, discounts, points and other forms of payment.

In the end, your tables will look a little like this:

Month.

House.

Water bill.

Home insurance.

Pension.

Account 1.

Account 2.

Jan.

400

10

8

150

-568

0

Feb.

400

10

8

150

-400

-168

Etc…

APRIL

Day.

Groc.

Elec.

Serv.

Fuel.

Unex.

Ac1

Ac2

PP

Cred.

ISA.

Coup.

1

0

67

0

15

0

77

5

0

0

0

2

Food.

25

0

0

0

0

0

20

0

0

0

5

3

Pet.

12

0

Hair. 10

15

0

5

0

12

0

0

5

Etc…

Total.

-77

-67

-10

-30

0

-82

-25

-12

0

0

+10

And at the end of every month you have a total outgoing in assorted expenses. The coupons and the likes are counted as a plus simply because that’s money you didn’t spend, so you got a 10 haircut, but got 5 back, if that makes sense.

Try and use a calculator page so that you can add up every column for it’s total, as well as at the end of the month add up all your expenses into one bar at the bottom! Otherwise, be sure to add up your random expenses daily, so you don’t have to sit around crunching numbers for hours at the end of the month.

6: Using it.

At the end of every day, go through your receipts and add the expenses to the calculator. Add the money out twice: once to the column it belongs to (Food), once to the payment method used (Credit Card). If you haven’t got it on a calculator page, be sure to add it to the total. Do not add the coupons at all yet!

At the end of the month, add together the fixed expenses and that month’s total. Take away the month’s total saved in coupons. That is your monthly outgoings.

7: Income.

If your income is fixed, just take note of it and take your outgoings away from it to see how you’re doing. You’re done!

If your income is not fixed, we move onto step 8.

8: Random income table.

This table is very similar in the way it works to the random outgoings table. Take every day you work. I will use two examples, one for my income and one for Jon’s. You want one column to be your working days. The other will be your earnings. You want to do a column a week for each category.

So, seeing as I work five or six days a week for random earnings, I fill mine in like this.

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 1 +

Week 2 =

??????? +

Week 3 =

??????? +

Week 4 =

??????? +

Week 5 =

MONTH

F1

M4

M11

M18

M25

S2

T5 N/A

T12 N/A

T19 N/A

T26 N/A

W6

W13

W20 N/A

W27

T7

T14

T21

T28

F8

F15

F22

F29

S9

S16 N/A

S23

S30

Total.

Total.

Total.

Total.

Total.

And seeing as Jon works 3 or 4 days on, 3 or 4 days off, sometimes days, sometimes nights, his looks like this.

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 1 +

Week 2 =

??????? +

Week 3 =

??????? +

Week 4 =

??????? +

Week 5 =

MONTH

4 D

11 OFF

18 N

25 D

5 N

12 D

19 OFF

26 N

6 N

13 D

20 OFF

27 N

7 N

14 D

21 OFF

28 N

1 D

8 OFF

15 N

22 D

29 OFF

2 D

9 OFF

16 N

23 D

30 OFF

3 D

10 OFF

17 N

24 D

31 OFF

Total:

Add your salary to the table every day and then total it at the end of the week. Add week 1 to week 2 and the total to week 3 until you reach the end of the month. That is your income.

And that is how you do your household accounts the easy way. At the end of the month, be sure to make a note of how much is in each money source to make sure you aren’t overspending and that no accounts are getting too empty!

And please share your accounting tips in the comments, I’d love to hear them! 🙂

TTFN and Happy Hunting.