One of the oft-cited reasons for couples not wanting children is that kids are expensive, but does having a baby necessarily mean you will be in your own personal recession for the next 21 years?
It is true that there are some things that you can’t scrimp on (like seeing the doctor, getting the shots, buying diapers), but there are also more than a dozen ways to stretch your dollar. Mums are resourceful creatures and the Internet has brought about a new “savings” industry for parents on the hunt for a good bargain.
THE MUMMY FORUMS
Mummy forums are a great way to exchange tips and scout for bargains. A sharp-eyed mother can find a wide range of secondhand items that are new or in very good condition. This ranges from cots and prams, to diapers and milk bottles.
Says David Tan, 30, whose wife trawls the Singapore Motherhood forum for items for Janine, their 3-year-old daughter: ”Mothers buy a lot of products to try. When it doesn’t suit their needs, rather than throw it away, they can sell it off at a cheaper price.”
Mrs Tan buys First Teeth toothpaste online for about $8 a tube ($15 at the pharmacy). She also bought unopened packets of diapers that would have cost $18 at the supermarket for $13 from another mummy whose baby outgrew the diapers too quickly.
Alyssa Evans, 32, a stay-at-home-mother of 20-month old twins, checks on the condition of the items before she buys them and compares the store prices before she commits. Her best buys to date? An activity centre and a safety gate that would have set her back $400 had she bought it at retail price.
Another mother on the forum, desperate to clear space in her home, sold both to Mrs Evans for $80.
RECOMMENDED FORUM SITES:
COMMON ITEMS FOUND:
Diapers, formula, toys, clothes, prams. Just about anything baby-related.
Expect to save anywhere from 20 per cent for something new and up to 80 per cent for a well-used secondhand item still in good condition.
If you are buying perishables like baby food and formula, check expiry dates. Always try to ask for a photograph to see the condition of the item and always ask if there is a return policy if the buyer finds it unacceptable.
In recent years, renting has become popular with mums. It is possible to rent almost everything from maternity wear to nursing equipment and nursery furniture.
Deborah Ng of Maternity Exchange revolutionised the concept of renting maternity clothes in Singapore because she found maternity clothes in Singapore expensive. “Add to that, you outgrow them so quickly!” A typical maternity dress can cost between $80 and $200. At Maternity Exchange, the same dress can be rented for about $40 for a month.
Says Deborah, “Usually, by renting, a mother-to-be saves about 65 per cent of what she would pay for outfi ts at retail stores.” And the added bonus? A mum gets to wear a wider variety of clothes through her pregnancy.
In the same vein, the Toy Rental Club rents out toys, nursery furniture and feeding equipment. As such, mums can now constantly rotate the toy options for their children without having to buy up half of Toys “R” Us.
Another plus point of renting is that mums can test out the equipment before committing to a purchase. Koh Chern Yi discovered that even though the Medela hospital grade breast pump was an expensive, well-reviewed breast pump, it just wasn’t for her. “Thankfully, a friend recommended that I rent it to try it out. If not, I’d be stuck with an $800 breast pump that I couldn’t use.” She subsequently found another breast pump which was more suitable for her.
RECOMMENDED RENTAL SITES/ STORES
www.maternityexchange.sg (Its online store is at http://shop.maternityexchange.sg)
COMMON ITEMS FOUND:
Toys, maternity wear, baby equipment and nursery furniture.
Depends on the duration. Typically, at Maternity Exchange, a mum can rent about three to four pieces of clothing for about $120.
TIPS: Most of these rental stores also allow you to buy the items which may sometimes cost just 10 per cent of the retail price.
BUYING CHEAPER ONLINE
Karen Goh, a mother of two, finds that she can buy her favourite brands direct from overseas online stores at a much lower price. It began during her first pregnancy when she spotted some nice, unusual maternity wear on an overseas website. The only barrier was shipping costs.
“When I shared my discoveries with my other pregnant friends, they liked what they saw too. So we pooled our orders together and split the shipping costs” The outcome: An $80 shipping charge was divided five ways. Karen ended up paying 30 per cent less than retail price of a similar item from the same brand in Singapore.
RECOMMENDED CONCIERGE SERVICES FOR ONLINE SHOPPERS:
Make full use of the credit card discounts off shipping rates. Also make sure you check the store’s shipping policy and how much your shipping costs. There is a difference between actual weight and shipping volumetric weight.