4 Surprising Expenses I’ve Had Since Becoming a Mom

There are several cards that can help you afford the various expenses that go along with parenthood.

When I was single and kid-free, I could spend my money as I pleased. While I’ve always been relatively responsible with my cash (retirement and emergency savings have always been important to me), back in the days before my daughter was born, there were a lot more dinners out, extravagant travels, and fun household items being purchased than there are now.

These days I’ve found that I’m still spending money on the things that matter most to me, but my priorities have shifted since having my daughter. Here are some common items I’ll regularly pay for now—some of which have surprised even me.

1. A Meditation App

Why I Need It: As a working mom, I’m not the best at always scheduling in workouts or showers. But I know I can find 10 minutes in my day to meditate. Taking just a couple minutes out of each day to do this helps clear my head and keeps me grounded to make it through the rest of my day-to-day business. You don’t have to be a mom to benefit from meditation, though—it can help reduce stress, improve concentration, and may even slow aging. . . . Who doesn’t want that?

How to Budget for It: Type “meditation” into the search bar on iTunes or the Google Play store, and you’ll get more results than you’ll know what to do with. Most come with free trials, which provide a great way to try out a few and find one you like. I used the free version of Headspace for months, and it worked just fine.

If you’d prefer to buy an app that offers more guidance but can’t swing the full price, try signing up for newsletters from the app you like and wait for an introductory or sale offer to come along. Most are pretty inexpensive, though, and you could easily cover the cost by forgoing a latte or two over the course of the month.

2. Organic Food

Why I Need It: While I would never consider myself a foodie, these days I’m much more careful about what I buy at the grocery store because I care about what I’m putting in my daughter’s body. I don’t mind the benefits for myself, either.

How to Budget for It: While it’s true that buying organic could drastically increase your grocery budget, you don’t necessarily need to buy everything organic. Focus on the dirty dozen (or food items for which pesticide content tends to be highest), and go from there if you still have room in your grocery budget.

You may want to check out weekly ads from local markets that stock organic produce—a coupon or two could bring the price down to much more affordable levels, especially on produce that’s in season.

3. Priority Seating on Flights

Why I Need It: Traveling with a child is stressful, to say the least. I’ve found that it can be a little less stressful with the right seating, though. For most flights that means dishing out a little extra cash to pay for the bulkhead seating, which gives us more leg room and space. On airlines like Southwest that board by group and don’t give passengers seat assignments, you may have to pay for early boarding. Paying to board early means I get to pick where we sit, which is essential to everyone’s comfort.

How to Budget for It: On most flights, children under two who sit on your lap during the flight fly for free, so my advice is to take advantage of that while you can. I also suggest remaining loyal to one airline, if possible, and making the most of either their credit card or rewards system to book flights, or else signing up for a regular credit card that offers great miles.

4. Regular Haircuts

Why I Need It: While regular haircuts were never a part of my life before now, these days I find that adding even the smallest amount of effort to my personal appearance helps me feel refreshed, and a good haircut can always do that.

How to Budget for It: Depending on where you live, paying for haircuts every few weeks can really add up. Since I’ve decided to make this part of my regular routine, I’ve opted to find a place that doesn’t charge me an arm and a leg but still does a good job. It helps that I already have a little wiggle room in my budget from other things I’m not spending on these days, like dinners out and lots of travel.

Becoming a mom is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me, and it has affected my outlook on everything, including what I value enough to spend money on. Paying just a little bit extra for the things mentioned above helps me feel healthy and happy—and you really can’t put a price tag on that.

If you’re new to the world of parenthood and are still working out finances, it may be worth looking into credit cards that cater to new-parent needs. Just make sure you’ve checked your credit report before applying, which you can do for free at Credit.com.

Image: monkeybusinessimages 

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Going Broke Because Your Kid Plays Travel Soccer (or Some Other Absurdly Expensive Activity)? Here’s How to Save

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Getting your kids involved in extracurricular activities helps them both socially and physically. It teaches them the importance of teamwork and discipline. They have an opportunity to develop skills and learn self-confidence.

While these are great for kids and often activities parents encourage, they can be a bit taxing on the wallet. There are ways to save money on both fees and even equipment and items needed for participation.

Saving Money on Fees

Join School Activities  

Many times, the events sponsored by the school have little-to-no fees at all. These are a great way to get to know kids in the school, with whom children may not have other classes.

Register Early

The saying goes “The early bird gets the worm.” So is the case if you get your child registered early. Many programs offer a discount of upwards of 30% if you sign up early.

Check Out Community Centers/City Groups

Were we live, there is a parks and recreation department. This group puts together classes and sports teams. The idea is not to compete to win, but rather, to teach and educate kids on the principals of the game. It also allows kids to explore ideas and showcase talents they may not have a chance to use otherwise. The cost to join is often less than high-end or competitive leagues and is the perfect way to introduce your child to something new.

Barter

If you know dance, you might be able to volunteer to help out at your daughter’s dance class in return for reduced lesson fees. You might even find a way to help them advertise for free, help with the front desk or other ways to get a discount on lessons for your child.

Try it First

Before you commit to a contract, check to see if your child can try a class or two first. Once you and your child get a feel for the class and the instructors, you will feel better about making the financial commitment.

Saving Money on Equipment

Check Out Second-Hand Stores

If you need to purchase any type of sporting equipment, stores such as Play It Again Sports, are the perfect way to save money.  Since kids tend to lose interest fast, this allows you a way to afford the purchase, without too much investment. In addition, you can turn around and sell items your child no longer uses.

Ask a Friend or Family Member

Check around with other friends and neighbors who may have children who have played the same sport. They might find the ballet slippers are sitting at the bottom of their daughter’s closet and might just give them to you.

My daughter wanted to learn to play the fiddle, and so we were able to get my aunt’s sent to us and just paid to get it restrung (and for a new bow).

Check Online Marketplaces or Auction Sites

You can find just about any type of equipment needed for any sport or activity on online auction or classifieds sites. From baseball bats to tap shoes, you can often find what you need at a discount. When you are done, you can also use these same sites to sell your own items.

Rent Items

Don’t necessarily rush out and purchase a brand new instrument for your child’s band lessons. Look to rent one for a few months to ensure it is something your child really wants to do.

Getting your child involved in extracurricular activities is a way to help them grow and develop skills they will need later in life. However, don’t allow yourself to get so caught up that you end up spending more than your budget allows. By taking a frugal approach, you’re teaching them good money habits.

[Editor’s Note: You can see how your debt levels are affecting your credit by using Credit.com’s free credit report card, and by pulling your free annual credit reports each year at AnnualCreditReport.com.]

Image: majorosl

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