Our baby is five weeks old today, and we’ve settled into a pretty happy little existence with him at the center of it all. Can’t really remember what life was like before we had him, and that’s just fine. In the last five weeks, we’ve spent very little additional money compared with what we were spending before we had him. We did buy an organic crib mattress for him (he’s still sleeping in our bed, but someday he’ll be using it, I’m sure…) and our health insurance premiums went up by about $160/month now that we added him to the policy. But that’s about it. We haven’t bought any toys or clothes or baby gadgets. I went to Babies R Us one day with a friend who wanted to go looking for clothes for her own kids. I did end up buying a nursing bra there, so I suppose that’s another $15 that I have to count, since I probably would not have been buying an oh-so-sexy nursing bra without having a baby. We’ve spent a ton of time with our baby, holding him and snuggling him and taking him for walks all over town in the sling. But we haven’t spent a lot of money.
One decision that always gets mentioned whenever frugal bloggers talk about the “cost of a baby” is breastfeeding versus formula. Obviously breast feeding is the frugal choice, and I think most people also know it’s the best choice for the baby. I was 100% committed to breast feeding long before my baby was born, but the first couple weeks were pretty rough. In the beginning, breast feeding was so painful that I would cry the whole time he was nursing. I hadn’t expected that – people talk about how painful birth is, but very few people mentioned anything about nursing being painful. But I was determined. If there are moms who breastfeed adopted babies, there was no way I wasn’t going to breastfeed. I talked with my midwife, who verified that he was latched on properly and doing everything he was supposed to be doing. So I persevered. And sure enough, by the time my son was two weeks old, I noticed that I wasn’t wincing anymore when he started to nurse. And pretty soon it became the wonderful experience that people talk about. I love feeding my baby – it’s one of the highlights of my day (and night). It makes me sad to think that there may be other moms out there who experience the same thing and give up – believe me, it does get so much better!
So what does this have to do with personal finance? Well, for one thing, it’s a whole lot cheaper than formula would be, and the boost to his immune system will mean fewer sick baby days, which is good all around. But in the bigger picture, I’m reminded of the words of Yoda – “do, or do not, there is no ‘try’.” My experience with breastfeeding kinda sucked in the beginning (pun intended), but because I was absolutely determined to make it work, I kept at it. Same thing with paying off our debts after we got our business going, and with living below our means ever since. If you’re trying to do something, especially if it turns out to be difficult, there’s a good chance you won’t succeed. But if you’re absolutely going to do something no matter what, you’re a whole lot more likely to succeed.