How Having A Child Has Impacted My Finances
This is not a post about saving money for my son’s future college expenses, making sure my insurance policies are in place or how much I paid to furnish the nursery. This is not about how much money I spend buying him clothes or toys or whatever other things toddlers need or desire.
This post is about how much more I spend on a day to day basis since my son was born. Before my son arrived I clipped a lot of coupons. These days I can’t keep him away from the coupons, the scissors or the circulars, so I tend to do this much less often. When I do bring coupons to the store my son tends to grab at the binder and make a general mess of things. So, coupons? Not so much any more.
I still take a general list to the store, but I find it difficult to shop with a toddler who has no interest in riding in the front of the car or sitting in the back of the cart without throwing everything onto the floor. I’ve tried taking him in the morning, taking him at night, asking him to help me put things in the cart, bringing him snacks, making sure he’s clean and happy. None of these things seem to make a difference. He wants to see and touch and explore. It’s difficult to think about saving money when I’m focused on keeping him quiet and peaceful. I rush from aisle to aisle trying my best to make sure everything I need actually makes it way into the cart and stays there.
Before my son was born I thought nothing of spending thirty minutes on a Sunday morning searching through the drug store circulars, highlighting the best deals, matching up coupons and making quick trips to pick up one or two items. Toothpaste and toothbrushes from CVS, soap and shampoo from Rite Aid. It was simple enough to do. I jumped in the car, jumped out, shopped, paid and drove back home. No problem. With a toddler in tow it’s just not so simple. Dragging him out to the car is hard enough. (There are so many toys in the backyard that he’d rather play with.) Strapping him in, unstrapping him when we arrive, dragging him around the store and ultimately waiting in a line of five people to buy two items just doesn’t seem worth it. So, drugstore sales and shopping? Not so much anymore.
This weekend after taking my son to swim class my husband and I decided to drive off in search of a new mattress. My son was wearing only a diaper. My husband seemed quite nervous about a possible blow out on clean mattresses, but I wasn’t too worried. I didn’t want to head back home just to get shorts. He left the house in a swimsuit that morning, but it seems I forgot to bring along a change of clothes. He had a shirt and diaper on, so that seemed good enough for me.
I was tired from going to bed too late, waking up too early, rushing off to swim class, swimming, rushing to get him out of the pool and dried off and freezing in the locker room. In other words this was probably not the best or wisest time to search for a bed. But my husband often works late hours and there never seems to be a good time of day to complete chores like this one, so I stuck it out and we settled on a comfortable bed.
You can imagine how we looked in the store. My son is half dressed, my husband is exhausted, my hair is still dripping wet from the pool and all of us are hungry. If I were in the right frame of mind I probably would’ve selected a bed, taken home the paperwork and researched the best prices online. Instead, given the circumstances I did something I would have never done before my son was born. I immediately agreed to the price and handed over my credit card.
In all due honesty there was no need to rush to buy a new mattress, but for some reason it seemed easier not to shop around and not to drive from store to store in search of the best deal, but at the very least I should’ve looked up prices of similar beds on the Internet where I know I could’ve gotten a better deal.
Sure enough as the night wore on I grew angry at my hasty decision. At midnight it bothered me enough to keep me awake. I searched for prices online and found I paid at least $250 more than comparable stores. If Sam’s Club carries the same one I purchased, (it’s difficult to tell), I would’ve saved even more.
I love my son with every ounce of being, but sometimes I find that having him around makes me focus much less on money. As he becomes more mobile and independent, (we hear a lot of ‘no’ in the house these days), I find myself less willing to worry about coupons and deals. But sometimes I have to remind myself to step back from a situation or confront it when I have more energy. There is really no good reason to overpay for a mattress and I am kicking myself for doing so.