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.Ā  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.

7 thoughts on “How Having A Child Has Impacted My Finances”

  1. It’s an expensive learning experience, that’s for sure. : (

    Shopping with kids is usually stressful, and big-purchase retailers (appliances, furniture, vehicles) count on the parents to be harried, distracted, and rushed and therefore vulnerable. Salespeople know that if parents show up in store with a young child or two in tow, the parents probably won’t be comparison shopping at other stores — time and energy are at a premium.

    I only started drugstore shopping when my 4-year-old twins went to preschool and I had a little more free time. Shopping at multiple grocery stores to get the best deals? Not going to happen. My time is money, too — and my energy is a precious and finite resource. : )

    • Thanks for the comment and excellent point about time being money. In this case it wouldn’t have taken me much time to look for comparable prices online, but I must admit that if the store was the cheapest option I did not want to have to drive back there to complete the deal.

      Shopping at multiple grocery stores is definitely out for me. Every once in awhile I make it to the drugstore on a Sunday morning, but it’s certainly the exception to the rule. I only have one. I can’t imagine how you juggle two!

  2. I hate that you paid more for the mattress, but I also just want you to know how much I appreciate this post. So many of the people who harp on things like comparison shopping and coupon clipping don’t have kids – it is a completely different universe! Certain things matter a lot less once you’ve got little ones in the mix.

    Most of the time it’s much more worth it to me to save time, get home quickly, and/or make it to one of my son’s zillion activities than worrying about saving $2 on groceries. I say don’t beat yourself up too much – the mattress problem is solved, and in the long run that $250 (while a significant amount of money) isn’t the end of the world. Parents get a pass every now and then in my opinion. šŸ™‚

  3. Thanks for the comment Andrea. I love the idea of giving parents ‘a pass every now and then’ I definitely need it for this fiasco. I think you hit the nail on the head. Since my son was born time has become so much more important to me. I think back to my kid-free days and wonder what on earth I did with all of my spare time šŸ™‚

  4. This is exactly how I’d be if I had a kid. Heck, even single and child-less, I’m STILL like this, so I’d probably be much worse!! Sometimes I’m just too tired/busy/whatever to think about money.

    Then I read online about single moms who have 2 year old quintuplets who seem to know and follow every money-saving trick in the book perfectly every time, and I feel so useless! How terrible would I be if I were in their shoes?! Crazy. No one is perfect, but I guess some are more motivated than others. You just gotta be who you are. Not meaning not trying to do better next time, but quickly moving on when you do make a mistake.

    The great news is, you can afford to not think about money once in a while. It’s all OK. Next time, you’ll know. šŸ™‚

    • Thanks for the comment sense and I am completely onboard with feeling useless sometimes about saving. I mean I have one kid and I’m tired and throwing money at the salesman. When there are people with many more kids then I have and still focusing on saving.

  5. When I just had my daughter, and she was four (ie potty trained and eager to be independent and needed less entertaining) I had lots of time to do coupons. I was even an Extreme Couponer to an extent. Once I got pregnant with my son all that went out the window – I would try but just didn’t feel up to it. I made about one trip a month. Since he was born at 27 weeks and has Cerebral Palsy when I SHOULD be couponing – alas, zero time and energy after two kids all day – ugh. But I did go to CVS (on a meds run) and use all of those ECBs that stacked up and man! I spent $12 on $37 worth of stuff using all CVS coupons and I got free laundry detergent (for more midnight laundry sessions!) and MAN I felt ACCOMPLISHED!! I agree with another commenter.. time is most certainly money! And I probably would have bought the mattress too.


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