Parenthood Hacks: How We Saved Close to S$8,000 in the First Year as Parents
Raising a child is a huge financial commitment (but that smile just makes your money worries go away!).
Depending on your childcare needs and individual preferences, you can easily shell out about S$15,000 in the first year alone.
However, with the hacks detailed below, my husband and I managed to cut our expenses by almost $8,000.
Here’s how you can do it too!
TL;DR: Saving Money in the 1st Year of Parenthood
|What My Husband and I Did||Cost Savings|
|Chose National University Hospital (NUH) over Raffles Hospital||$3,000|
|Bought diapers in bulk from online store||$400|
|Purchased Soonsu Story wet wipes in bulk instead of Huggies||$800|
|Purchased stroller from a baby fair||$300|
|Got hand-me-down clothes||$400|
|Purchased IKEA baby cot through Carousell||$480|
|Got hand-me-downs for changing mat and bathtub||$60|
|Prepared solids at home and froze them instead of buying||$600|
Disclaimer: The costs outlined below may be different for you as every individual’s preferences and circumstances are different. This provides a rough guide to options for you to save money.
The moment we found out about the pregnancy, my husband and I discussed whether to take the private hospital route or the public hospital one.
We consulted a few of our close friends and also our relatives who had a newborn on the smarter financial option.
One of my friends recommended Raffles Hospital for the care and the expert consultants there.
Just as we decided to go with the private hospital, my relative advised us to go for a public hospital route but as a private patient.
During pregnancy, we can’t predict what would happen. So, if it ends up in an emergency caesarean section (C-section), the costs can escalate quickly.
Understanding that and looking at the average bill sizes from the Ministry of Health (MOH) website, we went with the public hospital route.
We chose National University Hospital (NUH) for its progressiveness in the natural birth movement.
It turned out to be a great decision as I had to go for an emergency C-section. If we had chosen a private hospital, we would have paid much more.
We easily saved around $3,000 by choosing a public hospital with a private room over a private hospital. To calculate the savings, I took the median price of $12,727 at Raffles Hospital (1 bedded ward; C-section) and deducted from my actual labour cost of around $9,800.
|NUH (Ward A)||Raffles Hospital (1 Bedded Ward)||Actual Cost at NUH|
|For Normal Birth||$4,197 to $5,444||$7,415 to $9,320||-|
|For C-Section||$6,296 to $7,987||$11,841 to $16,922||~ $9,800|
Pro tip: Before getting discharged, don’t forget to ask the nurses for samples.
Some hospitals have lotion, diapers, and travel baby wash samples. You can also request for syringes (to store the liquid gold, colostrum) and maternity pads.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) recommend that children be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life.
Breastfeeding is no easy feat and I salute all the mothers who breastfeed their children!
If you wish to purchase breast pumps, wait for at least two weeks after giving birth before spending your money on one.
Breast pumps can cost up to $599 (for the Medela Freestyle) and are a big commitment. I wanted to get that initially but luckily, I didn’t, after listening to the more experienced mothers. They advised me to wait it out to see how well the baby takes to breastfeeding.
Some mid-range ones like the Philips Avent Single/Double Electric Comfort Breast Pump ($249 on Lazada) have similar functions and are highly raved about too.
Since you’ll spend most of your baby’s first two weeks indoors anyway, wait at least that long and make sure you’re committed to breastfeeding before you purchase a breast pump. Lactation consultants recommend directly latching to promote a healthy supply of milk anyway.
If you do have to purchase formula milk, do cross-reference the ingredients on the list between the brands to make the best choice.
Many online parenting thought leaders and mothers observe that there are minor differences between the ingredients in the milk itself. The more expensive brands have more marketing campaigns with freebies and promotions and that adds on to the cost.
Ultimately, however you feed your baby (#fedisbest), you can still make a choice to make budget-friendly decisions.
By not purchasing formula milk, we saved about $150 per month on average. Even the cheapest formula milk brand, Fairprice Gold, would cost $116 per month. That’s $1,392 per year!
We also did not purchase a high-end breast pump as our son refused the bottle. In the end, I used the combination of a Haaka (about $30) and the Real Bubee Breast Pump (around $20).
Diapers can be your largest monthly expense. On average, babies need a change of four to six diapers a day, that translates to over 1,400 diapers a year.
Diapers can cost anywhere from 20 cents to 50 cents apiece. So by buying wisely, you can save a lot of money!
(Editor’s note: Loo Cheng Chuan, founder of the 1M65 movement, recently gave his views on how to save on diapers so do check it out!)
While retailers may have competitive promotions, purchasing from online stores is simply easier for me as I don’t have to lug any diapers around.
Buying in bulk helps lower the cost and ensures I don’t ever run out of diapers (which would be a disaster). I usually time my buys during sales (like the 10.10 sale coming up!)
There are also many sellers on Carousell or on Facebook mummy groups selling their leftover diapers at a discount. Personally, I find it too much of a hassle to meet up to collect the diapers as I don’t drive. If you do go this route, practice social distancing y’all!
You can also strategise the usage of diapers. We use a cheaper brand (Drypers) during the day and a more expensive one (Huggies) overnight.
We save around $400 on diapers.
Diapers are not the only thing you can save on when buying in bulk — don’t forget the wet wipes!
Buying wet wipes may sound simple, but there are a lot of considerations before getting the best one for your baby.
When buying wet wipes, you have to see how large the wipe is, the wetness, the absorbency, the ease of removing the wipe, without the next piece coming out, and whether it’s fragrance-free.
Some babies also have more sensitive skin than others, so it is good to buy a few packets first, before buying more. We are lucky to have new parents around us who loved to share and we tried out five different brands before settling on the Soonsu Story brand wet wipes.
The Soonsu Story wet wipes cost about 1.2 cents apiece (or lesser if we buy it during sales on Shopee). A mid-range wet wipe like Huggies costs 4.8 cents apiece while Cloversoft’s Organic Baby Wipes cost 7.3 cents apiece.
We use around 60 wipes a day, from cleaning him up during diapering to other things like cleaning up after eating. That translates to around 21,900 wipes per year.
Buying the Soonsu Story wipes in bulk instead of using the well-known Huggies brand helped us save around $800 per year.
We also try our best to wash our son with water and use reusable cloths to wipe him dry. But sometimes, using wipes is just much easier, especially as he gets older.
Savings: About $1,200
There are a gazillion different stroller designs out there — cabin sized strollers, travel systems (strollers with a car seat), 3 wheelers, you name it, they have it!
A top-tier stroller can potentially cost you upwards of $1,000 while an average good-quality stroller should cost you about $800.
It is very important to test drive your stroller to ensure that it is comfortable for you and your child. Ask your friends and family which strollers they use and if possible, test them with your baby on it. I have heard of parents saying their babies don’t like a certain type of stroller.
You can also rent a stroller from The Baby Specialist, City Baby, Rent Tycoons SG, and Singapore Stroller Rental.
New and used baby strollers can also be found on Carousell at cheaper prices. You can then send it for a thorough rinse at PramWash to make it look as good as new. That’s what we did with a used stroller passed down from my friend. We didn’t use it in the end as it was bulky.
Once you decide on the stroller(s) that you prefer, shop around to get the best price.
In the end, we chose to purchase a mid-range stroller (Keenz Air Plus) that can carry all of my son’s necessities and have space to spare for groceries and library books. It retails for $629 online but we purchased it at a baby fair for $329.
Clothe Me Up
Babies outgrow their clothes at a shocking rate and also change clothes daily more than a ramp walk model! My son changes 3 to 4 outfits a day and laundry piles up very quickly.
We gratefully accepted hand-me-downs from various friends and saved on buying overpriced baby clothes.
In fact, we only bought one set of clothes to bring him home from the hospital, and the rest of his wardrobe was stocked up with pre-loved clothes.
Nowadays, when we do buy clothes, we tend to gravitate towards classic designs in multi-packs so that it is easier to mix and match.
Online shops like Lazada and Shopee have a wide range of affordable clothes if you do want to purchase new ones. Do check out the reviews before you purchase any.
Assuming clothes for infants cost $600 per year, we easily saved $400.
You also do not need to purchase shoes for your toddler until they are walking. And even then, it is recommended that they are barefoot as much as possible.
Savings: About $400
Food for Thought
Just when you think you have got the hang of feeding your baby with milk, it is time for solids! You can sign up for free samples from both infant formula and baby food companies (some links at the bottom!).
When preparing baby food, do also look into freezing batches of food as babies eat small amounts at the start.
We also prepare food at home instead of always buying baby food pouches and jars, which can be expensive over the long run.
Savings: About $600
Tuck in for the Night
While I still haven’t finished outfitting our son’s room (it’s a work in progress!), we found that we could save money by buying large items at baby fairs or on Carousell.
We purchased a brand new IKEA cot on Carousell (with free delivery) for $90, including a mattress. The cot can fit my boy for two years in total at least.
Safe sleeping guidelines all over the world suggest avoiding cot bumpers, soft toys, pillows and quilts as babies have been suffocated by rolling into or being covered by these soft objects. It’s safest to keep them out of your baby’s cot. As such, we refrained from purchasing all of these extras.
Savings: About $540
Total Savings: $7,940
With all the hacks here and there, we managed to save almost $8,000, with the bulk of it from choosing a public hospital rather than a private one.
(Editor’s note: If you would like to save a bit more money, you can check out free baby product samples to try!)
Seedly Contributor: Kathi
Kathi is a mother of one. When she’s not running after her toddler, she can be found online scouring for the best deals.