Pregnant? Try living off one salary ASAP

If you’re pregnant, try living off one salary NOW

When I first discovered I was pregnant, I was in Africa on my honeymoon. Having just sold our possessions, quit our jobs, and committed ourselves to living out our values of adventure being more important than security, we did a complete 180 on our new lifestyle and backpedaled home.

We cut the trip short and returned to our regularly scheduled desk jobs for the remainder of my pregnancy. We had some financial catch-up to do.

Since RookieDad Alec and I were new to married life and a shared wallet, we made our best efforts to live on just one paycheck while banking the other in a savings account. Of course we didn’t succeed completely — and we bought our fair share of miniature clothes and toys – but it was really good practice for our future. While most pregnant women are making baby shopping lists and fantasizing about nursery decor, I spent a lot of time sourcing hand-me-down baby items.

As a money- and sanity-saving tip for expectant parents, I suggest hard-core saving for the length of the pregnancy.

The challenge: live off of one partner’s salary and save the rest.

I’m sure I’m not the first person to tell you that babies can cost a lot of money. Besides the day-to-day expenses of diapers and onesies, there are the capital investments of OhMyGod-do-we-need-a-bigger-car and did-you-see-the-price-on-that-stroller?! Beyond gear, there are long-term education savings and other expenses. (Will you want to move?) And after all that, if you return to work, you will likely pay hefty childcare costs and if you don’t, you will face the financial penalty of losing that second income.

If you want to become even more ambitious, try living on the lower of the two incomes.

Here are the three things Alec and I did to tighten our (money) belts while my waistline grew*:

  1. Try a spending freeze. Much like a food cleanse, the shopping detox can purge some excessive habits in a hurry. I spent different months with the intent of buying nothing new or not eating out at all. When I feel myself getting a little bit too quick to buy on amazon prime, I return to this kind of diet.
  2. Cut out the big stuff first. Look for big items you can slash. Rather than cut out our lattes, we started by eating out fewer times per week. If a nice restaurant meal costs $50, we just saved $200 in a month. We also cut cable out of our life and replaced it with TiVo and Netflix.
  3. Can you find it used? When planning for a baby, there were a ton of new and mysterious pieces of hardware to consider. After I made a fantasy wishlist, I started looking for hand-me-downs on CraigsList and my local Berkeley Parents Network Marketplace. Now, I’m using Facebook swapping groups to pay it forward as I unload my gear. [Our baby registry guide give tips for finding good used stuff]

I’d love to hear any other money saving tips that worked for you!

* Was that too cheesy? I’m sorry!

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