You might not know that I spent 15 years living in London, but I did. London has amazing shopping and two big sales a year, July sales and Boxing Day sales (there is the odd one thrown in, but nothing to write home about). This has got me thinking lately that New Zealand should be renamed Land of the Long Endless Sale… It never seems to stop. Not that it really seems to help us to save – in fact I think it is probably the polar opposite- but it does mean that you are unlikely to have to pay for full priced items very often. So this month I thought I would talk a little about lists to help with managing your money.
What a babe needs
Firstly, I will start with all the things you need for a baby. I have, over the years, been tempted to do a range of various lists of “baby essentials” – from the “hippy type list” all the way through to the “cashmere baby club list”! I do have one that I offer to clients if they ask, it is quite possibly the most comprehensive list you’ll ever see – there are no less than 95 items on it! I just want to mention though, there is what you need and then what you want. If you really want it, there is no point me suggesting it is not needed.
Basically for a baby you need breasts, nappies, a few clothes, and for today’s way of life – a car seat, bed + bedding and buggy. All the other stuff is, dare I say it, surplus to requirements- with the exception of bottles for those who will bottle feed. It is perfectly acceptable to use a regular bath towel for your new baby, and to use another one on the bed for a changing mat (of course those with bad backs ought to have something at the right height). I am currently reading a book called Three in a Bed by Deborah Jackson and it makes for an interesting conversation these days. But, if you agree with what is said, you don’t need a baby bed either! You might then go so far as to always wear your baby in a sling, so no buggy required… it is getting cheaper by the second – old fashioned origami cloth nappies anyone?
I came across Little Lamb cloth nappies in the UK a few years ago and shipped them back to try out on my nephew… then guess what, they turned up here in New Zealand – not just the nappies but the people who designed them, Nick, Esme and family. Brilliant! The nappies fit beautifully and have options of cotton, bamboo and microfibre, oh, and they are super cute too. One of the best things about them is the price. You can get a birth to potty kit (40 nappies plus accessories – and there’s lots of those) from as little as $700. They have some issues with their website pricing system, but don’t let that put you off, if in doubt give them a quick call, they are lovely and extremely knowledgeable. They are committed to keeping the prices as reasonable as possible so that it is a genuinely affordable purchase. They are even starting a gift registry service where you can have friends and family put money towards a nappy kit. They are also giving away a cotton 10 pack kit for this month’s issue.
I was recently asked to prepare a baby’s bedroom for the arrival of an overseas family with their four month old baby. The room was a blank canvas and to transform it into a welcoming environment was my absolute pleasure (you really don’t understand how much I LOVE to do this kind of thing). I was given a budget of $1000-1500 and a spec “to make it work for the first few days so that they don’t have to go out for baby things”. So, I made a list and kind of guessed the prices and browsed on line. I was amazed that thanks to the semi-permanent sales – namely Farmers and Baby City, the total came to a mere $1100. I say mere, but you have to understand that it looked lovely, had enough bedding, luxuries and necessities for at least a week, yet the permanent things like cot, change table, baby bath, mobile, nappy bin, soft lamp and wall decals etc… will last the entire time they’re needed. I got everything on that list, and because of the sales I was able to get some lovely little extras, including a rubber duck with a sports kit to match his dad’s.
And so to clothes
In London as a nanny, and even now with my nephews, I have a compulsive need for coordinating outfits. Not necessarily all items matching but the colours need to work, and that includes socks (and I’ll just whisper it – shoes too)… My sister is not quite as uptight as me about it, so I happily provide aforementioned items on a fairly regular basis – converse shoes seriously come in that many colours? I have found ways to do it cheaper over the years. I worked with one family in London for five years. One of my favourite responsibilities was to see to it that the boys always had clothes and shoes that fitted them properly. This meant that the mum would buy some key pieces of designer gear because she liked them, and I would find all the other things to go with it and then some! It was great training. I would suggest buying some key pieces on sale for the following year, then, also in the sale, check out the bits that coordinate. I have found great items from Osh Kosh or Pumpkin Patch with all sorts of other items from T&T, Kmart or The Warehouse. Granted, I take the time to do this, but I would hope that even when I have kids, I will make the time to have these important things in place… that of a colour coded wardrobe!
I can’t forget to mention, whilst looking after the two boys in London, I also got to grips with footwear. If your kids are willing to wear shoes (Kiwi kids seem to shun the idea of shoes), then basically it is 2 pairs. Summer equals a pair of sandals/jandals and a pair of closed in shoes (if deemed necessary) and Winter equals gumboots and a pair of closed in shoes. My advice, choose shoes that will go with everything, and get in quick at the beginning of the season because the stocks seem to plummet quickly. And, get them with a good amount of room to grow as recommended by your local shoe fitter – if in doubt go bigger, but not so that your poor child trips every other step. It is recommended to have feet measured every 6-8 weeks, as feet are attached to children who grow like weeds. Have a look here for information on shoe fitting.
It’s a list thing
Making lists allows you to think through what you really need and want. For some it is about the grocery list. I have a friend who carefully plans her meals each week and thinks about what veg will last longer – so gets used later in the week. Then there is the execution of the shopping trip where occasionally there are deviations from the list, but only because of a flash of brilliance or a spontaneous culinary masterpiece idea. She never goes supermarket shopping when she’s hungry either – it’s expensive.
I guess for me it is all about the lists for making your money go further and establishing the best value, that, and the ever present sales which will work until stores start going out of business and the ones who survive start to charge super high prices. I wonder what the cost for us will really be in the future? For now, I’m off to the shops for a bargain while they last – if I could just find my list.