1H01 – 1st Half Financial Review

Chief Financial Officer’s Introductory Comments

In 2 BE (2 Years Before Elsie) I spent a grand total of £7,325 “going out” – whether that be drinking with the lads (most of it), or drinks / meals out with Kirsty, work drinks, etc.

In 1 BE (a stag doo heavy year) that had dropped to £5,314, reflecting a conscious decision to cut back on my drinking in the latter part of the year, especially while Kirsty was pregnant, but also because I wanted to get more done in other areas of my life.

Having Elsie has curbed my going out / booze spending considerably. In the first 6 months since her arrival my total “going out” spend has been £1,140, a 57.1% decrease on an annualised year-on-year basis, and a 68.9% decrease on two years’ previous.

Sad, isn’t it, keeping tabs on your spending like this. Not for me, I like it. I’ve got a spreadsheet that manages it all, obviously. One benefit of this is it does allow me to give a fairly accurate picture of what having a baby has cost us, financially anyway.

Some real figures coming up, but i’ll note a few guiding principles we’ve followed, to allow any comparisons on $ spent. I’ve never really been one to buy things secondhand – I tend not to buy too many things, and generally like to buy good quality items infrequently and keep them for ages – but faced with the requirement to buy lots of things all of a sudden, my interest in good quality secondhand baby gear piqued.

There are bargains to be had! As baby’s grow so quickly most products aren’t used for that long, so tend to be under-utilised. The availability of tools like Facebook Marketplace, Nextdoor and Gumtree (which is better than eBay), along with close proximity to lots of people all keen to make space in their tiny London-pads, makes the process of finding exactly what you need/want, at a fraction of the RRP, really easy. Through this practice we are also now bigger advocates for a reuse mindset, something i’d never really had/done before. Got to save the planet and all that.

We have been fairly middle of the road with our purchasing choices – if budgets were tighter there’s way more we could have done to reduce costs. Finding charity shops in posher areas is one trick – there’s a Fara Kids opposite Kirsty’s favourite wine shop in Balham where we’ve picked up some real high quality bargains. There’s also a line to be drawn in terms of real necessities and nice-to-have things, and how much space you have to physically put stuff. Plus if you’ve got awesome friends like we have you’ll end up receiving lots of baby gifts in the first few months – definitely saves you some $ for spending on a more frequently-used-than-ever spending category, “Alcohol – drinking in”.

1H01 – Financial Update

So, on to the spends… here’s what having a baby has cost us, at 6 months in:

Equipment

Pram – decided to buy new on the basis it would get lots of use and we couldn’t find the model we wanted secondhand. The Baby Jogger City Tour Lux was our choice because it could fold up quite small and you can slot in a bassinet (which also folds) allowing the baby to lay flat and be nicely cocooned and protected for the first few months. At 6 months Elsie graduated from the bassinet into the main seat, which also folds flat – perfect for napping on the go. The pram has been great, and while not the smallest/lightest for our upcoming travels (the Babyzen YoYo+ looks perfect for that), it’s given us everything we need for the first few months and is light/foldable enough for trips abroad. Total spend inc. accessories about £700.

Highchair – a friend recommended Tripp Trapp and we liked the look of these straight away. You can buy accessories and adjust the height of this seat to make it useful from birth up to toddler age. These aren’t cheap, but I firmly believe buy cheap buy twice, and this looks like it should last for a few years. I found a good quality second-hand one on Gumtree, including the newborn accessories, for £150, so saved ourselves around £100. Try and find one with the tray included, if you can – we got stung for £39 buying a new one.

Slings – we bought a wrap one to begin with, but then decided we needed something more sturdy and futureproof so decided to invest in a new Ergobaby 360. Kirsty has been doing Carifit twice a week since Elsie was 8 weeks old, and this requires a good sling. And we’d need one for travelling, so on the basis it would get used a lot we went for a new one at a cost of £140.

Sleepyhead – highly recommended!! Elsie got a lot of use out of this in the first 6 months and its perfect for naps at home, and somewhere safe & familiar to put her while we’re pottering about the flat. It was invaluable for trips to Orkney and North Wales, and can double as an emergency bed away from home too. They aren’t cheap, but the payback (Elsie being asleep) is worth it. The spare covers and toys are a rip off though. Our total spend on this was over £200 😳. These can be picked up second hand for less than half of this – if I was going to buy one again i’d go secondhand.

Cots. After reading about the benefits of having the baby close to mother during the first few weeks/months we decided we wanted a bedside cot and found a good quality secondhand Snuzpod on Gumtree. It was perfect for us, allowing Kirsty easy access to Elsie for night feeds and generally it was just nice having her next to us but still safe in her own space. Would highly recommend the Snuzpod. The mattress was in near perfect condition – always worth checking that. The guy I bought it from said it had only been used a couple of times – obviously he’d say that, but it certainly showed hardly any sign of use – so I was happy to save over £100 and continue our secondhand/re-use mantra.

We got about 5 months use out of the Snuzpod before Elsie grew too big for it. We have no interest in putting her into the spare room just yet, so started looking for a cot upgrade. The Nextdoor App is great for searching for secondhand stuff nearby, and we fortunately found a good-looking wooden cot bed (with 3 height settings and can be converted in to a proper bed to suit a toddler up to the age of around 3) and a Little Sheep Organic Mattress (which had been well looked after and was in perfect nick). The mattress alone retails brand new at £219, and we paid £30 for the frame and the mattress, plus £8.70 for the Uber XL trip home. I gave it a good clean and we treated Elsie to new sheets. She seems to be enjoying spinning and rolling around in it, and dropping her dummy through the rails.

Travel cot. With our 6 week trip to Mexico coming up, plus various weekends away visiting friends and family, we decided we needed to invest in a travel cot. After much research I couldn’t find anything suitable until a friend put us on to this Deryan cot. It is awesome! It’s basically a pop up tent with built in mosquito net, a built in inflatable mattress, and UV protection. Adding the optional accessories (a thicker inflatable base, plus a “Welcool” breathable mattress and wind protection screens) makes this an absolute winner. Luckily Elsie has really taken to it, so we’re hoping this will give her some familiarity and a safe place for her to sleep while we are travelling. With all the accessories we paid £115 new, another investment with good payback – hopefully!

Breastpump. Required, and we preferred to buy new. We went for a c.£100 single barrelled Medala one, which has done the job well. I won’t miss sterilising it.

Baby monitor – needed! We got by for a while using two mobile phones, but the video feed (especially the night vision) is really helpful. We paid about £90 for a Kodak C220 unit which can do video and sound over radio waves and wifi. It’s pretty good – the battery life of the camera is less than 3 hours, so has to be plugged in. I think you could pay more to get something better, but this is doing the job for now.

Baby rucksack / changing bag. Kirsty was adamant she didn’t need to buy a specialised baby rucksack but after a couple of months of using her normal rucksack we decided to get her one. The Skip Hop bag seems to be on trend; a new one sets you back around £70, but it is really helpful and means you have everything you need when the shit really hits the fan. Pleased with our purchase.

Bathtub. I saw these foldable Stokke bathtubs somewhere and instantly wanted one. It doesn’t fold up quite as small as I thought it would, but if you’ve only got a small space it’s really good. You don’t need to run a full bath every evening (we’re doing our bit Greta) and the sides are very chewable, according to Elsie. The sloping insert is also really helpful in the first few months while you all build confidence in the water and before they can sit upright unaided. Think we’ll take this away with us to Mexico too as Elsie really loves her evening baths before bed. We paid £60 for this new but should/could have bought secondhand.

That’s about it for bigger ticket items so far. Other smaller value bits of kit we’ve bought which have proved useful include this travel highchair, some rubber floor tiles, a Snoozeshade blackout pram cover and portable blackout blinds, a starry night light projector and lots of glow in the dark dummies from Aldi.

Parents Education

I lived in a day nursery for the first 15 years of my life, my Mum was a health visitor. Kirsty is one of 5 siblings and has 6 nephews and 1 niece.

Still, neither of us knew anything about child rearing or what to expect. So we decided to attend NCT classes in the lead up to Elsie’s birth. Personally I thought content-wise the classes are a waste of money – you could find out everything you find out at NCT for free online. You do however get grouped with a few other couples in your area who are all due around the same time, so it’s a great way to build a parent network – which has definitely been very worthwhile, especially so for Kirsty while she’s on maternity leave. Total cost £228. We have also been to a 3 hour first aid class to learn some basics, which I thought was excellent value at £50. Some books about babies and two sessions with Sharon the lifesaver (£185) rounds off our education spend. The rest you learn as you go.

Baby clothes

Everyone will be pleased to know i’ve stayed well clear of choosing clothes for Elsie.

She already has more clothes than me and Kirsty, at each age bracket too (newborn, 0-3, 3-6 and 6-9 months). She takes up all of the spare room drawers with her stuff. So I’m surprised our clothing spend is as low as it is. We’ve been really lucky to inherit a very large bag of clothes from our friend Rosanna, who has two young daughers, which is the main reason our spend is quite low, but Kirsty to be fair has been really good at picking up bargains from our local Fara for Kids charity shop in Balham, on her daily (joke) trip to The Wine Tasting Shop (if you ever need to buy Kirsty a present, a voucher for this place goes down well, thanks Polly for thinking of that before I did!). Baby’s grow so fast that their clothing really doesn’t need to be bought brand new. Charity shop baby clothes are almost all in perfect condition, at a fraction of the price. Having said that, Kirsty has also been quite liberal with her debit card in John Lewis’s baby section, but Elsie always looks cute, and hasn’t run out of clothes, so good job all round.

Reusable Nappies

I’d been warned, but the warnings didn’t resonate until I got first hand experience… the amount of nappy changes a newborn needs is immense and amazing, really. I think we averaged 10 nappies a day in the first few weeks. Our small peddle bin was so quickly overwhemled that I quickly bought a new bigger bathroom bin from Tesco’s Finest Range. I was chucking away a medium-sized bin liner of used nappies every day almost, and after a couple of weeks the amount of this non-recyclable landfill waste we were generating began to eat at our conscience.

I started researching reusables nappies. My friend Helena has a baby a few months older than ours, and she was raving about them, so we decided to try them out. I knew nothing about them – the idea of putting 💩 into the washing machine grossed me out, so I never paid any attention, but actually when you start researching it you realise they’re fine, from the 💩 perspective, and they are, net net, very environmentally-friendly and make good financial sense too.

There’s quite a few brands to choose from. I chose Tots Bots as they are a family run company who manufacture in the UK, have a good set of values, had really helpful video guides on their website, are highly rated and are well priced. We ordered a trial kit and liked it, so dived right in and invested almost £400 in a bunch of reusables, plus washable bamboo wipes and liners to negate the need for cotton wool and babywipes.

The reusable nappies are, surprisingly to me, so much better at holding in both types of stuff, and I don’t miss ordering nappies from Amazon or the bin-bags full of disposables. So all round very pleased with this investment.

Other Things

Consumables. Basically things women need to buy from Boots to help with the whole process of everything, plus about £100 worth of dispoable nappies, wipes and cotton wool before we switched to reusables.

Entertainment & Toys etc. We’ve not spent too much on toys etc as we’ve been very kindly gifted lots of great things by our awesome friends and family.

Kirsty’s Wellness. Kirsty exercised pretty vigously right up until the day we went to hospital. She was still running 4 miles at 37 weeks, swimming 2k at least twice a week up until week 42, walking on average 6 miles per day, and generally keeping as active as she always did before her belly got so big she couldn’t do burpees. So she was determined to get back in to her fitness as soon practically possible after giving birth. We’d hoped for a natural pool birth but Kirsty ended up having a c-section and later discovering she had Diastasis Recti, so her recovery was longer and more difficult than she anticipated. Eager and determined as she is, we decided to get some private physio sessions to get her assessed faster than what was available through the NHS (8 weeks for an appointment), and followed that up with some one-on-one pilates classes with a specialist post-natal instructor.

Lessons & Classes. I think new parents in London who are lucky enough to have some disposable income are spoilt with the options available when it comes to this type of stuff. We’ve spent cash on a baby massage course, various sensory classes and swimming lessons, along with the various fitness classes that Kirsty goes to (not captured in this spending, but are around £10 per class) like Carifit, post-natal pilates and some specialist post-natal HIIT sessions.

Other. Elsie’s passport – £54, a bargain, and she’s stuck with this photo for 5 years 😂😍

Summary

Everyone says having a baby is really expensive, and that is certainly true, to an extent. However, i’ve found that i’ve spent less money in other areas of my life as a consequence of having Elsie, so from a financial point of view i’m quite happy.

We definitely could have spent less by buying more secondhand things – these are a great option – we’ve had no bad experiences with secondhand stuff. But I think new parents are always going to want to buy certain things new. If we’re lucky / daft? enough to have another one i’d buy more things secondhand for sure. And Kirsty loves any excuse to go to Fara for Kids in Balham via the Wine Shop.

My guidance for 2H01 is a 30% DECREASE in spend vs. 1H01, but I take no responsibility for missing this target.

Brett Moreton

Chief Financial Officer of Elsie Moreton-Wood

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