Last week we talked about cutting back on life’s luxuries. Today we carry on the same theme with a focus on children.
It’s so easy to spend on kids. Even when you’re dealing with your last few pennies if they ask for something you almost always want to say yes. The unfortunate consequence of this is that they become spoilt, unruly and difficult to control both at home and at school. For kids that love their food they become obese all too quickly.
Children are very perceptive; even before the age of three they can have you completely wrapped around their little finger without you realising it.
The beauty with children, however, is that it doesn’t cost much to keep them happy. There are so many things you can cut out without compromising at all on their well being.
This is a special bug bear for me. In the long run nappies are far more expensive than terry nappies (matewela) but so many people insist on using nappies even when they can ill-afford them. If you have a maid to wash the nappies that makes it even easier to commit to terry.
Nowadays you can even get terry nappies designed to look like a disposable nappy so that they are easy to put on. Don’t write off terry nappies before at least trying them.
Children grow extremely quickly. Don’t buy clothes if you don’t have to. Ask family and close friends to share their old clothes with you and when your child outgrows them, pass them on to someone else. Your child won’t mind and won’t even know the difference – well, not in the early days at least.
One day I was at a friend of a friend’s house and she spent all day on the phone bugging her baby daddy to come and drop some money off for formula! I don’t know if this was a strategy for just hustling him but in the end he did drop off the money and she went off to get the formula when she was perfectly capable of breastfeeding.
Breast is best. It’s what God designed so it baffles me when people choose, instead, to spend lots of money on dried cow’s milk for their offspring.
Another big luxury. Phala is, in fact, more healthy and several times cheaper. For the fortunate few, their children reject Cerelac and prefer likuni phala or even just phala made from mgaiwa from the market.
If you can’t really afford Cerelac don’t even start buying it. Get your child used to the cheaper, healthier stuff.
Purity Baby Food
I’ve never seen anything more ghastly in my life. I don’t know how the marketers convinced us that foods that have been packed into glass bottles and sat on a shelf for weeks or even months are a premium product compared to their fresh alternatives but they have. It is far healthier to buy fresh vegetables and fruits from the market, boil them up and mash them for your kids. It’s also a lot cheaper.
This is one area where you can save lots of money immediately. Purity and other pre-packaged foods are inferior goods compared to fresh food. The only plus in my opinion is the convenience. If you plan in advance, you should be able to feed healthier, fresh food to your precious babies.
“I highly recommend getting your career established first and then having children.” Arizona Muse
For 2 years until early 2014 I wrote a weekly personal finance and business column for Malawi's leading media house, The Times Group. The target is middle-class, working African women.
This is a reproduction of the articles that appeared in the weekend edition of Malawi News.