Monday, September 29, 2008

The Costs of Maternity - So Far

I've just passed into my 18th week of pregnancy, and it's been enlightening on a money front.  We had spent a good deal of time trying to project the costs out, and up until we got that wonderful phone call, we thought we had it down.  We were in for a surprise or two or several.

Surprise #1: Non-maternity clothing costs
Sure, I knew I would need maternity clothes.  But what I didn't realize is that my $26.00 in a bella band (www.ingridandisabel.com), would only go so far.  I had expected it to cover most of the early stages of body change, as my belly grew.  Which it did, but I had failed to take into account the fact that other parts were growing too, and well before maternity clothing would fit.  2 sets of new bras and some new tops later, I adjusted for a few weeks, then grew again.  I also went up a couple pant sizes because no matter how nice that band was, there came a point where my current pants were just too uncomfortable to stay in.  Even buying the minimum, this was an unexpected cost.

Cost of clothing other than maternity: $150ish

Surprise #2: Food Aversions
I was lucky enough to never even have a touch of morning sickness.  What I did have, around week 8, was some serious food aversions.  To things like vegetables and seafood,  along with the smell of cooking chicken, which I normally love. The aversions were so strong I literally couldn't swallow certain foods.  For well over 6 weeks, I lived on bread, pasta, pizza and other carb-heavy foods.  This wreaked havoc on our CSA membership (although friends and family reaped the benefits as we gave food away) as well as our diet.  

Since a typical weeknight meal at home consisted of pan chicken and some veggies, it was a huge change in diet, and our grocery bill spiked accordingly, as well as the amount of take out we ate.  Thankfully some of my aversions have slowed, although the smell of grilling squash or cooked eggplant will still send me running for the hills.  Salad however, I can now eat by the ton.  

Cost of food aversions to our food budget: $250ish

Surprise #3: How hard maternity clothes are to buy, and how much they cost
Most of my maternity clothes window-shopping prior to pregnancy consisted of clearance items.  It never occurred to me that I might need to buy items before they went on sale.  I've recently started to make the transition to maternity, and while I still have managed to shop the sales, fall/winter maternity clothes are still full price - and they are not cheap, even the cheap stuff.   At this point, I am fitting into about the final 10-15% of my non-maternity clothes. 

I tried ebay and craigslist, only to realize I really needed to try stuff on.  And since the only resource of maternity clothes that is near my size, and not a good 6 inches shorter than me, is currently expecting, hand me downs are rare.  So we've ended up shopping.  

The thing about it is, you need everything.  From bras to work clothes to t-shirts and jeans, you have to start over.  And while I have started to supplement by borrowing from my husband's wardrobe, even that has a lifespan that will end before my maternity marathon is over.  I found that stressful - how would I know what was enough?  Where to start?  It was overwhelming financially to buy clothes for a short period of time, as well as just stressful from a scale perspective.  I'd spent years accumulating a wardrobe, and now I had to start from zero.

So, I've bought 2 maternity t-shirts, one pair of jeans, a winter dress, 3 pairs of pants for work, 1 pair of cropped pants for the warm days, a pair of chino cargo pants, and 4 tops for the office, pajamas, and a nursing top that should fit me through the  6th month or so, and then after I deliver.  I imagine I'll need a few more things over the next few months, but I plan to buy slow. I've received a few items from my younger sister as well. 

Even on sale, maternity stuff is pricey - they have a captive audience, after all.  

Cost of maternity so far: $320ish.  I expect to spend about $600 when all is said and done - a bit over our initial plans, but within reason according to other working women I know who have gone through this.  And I'll be doing a lot of laundry to keep up - even after spending all I have, the lack of variety makes that necessary.  But it is worth it, I'd rather be sick of my options than buy an entire new wardrobe.  1 pair of jeans will do for the entire time, thanks. 

Surprise #4: The cost of being tired
My energy has slowly increased over the last few weeks, but 'tired' is still how I answer when someone asks me how I am.  My stamina is not what it was before I got pregnant, and that has cost us money.  Where?  In lunches that didn't get packed, so they had to be bought at work.  In buying, instead of making, something to bring to a gathering.  In shopping for gifts at the last minute instead of shopping around for a good deal.   In a general lack of planning, that costs us by everything being done just in time, usually at a higher cost.  In last minute trips to the grocery store.

I had always known that being a planner saved us a lot of money, but I had never tested it out. Now I know for sure - our lifestyle depends on thinking ahead.  It's not the $7.50 spent on lunch that does us in  - it's doing that 1-2x a week for several months, or not packing enough snacks, so I run out and spend $1.50 on a brownie.  It's realizing at the last minute that you need to bring a gift or a dish or a bottle of wine, because you are only focused on getting through now, this moment.

In short, I've proved to myself that frugality and planning go hand in hand.  So I'm trying to spend more time on that.   

Total cost of lack of planning and being tired: over $200

Aside from the maternity clothes, which have been budgeted, we've hit our budget to the tune of about $600 in unplanned expenses over the last 18 weeks.  Some of that will be made up in upcoming overtime for me.  But what it really means is that the budget bears watching for the next 22 weeks and beyond.  I'm already working on a plan to stock our freezer with meals I prepare in advance for when the baby comes.  But it also means that I'm going to have to pick and choose what to do on weekends so I can keep up with the money-saving tasks our plans depend on us doing.

Pregnancy is full of surprises, most not financial.  But the financial ones make things a bit harder to swallow, especially for a planner like myself.  And I've realized that I need to plan more for the chaos that will come with the arrival of baby Moneypenny just a bit better.








1 comment:

Lucy said...

Excellent things to know! Thank you