Monday, October 19, 2009

The baby's room and economic strategy!

I said a while back that I would post about how we have 'decorated' the baby's room and fully stocked it for not much money. I reeeeaaaally wish now that I had kept a tally on a notepad or somewhere so that I really could know the exact dollar amount I've spent, but silly old moo me didn't do that, so I'm estimating as I show you these pictures.

We knew before we even fell pregnant that I no longer wanted to be working in family day care when Ethan started school. Although it is a great way to earn money, and not 'that' bad a job, I didn't begin it until my son was 15 months old, and I certainly got a bit of a shock when I realised that if I really had to, I would be opening up just after having a newborn and also learning how to be a school mummy and ferrying Ethan off to 3 year old kindy as well. Not something I was happy thinking about. So early on in the pregnancy my partner and I decided that we would budget as closely to the grain as possible, and that the skills I developed over the previous months of using the simple savings website, as well as the resilience I'd built up for shopping since Ethan's birth, would really come in to play. So I made a plan....

The first port of call was to do things along the lines of a strategy. We made some major decisions, renegged on some big plans (sorry, still no plasma tv from our tax money this year luv!), but still carried through wisely on others (gotta love it when you know a butcher, a baker and an electrician, no?). We made economic and rational decisions with the cash we had, the money we knew would be coming in, and the money that came up as a surprise to us as well.

One of the decisions we made was to find out the sex of the baby. It's a very personal decision and we decided with Ethan we would know, so this was I suppose a little easier. I liked calling Ethan by his name, and keeping that name a secret from everyone was also fun. This time is the same, and it has also helped us to tell friends who've had girls and ask us what we need because they themselves have mountains of clothes etc to give away that we'd more than love hand-me-downs of every shape, colour and size. I've already 7/8ths filled her dresser with clothes that range all the way up to size 1's because of my friends' generosity. So in the coming months, when I post pictures of her online, you can bet that about 95% of the clothes and bedding and wraps you see will be from either op shops or friends secondhand stashes.

But on to the room....! We couldn't think of any place to buy secondhand paint, and my partner was very keen to get started asap, so he first looted his shed. In there, because the people who lived here prior to us built the house, he found an array of handy painting and decorating tools. He invested in some new rollers, but recycled the paint trays, and lucky for him I'd done a fair bit of painting before, so I knew a couple of tricks!

This is the room before it all began. Bare bones, with the cabinet doors removed, the tarp down and the blinds off. I cannot stress the importance of taking EVERYTHING out if you want a really good finish! My partner was amazed at how many cracks there were in the walls, and feet marks from where the daycare children had been laying down to sleep with their feet up on the walls. So we cleaned the walls first with the green Enjo glove (the kitchen one!) and it was such a good thing to know we didn't even need sugar soap! The walls came up mark-free, and my partner then
set about fixing the cracks and resealing the window to stop drafts around the frame.

We picked the colour together - Milan Breeze, and although it is blue, it's a nice grey-tinted blue that isn't all that bright. We went to an actual baby shop for the decals (they were $50 a pack, pretty exxy but they were exactly what I was looking for), and I bought the cane baskets from markdowns at shops like Crazy Clarks and Things. I was lucky in that they came lined, too, and I think they set me back about $20 in total for these four and another one like the one on the left.

The decals are fun, animal themed and I think not really all that gender-specific. I found when I was pregnant with Ethan that it's hard enough to give their imagination free-reign, without subscribing to either having boys rooms that are filled with cross bones and pirates and girls rooms filled with fairies and princesses. Now, please don't get me wrong, I'm not standing on my Germaine Greer textbooks burning my bras, but I just figure my children will have plenty of time to learn about damsels in distress and pillaging pirates when they grow older, right now I'd like them to believe that they can tame a lion or swing on monkey bars like a real monkey.

In August we were lucky enough to get a fantastic tax return, mainly because of my pregnant brain. I had emailed my partners' work and 'thought' I'd asked them to with hold an extra $100 tax a month. Turned out I'd written 'per week'. So that put us high up just to start with! Then I told centrelink that because I was working I would like to Not recieve any parenting payments until the end of the financial year, to ensure that we didn't end up being over paid and owe a whole lot of money. Well, as a result we had the money it took to re-paint and buy decals for less than $100, and we also had enough to do extra special things like start a stockpile and hire an electrician.

My stockpile, my beautiful stockpile, is going to last us fantastically for the first month or two. I tried to find secondhand laundry cupboards, as they all seem to have just shelving, but in the end conceded to buy new because it was actually cheaper! We fixed them both to the walls, because of the ability to pull on the handles and then pull them down on oneself if, say, you are only 2 yrs old. And then I began to stock them. I have everything food-related in one, including uht milk for days that I just do not want to wander out with two children 'just for milk', cereal and pasta, sauces and ingredients for a world of things I can make from home with Ethans eager help. We also invested in a chest freezer, that was also new because we could at the time afford it and wanted the ability to follow a warranty back to the manufacturer. We stocked that just a month ago with a whole lamb and a side of pork - enough meat to last from september to january, at a guess. We are looking in to buying some more chicken and some beef, but because of the abundance we don't feel a need to rush just yet!

I also overpaid our periodical bills. We are now far enough in front with a couple that we should recieve full credit notes on them the next time they arrive. Just in time for the mad rush of christmas, too, which is when it might be sorely needed (even though we are trying to keep it cheap and cheerful!).

Now, don't get me wrong, we did treat ourselves here and there to things that we could afford along the way, like a bottle of bourbon for my partner and some new clothes for me for post-pregnancy. But we did it smart. Never ever did we get a pay that we thought we could just 'blow' on something huge, and we always discussed things before getting them. It was just how it was, and it still is that way now. We both know that a penny saved is a penny earned, but more than that, it's a penny further that I won't have to work for down the track in a job that I don't like doing or can't do with my children in tow.

Ok, I have a feeling that I'm going to go on too long here, so I'll cut it out for now and let you look around our special new room. Anyone that tells you that you need everything brand new is really being a bit false with you. Keep your eyes peeled and I'll share more photos down the track of the rest of the booty that I've stored along the way, and all for less than a couple hundred dollars.

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