This is a new series in the style of The Frugal Girl’s Five Frugal Things, where I’ll be posting weekly(ish) about what I’ve done lately to save money and make things stretch in order to further our financial goals, which currently include us paying off a decent hunk of debt. I encourage you to play along and post your own weekly frugal wins in the comments section below!
Today’s post is the first time I’ve done a round-up of my frugal wins since our daughter was born six weeks early at the end of April. While a lot of our life has definitely NOT been frugal lately (largely out of necessity since we just incurred a LOT of expenses we were not planning on), having all these unanticipated medical expenses above and beyond what we’d planned for has only reiterated more than ever the importance of our being frugal right now.
Here are some of our frugal wins lately.
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I’ve kept pumping milk for our baby, even though it’s not my favorite
Since my daughter was born so prematurely and had to spend so much time in the NICU, we were never able to get a really good rhythm going with breastfeeding, so I’ve just been pumping and bottle feeding exclusively. This isn’t new for me, as it’s basically what I did with my third baby as well, but as anyone who has exclusively pumped can tell you, it is not a fun thing. I was able to last six months with my son (which was no mean feat), and my plan for this time around was to for sure go at least two months and then see how I felt.
We hit two months this week, and my plan going forward is to see if my insurance will cover me renting a hospital grade pump for awhile longer, since it is far faster and more efficient than most home pumps. If they won’t, I might fork out the rental fee for one more month, then start tapering down at the end of three months.
Just me pumping for this long (and freezing a LOT of milk during this time) has already saved us a lot of money, and every month I can provide milk will save us $100 or more, depending on how much she’s eating. So even though pumping will never be my favorite (and even though I will absolutely rejoice when I am done with it forever and ever), I can at least be grateful for how much money it’s saving us in the meantime, not to mention all the health benefits it’s giving our daughter.
We’re using a NICU hack to give our daughter extra calories
Something we learned with my third child, who was also premature, was that using a special formula (such as Neosure) that’s made specifically for preemies can help greatly with their growth and help them not to lag behind their peers. While spending so much time in the NICU this time around, I learned that much of what makes those formulas different is that they simply add more calories but in the same volume, and I learned a NICU hack that lets me do that same thing for a lot cheaper.
Basically you just add a teaspoon of formula per 75 ml of breast milk, and it will make the milk more calorie dense. Once we switch over to using formula exclusively in a few months, I’ll use the recipe they gave me for that. All in all, it just means that we can use a more “regular” formula (we’re using Similac Total Comfort, which is $18.43 for the 12.6 oz can) rather than the more expensive “specialized” formula (like Neosure, which is $21.74).
We decided to make do with just one car seat base
As I’m sure is the case nearly everywhere, gas is really pricey again — around $4 or more a gallon lately for us. And with all these trips we’re having to make to the hospital an hour and a half away due to medical appointments and for when we were in the NICU and such, the gas was starting to add up really fast. As a result, we have been having me take the baby to the appointments in our smaller vehicle, which gets almost double the gas mileage as our minivan. This means that my husband needs to switch the car seat base back and forth between the two vehicles frequently, but as we’re almost done with all the medical specialists for awhile, we decided to just put up with it and not worry about getting a second car seat base. Savings = around $60 for the car seat base, and $20-30 per trip in gas.
I used rewards points to get new clothing for myself for only $1 total
Even though I’m actually already back down to my pre-pregnancy size (mostly just because I hardly gained much with this last pregnancy — only about 17 pounds is all), I wanted to get some new pairs of joggers so that I could at least look like I was semi-trying to get dressed in real clothes again :). I love Old Navy’s joggers, so I used my favorite credit card hack combined with a 40% off sale to get two pairs of joggers and two shirts for $1.
We threw a frugal birthday party for our oldest son
This was technically last week, but I’ll include it here, anyway. We’re all about frugal birthday parties over here, which involve us inviting grandparents over for dinner and for ice cream and cake and presents. We usually try to do something else special and fun too, and this year we decided to splurge a little on this $40 inflatable family pool from Sam’s Club. Since we can’t really take the baby out for health reasons this summer, we’re basically spending all of our time other than medical appointments at home, and our tiny little kiddie pool just wasn’t cutting it for three growing kids anymore.
The quality of the new pool seems decent enough that it should allow us to get a lot of wear out of it, and it will be $40 well spent if it does last us through weekly uses this summer. It’s about ten feet across and has places for the kids to sit down in it, and so far, we’re thinking it was money well spent indeed.
I also bought a cheap $1 balloon with the number “5” on it, a $1 pack of basic yellow balloons, and then re-used streamers we had from my daughter’s birthday in April. My son was thrilled with how everything turned out, and we all had an enjoyable afternoon and evening together enjoying everyone’s company.
Other Frugal Wins
- The kids have been enjoying ripe strawberries and fresh snap peas from our garden
- I’ve been opening up the windows at night and in the early morning to let in cool air and then shutting them as it begins to warm up. Doing this has meant that on the majority of days lately, our A/C doesn’t need to kick on until around 4 or 5 in the afternoon when I start cooking dinner.
- I cut the first of the David Austin roses blooming on the farm to enjoy inside. Eventually as the rose bushes get more established, I’ll be offering roses to florists for special events such as weddings and bridal shoots.
What have you been up to lately? Any good frugal wins for you this week?