Frugality: The “mother” of invention

This week I have been the “mother of invention”.

I invented a lumbar support cushion out of torn yoga pants. I could have given Obus Forme a bunch of money for what is undoubtably an amazing and well-researched product, but instead I searched in my closet for suitable material and went to town… I used elastic bands and shoelaces to tie the ends in a fancy way and used a strip of stretchy yoga pant material to create an adjustable sling to go over a chair or backrest. No sewing required! It looks half decent and works like a dream.

I have been experiencing some back issues of late and am having a hard time carrying Willow for more than a few minutes at a time. Having roofers working on our building has been a loud experience, and loud noises are on Willow’s “top ten reasons I need to be snuggled and carried” list. I could give Ergo Baby $160 for their amazing 360 carrier which evenly distributes baby’s weight to shoulders and hips and allows baby to sit in a more natural seated position instead of dangling from their crotch… OR I could combine the Hippy Chick hipseat and Baby Bjorn carrier (both free hand me downs) to create a carrier that doesn’t aggravate my back, allows for both inward and outward facing carry positions, and still allows baby to sit comfortably in a position which will not cause hip dysplasia. It looks a bit funny and involves extra steps to get on, but it works. (I also have an Ellaroo Mei Tai carrier that is a hand me down, but she enjoyed it more as a newborn and is not digging the inward facing carry these days. I am hoping to get her in the Mei Tai to wear her like a backpack when she is a bit bigger. But I digress).

Who needs brand name baby powder when one can buy a giant box of generic corn starch and put it in a salt shaker?

Why pay big bucks for expensive baby-safe, chemical-free moisturizers and massage/bath oil (or $12 a tube nipple cream for that matter) when you can just keep a bulk jar of the cheapest brand of coconut oil on your change table? It is great for cradle cap, baby acne, minor diaper rashes and dry or chafed skin… and it smells delicious!

My husband took a packed lunch to work the other day that cost 19 cents per serving to make. Vegan stew, my friends. All of the amino acids you need, along with calcium, iron, fibre, and all manner of vitamins. Filling. Delicious. Freezes and reheats well. Crock pots are awesome. I can throw things in when Willow is happiest to entertain herself in a bouncer or on a play mat without tears and we have a full meal by dinner time.

I was getting sick of the cords/cables in the living room and created a “charging station” out of the fabric-covered cardboard box that our bed sheets (a wedding gift) came in. I was not willing to pay $100 for a charging station.

We haven’t paid for cable television in years. Netflix is under ten dollars per month, for when we need a “tv fix” (although my daughter is far more fun to watch than any TV show). We switched to a VOIP unlimited phone and internet provider for about $30 per month a few years back.

Do I buy paper towels, tissues and toilet paper in bulk when they are on sale? You bet I do! Do I buy the crazy huge bulk bag of cat food that takes up half of my office space? Guilty. Do I lurk around the store at the end of the week searching for the giant bulk packs of chicken the day before they expire when they are 50% off, to separate into baggies and freeze for later? Absolutely.

My home economics teacher had us calculate how much it would cost to have a baby for the first year of its life as a grade eight take home project. She criticized my assignment because she said it was not a realistic portrayal of the costs of raising a child. I had said that I would use cloth diapers, that I would make my own baby food, that I would accept hand me downs of toys, furniture and clothing and buy second hand for anything I could not get for free. These were the days before networks such as frugal mommy, kijiji and freecycle internet communities existed, but I distinctly remember wearing hand me down clothes from our neighbour’s son, buying toys at garage sales, and shopping at the Salvation Army thrift store as a child, so I knew that it was possible to spend less.

Mrs. Fittante, if you are reading this, please know that I made good on my promise to raise a child on a limited budget, and that it is indeed possible to feed, clothe and care for an infant without spending ridiculous sums of money. I am a frugal mommy, and I would rather put money in an RESP than in the hands of retailers. I would rather put a roof over my head (quite literally) than fill my house with shiny new toys or clothing. I would rather read my daughter well loved used books than spend money on brand new ones. She doesn’t know the difference and she is certainly not suffering as a result.

As Willow outgrows clothing and other gear I get to pass things along to other mommies in my community. It’s a great system, and it will be a good lesson for her in doing more with less, and in sharing resources and being part of a network of support. 🙂


4 thoughts on “Frugality: The “mother” of invention

  1. my kids favourite toys are sticks, mud and the teeny tiny creek out front. and its all compostable!! i do have to say tho, finding hand me down comfty pants or my 7 year old is near impossible. they wear out and rarely get passed down…


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