Friday, February 24, 2006

Procreate your way to financial stability

People seem to think it costs money to have children. I hear people say things all the time like, "We're going to wait to have a baby until we're making a little more money and can afford it." I admit, I used to be under this misconception myself. I thought it was very, very important to wait til I was financially stable before going forth and multiplying. (I can hear you out there saying that perhaps I should have waited til I was mentally stable as well. Or is that the voice in my head again?)

Turns out I was wrong about the expense issue. Jake saves us money, big time.

For one thing, Brian and I used to go out every weekend with friends to bars and restaurants. Both Friday and Saturday night, sometimes even on Sunday. Now we very rarely go out. When we do, we drink like old grannies rather than like frat boys, like we used to, because it's no fun getting drunk when you know you'll be up at 7 am with a cheerful infant who seems innately driven to turn the TV on and off over and over by pressing the big power button on the front panel. So we daintily sip on a modest couple of drinks and then go home before midnight like the old folks we've become. On the drive home, we shake our fists at the cars that pass us, shouting "Slow down, you young whippersnappers, before you kill everyone on the road!"

In addition, I used to do a lot of drive-by shopping. I'd be driving by department store, and I'd think, "I'll pop in and see what 's on sale." Although I'm a big cheapskate when it comes to clothing and shoes, only buying things if I get them for a good price, it doesn't take long for the numbers to add up when you're constantly popping in at the drop of a hat. However, now that I have Jake, I'd rather go naked than take him to the ladies' department of any store to try on clothes. He sits in his stroller and twists and contorts himself like a bendy straw as he whines about being confined to his seat. I put toys on the little tray in front of him to keep him entertained, and he swiftly snatches them up and tosses them overboard, so that I have to get on my hands and knees and ferret them out from under the racks of clothes. As I push the stroller along, his arms are permanently outstretched, hands open to grab anything that comes within reach. Whatever Snatchy McGrabby is able to secure in his grubby mitts is then quickly deposited on the floor for his dutiful mommy to pick up. Eventually the tortured howling starts, and that's when the fun ends. I now understand why Julia says " I would willing pay $500 million thousand trillion (per annum) to avoid shopping with [my son] Patrick."

Interestingly, while Jake pointedly dislikes cruising around his stroller for any length of time, he loves to sit in a shopping cart. I have one of these nifty things, which is comfy for him to sit in, has some toys attached to it, and keeps him from licking from the shopping cart handles the bacteria of the million syphilis-riddled crack-whore shoppers who have gone before us. We can shop for any length of time like this, with him happily chirping away and pointing at things we pass. Observe my cheerful shopping companion, riding like a prince in his grocery cart:

Of course, the problem lies in the fact that lots of stores don't have shopping carts, especially clothing stores. They have those big mesh bags for you to carry over your shoulder, which I'm guessing Jake would not be as happy to ride in as he is the shopping cart. Still other clothing stores do have a cart of sorts, but it's a strange contraption that really amounts to a huge mesh bag on wheels. Also probably not something Jake would like to be stuffed into. A real shopping cart, such as the one pictured above, is crucial to a successful shopping jaunt.

For instance, a couple of weeks ago, in anticipation of his first birthday party, I stopped at a card and party store to see what kind of nifty kid crap I might find to decorate my hovel. I thought I'd be safe doing this, despite the fact that they didn't have any shopping carts, because I knew we wouldn't be in there long, and I assumed Jake would take at least a few minutes to get bored and cranky. I was wrong. The twisting and fidgeting and grabbing and complaining began almost instantly, as well as the disdainful tossing overboard of everything I tried to put on his little tray to amuse him. At first I put some effort into trying to chat him up and keep him happy, but seeing it was in vain, eventually I decided to just grin and bear the crabbiness and try to just accomplish my mission as quickly as possible. So I stopped messing with him and just minded my own shopping business. He whined a little, moaned some, and then eventually emitted such a plaintive little mooing sound that I leaned forward to get a peek at him...and discovered a breakdown in the system. Not being seatbelted in (since I figured this would be such a quick and easy trip), he had twisted and writhed in his crabbiness to the point that he had completely slid off his seat, and would have plopped to the floor if not for the little tray that was keeping him barely hanging on. His little body had easily slid under the tray toward the floor, but his fat head would not quite fit. Below is a picture of a stroller, and although it's not the same stroller we have, it's close enough. Imagine Jake's fat head wedged halfway under the tray, with the rest of his body dangling off the front of the stroller as he meowed sadly for help. Even as I was hustling to rescue him, I was lamenting the fact that the laws of good motherhood prevented me from taking a moment to stop and snap his picture first. You would have enjoyed it. You would have called the cops immediately on me, but you would have had a private chuckle first.

Another way Jake saves us money is in preventing us from traveling. We used to take off work now and then for a weekend or a week of vacation, sometimes flying, sometimes driving. I know lots of people travel with their children, but there's nothing about spending a week in a hotel room repeatedly removing the un-babyproofed electrical cords from Jake's slobbery mouth that sounds fun or relaxing to me. Nor does the fact that he gets bored in a stroller in under 10 minutes bode well for the prospect of keeping him entertained on a plane for a 2 hour flight, or more horrifying to imagine, a car ride for 6 hours. While I haven't checked into it, I am willing to bet that it's illegal to give a child moose tranquilizer just to keep him quiet during travel, and since I can't think of any other solutions, travel is simply out of the question til he turns 12.

So by my calculations, Jake has saved us close to 4 billion dollars in the past year, money we would have foolishly squandered on booze, restaurant meals, hotels, flights, and clothes.

"Yes," you're probably thinking, "but what about the things you have to buy for Jake that you didn't have to buy before, like diapers and baby food?" Good question, but I assure you those are small expenses in comparison to the massive savings mentioned above. Take diapers, for instance. Diapers are about 23 cents each, which could add up if we changed his diaper 5 or 6 times a day. But being the thrifty, forward thinkers we are, we've figured out that it's cheaper and easier to put him in an adult diaper, which is so much larger than a baby diaper that we only have to change it once every few days, rather than once every few hours. Clever, no? Think about it: Do you empty your kitchen trash bag every time you toss a banana peel or a coffee filter into it? No, you wait til it's good and full and then change it. Furthermore, do you put a teeny tiny little trash bag in your kitchen? No, you put a good-sized trash bag in there, which takes longer to fill up. So it's only logical to use the same principle with babies and diapers.

As far as food goes, that's pretty cheap, too. We feed him birdseed, which is far more economical than pricey baby food. And since babies grow out of their clothes in a matter of minutes, we leave him naked the majority of the time, except for his Depend undergarment. That adds up to big savings on clothing. Think, people. Don't just keep handing Babies R Us your wallets simply because they say you need all that expensive stuff.

In conclusion, I'd just like to assure you that babies are nowhere near as costly as you think. You've just got to think outside the box, and keep one step ahead of Child Protective Services. Now go reproduce.


29 comments:

Carbon said...

You are bang on. It's cheaper this way. Who would of thunk it?

As for Jake's poor lil head being stuck in the stroller, the SAME thing happened to my oldest. weird. Just wait until they refuse to get INTO the stroller or shopping cart. Grocery shopping just can't get any more fun I tell you ;-)

browser58 said...

An idea for someday when you are forced to take a 6hr drive with Jake along. Start training him now by playing some soothing relaxing music as he goes to sleep - same music every night. Later on the trip, pop the same music into the player. His little Jake brain says "oh, sleep music, must be time to sleep. Zzzzzz" That is the theory anyway, it worked on my son.

Oh, don't let yourself get trained to fall asleep to the same music, that is another no-no for moms, falling asleep at the wheel.

miss kendra said...

birdseed? what's wrong with you???

just let the kid gnaw on some pinecones.

Karla said...

You forgot to mention the monster tax deduction you get for creating one of these drool machines.

gina said...

Shoot - we are going to take the kids snowtubing tomorrow in NC> that is going to be $20 a pop X 4 of us, then gas, $20 or so, lunch another $20, then i bet they will whine for hot chocolate at the logde. sheesh. bad idea. bad idea i say.
thanks for the heads up KB. i think we will stay home and eat crackers.

The Bard of the Wood said...

You're right! I WAS wearing the flesh-colored pants...I think they were pants.

Oh, and you forgot...once the kid hits age 5, you can sell him on the black market for MUCH more than you ever spent on him, making kids a great short-term investment opportunity.

Greg - Cowboy in the Jungle said...

I've got to say... Our kid has been expensive. We use to live your lifestyle too and we had plenty of cash. Now we dont do jack and we're poor.

Child care = House Payment.

Gerbera Daisy said...

Oh My God I am LMAO!! I assure you I am not laughing AT you but WITH you as you brought back so many memories for me. I used to call my youngest daughter houdini because she could wiggle her way out of anything...a car seat, a stroller, you name it. And both my girls were snatchy mcgrabbys. Thanks for the smiles and the memories. :-)

CommonWombat said...

I totally got my head wedged into the same type of baby stroller last weekI MEAN MANY MANY YEARS AGO. When I was a baby. Heh heh... I don't go around jamming my head in baby strollers these days... Heh heh... Not since the restraining order... heh... heh... sob...

I sincerely hope that when Jake turns 12 you come and visit me in Baltimore. You guys can hang with Sal and me, and Jake can get involved in our booming drug trade. They're always looking for new runners in the projects.

Badger said...

Baby tranquilizers = Benadryl. The REAL mother's little helper.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

You know Jake is making notes of all this, don't you?

Jake to nursing home administrator: "Nah, just let Mom's diaper get good and full before you empty it. Saves a lot of dough."

Lena said...

So flippin true Karla.

You have to get real creative with the free entertainment. The first time you and your mate find yourself playing Monopoly and enjoying cold leftover chicken nuggets from the sink on a SATURDAY NIGHT, you get it. This is good clean free fun.

Although you do start spending a kajillion dollars at Target, yes?

Shea said...

OK, Karla....really.....you can't tell me that overall you are saving money. I can see that maybe your beer and alcohol consumption may have been reduced, but I do happen to know that the crack habit picked up a bit, and that stuff costs WAY more. Oh, wait, maybe you're just trading um 'favors' for it still.....
And a tip for long trips with Jake ~ROOFIES~ duh!!!! Everyone will think you have a little angel who sleeps through the whole flight.

The Jamoker said...

agree on all points.
can't recall the last bar I saw.
my clothes are all threadbare.
but, I can offer an alternative to your depends diaper idea...try recycling them. after they fill up, just rinse 'em out in the sink, hang 'em on the clothesline in the front yard, and then voila' you can use 'em twice.
works for us with both kids...

anne arkham said...

If you have a few more, you'll be rich.

mrhaney said...

every thing changes when you have a baby. my wife and i had four so we ended up staying home a lot. so in about 10 years you may get to go out but by then you will be to worn out to go out.

Ivy the Goober said...

Darn, wish I'd thought of that kitchen trash can idea when mine were in diapers!

Chief Slacker said...

Also, I saw a cartoon this morning where a baby's super absorbant sucked up a giant water person. Never know when you baby can make you a super hero! And hey, i highlighted you on my saturday spotlight!

Jen said...

Well, you've convinced me. No more wasting money on booze and vacations, I'll have a kid instead, that will be much cheaper. The only reason I could think of to have one was that I would get to play with cool toys, but now this is even better. Rock on!

Mr. Fabulous said...

You've convinced me. I'll take a half dozen...

Kristen said...

Watch out. One year olds are like super heroes, each time they meet their nemesis, they hone their methods and silently plot their ultimate victory. Soon he will have a force field around his taut little body when you try to force him into that stroller. Conserve stroller use for emergencies only. I'm warning you.

patti_cake said...

I am feeling your pain sistah.
We want to take Madison to be christened in my family church in PA but it is a 12 hour car ride and I can't fathom that OR her behaving in an airplane so far we haven't done the Christening thing. Also don't take her shopping she stays home w/ Daddy. She HATES to be confined. HATES it.

Bonanza Jellybean said...

Well, for long car trips, you have to be proactive. I mean, you don't want him getting carsick and THEN having to treat it, right? Give him Dramamine BEFORE you even set out, and he won't get sick at all.

And you'll have about 6 hours of quiet motoring.

Not that I've done this or anything...

tfg said...

You can easily double the mileage that you get from each diaper by simply turning it inside out.

pat said...

As I've said before, I can't wait to have children. I'll get to see my kids make all the same mistakes and learn all the things that I did. It'll be like having a mini version of me around all the time, which can't be that bad... hopefully.... Eep.
I imagine that watching them grow up will be kinda like watching an episode of A&E Biography base on myself, in which all the roles have been cast to midgets.

Anne Glamore said...

This is great-- I needed a laugh!

Heather B. said...

I don't understand how you're drinking less after having a baby. I would think one would want to drink more, no?

at least he's cute and he looks like he's thriving well from the birdseed.

AnonymousCoworker said...

We go for the best of both worlds by having babies (9 months off from bars and travelling) and then selling them and using the money to drink and travel for 9 months.

Jessica said...

Hee/hee..."Jake's fat head"

So the question is....what would you rather have - $1,000 or Jake's head full of nickles? I'm betting you're going to say nickles.