When I was single and kid-free, I could spend my money as I pleased. While I’ve always been relatively responsible with my cash (retirement and emergency savings have always been important to me), back in the days before my daughter was born, there were a lot more dinners out, extravagant travels, and fun household items being purchased than there are now.
These days I’ve found that I’m still spending money on the things that matter most to me, but my priorities have shifted since having my daughter. Here are some common items I’ll regularly pay for now—some of which have surprised even me.
1. A Meditation App
Why I Need It: As a working mom, I’m not the best at always scheduling in workouts or showers. But I know I can find 10 minutes in my day to meditate. Taking just a couple minutes out of each day to do this helps clear my head and keeps me grounded to make it through the rest of my day-to-day business. You don’t have to be a mom to benefit from meditation, though—it can help reduce stress, improve concentration, and may even slow aging. . . . Who doesn’t want that?
How to Budget for It: Type “meditation” into the search bar on iTunes or the Google Play store, and you’ll get more results than you’ll know what to do with. Most come with free trials, which provide a great way to try out a few and find one you like. I used the free version of Headspace for months, and it worked just fine.
If you’d prefer to buy an app that offers more guidance but can’t swing the full price, try signing up for newsletters from the app you like and wait for an introductory or sale offer to come along. Most are pretty inexpensive, though, and you could easily cover the cost by forgoing a latte or two over the course of the month.
2. Organic Food
Why I Need It: While I would never consider myself a foodie, these days I’m much more careful about what I buy at the grocery store because I care about what I’m putting in my daughter’s body. I don’t mind the benefits for myself, either.
How to Budget for It: While it’s true that buying organic could drastically increase your grocery budget, you don’t necessarily need to buy everything organic. Focus on the dirty dozen (or food items for which pesticide content tends to be highest), and go from there if you still have room in your grocery budget.
You may want to check out weekly ads from local markets that stock organic produce—a coupon or two could bring the price down to much more affordable levels, especially on produce that’s in season.
3. Priority Seating on Flights
Why I Need It: Traveling with a child is stressful, to say the least. I’ve found that it can be a little less stressful with the right seating, though. For most flights that means dishing out a little extra cash to pay for the bulkhead seating, which gives us more leg room and space. On airlines like Southwest that board by group and don’t give passengers seat assignments, you may have to pay for early boarding. Paying to board early means I get to pick where we sit, which is essential to everyone’s comfort.
How to Budget for It: On most flights, children under two who sit on your lap during the flight fly for free, so my advice is to take advantage of that while you can. I also suggest remaining loyal to one airline, if possible, and making the most of either their credit card or rewards system to book flights, or else signing up for a regular credit card that offers great miles.
4. Regular Haircuts
Why I Need It: While regular haircuts were never a part of my life before now, these days I find that adding even the smallest amount of effort to my personal appearance helps me feel refreshed, and a good haircut can always do that.
How to Budget for It: Depending on where you live, paying for haircuts every few weeks can really add up. Since I’ve decided to make this part of my regular routine, I’ve opted to find a place that doesn’t charge me an arm and a leg but still does a good job. It helps that I already have a little wiggle room in my budget from other things I’m not spending on these days, like dinners out and lots of travel.
Becoming a mom is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me, and it has affected my outlook on everything, including what I value enough to spend money on. Paying just a little bit extra for the things mentioned above helps me feel healthy and happy—and you really can’t put a price tag on that.
If you’re new to the world of parenthood and are still working out finances, it may be worth looking into credit cards that cater to new-parent needs. Just make sure you’ve checked your credit report before applying, which you can do for free at Credit.com.