The other day, while waiting for my turn on an automated teller machine (ATM), I overheard a very interesting conversation. Two women were sharing what ought to have been good news. “Atsikana, nanzanu andipeza ndi mimba’, said one woman with a big smile. ‘Aaah! Ndiye chonyaditsa ndi chiyani pamenepo nanunso? Nthawi yotenga mimba ndi inoyo? Ndalama momwe zikuvutiramu mudzakaveka chani kamwanako? Mudzakaveka majumbo?’ She was asking with such deep concern reading from her facial expression.
It reminded me of the spending spree people go into when they expect or have a child – especially when it is the first-born. I personally do vividly remember that afternoon when Nancy had taken a pregnancy test and we discovered that our first child was on the way—feels like it was just yesterday: we sat there excitedly holding each other’s hands and talking endlessly about this child, our child, and what it all meant. I immediately dashed into town and bought a small but expensive carving that had two elephants carrying a baby—we put it on display in our house.
The first mistake we made was insisting on only the “best” (most expensive) things for our child. We bought a ridiculously expensive baby-cot, multiple beddings, all the neutral colour clothes (we did not know yet whether it would be a boy or girl). When we knew it would be a boy after scanning, we went on blue clothes shopping spree. We turned one of the bedroom into a nursery of some kind—we had this vision of a perfect little nursery in our heads and we were going to have it at any cost.
The little things we bought added into a massive pile. We bought him lots of toys. We bought piles of branded wipes and diapers and such baby things without understanding that we were spending our baby budget in nonsensical ways.
The lifestyle changes that the baby brought also brought a second wave of changes on us and accounted for a second mistake. We spent money instead of coping with our lifestyle changes. For instance, we started eating out most of the time simply because we were spending so much time with the baby and his night-time feedings were making us both worn out to cook. We also travelled quite a lot burning fuel when he was about three months old simply to show him off to others instead of letting his many well-wishers come and visit us, which would have been cheaper and more convenient.
The real problem was that we were unable to separate our child’s wants to what he actually needed. We deluded ourselves into believing that buying all of this stuff for him was actually going to benefit him and was a display of love.
The reality of the matter is that it doesn’t matter if you buy him a K10 000 mulaza baby-cot or a K300 000 ebony baby-cot. A baby-cot is a baby-cot and the baby sleeps soundly in both.
So while you celebrate the coming of that new baby, keep the expenses reasonable—there are more important costs ahead of you as the baby grows into a child—you may as well save for him or her.
Have a blessed weekend as you seriously think on these things! n