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Get potlucky.

Instead of a monthly moms’ night out, rotate houses with your gal pals each month and have a potluck instead.


New foods, wine, girl talk, board games and an excuse to clean the house every now and then? Sign. Us. Up.

Have a mani-pedi party.

Skip the pricy salon mani-pedi and opt for a girl’s night instead! Not only will it be more fun, just think of how much green you’ll save. Yes, you and your friends have our permission to splurge and buy a bottle of the good stuff. ?

Just be sure to pick a host whose baby is a heavy sleeper. ?

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Know which products are (much!) cheaper online.

Shopping experts note that products such as books and magazines, water filters and even toilet paper are usually cheaper to buy online.

Prescription glasses are another item that can be found for much less online, according to Crystal Paine, author of Money-Making Mom and creator of Money Saving Mom.

“If you only wear your glasses part of the time or aren’t incredibly particular about how they look, definitely save yourself some money by ordering glasses online.”

Try Zenni Optical for glasses ranging from around $7 to $30.

Eat at home.

Food is expensive, mama. Especially convenient food. You could buy the fanciest dinner option at the grocery store and it would still likely be cheaper than eating at a restaurant. When you make your own dinners most nights, the savings will add up fast!

Plus, if you already make your tot’s lunch for home or school, do the same for yourself! Packing a lunch will save you money, give you healthier options, and even free up part of your lunch hour—instead of driving or walking to a restaurant or waiting in line at the company caf, you can spend that 10 or 20 minutes reading, taking a walk or even meditating for an afternoon pick-me-up.

You don’t have to spend much time making lunches. Buy everyone in the family the same kind of lunch box (I am currently in love with my convenient set of bento boxes) and start an assembly line.

Pack simple and healthy foods, like nuts, carrots, apple slices, whole grain crackers and hummus, maybe even a little chocolaty treat. Yum!

What’s the key to effectively saving money every month?

Set long-term goals and stay focused on them.

Whether you want to pay off student loans (one study shows the average student debt for millennial moms is $29,452), save up for that B&B you’re dying to open, or take that European vacation you’ve been longing for, keep your eye on the prize. What will it feel like to pay off that loan? How will you feel when you can call yourself a small-business owner? What will you see when you get to Rome? Feel that feeling and no impulse buy will compare.

Every penny saved truly does add up. Every. Single. One.

If you’re worried you won’t have the perseverance to hold out until you’ve achieved your goal 100%, create space in your budget to splurge every now and again. For some people, planning for occasional mini-splurges helps them stay on track and keeps that feeling of deprivation at bay.

After all, we mamas deserve a little indulgence once in a while.

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Order groceries online.

Make the most of your Amazon Prime account and do a little grocery shopping online without a hefty shipping cost. Many local grocers are getting in on the action as well.

Not only will it save you time and effort, it can save you money, too!

For one thing, shopping online saves you money on gas. Plus, if you don’t go inside a store, you won’t be able to peruse the many tempting (but unnecessary) offerings on display, making it easier to stick to your budget.

If you’re looking for a specific item, it can be much easier to shop around from the comfort of your couch, too.

When you shop in person, the #1 tip is to simply make a list and stick to it.

Be your own barista.

Skipping your daily Starbucks fix and making coffee at home could save you big bucks—we’re talking on the order of $35 a month (or $420 every year!). And that’s assuming you’re buying a boring old cup of black coffee at Starbucks. Feel free to splurge on much-loved coffees, teas or accessories at the grocery store, because these items will still likely be cheaper than buying each beverage ready-made at a cafe.

After a year or two of savings, you might just have enough dough saved up to buy a new espresso maker… or at least a new mug.

Cancel a paid subscription or service you rarely use.

One of the best ways to save cash is to find a non-necessity you won’t miss and ditch it, says CPA Lena Gott, creator of the site What Mommy Does.

“Odds are you’re a

busy person—and do you really have time to process all the input that comes

into your life? Find that one thing that costs you money that you don’t get

absolute happiness out of,” she says. “Something you probably won’t miss when it’s gone. A

magazine you never have time to read? A premium sports channel you never watch?”

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Hold out for the sale.

Have your eye on something you think you can’t live without? Wait for it to go on sale and track the drop in price with a plug-in like Shoptagr, which lets you save items and alerts you when they go on sale—score!

Your willpower will get a workout and you’ll feel like you really earned it if you can wait.

The best part? Bagging a bargain lights up the reward centers in your brain like a summer fireworks show, so you definitely won’t feel the pinch here!

If you think you just can’t wait and need a little help checking your impulse to buy, we feel you. Kristina Johnson, accountant and creator of Cents + Order, recommends thinking about the cost of an item in terms of work hours.

“How long did you have to work (or will your spouse have

to work) to buy what’s in your hand? Look at pair of shoes in your hand and realize you had

to deal with grumpy customers or a horrible boss for four hours just to afford

them. Thinking about purchases in terms of how many hours I put in at work

definitely curbs my spending!”

Try free activities + save on big-ticket trips.

Look into free weekend activities for you and the family to enjoy, such as camping, hiking, biking, going to the beach or even window shopping. Even if it’s just a trip to the park to throw a Frisbee, your children will love it just as much as pricier activities.

You’ll love it even more.

Alternatively, if your family is dying to try a new (but costly) activity, museum or amusement park, research annual family passes. They pay for themselves quickly, and having them on hand will give you one more option for a fun weekend event that won’t rack up extra costs.

Plus, many annual passes come with discounts and perks.

Bonus: The luxury of being able to return for “free” means you won’t feel obligated to stay until the inevitable meltdown that will ensue after a long day of fun.

Skip the gym.

A power walk, jog or bike ride is a great excuse to get outside. Or you can turn to YouTube and sweat in your living room with free, high-production-quality channels like FitnessBlender, Yoga with Adriene and Jessica Smith TV.

Stacey Rodriguez, the author of Secrets to a Successful Single Income Budget and creator of The Soccer Mom Blog, is a fan of cheaper (and more fun) alternatives to the gym. She explains:

“Skip the monthly gym

membership fees! Both my husband and I work out daily at home and have gotten

awesome results. It’s not important where you work out, and you don’t need fancy

equipment. What matters most is consistency and just doing it!”

Sell or trade clothes for you and baby.

Have a closet full of clothes that, let’s face it, you just never wear? Check out Poshmark to make money on the items you never wear... and buy new designer duds on the cheap.

Other much-loved sites that can help you get children’s clothes at a fraction of the price include eBay (try searching for “lots”—buying items like pajamas in bulk can help you save), ThredUp and Swap.com.

Lots of mamas have also had great success with in-person hauls, so check out local secondhand stores for deals on kids’ clothes. They grow so fast, many of the clothes for sale may be brand-new, anyway!

You might also try a maternity clothes swap with friends, trading wardrobes when one of you is pregnant.

In case you haven’t noticed, mama… kids aren’t cheap.

It costs about $245,000 to raise a child, not including college. Hey, those tiny Converse sneakers and Montessori toys aren’t going to pay for themselves.

If you’re looking for a few easy ways to save money every month, we’ve got your back.

Here are 11 techniques (proven by moms + experts) for saving money each month without feeling deprived:

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[Editor's note: While Motherly loves seeing and sharing photos of baby Archie and other adorable babies when the images are shared with their parents' consent, we do not publish pictures taken without a parent's consent. Since these pictures were taken without Markle's permission while she was walking her dogs, we're not reposting them.]

Meghan Markle is a trendsetter for sure. When she wears something the world notices, and this week she was photographed wearing her son Archie in a baby carrier. The important thing to know about the photos is that they show the Duchess out for a walk with her two dogs while wearing Archie in a blue Ergo. She's not hands-free baby wearing, but rather wearing an Ergo while also supporting Archie with her arm, as the carrier isn't completely tight.

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When British tabloids published the pictures many babywearing devotees and internet commenters offered opinions on how Markle is holding her son in the photo, but as baby gear guru Jamie Grayson notes, "it is none of our business."

In a post to his Facebook page, Grayson (noted NYC baby gear expert) explained that in the last day or so he has been inundated with hundreds of messages about how Markle is wearing the carrier, and that while he's sure many who messaged with concerns had good intentions he hopes to inject some empathy into the conversation.

As Grayson points out, these are paparazzi photos, so it was a private moment not meant for world-wide consumption. "This woman has the entire world watching her every move and action, especially now that she and Harry are leaving the umbrella of the royal family, and I honestly hope they are able to find some privacy and peace. So let's give her space," he explains, adding that "while those pictures show something that is less than ideal, it's going to be okay. I promise. It's not like she's wearing the baby upside down."

He's right, Archie was safe and not in danger and who knows why the straps on Markle's carrier were loose (maybe she realized people were about to take pictures and so she switched Archie from forward-facing, or maybe the strap just slipped.)

Grayson continues: "When you are bringing up how a parent is misusing a product (either in-person or online) please consider your words. Because tone of voice is missing in text, it is important to choose your words carefully because ANYTHING can be misconstrued. Your good intentions can easily be considered as shaming someone."

Grayson's suggestions injected some much-needed empathy into this discourse and reminded many that new parents are human beings who are just trying to do their best with responsibilities (and baby gear) that isn't familiar to them.

Babywearing has a ton of benefits for parents and the baby, but it can take some getting used to. New parents can research safety recommendations so they feel confident. In Canada, where the pictures in question were snapped, the government recommends parents follow these safety guidelines when wearing infants in carriers:

  • Choose a product that fits you and your baby properly.
  • Be very careful putting a baby into—or pulling them out of—a carrier or sling. Ask for help if you need it.
  • When wearing a carrier or sling, do not zip up your coat around the baby because it increases the risk of overheating and suffocation.
  • Be particularly careful when using a sling or carrier with babies under 4 months because their airways are still developing.
  • Do not use a carrier or sling during activities that could lead to injury such as cooking, running, cycling, or drinking hot beverages.

Health Canada also recommends parents "remember to keep your baby visible and kissable at all times" and offers the following tips to ensure kissability.

"Keep the baby's face in view. Keep the baby in an upright position. Make sure the baby's face is not pressed into the fabric of the carrier or sling, your body, or clothing. Make sure the baby's chin is not pressed into their chest. Make sure the baby's legs are not bunched up against their stomach, as this can also restrict breathing. Wear the baby snug enough to support their back and hold onto the baby when bending over so they don't fall out of the carrier or sling. Check your baby often."

Meghan Markle is a new mom who was caught off guard during a moment she didn't expect her baby to be photographed. Every parent (no matter how famous) has a right to privacy for their child and the right to compassion from other parents. If we want people to learn how to safely babywear we can't shame them for trying.

Mama, if you've been shamed for wearing your baby "wrong" don't feel like you need to stop. Follow the tips above or check in with local baby-wearing groups to get advice and help. You've got this.

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At one of the most important nights of their career, celebrities made sure their hairstyles stayed put together at the 26th Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards. As a collective, the hairstyles were beautiful—french twists, bobs, pin curls and killer cuts filled the red carpet on the night to remember.

And surprisingly, the secret wasn't just the stylist team, mama. For many of the celebs, much of the look can be attributed to a $5 hairspray—yes, you read that correctly.

Dove style+care micro mist extra hold hairspray was one of the top stylist picks for celebs for a lightweight, flexible finishing spray, leaving tons of body and bounce. Unlike most hairsprays that can take several minutes (even a half hour) to set the look, this extra-hold one contains a fast-drying, water-free formula that helps protect your hair from frizz in minutes. As a result, celebrities were able to hold the shape of their styles, with mega volume.

"Dove hairspray works well by holding curls in place with maximum hold and ultra shine, while still maintaining soft, touchable texture that is easy to brush out," says Dennis Gots for Dove Hair, who styled Phoebe Waller-Bridge for the SAG Awards. Translation: It's great for on-the-go mamas who want a shiny hold that lasts, but doesn't feel sticky.

Here are a few awesome hairstyles that were finished with the drugstore Dove style+care micro mist extra hold hairspray at the SAG awards:

Lili Reinhart's French twist

"I sprayed Dove style+care micro mist extra hold hairspray all over Lili's hair to lock in the shape and boost the shine factor, making the whole look really sleek," says stylist Renato Campora who was inspired to create the look by Reinhart's romantic gown. "Lili's look is sleek and sharp with a romantic twist."

Cynthia Erivo's finger waves

"This look is classic Cynthia! I knew I wanted to keep it simple, but it's actually quite detailed and intricate up close," says stylist Coree Moreno. "While the hair was still wet (yes—I needed to work fast!) I generously spritzed on the hairspray for all night hold without flaking. The hair continued to air dry perfectly while she finished up makeup."

Nathalie Emmanuel's curly high pony

"Nathalie wanted a retro Hollywood glam for the SAG Awards, so I used her natural texture and created a high pony with loose tendrils framing her face and neckline," says stylist, Neeko. "I finessed the look with the hairspray to lock in the style while keeping her hair looking and feeling touchable."

Phoebe Waller-Bridge's slicked back bob

"I used duckbill clips on different areas of her hair to keep the shape and curl while the hair air dried. Air drying the hair allowed for maximum shine and then I sprayed lots of hairspray all over to truly lock in the sleek shape and enhance the shine," says stylist Dennis Gots, who was inspired by a 90s vibe for Waller-Bridge's look.

Dove Style+Care Micro Mist Extra Hold Hairspray

Dove Style+Care Micro Mist Extra Hold Hairspray

Who doesn't want a hairspray that makes your hair feel as good as it looks? Dove Style+Care Extra Hold Hairspray holds body, volume and enhances shine. It gives your hair touchable hold while fighting frizz, even in damp or humid conditions.

$4.89

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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We often think of the unequal gender division of unpaid labor as a personal issue, but a new report by Oxfam proves that it is a global issue—and that a handful of men are becoming incredibly wealthy while women and girls bear the burden of unpaid work and poverty.

According to Oxfam, the unpaid care work done by women and girls has an economic value of $10.8 trillion per year and benefits the global economy three times more than the entire technology industry.

"Women are supporting the market economy with cheap and free labor and they are also supporting the state by providing care that should be provided by the public sector," the report notes.

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The unpaid work of hundreds of millions of women is generating massive wealth for a couple of thousand (predominantly male) billionaires. "What is clear is that this unpaid work is fueling a sexist economic system that takes from the many and puts money in the pockets of the few," the report states.

Max Lawson is Oxfam International's Head of Inequality Policy. In an interview with Vatican News, he explained that "the foundation of unpaid work done by the poorest women generates enormous wealth for the economy," and that women do billions of hours of unpaid care work (caring for children, the sick, the elderly and cooking, cleaning) for which they see no financial reward but which creates financial rewards for billionaires.

Indeed, the report finds that globally 42% of women can't work for money because of their unpaid care responsibilities.

In the United States, women spend 37% more time doing unpaid care work than men, Oxfam America notes in a second report released in cooperation with the Institute for Women's Policy Research.

"It's an economy that is built on the backs of women and of poor women and their labour, whether it's poorly paid labour or even unpaid labour, it is a sexist economy and it's a broken economy, and you can only fix the gap between the rich and the poor if at the same time you fix the gap between women and men," Lawson explains.

According to Lawson, you can't fight economic inequality without fighting gender equality, and he says 2020 is the year to do both. Now is a great time to start, because as Motherly has previously reported, no country in the world is on track to eliminate gender inequality by 2030 (one of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by 193 United Nations member countries back in 2015) and no country will until the unpaid labor of women and girls is addressed.

"Governments around the world can, and must, build a human economy that is feminist and benefits the 99%, not only the 1%," the Oxfam report concludes.

The research suggests that paid leave, investments in childcare and the care of older adults and people with disabilities as well as utilizing technology to make working more flexible would help America close the gap.

(For more information on how you can fight for paid leave, affordable childcare and more this year check out yearofthemother.org.)

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It's been more than a decade since federal guidelines were implemented to ensure nursing mothers have the time and space to pump at work, but as Motherly has previously reported, many mothers still find it extremely challenging to maintain a pumping schedule in the workplace.

This week a new study out of the University of Georgia showed that while most women report having access to private spaces and break times for pumping there are still significant "gaps in access to workplace breastfeeding resources" and the researchers recommend employers take action to reduce breastfeeding disparities.

"We know that there are benefits of breastfeeding for both the mother and the infant, and we know that returning to work is a significant challenge for breastfeeding continuation," says Rachel McCardel, a doctoral student at UGA's College of Public Health and lead study author. "There is a collective experience that we wanted to explore and learn how can we make this better."

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The challenges of breastfeeding in 2020

There is a lot of pressure on mothers to exclusively breastfeed, but nearly half of mothers feel like they must make a choice between breastfeeding and keeping their job. A baby's mother is the best person to decide whether the infant should be breastfed, formula-fed or both, but it should be her choice. When workplace supports for breastfeeding are not in place many mothers feel like they don't have a choice at all.

Public health campaigns and social norms reinforce breastfeeding as the best choice, but a recent survey from Areoflow found that 1 in 3 people (31%) "do not believe employers should be required to provide a lactation room" but at the same time, 90% of those surveyed stated that they believe women should be allowed to pump at work.

For too many women, those contradicting messages mean that pumping at work is an uncomfortable experience, something they need to do nearly in secret. It's an example of the many ways in which mothers are supposed to parent as though they don't work but pretend they aren't parents when at work.

Calling for change in 2020

Half the states in America explicitly protect the rights of nursing parents in the workplace, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and federal law also provides protections to nursing workers under the Affordable Care Act. Section 7 of the Fair Labor Standards Act—but millions of working mothers are not covered by those protections, and the new research out of the University of Georgia's College of Public Health suggests that even mothers who are need more support from their employers.

Heather Padilla is an assistant professor at UGA's College of Public Health and the co-author of the study. She recommends employers "designate a person who is responsible for making sure that women who are preparing for the birth of their baby understand what resources they have available to them when they return to work," she said.

Supervisors or HR directors could fill this role, and would fill a gap between company policy and personal experience. Padilla and McCardel found that many women "said they hadn't expected to get much help from their employers, and there was a general lack of communication about the resources available to them."

The work Padilla and McCardel have done reinforces the work we at Motherly are doing: In 2020 we are calling for change, and demanding support for mothers feeding their babies.

Mamas need to work + babies need to eat

For many American mothers work is not a choice, it is a necessity. Mothers are increasingly the breadwinners for their families and it is very hard for mothers, even those with working partners, to be a stay-at-home parent in 2020.

We need paid family leave and protection from breastfeeding discrimination. We need employers to support working mothers who choose to pump, and we need to reduce the stigmatization of formula feeding.

Mama, we see you pumping in your office and mixing formula bottles to take to day care. We see how hard it is and we support you. Know that no matter what your baby is eating—bottled breast milk, formula, or some combination (because breastfeeding doesn't have to be all or nothing)—we know you are working so hard to provide it.

We have declared 2020 the #yearofthemother. Join us, and call for change because McCardel is right—this is a collective experience and it is one we can make better for the mothers who come after us.

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