How did you get started with www.sweetbabydealz.com and what’s your favorite part of running your website?
Carine: I’ve always been a deal hunter and a bargain shopper, even before I became a mom. I refused to pay retail for anything and negotiated every purchase I could, right down to my appliances! And I compared prices in-store, online before I made my final purchase. When all these deal-of-the-day sites started cropping up, I was hooked. I started buying restaurant deals, getting discounts at my yoga studio…it felt liberating. When I had my daughter, I realized how expensive baby items were but felt there was a lack of deals catered to moms. There were many sites in the U.S. but most either did not ship to Canada or charged high shipping rates (not to mention the customs fees you would have to pay). I’ve also always been an entrepreneur at heart so while on maternity leave, I was inspired to start a new deal site concept featuring a variety of great mom & baby products. This is when I met up with Jackie by chance and, together we developed the idea of sweetbabydealz and grew it to where it is today.
My favourite part of the job is the freedom to make my own schedule. Being an entrepreneur is stressful because you rely only on yourself to make the business succeed and you have no internal support other than yourself and your partner. It’s even more stressful for a start-up working to get their brand recognized. But, the work-life balance that comes along with it and the ability to spend quality time with my daughter is absolutely priceless. Oh and the discounted products are also definitely a perk
Apart from being known as a mom, how would you like our moms to know you?
Carine: It’s true we are more than moms! Although I sometimes feel like that is my main identity. Hmmm where do I start? I love to travel, and my husband and I are avid advanced scuba divers (well I was in my pre-baby days and hoping to get back into it soon!). We’ve been all over the world from diving with sharks in Thailand to caves in Mexico. I’m terrified of bees yet have a jolly ole time swimming with sharks…I never could explain the logic behind it! Being an extreme type A, I had to find ways to find internal balance, and meditation & yoga help center me. I’m positive (almost always!), full of life & energy (even on 3 hours of sleep!), passionate, loud, honest and yes I nag (my husband can vouch for that
What’s your secret to balancing career and family?
Carine: I’m still looking for that perfect balance! I find the harder you try to make an effort to balance everything, the less balance you will have. I just go with the flow and try to spend as much time as I can with my baby while balancing work & chores. What I found hard when we first launched the business is letting go of work. When it’s your own business, it’s difficult to stop working because you know that every minute counts. You tell yourself, let me just answer one more email, let me make this one phone call…and then you realize you spent the whole day working, drained and exhausted and you barely had the time to enjoy your baby. I quickly realized that this defied the whole purpose of why I went into business on my own in the first place and started making changes to balance both worlds.
In your opinion, what are some of the greatest financial challenges parents experience when raising a family?
Carine: For me it was losing my salary and going down to maternity leave payments. Then having all these extra expenses: diapers, wipes, clothes…so we had to make certain changes to cut down when we were already used to a comfortable lifestyle. No more frivolous shopping sprees, no more expensive electronics, less restaurant outings and more home-cooked meals (which was healthier and not very difficult with a baby!), less vacations…You also become a savvier shopper, looking for even more bargains and deals. We adjusted and we never looked back.
When it comes to saving money what is your tip for parents that you have learned along the way?
Carine: Shop around and bargain! Even if you think a store will not give you a discount, ask anyway and sometimes you might be surprised. If anything, you’ll get a free gift or even a sneak peak at sales that are coming up. I’ve had salespeople tell me the item I was about to purchase will go on sale the following week just because I had asked a few questions on getting discounts. I’ve even had some give me their employee discount! When there’s a will to save, there’s a way
Carine: For online shopping, always look for a coupon code that you can apply. If there isn’t one you can find, contact the company and ask if they have one they can send you and if they do, they will usually share. And, always to a google search or pricing comparison for items you want to buy. Some stores also have price match policies that you can take advantage of.
As a parent what do you find to be the biggest wasted financial expense?
Carine: As a new parent, you don’t always know what you need to buy. You do your research online, talk to friends & family but ultimately end up buying stuff that you will never use. In my case it was burp pads and too many newborn/0-3 month clothes. I never ended up using the burp pads since I would just use her bib or a towel, and she grew out of her 0-3 month clothes so quickly and since they don’t go out much at that age, she didn’t get to wear half of what I had bought her. I’ll know for the second one!
There are numbers of things you can do to help ensure a secure financial future for your child, what is one suggestion that you can pass along to our readers?
Carine: Invest in RESPs. The Canadian government matches 20% on a maximum investment of $2,500 giving you a maximum of $500 a year towards your child’s educations. So the smartest move you can make is investing the maximum you can possibly invest in an RESP. You will be thankful you did 20 years from now when you have to pay between $70-$90K in University fees!
What is your favorite part about being a parent?
Carine: My daughter changed my whole perspective on the world and my surroundings. I used to hate looking at snow and slush, imagining the traffic it will cause, the cold…but when my daughter saw her first snow fall, she got all wide-eyed and said “WOW!”. She changed my view of the world. To her, everything is new, beautiful and fascinating; she makes me feel like a kid again and it feels refreshing.
Motherhood is a profound experience that calls for some deep soul searching. Being a mom requires more work, energy and effort than a 9-5 day job with little time to spare for down time.
This series “Interview with Supermoms” will provide you with some experience from moms that are balancing both a career and family. We have put a list of questions together to share with our readers how these moms manage with their tips on managing the finances and budgeting.