Family, Finances

How Much Will A Baby Cost?

comforting

 

“So here’s the thing. I want to have a baby. Like so bad I want to have a baby. And my husband and I have agreed that it is time to start trying! However I am starting to panic that there is no way we can afford to have a baby. We don’t struggle to pay our bills and are able to put a good amount of money away every month but I am mostly worried about the massive hospital bill and month to month expenses. Am I totally overreacting? Am I panicking about nothing?”

We get this question a lot. Many people want to have babies, but it seems like we are constantly being told that babies are so expensive. While that could be true, I personally believe that babies don’t have to be expensive if you are smart about what you need vs. what you want, and focus on saving as much money as possible. You do have 9 months from the time you pee on that stick and get a positive after all! That’s a long time that you have to prepare!

piggybaby

 

I’ve lived through both situations with my kids. One where we were so poor we literally had to choose between rent and food a few times and another where we had extra money that we didn’t know what to do with. Both times had their own set of challenges. One thing that was the same between both experiences, however, was that a baby has specific needs that need to be met and anything more than that is just icing on the cake. When you start to distinguish between “needs” and “wants,” you will be amazed at how affordable a child can be.

I will preface this with saying that  my experience and knowledge is with OB/GYN’s (mostly because the midwives I met with were extremely rude and I love my OB) and I will always give birth in a hospital. If you want more specific costs on at home or midwife options, I would get in touch with one in your local area.

Hospitals and Doctors:

-Use Insurance: Having health insurance can be amazing, as long as you know your benefits. Most people I know pay about $500-$1000 after insurance. That can be paid in installments or in a lump sum. Oftentimes they will give you a discount to pay it all upfront, with cash, in one payment-that’s what we did.

-If you don’t qualify for insurance/don’t have it-there is a good chance you will qualify for a government sponsored program like Medicaid. I’ve had plenty of friends who have paid thousands and thousands of dollars just because they didn’t know about Medicaid or assumed they wouldn’t qualify.

-If you don’t qualify for insurance or Medicaid: Offer to pay up front, in cash. You would be amazed at how steep the discounts are for paying in full before your baby is born. I know someone who always pays cash for his kids, even though he has insurance-because paying in cash is cheaper than his deductible.

Food: 

Whether you breastfeed or formula feed, or a combo of the two, babies need to eat. So decide which way is best for you and your family. For me, formula is the way to go. I had a really hard time with the demands of breastfeeding, and formula was a better option for us. Some women love the experience of nursing-it’s totally up to you.

If you choose to breastfeed, look into local support groups and contact your insurance company- many are currently required to provide a breast pump of some kind for free or steeply discounted. If you are low income-check into WIC, as they often offer rental options. Another great idea is to check local yard sale sites-many people get rid of next to new pumps for 1/6 of the price you would pay-and you can buy a kit for $10 that makes it completely sanitary.

If you choose to formula feed, ask your pediatrician’s office for samples of different kinds of formula so that you don’t have to buy them to see which one(s) your baby prefers. Both my kids have been fans of the generic Similac and we get that from Sam’s Club for $23 a tub. Those tubs typically last us between 2 and 3 weeks. So we spend less than $40 a month on formula. If you are really frugal, you can also get manufacturers to send you monthly coupons for $10-which would bring down your cost even more.

A Place To Sleep: 

Baby’s need a place to sleep, and there are a lot of options. Cribs, pack n’ plays, bassinets, Moses baskets. There are so many options. And all of these have different price ranges. If you are short on money, borrow one, or get one used. You would be amazed at how many people are willing to part with theirs for free or cheap. We were lucky enough to be gifted a crib by my sister-in-law’s friend. If that wasn’t available, we would have used a pack n play. As they grow, you’ll need a bigger bed, but that’s what’s great about babies-they grow slow enough that you can save up for big expenses.

Clothing: 

Kids need clothes-but they don’t need to be name brand, top of the line or fancy. Get what you can afford! They grow out of them so fast, and are so messy, that you shouldn’t stress over getting the most fashion forward or expensive options.

Go Second Hand: We have bought a lot of clothes at yard sales and on Facebook sites. We even had many clothes given to us by friends and family members who were done having kids. That was a lifesaver for us with our first baby. Don’t hesitate to ask around-you would be amazed at how many people have boxes in their garage that they want to go to someone who will appreciate them. Just remember to return the favor when you are in the same position.

Plan Ahead: Whenever I go shopping I look at the clearance section and find clothes in the next size up in the previous season. My daughter is 3 and I think I’ve only spent about $50 on full-price clothes for her. The rest have been clearance. And they’re seriously so cute! If it’s important for you to have the newest clothes for your  babies, then start saving up and slowly buying them as soon as you find out gender so you don’t have to buy them all at once. There are also a lot of awesome gender neutral things that you can buy before you find out the gender of your  baby, or if you choose not to find out until birth. That saves you from having to put down a huge chunk of money all at once on clothes. Keep in mind-clothes are one of the most gifted baby items, so you will have options.

Diapers:  

First decide if you want to do cloth or disposable. Many people cloth diaper to save money, but it does require a more expensive up front cost to buy all the diapers and inserts and pads. It can also be time consuming. If it’s something you are interested in-there are TONS of resources online. This guide was pretty straightforward.

We use disposables so we buy them in bulk. Name brand diapers are more expensive-but you can often find coupons for them. Also keep in mind that many store-brands like Costco and Sam’s Club diapers- are made by Huggies and Pampers so you’re getting the same quality for way less money. That’s what we choose to do.

Love:

love

Anything other than Diapers, Food and a place to sleep are just “icing on the cake.” Many people will say, “Well, you absolutely have to have…..” but really, those things are just nice for parents.

Things like swings, bouncers, walkers, wipe warmers, bottle warmers-those are all nice to have but not a necessity. We tend to be pretty minimalist in baby gear and it’s been really awesome for us. Look at the different extras and see what you could afford and get one or two of those things. Borrow them from a friend to see what you like and don’t like then, or more importantly, if your baby likes them or not. If you find something you have to have, see if you can find it on sale, or buy it used.

Overall, between buying things on sale or discounted, and looking very closely at what kinds of things are necessary- you can get a pretty accurate idea of how much a baby will cost you. For our kids, we ended up spending about $60 a month until they started eating-and then we made our own baby food so save money, which increased our cost about $20 a month. I have long been a believer of the fact that kids can be as expensive as you make them.

Ultimately, it really all depends on your family lifestyle and what you feel is important to have. Splurge when you can-save in areas that aren’t as important to you. I’m a big believer in the idea that kids can be as expensive as you make them.

Advertisements
Uncategorized

Finding Hobbies To Find Yourself.

what-do-you-do-for-fun

 

“I love my husband but some times I have felt like I have lost who I am since we have been married. Like I don’t do any hobbies or any thing I’m just a wife and mom. Not that that’s bad but I want some thing for my self. My hubby has a bunch of hobbies but I don’t anymore. What are some things that you do just for you or just for fun.”

We nurture things that define us, and kids and marriages take a LOT of nurturing to stay healthy. So it’s totally understandable that when you are alone, or feeling like you need something for you-you feel lost. It’s because you haven’t nurtured the hobbies or parts of you that make up who you are. You become, in a sense, your relationship and your status as a mom.

The problem with this, of course, lies with finding a balance. Between nurturing our relationships and our kids, while still nurturing ourselves. It’s isn’t bad to be a good wife and mom. It isn’t bad to lose ourselves in the service of others. And if you are stuck on the idea that having hobbies or looking out for you makes you selfish-quit it. It actually does the opposite. It makes you a better wife and mother.

For me, the idea that I should just go out there and find a hobby has always felt very daunting. Like there are little hobbies out there hiding from me that I just haven’t found yet. My husband is GREAT at hobbies. He has too many. He could spend his entire day completely absorbed in his hobbies. Me on the other hand-leave me alone for the day and i’ll probably binge watch Gilmore Girls and take 2 naps. I enjoy those things. They help me to reset. But are they hobbies? Probably not.

I think there is a great rule of thumb when it comes to finding hobbies:

Find 3 Things You Love.png

 

One To Make Money: I think anytime you can have a hobby that makes money, all the better. My husband, for example, loves to play guitar. He could play for hours a day. So he started teaching lessons. He doesn’t charge an arm and a leg, and he’s good at it. Which attracts more students. Now i’m not saying everyone has something they are fantastic at that is teachable-but there are ways to turn what we love into making money.

BEWARE: If you post on social media that you are looking for something fun to do, that makes money-you are going to get all of the MLM pitches in the world. I’ve seen a lot of women I love and respect thrive off of them, and really find themselves. But the ones who do well-do well because they are passionate. They love makeup. They like working out. They enjoy making healthy meals. They are great at social media. They make it into a hobbies-and the income follows. I don’t believe people in these companies do well because of the product-they do well because of their passion and persistence.

Is there a job you have always seen yourself in? Something you like to do? I’ve always loved to write. I like social media. I’m interested in a little bit of graphic design and being able to put my thoughts onto something physical. So I started writing in a blog a few years ago, and have played around with them off and on since.

If you are interested in a specific field-look for a part time position. Do an externship (unpaid) or see if they have internships available.

Take photos for friends and family. Learn to edit them.

Go back to school part time and take some classes you like or work towards a degree.

Teach a class. Piano. Guitar. Art. Fitness. Social Media.

Take a class. Music. Art. Self Improvement. Learn to Braid. Or do Makeup. Learn to sew.

Babysit. Paint. Bake. Draw. Socialize. Edit. Mystery Shop. Do surveys. Start an Etsy store.

 

One To Keep You In Shape:  

My husband LOVES working out. He could do it for hours on end. He misses it when he doesn’t do it everyday (which is insanity to me) -he even does it on vacation.  But part of why he loves it, is because of what his workouts consist of. He does martial arts classes-something he has enjoyed since he was a kid.

Finding a hobby that also keeps you in shape, has so many benefits. And it doesn’t have to focus around going to the gym.

If you are like me and love reality tv-only watch it from the treadmill.

If you like to socialize, invite someone on a walk with you.

If you use to dance or do cheer-leading in high school-try Zumba.

Like to listen to music and stay up with the newest hits-try a Water Aerobics class-you’d be surprised at how fun these can be.

Gardening. Rock Climbing. Horse Back Riding. Wii Fit. Geocaching. Tai-Chi. Canoeing.

Wanna spice up the bedroom? Or just do something really out there? Try a pole dancing class. (I’ve even seen underwater pole dancing.) Burlesque. Hip Hip Hop-anything that catches your eye.

 

One To Be Creative: 

I think Creativity hobbies can sometimes be the hardest to pinpoint. I’m terrible at painting. Terrible at knitting. Can’t sew for the life of me. Basically I have no artistic talent. But i’m open to learn.

Bake cookies and learn to decorate them. I’m obsessed with watching these videos.

Do interior design-your house or someone else’s.

Bullet Journal. This can be as extensive or simple as you want. I’ve seen people who get very artistic with theirs and actually find more hobbies because of it.

Paint. Do Watercolors (SO hip right now.) Frame a picture. De-Clutter. Read a book. Make a card-deliver it. Embroider. Make chalk signs. Knit a GIANT blanket. I’m all about hobbies that allow me to multitask while binge watching Netflix.

Plan and host an event: A girls spa day. Cookie trade. Book Club. Bunco. BBQ.

poppies

As a reminder-you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Think about how you spent time before you got married and had kids-and try and revisit that. If you were social, reach out to a friend. If you worked out a lot-get a gym membership. Go see a movie by yourself without listening to your husband complain about chick flicks. Go out for dessert after. If you liked to play Tetris on your computer or play the occasional video game(guilty) DO IT. Wander EVERY. SINGLE. AISLE. at Target. Twice.

Don’t over stress about doing something that perfectly fits in the “hobby” box. If you like taking hot baths with homemade bath bombs and watching the Kardashians while eating brownies you made from scratch (totally random-not from personal experience…) Why aren’t you already turning on the oven??

Best of luck in your new, fun, endeavors.

 

Friends

How Do You Make Friends When You Are A Stay At Home Mom?

daily-music-co

“I’m so lonely. I stay home with my kids, so I don’t go out and work to meet people. I have no friends. I try inviting mom‘s from my church to do play dates with and even tell them they should invite me if they go to some places and I get no responses. Is there like a book I can buy to learn to make friends or have a better personality? Ha but for real. Obviously I’m pretty boring. I was fun in high school I had plenty of friends. Now I’m just boring and can’t find even one friend. I feel like there can be something I can do to make friends but obviously don’t know. How do you make friends? Especially when your a Stay At Home Mom?”

The struggle is real. In fact, when this question was originally posted, several of the responses were “I feel the same way-do you live close? Let’s get together.” So you definitely aren’t alone.

I think the hardest part of becoming a mom is trying to figure out where you fit in the friend department. It’s like we start out as a friend first. It’s one of the first titles we accept in life. We spend a LOT of years becoming a good friend, and for so many years of our life, friends make our worlds go round. Through high school and college it really feels like these friendships are the center of our being. And then life changes. Your first friend gets married, and they are in the “married friends stage.” They start seeking out other “married friends.” I told myself this would never happen to me-but it did. I found myself struggling to connect to my friends who I spent my whole teenage life with. I think friendship is all about relating, and understanding each other. And when you are married and your friend is partying and juggling 3 men, it’s hard to relate.

The same thing happens with kids. I remember talking about diapers with one of my friends, and having another married friend, without kids, say “I can’t believe you have been talking about this for 20 minutes.” When you can’t relate, and have nothing in common besides the “good old days” it’s hard to maintain relationships.

So I guess that brings us to the “what can I do” part, and I think the answer is-a lot.

Plan something: I am very social. I thrive when I see my friends and I enjoy being around them. I like to entertain and I like to be surrounded by people. We host game nights. Holiday parties. BBQ’s. I go out of my way to invite acquaintances to these events-usually when there are other couples/families there so there isn’t any pressure. It continues to amaze me how fast an acquaintance can become a great friend. If you are friends with someone on Facebook (like a mom with kids close to your age) and you dig her posts-invite her over. You have no idea how much she might need it too.

Post on Social Media: Come up with an idea (picnic at the park,) post it on your own page or on a local moms group, and see if anyone would like to meet up. If it’s something that would have sparked your interest, it will spark somebody else’s.

Reach out to old friends: Sometimes we grow apart from our friends as our lives take separate paths at different times. And then even when our paths come back together (or we are both married, with kids, living in the same town) it’s hard to feel like things will be the same. You had chemistry once, but one get together was awkward, or bombed (like the diaper situation) and now  you feel like you probably don’t click. You are, most likely, wrong. Try the relationship out again. It has amazed me how many times the friends that I thought I was no longer compatible with-become compatible a little later down the road. I have many friends who I know were annoyed by my constant kid chatter-until they had kids. And now it feels like we have picked up where we left off years ago. You start to understand each other in a completely different way, and since you know each others backgrounds, you don’t feel like you have to completely start over.

Join a gym/fitness class/hobby group: A lot of moms go out in the evenings a couple times a week when their husbands are home. They can meet other women who also want to get out of the house, and do something for themselves. If you have a hobby, look up options in your area to do it with other people. Yoga classes, Zumba classes, Water aerobics,book club-all are great places to meet people in the same wake of life as you.

Get A Job: Hear me out. This doesn’t have to be full time. It doesn’t even have to be PART time. Do something to get out of the house a few hours a week. Call it a Disneyland fund. My favorite part of my job is the social aspects of it. Some of my best friends are people I work with every single day. I’ve become friends with co-workers AND their wives (I work with a lot of men) and let’s face it-you already have a lot in common. These kinds of friends are the ones who understand your crazy schedule, and can relate to your stress. It’s also a great outlet if you feel like you want to do something for yourself. Another good option-ask your husband to invite a work friend over with their family (or even friends of his from outside of work.) You might find you get along great!

Join A Social Media Group: It never ceases to amaze me how many groups there are out there. And how many smaller groups come out of those. I have met a lot of great people and great friends because we have connected in a mom group or something similar. There are groups out there for everything: Newlywed Moms, Religious Moms, Swearing Moms, Single Moms, Funny Moms-you name it. You are bound to find a group of moms close to you, with similar interests. And you will be amazed at how many of them are also looking for a friend-you aren’t alone in that.

Do Service:  I think doing something nice for someone is a great way to get to know them. If you have a neighbor that you really like, and would like to be friends with-make them cookies. If a friend on social media is looking for a babysitter-offer to help. You will find that little acts of service give you the opportunity to get to know people. And when people feel like you have helped them, or care about them, they are more likely to like you as well.

I think if you are willing to put yourself out there you will be amazed at how many opportunities will present themselves to you. So many people are unwilling or afraid to take that step-but are hoping for the opportunity to be a friend. Give them that opportunity-and help yourself in the process.

Finances, Uncategorized

Can I Afford A House And School?

can-i-afford-a-house-and-school

“My husband is going into a masters program and at the same time I’ll be entering a program at a different school. My program would be full time, requiring me to quit my job. Here’s my question, when we start these programs we will have to move closer to the school. Have any of you been on student loans and also had a mortgage? We’d prefer to buy a house, because we’ve been renting for so long and want a place of our own, but my husband doesn’t think they’d approve us for both a student loan ($10,000-$15,000) and a mortgage. Has anyone done this before?”

I totally get the pressure of buying a house and not wanting to throw away money. We are in this mode where we think that we have to be making really smart financial decisions in order to have a good, financially safe future. We are also surrounded by people our age, or a little older, doing big things like buying nice cars and nice house-and we feel like we need to keep up. The interesting thing is, if you can be patient and wait a few years, you will probably elevate yourself to a MUCH better situation than you could imagine.

First of all-house prices are incredibly high right now. People are offering ABOVE asking price and ABOVE what houses are worth because inventory is 1/3 of what it normally is. So it’s a seller market-NOT a buyers market. I actually work with people who are in GREAT financial positions right now because they have sold their home at a high price, made a lot of money and are now renting until prices come down again.

With getting back into school, and losing a large amount of income-I would say hold off on buying a home. Is your husband still working? Can you live on his income alone?  It might feel like you are wasting money, but think about it this way. If you wait a few years until home prices come down (which they will) and your income goes up because of your combined educational accomplishments (which it should) you will actually be in a better position down the line to make bigger payments. Bigger payments mean you will pay LESS interest on your loan, which will actually save you money in the long run. A LOT of it.

As an example: If you have a mortgage of $850, in your first payment, only $55 of that goes to principle. $55! So the start of a new mortgage loan is the perfect time to start making extra payments. Anything that you are able to pay extra will be actually contributing to your mortgage instead of just interest. $200 in extra payments will actually be 4x the amount that usually hits your principle balance. So the way I see it, if you can’t afford to waste money on rent-you better be able to afford paying a lot extra on your mortgage payment. Otherwise it really isn’t worth it-and that’s not taking into account taxes, insurance, maintenance and repairs.

If I were you, I would rent a cheap apartment, save your money for school and a down payment and not have the stress of a mortgage payments on your back. If you have extra income after that-get a little crazy and go on a fun vacation when you guys are on break from school. There has to be SOME benefit to not working, right?

Uncategorized

How Do Newlyweds Afford Vacations?

 

how-do-newlyweds-afford-vacations

 

The very first question that was ever submitted on our anonymous page, was this: How do newlyweds afford vacations. Isn’t social media great? We advertise our successes and our fun times (like newlywed vacations) and we hide away the hard and difficult times (like the whole first year of being newlyweds that is often times less than “bliss.”

Not only that-but we see people out there, having fun, and we compare our lives to them. Why can’t I afford that? Why don’t we do those things?

It wouldn’t make sense to ask the people we are friends with for tips (obvi.) so instead, we reign in our envy, and ask anonymously.

The majority of women who answered the question immediately went to one thing-debt. If people are having fun, they must have a lot of credit card debt, and they must be paying for their vacation all year long.

Do I agree with this? Sure. At least, to some degree. I think a lot of newlyweds make bad financial decisions when they are just starting out. A lot of them have extra cash from the wedding, and having two incomes to work with, and only one set of bills, can sometimes give people the feeling that they are invincible when it comes to money. Combine that with a little bit of naivety, poor money management skills and pressure to be the CUTEST couple on the internet, and its easy to put yourself in debt.

I honestly believe that so many newlyweds are trying to have what their parents have worked their entire lives for, immediately after marriage. This applies not just to vacations, but to homes, cars and jobs. We spend like we are established, but we aren’t. So yeah, I believe some people put themselves into excessive debt for vacations (and other luxuries.)

But don’t get too excited, or quick to point the finger. The fact of the matter is, some people are better at budgeting. They would rather save money and eat Ramen than eat out, and would rather drive an older, paid off car than to make a car payment. I have friends that would sell their left kidney before they went out to eat on a Tuesday night. They would rather spend their money elsewhere.

All that aside. Some people just make more money. They have less bills, or they make more sacrifices. They have chosen to stay out of debt, live in their means, and prioritize vacations. Some of them don’t have kids. They have two forms of income, no debt, no daycare and nothing tying them down. And that’s fine. I think being a newlywed would be one of the BEST times to travel. No extra expenses for kids, no need to find an extended babysitter and you aren’t limited to kid friendly destinations.

On top of that, some people are really good at finding deals. They use credit card points to travel, and watch for cheap flights all year long. Then when something comes available, they can jump on it.You can find some crazy good deals for around $1500 right now. I really like to use this site. For $125 a month-you can totally afford to take one long vacation a year.

Basically, if going on vacation is a priority-make it happen. Get a part time job, look at jobs that pay more, start sticking to a budget, or look for deals on vacations.

And if you go…take me with you.

 

newlywed-vacation