3 Unexpected Pregnancy and Post-Partum Costs

Source: Free Digital Photos

Source: Free Digital Photos

On December 16th I gave birth to an incredibly sweet baby boy. I’ll spare you of the birth details but will say that things did not go according to plan and we ended up in a hairy situation. Thankfully both he and I were in the presence of some of the leading obstetrics staff in the country and in fantastic hands!

This was my second pregnancy and felt that my husband and I were much, much more prepared this time. When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, quite honesty I had no idea how we were going to do it financially and very much winged it. Thankfully it was after having her we had our own personal finance epiphany and got out s*it together and this blog was born.

Even though we were much more prepared this time, costs still came up that we weren’t prepared for. Some of them were simple pregnancy-brain oversights and some were costs we hadn’t factored in or seriously underestimated.

Parking

My obstetrician actually worked out of the main women’s and children’s hospital in town (rather than a private clinic as most do and then have delivery rights at the hospital). Hospital in an urban core means cost to park. By my third trimester I was having weekly appointments and paying for parking every visit. I’d try for the street meters which were cheaper but occasionally had to pay for parkade parking too. Then the cost of parking when I was admitted to the hospital for what ended up being three days. I didn’t track it but I’d say in my nine months’ worth of appointments, we paid close to $100 in parking just for visits. Something we didn’t budget for.

Post-Partum

Like I mentioned, our birth didn’t go as planned and we ended up in an emergency caesarean. Having already had a c/section (albeit a planned one) I kind of knew what to expect. However because we weren’t planning on having a repeat c/section, we didn’t have some things on hand which we ended up needing. With my first section, I did not have a waist binder to wear after surgery and at home and I knew if I ever had another I would need one. I tracked a post-partum binder down and had my sister-in-law bring it to be in the hospital. There were a few items like this that we didn’t plan for (even though in hindsight we should have planned for a worst-case birth, but I was trying to be optimistic). We had to make room in our budget for these items.

Breastfeeding

One of the best things about breastfeeding is that there are little to no costs involved with it. I’m thankful that again, I’ve been successful with breastfeeding this little guy and plan to exclusively breastfeed 12 months minimum if all goes well. One thing I didn’t budget for, deliberately, was special nursing clothes.  I didn’t have anything in my wardrobe but figured I’d make whatever clothes I had, work. Well my overly optimistic plan sucked because quite honestly I don’t have much in terms of clothes, period, let alone clothes that allow for breastfeeding. We went to the store a few days after he was born and I realized if I needed to feed him while there I’d basically have to remove the shirt I was wearing entirely. Especially in the winter, when I can’t exactly get away with wearing something like a cheap tank-top to nurse in, I needed a few easy access shirts for both my sanity and for ease when we leave the house (which, with two kids at home in the winter is necessary). I looked second hand with no luck and eventually paid full-price for a few shirts that work. I did find a sale online and was happy with the final price but it was still another $100 I didn’t plan to spend.

I’m thankful that in total I had very few pregnancy and post-partum costs at all (thank you universal healthcare) but still had a huge budget adjustment with me being off work for 12 months and collecting employment insurance. Even though these were unexpected costs I’m glad we were in a position to make them work without compromising anything else in our life because four years ago it would have been a hard pill to swallow.

What unexpected costs did you have with pregnancy?

Waste Less and Save More

waste-less-and-save-more

Irrespective of your occupation, location, family size or interests, your household spending budget is probably loaded with waste – in various spending categories. And widespread waste represents money left on the table, dragging-down your financial health. For better outcomes, it pays (literally) to reduce wasteful spending and direct the gains toward other financial priorities. Look for overspending in the following areas to waste less and save more:

Communication and Entertainment

If you want to waste less and save more look at your communications and entertainment budget. Do you still have a land line? With family members connected by mobile plans, your land-based communications spending may duplicate your cellular phone service. For immediate savings, cut the cord and say goodbye to your expensive land line.

Are you using cable television, internet subscriptions, and phone data plans, each bringing you to the same entertainment value? If so, it may be possible to trim household spending, by cutting redundant entertainment subscriptions. You may find your internet connection itself going unused, as family members take advantage of school and workplace connectivity. Choosing a slower speed or doing without is a realistic possibility, in some cases, eliminating a major communications expense. You may also find efficiencies when switching to a family cell phone plan or sharing entertainment subscriptions like Netflix or HBO GO.

Food and Dining Costs

Keeping grocery bills on track can be a serious challenge. The greater the number of hungry family members, the higher the tab, so food cost relief goes a long way toward alleviating budget pressures. If you are serious about saving money on food and dining, consider these cost-conscious moves:

• Better planning – One of the major hurdles facing home cooks is coordinating meals amidst busy schedules. As a result, food goes to waste. For more efficient grocery spending, strive to make a plan, rather than flying by the seat of your pants. Planning a weekly menu, for example, takes the guesswork out of feeding the family, without compromising quality or value. It also aids grocery shopping, making it easier to resist temptation at the supermarket and leave the store with only what you need.
• Leftovers are part of the plan – Another common mistake made by home cooks is failing to account for leftovers, resulting in food waste. A cost-conscious approach builds in leftover meals, repurposing them into distinct dishes.
• Shop with a list – in addition to prepared food waste, some of your grocery budget ends-up in the garbage can, before it is even cooked. By shopping with a list, which mirrors your menu plan, you’ll experience less food spoilage and reduce your overall food spending.
• Buy in bulk – Companies like Costco, Sams Club and Aldi have seriously good bulk and discount deals. Amazon is also making inroads into retailing, so definitely give these bulk retailers a try if you want grocery savings. Hint: Aldi is marginally cheaper than Costco, but the quality isn’t always as good.

Discretionary Spending

Until you get a grip on discretionary spending, your cash flow is susceptible to pressure resulting from ill-advised purchases. In fact, you may not realize the impact of impulse spending until you closely examine your habits. If your credit card balances are growing as a result of unchecked spending, for example, establishing strict budget limits may be enough to turn-around your financial fortunes. And if entertainment and social spending are to blame for discretionary waste, fewer restaurant meals, paid events, and nights on the town will each contribute to better balance.

Controlling impulse purchases calls on a disciplined approach, giving yourself ample time to evaluate each purchase, before making financial commitments. If you are committed to cutting spending waste, build-in a 48 hour waiting period for each discretionary buy. If, after waiting it out, the purchase remains justified and affordable, there is no looking back. On the other hand, you may also find opportunities to trim waste, letting some purchases to fall by the wayside.

Utilities

Energy efficiency translates into direct savings, so tightening-up energy use can be felt in your bottom line. For immediate gains, expand the scope of your money/energy saving moves to include these proven waste-cutting measures:

• Share rides – using Uber or Car2Go instead of owning your own car could be viable if you live in an urban area
• Manage your thermostat for heating and cooling efficiency (Hint: Get a smart thermostat)
• Insulate and weatherize your home, the garage is typically overlooked
• Waste less gas by keeping your car performing at peak levels (keep your tires pressurized and don’t carry a lot of stuff in your trunk)
• Unplug your computer, kitchen appliances and other devices from the wall
• Take shorter showers or use less hot water
• Consider turning off the lights or not heating rooms you aren’t using

Financial success relies on a spending balance, so waste can drag down family finances. To make the most of your income and reduce wasteful spending, evaluate communications expenses, discretionary purchase habits, and household obligations such as energy and food costs.  If you want to waste less and save more, slashing unnecessary spending in these areas provides budget relief and sets the stage for sustainable household finances.

Finally, for more on this consider checking out staplerconfessions’s articles on winterizing your garage and eating what is in your pantry. Both of these are practical examples of how to economize on your groceries and your utility bill.

A New Year, a New Money Challenge?

Source: Flikr

Somehow we find ourselves in a new year. I have never had a year go as fast as 2016 did. Part of it was likely due to the fact that I spent nine of the 12 months pregnant! I’m excited to see what 2017 is going to bring my new family of four that’s for sure.

Though there’s nothing stopping someone from doing a challenge any time of the year, there’s something refreshing and, in a way, easier, with doing them with the start of a new year. Come January 1st there is no shortage of diet challenges, fitness challenges or a money challenge.

For me, I won’t be setting many financial goals this year. I’m on a reduced maternity income so my only real goal for 2017 is to maintain our current budget and prepare for 2018 when I’ll be back to work full-time and preparing our house for sale. That doesn’t mean I don’t think partaking in a money challenge of sorts would be a good idea though.

I tend to do well under pressure. Pressure that I put on myself that is. If I give myself a (realistic) goal I tend to do well with my attempts at reaching it. This has worked well academically and professionally for me. If you’re this type of person, doing something like a money challenge may be exactly what you need to reach your 2017 financial goals.

Figure Out What You’re Challenging

Before you can start any sort of challenge you need to figure out what your goal is and it has to be realistic. If you decide you want to start saving for a house downpayment and set your savings goal at something like $30,000 for the year but only earn $40,000 per year, it may be a difficult goal to meet. You need to have a decent grasp of your financial situation before you can start or accept any sort of money challenge.

Types of Money Challenge

There is no shortage of ideas in terms of what kind of money challenge you can do. It could be simply to start a budget, to reach a savings goal which could be for something small or something very large, to earn more income or even to set up life insurance. Figure out what’s important for you and create or find a money challenge that works for you. There are many pre-made money challenges out there to follow but there’s nothing stopping you from creating your own.

Though 2017 will very much be a year of growth for my family in some ways, with my fixed income and managing my new family budget for four, I’m ok for the first time with not partaking in a money challenge this year (for the record, my favorite ones are income boosting challenges). I do think partaking in a money challenge is a great way to regain focus and see what you’re really capable of. I certainly never thought it would be possible for us to put over $2,000/month towards debt when I set a personal money challenge goal but we did and I encourage everyone to try a set a money challenge goal and crush it!

Do you partake in any annual money challenge?

Fun and Sober New Year’s Ideas

mr potato head drunkI love New Year’s Eve. Our family has a huge party with more food and drinks than we need. I won’t lie, we eat enough for a small army and I look forward to it every year, almost as much as Christmas. One of the things I look forward to is the (alcoholic) punch that my husband’s aunt makes. I don’t drink much at all but I do love a few glasses of this punch. This year will be different though, with a newborn and while breastfeeding, it will be a sober new years for me!

For a lot of people, they equate New Years with drinking. This doesn’t have to be the case though. There are plenty of sober new year’s ideas that are loads of fun and require no alcohol at all.

Plan a Games Night

This is actually a big part of what we do as well. There are usually a few games going on at any given time. Our family is big into games so kids to adults will bring down their new favorites that they received for Christmas and we’ll enjoy trying them out. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, even a night of cards and snacks can be a fun, and sober new year’s idea.

Potluck Party

Who doesn’t love a good potluck? Arrange a night for your friends and family to come over, everyone bringing food. Who doesn’t love an excuse to eat all night?

Get Fancy!

Though it’s not my favorite thing to do, people love to dress up for new year’s. There’s no reason why you can’t have a dressy, yet dry, party. Getting dressed up and having a nice evening of conversation and finger foods is another good sober new year’s idea.

Don’t Get Fancy…

Conversely, another fun sober new year’s idea is to plan a fun, low-key night in. Before I was of legal drinking age especially, friends of mine would plan a PJ sleepover party and we always had fun. Food was obviously involved with movies and whatever else we felt like doing.

Have a Kids Party

I’m of the age now where a lot of what we (my peers) do, revolves around our kids. They’re young and most couldn’t handle staying up until midnight as it is. An obviously sober new year’s idea is to have a fun and early night planned for them. A lot of kids channels (including Netflix) offer early countdowns too so they don’t feel like they’re missing out on anything, most of them couldn’t tell time so it’s one of the parenting little secrets!

New Years can be a lot of fun. As someone who doesn’t really drink, I feel like there’s an unnecessary pressure put on people to drink on New Year’s but, quite simply, it’s not for everyone (new baby or not!). It’s nice to have sober new year’s ideas that can accommodate well to everyone.

Do you have any good sober new year’s ideas to share?

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3 Unexpected Pregnancy and Post-Partum Costs

Source: Free Digital Photos

Source: Free Digital Photos

On December 16th I gave birth to an incredibly sweet baby boy. I’ll spare you of the birth details but will say that things did not go according to plan and we ended up in a hairy situation. Thankfully both he and I were in the presence of some of the leading obstetrics staff in the country and in fantastic hands!

This was my second pregnancy and felt that my husband and I were much, much more prepared this time. When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, quite honesty I had no idea how we were going to do it financially and very much winged it. Thankfully it was after having her we had our own personal finance epiphany and got out s*it together and this blog was born.

Even though we were much more prepared this time, costs still came up that we weren’t prepared for. Some of them were simple pregnancy-brain oversights and some were costs we hadn’t factored in or seriously underestimated.

Parking

My obstetrician actually worked out of the main women’s and children’s hospital in town (rather than a private clinic as most do and then have delivery rights at the hospital). Hospital in an urban core means cost to park. By my third trimester I was having weekly appointments and paying for parking every visit. I’d try for the street meters which were cheaper but occasionally had to pay for parkade parking too. Then the cost of parking when I was admitted to the hospital for what ended up being three days. I didn’t track it but I’d say in my nine months’ worth of appointments, we paid close to $100 in parking just for visits. Something we didn’t budget for.

Post-Partum

Like I mentioned, our birth didn’t go as planned and we ended up in an emergency caesarean. Having already had a c/section (albeit a planned one) I kind of knew what to expect. However because we weren’t planning on having a repeat c/section, we didn’t have some things on hand which we ended up needing. With my first section, I did not have a waist binder to wear after surgery and at home and I knew if I ever had another I would need one. I tracked a post-partum binder down and had my sister-in-law bring it to be in the hospital. There were a few items like this that we didn’t plan for (even though in hindsight we should have planned for a worst-case birth, but I was trying to be optimistic). We had to make room in our budget for these items.

Breastfeeding

One of the best things about breastfeeding is that there are little to no costs involved with it. I’m thankful that again, I’ve been successful with breastfeeding this little guy and plan to exclusively breastfeed 12 months minimum if all goes well. One thing I didn’t budget for, deliberately, was special nursing clothes.  I didn’t have anything in my wardrobe but figured I’d make whatever clothes I had, work. Well my overly optimistic plan sucked because quite honestly I don’t have much in terms of clothes, period, let alone clothes that allow for breastfeeding. We went to the store a few days after he was born and I realized if I needed to feed him while there I’d basically have to remove the shirt I was wearing entirely. Especially in the winter, when I can’t exactly get away with wearing something like a cheap tank-top to nurse in, I needed a few easy access shirts for both my sanity and for ease when we leave the house (which, with two kids at home in the winter is necessary). I looked second hand with no luck and eventually paid full-price for a few shirts that work. I did find a sale online and was happy with the final price but it was still another $100 I didn’t plan to spend.

I’m thankful that in total I had very few pregnancy and post-partum costs at all (thank you universal healthcare) but still had a huge budget adjustment with me being off work for 12 months and collecting employment insurance. Even though these were unexpected costs I’m glad we were in a position to make them work without compromising anything else in our life because four years ago it would have been a hard pill to swallow.

What unexpected costs did you have with pregnancy?

Waste Less and Save More

waste-less-and-save-more

Irrespective of your occupation, location, family size or interests, your household spending budget is probably loaded with waste – in various spending categories. And widespread waste represents money left on the table, dragging-down your financial health. For better outcomes, it pays (literally) to reduce wasteful spending and direct the gains toward other financial priorities. Look for overspending in the following areas to waste less and save more:

Communication and Entertainment

If you want to waste less and save more look at your communications and entertainment budget. Do you still have a land line? With family members connected by mobile plans, your land-based communications spending may duplicate your cellular phone service. For immediate savings, cut the cord and say goodbye to your expensive land line.

Are you using cable television, internet subscriptions, and phone data plans, each bringing you to the same entertainment value? If so, it may be possible to trim household spending, by cutting redundant entertainment subscriptions. You may find your internet connection itself going unused, as family members take advantage of school and workplace connectivity. Choosing a slower speed or doing without is a realistic possibility, in some cases, eliminating a major communications expense. You may also find efficiencies when switching to a family cell phone plan or sharing entertainment subscriptions like Netflix or HBO GO.

Food and Dining Costs

Keeping grocery bills on track can be a serious challenge. The greater the number of hungry family members, the higher the tab, so food cost relief goes a long way toward alleviating budget pressures. If you are serious about saving money on food and dining, consider these cost-conscious moves:

• Better planning – One of the major hurdles facing home cooks is coordinating meals amidst busy schedules. As a result, food goes to waste. For more efficient grocery spending, strive to make a plan, rather than flying by the seat of your pants. Planning a weekly menu, for example, takes the guesswork out of feeding the family, without compromising quality or value. It also aids grocery shopping, making it easier to resist temptation at the supermarket and leave the store with only what you need.
• Leftovers are part of the plan – Another common mistake made by home cooks is failing to account for leftovers, resulting in food waste. A cost-conscious approach builds in leftover meals, repurposing them into distinct dishes.
• Shop with a list – in addition to prepared food waste, some of your grocery budget ends-up in the garbage can, before it is even cooked. By shopping with a list, which mirrors your menu plan, you’ll experience less food spoilage and reduce your overall food spending.
• Buy in bulk – Companies like Costco, Sams Club and Aldi have seriously good bulk and discount deals. Amazon is also making inroads into retailing, so definitely give these bulk retailers a try if you want grocery savings. Hint: Aldi is marginally cheaper than Costco, but the quality isn’t always as good.

Discretionary Spending

Until you get a grip on discretionary spending, your cash flow is susceptible to pressure resulting from ill-advised purchases. In fact, you may not realize the impact of impulse spending until you closely examine your habits. If your credit card balances are growing as a result of unchecked spending, for example, establishing strict budget limits may be enough to turn-around your financial fortunes. And if entertainment and social spending are to blame for discretionary waste, fewer restaurant meals, paid events, and nights on the town will each contribute to better balance.

Controlling impulse purchases calls on a disciplined approach, giving yourself ample time to evaluate each purchase, before making financial commitments. If you are committed to cutting spending waste, build-in a 48 hour waiting period for each discretionary buy. If, after waiting it out, the purchase remains justified and affordable, there is no looking back. On the other hand, you may also find opportunities to trim waste, letting some purchases to fall by the wayside.

Utilities

Energy efficiency translates into direct savings, so tightening-up energy use can be felt in your bottom line. For immediate gains, expand the scope of your money/energy saving moves to include these proven waste-cutting measures:

• Share rides – using Uber or Car2Go instead of owning your own car could be viable if you live in an urban area
• Manage your thermostat for heating and cooling efficiency (Hint: Get a smart thermostat)
• Insulate and weatherize your home, the garage is typically overlooked
• Waste less gas by keeping your car performing at peak levels (keep your tires pressurized and don’t carry a lot of stuff in your trunk)
• Unplug your computer, kitchen appliances and other devices from the wall
• Take shorter showers or use less hot water
• Consider turning off the lights or not heating rooms you aren’t using

Financial success relies on a spending balance, so waste can drag down family finances. To make the most of your income and reduce wasteful spending, evaluate communications expenses, discretionary purchase habits, and household obligations such as energy and food costs.  If you want to waste less and save more, slashing unnecessary spending in these areas provides budget relief and sets the stage for sustainable household finances.

Finally, for more on this consider checking out staplerconfessions’s articles on winterizing your garage and eating what is in your pantry. Both of these are practical examples of how to economize on your groceries and your utility bill.

A New Year, a New Money Challenge?

Source: Flikr

Somehow we find ourselves in a new year. I have never had a year go as fast as 2016 did. Part of it was likely due to the fact that I spent nine of the 12 months pregnant! I’m excited to see what 2017 is going to bring my new family of four that’s for sure.

Though there’s nothing stopping someone from doing a challenge any time of the year, there’s something refreshing and, in a way, easier, with doing them with the start of a new year. Come January 1st there is no shortage of diet challenges, fitness challenges or a money challenge.

For me, I won’t be setting many financial goals this year. I’m on a reduced maternity income so my only real goal for 2017 is to maintain our current budget and prepare for 2018 when I’ll be back to work full-time and preparing our house for sale. That doesn’t mean I don’t think partaking in a money challenge of sorts would be a good idea though.

I tend to do well under pressure. Pressure that I put on myself that is. If I give myself a (realistic) goal I tend to do well with my attempts at reaching it. This has worked well academically and professionally for me. If you’re this type of person, doing something like a money challenge may be exactly what you need to reach your 2017 financial goals.

Figure Out What You’re Challenging

Before you can start any sort of challenge you need to figure out what your goal is and it has to be realistic. If you decide you want to start saving for a house downpayment and set your savings goal at something like $30,000 for the year but only earn $40,000 per year, it may be a difficult goal to meet. You need to have a decent grasp of your financial situation before you can start or accept any sort of money challenge.

Types of Money Challenge

There is no shortage of ideas in terms of what kind of money challenge you can do. It could be simply to start a budget, to reach a savings goal which could be for something small or something very large, to earn more income or even to set up life insurance. Figure out what’s important for you and create or find a money challenge that works for you. There are many pre-made money challenges out there to follow but there’s nothing stopping you from creating your own.

Though 2017 will very much be a year of growth for my family in some ways, with my fixed income and managing my new family budget for four, I’m ok for the first time with not partaking in a money challenge this year (for the record, my favorite ones are income boosting challenges). I do think partaking in a money challenge is a great way to regain focus and see what you’re really capable of. I certainly never thought it would be possible for us to put over $2,000/month towards debt when I set a personal money challenge goal but we did and I encourage everyone to try a set a money challenge goal and crush it!

Do you partake in any annual money challenge?

Fun and Sober New Year’s Ideas

mr potato head drunkI love New Year’s Eve. Our family has a huge party with more food and drinks than we need. I won’t lie, we eat enough for a small army and I look forward to it every year, almost as much as Christmas. One of the things I look forward to is the (alcoholic) punch that my husband’s aunt makes. I don’t drink much at all but I do love a few glasses of this punch. This year will be different though, with a newborn and while breastfeeding, it will be a sober new years for me!

For a lot of people, they equate New Years with drinking. This doesn’t have to be the case though. There are plenty of sober new year’s ideas that are loads of fun and require no alcohol at all.

Plan a Games Night

This is actually a big part of what we do as well. There are usually a few games going on at any given time. Our family is big into games so kids to adults will bring down their new favorites that they received for Christmas and we’ll enjoy trying them out. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, even a night of cards and snacks can be a fun, and sober new year’s idea.

Potluck Party

Who doesn’t love a good potluck? Arrange a night for your friends and family to come over, everyone bringing food. Who doesn’t love an excuse to eat all night?

Get Fancy!

Though it’s not my favorite thing to do, people love to dress up for new year’s. There’s no reason why you can’t have a dressy, yet dry, party. Getting dressed up and having a nice evening of conversation and finger foods is another good sober new year’s idea.

Don’t Get Fancy…

Conversely, another fun sober new year’s idea is to plan a fun, low-key night in. Before I was of legal drinking age especially, friends of mine would plan a PJ sleepover party and we always had fun. Food was obviously involved with movies and whatever else we felt like doing.

Have a Kids Party

I’m of the age now where a lot of what we (my peers) do, revolves around our kids. They’re young and most couldn’t handle staying up until midnight as it is. An obviously sober new year’s idea is to have a fun and early night planned for them. A lot of kids channels (including Netflix) offer early countdowns too so they don’t feel like they’re missing out on anything, most of them couldn’t tell time so it’s one of the parenting little secrets!

New Years can be a lot of fun. As someone who doesn’t really drink, I feel like there’s an unnecessary pressure put on people to drink on New Year’s but, quite simply, it’s not for everyone (new baby or not!). It’s nice to have sober new year’s ideas that can accommodate well to everyone.

Do you have any good sober new year’s ideas to share?