Saturday, October 11, 2014

September Spending


business (3.89)
car mazda (53.11)
cat (16.39)
Cell phones (100.00)
charity (10.00)
clothing (132.61)
dental (142.40)
electric (128.49)
Entertainment (24.60)
food - groceries (439.27)
food - other (204.87)
gas (21.77)
gifts (73.01)
Helicopter/Robot (8.98)
house (1401.71)
household (365.92)
Hygiene (81.42)
internet (75.57)
medical (12.00)
transportation (50.00)
Water & Trash (76.46)

Things of Note: 
In almost every category, we really spent less in September than we did in August. I'm not entirely sure how to explain it - it wasn't a conscious thing, but I guess it's just one of those things that happen, a vagary of the market. 

One thing I did notice is that we have bought clothing every single month this year. That seems outrageous to me! It's not quite as bad as it seems, I think - one month it's stuff for Pickle and the new baby at a consignment sale, another month it's maternity stuff for me or replacing socks that are (*cringe*) five years old, another month it's stuff for Peanut, so it's not like we're all stocking up all the time. Also, I think at some point diapers were being categorized as clothing, which makes sense for cloth (I think?) but maybe less so for disposables. 

This is the one problem I have with our tracking system - we both participate, so sometimes we categorize the same thing differently (or heck, sometimes the same person categorizes a purchase differently from one time to the next) or there's no good way to categorize it but it's not worth adding a new category in the middle of the year (like separating out baby boy's purchases from Pickle's). Ultimately, this data is of no interest to anyone but ourselves so it's fine, but every year when we look back it's like "WTF were we thinking there?!" for some small percentage of the information. This has helped us refine our spreadsheet year after year, so the data is getting better, but it also means that it's very hard to do true apples to apples comparisons. 

At any rate, September was a good month for us, despite the unpleasantness of the stock market. How'd it go for you?

September Recap/October Goals

September Goals
1. Move savings account, close old one. Done! The money is moved and earning interest in the new account, and the old one is just hanging out (it stays open for 60 days automatically, so I am just waiting to verify that it closed). 

2. Lower grocery spending. Success! We spent nearly $100 less on groceries this month, and it didn't translate into the eating out category (we spent nearly $150 less there!). I, uh, am not totally sure how I accomplished that, but I'm happy it happened. In an upcoming post, I'll detail how I'm changing my grocery strategy in the next couple of months. 

3. Get some nesting done without spending $$$. Success, although I've also thrown money at some of my to-do list items as well. Peanut built my bathroom cabinet, which I am really happy about (it cost about half what it would have cost new, and although it's not fancy or anything, it certainly gets the job done). I bought fabric at half-off to make crib sheets and we donated a bunch of stuff to thrift stores. I like clearing things out to make way for new stuff - I keep reminding myself not to go through my clothes, because I would end up getting rid of all my non-maternity stuff, and it's entirely possible that most of it will fit me again....someday. Even though it doesn't feel like it while I am approximately the size of Shamu. 

October Goals
1. Take a look at retirement savings.  Peanut and I have been maxing out Roths whenever possible for a long time now (we skipped a few years in order to completely pay off our student loans), and whenever there was an employer match, we contributed at least that much to a 401(k). We're doing okay, I think, for our ages, but we have never sat down and actually looked at what we think we might need to save for retirement - we have no goal in mind, besides "as much as we can". And this is fine - we're not going to change our savings strategy right now, mainly because there's no additional money we can funnel towards retirement with only one of us working. But it might impact when I decide to go back to work, so it's something I'd like to think about. 

2. Finish my big nesting projects. While I've technically got two handfuls of weeks left in this pregnancy, I feel pressed for time. Frankly, I'm shocked that I'm still pregnant because I was really expecting another micropreemie, and now I'm starting to think that I might make it all the way to full term, which is awesome, except that it's a busy time of year! Some of the things I want to take care of sooner than later are Christmas shopping and personal projects - not baby-related stuff so much as stuff that I will probably not get back to for months. 

Christmas shopping won't be too difficult - we stopped exchanging gifts with the adults in our families a few years ago, so it's just an infant niece and a teenage nephew that I'm shopping for (and the nephew is getting a Minecraft quilt, which I've already started). And we agreed to do a white elephant gift exchange with my husband's family, so that will be one adult to buy for (which reminds me that I need to have my MIL have people draw names early!). Oh, and I guess we'll probably get Pickle something to open - she started to get the concept of gifts at her birthday party last month, and while we won't be going overboard on her, I saw a cute pretend kitchen set at a thrift store the other day that I think she would love. 

3. Take time to enjoy it. We have no idea if this is our last baby, although we're leaning towards yes. What I do know is that these are the last few weeks that my amazing daughter will be an only child, and I'm trying to remind myself that these are literally the last moments during which she will be my baby. I'm taking advantage of the fact that she will still let me rock her fully to sleep and I have the time to do so during the day. I'm trying not to make her wait when she wants my attention - she'll be getting plenty of that soon enough. I'm trying to be happy to read the same book six times in a row because it makes her so happy. And I'm trying to enjoy the kicks and squirms of the baby that's about to join our home, as this is the last time that I will be able to protect him from everything and provide for his every need by the act of merely breathing. 

I never expected that motherhood would make me so sentimental, but it's really a magical time. It's so easy to lose that in the frustrations of a toddler having a tantrum or the discomforts of pregnancy, but my life has so much meaning that it didn't have before, and I love it. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Three Thing Thursday....er, Friday

Thing the First: I have talked before about being a maximizer vs being a satisficer, but I didn't really have a good link to an explanation of what that means (or at least, if I did, I can't find it in any post now). But this week the Wall Street Journal did a bang-up job of explaining the concept and how it affects happiness - and why it always seems like your partner makes decisions the opposite way.

Thing the Second: Peanut and I found this website really interesting: income percentile calculator. It shows where you rank (according to 2010 US Census data) in income, by region, by education, and a couple more indicators. Obviously we are far from the 1% but it drove home to me how well-off we truly are.

Thing the Third: If your winter heat source uses natural gas, this article might be of interest to you. We live in a region where fracking is a big political hot button, so with all the talk of that and natural gas pipelines, I didn't realize that there's actually a natural gas shortage in the country, which drives prices higher. We have a new, more efficient furnace, but I'm not sure that will be enough to keep us from noticing an increase in prices, especially with a newborn at home and a cold winter predicted.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Rate Chasing

I mentioned in a recent post that I was doing a little bit of rate chasing with our savings account, where we keep our emergency fund and short and medium term savings. Here's a rundown on why I did that and how it went.

Years ago, Peanut and I got a joint savings account at Capital One (where we also had a checking account and credit card). They offered 1% interest with a quarterly .1% bonus, and it was a pretty good rate for the time. A few months ago, when I was putting the interest earned into our spreadsheet, I noticed that it seemed lower than it should be. I checked, and sure enough the interest rate had dropped to .5%. We had either never received notice that this was going to happen, or it was buried in paperwork/email such that we didn't realize it, and it annoyed me. It's entirely possible that they weren't required to give us notice, I guess. Anyway, I couldn't figure out how long it had been like that, and it made me irritated enough that I decided to go looking for a better option.

I poked around The Simple Dollar and Get Rich Slowly, both of which frequently do savings account round-ups, and found a number of options at marginally better rates - up to .90% with a huge balance (something like $50,000). I was looking mainly for a no-fee, easy access account with either no minimum balance or one that we wouldn't trip if we had to use our emergency fund for something big. I first checked with Wells Fargo, where we have our checking account, but they didn't have a competitive option. The online-only banks with the best rates didn't meet my requirements for no-fee or minimum balance, but Capital One 360 had an option with .75% that did. And that should be easy, right? Capital One/Capital One 360, what could be the difference?

Turns out, there's a lot of difference. Like, they are basically different institutions. Capital One 360 used to be ING Direct, which wound up being okay because I was an ING customer once upon a time, and they were able to simply get my old account up and running. Linking the accounts and verifying the tiny deposits took some time, and then I had to figure out how to get the money from one account to the other.

It's frustrating but there are federal laws that govern savings accounts, including how many withdrawals you can make during a month and other things. At any rate, for some reason we couldn't just transfer money between the accounts like I could if one of them had been a checking account, but a few phone calls and I was able to find someone who handled it as a wire transfer with no fee. Perfect!

Two days later, the money was in the new account, earning .25% more interest, and the old account appears to be closed (I will be keeping an eye on that - it was no fee, no minimum balance, but I don't like leaving open accounts hanging around). It was painless, if not exactly hassle free, and I'm glad to know that our money is doing a little more work for us.

This is not something I recommend doing on a regular basis. It's not worth the time you'll spend to do it even once a year - I think we will earn about $20 more this year than we would have if I'd left it alone. But every five years or so, or when things substantially change with the economy or the terms of your account, it's worth taking a look at. Hopefully we will continue to grow our emergency fund, so over time this work will be more valuable.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sous Chef: Butternut Squash Casserole

Click to pin the recipe!
I found this recipe at The Simple Dollar in a round up of cheap, healthy Dinner with My Family recipes, and I was intrigued. I love butternut squash and bought it every week at Aldi last summer - and this year we're growing it in our garden so I've been looking for ideas for what to do with it.

Prep: This recipe comes together quickly and pretty easily - the most difficult part was definitely peeling and cubing the squash, which is not my favorite part (I usually halve it and roast it to avoid that, actually). Even so, it didn't take long to pull together and

Taste: I'm not generally a huge fan of blue cheese, but I thought the combination might be intriguing. It was okay, though I will probably try a different cheese next time - feta or maybe mozzarella, which I always have on hand. I might also reduce the baking time, as the squash was very tender and I usually like it to have a bit more of a bite to it.

Reception: I'm the only one who ate this, so apparently I'll be eating the whole pan. Good thing I'm eating for two, har har. Pickle politely took two nibbles out of a piece of squash and Peanut looked skeptical at me at the very mention of it. I might freeze half of it and see if it keeps, because of course I used a GIANT squash so I have a ton of it left over.

Anecdata: Cheap, easy to have pretty much everything on hand, easy. Not much to dislike about this! 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Kill Those Watts!

Peanut and I have noticed our electric bill creeping up lately, not so incrementally. Both our bill cost and kilowatt per hour usage is up somewhat significantly over last year, so we decided to go on a search to figure out why.

First, we checked whether the rates had increased over last summer. This information is printed on the bill, but we don't get a paper bill so we had to go digging on the website to find it. We learned that the cost had increased by about $.005 (half a cent) for electric and $.003 for delivery per kwh (we're not totally sure what this is, but we think it is the cost to get the electricity to us, so is charged by the kwh just like the electricity itself). It explained part of the difference in our total bill, but not all of it. Plus we can see right on our bill that our kwh usage is up compared to last year.

Then, we rented a wattage meter from our local public library. You plug this in to various electrical devices in your home and it tells you the energy draw in kilowatt hours, the same increment charged by the electric company. We found it really interesting which of our appliances were the biggest energy hogs.

Our #1 energy hog: the toaster oven. Really! If we ran the toaster oven continuously, it would cost us $107 per month (and it would burn our house down). The culprit of the biggest actual cost, though, was the dehumidifier - about $33 per month. Next up is our upstairs computer which runs a server ($20 per month), then our downstairs computer ($9 per month). Our deep freeze is a bargain at just $4 per month. We only checked appliances for which we might actually change our usage depending on their cost, so we didn't check the regular fridge/freezer or things like lamps or the baby monitor. And we couldn't check the air conditioner since it doesn't just plug into the wall. We did discover that a phone charger plugged in to an outlet with no phone on it costs nothing per month, and when you add an uncharged phone, it costs $.40 (that's if it charged the phone for the whole month, not each time you charge it). If you leave a fully charged phone plugged in, it would cost you $.09 per month. Interesting stuff. 

Third, we tried to figure out where we had increased our energy usage over the last year. We came up with a couple of theories - first, I'm pregnant during this summer and I wasn't last summer, and I have been feeling a lot hotter than usual. We keep our thermostat at 78 degrees, but I have had to turn it down to 76 on occasion when I just couldn't get comfortable, and each degree is about a 1% difference in energy use (I haven't run the math on that, but I'm sure it adds up to a dollar or two a day if I leave it cooler for eight to ten hours at a time). Second, after our basement flooded last summer, we've been trying to keep it drier down there to prevent mold, and have been running a dehumidifier quite a bit - like, 2 out of 3 days in a month. We got an older dehumidifier at an estate sale for $20; it's worked great but we are now considering whether it would be worth it for us to invest in a more energy efficient model that might have lower energy costs. Probably we'll shelve the idea until next summer because we're about to run into the time of year where our house is way too dry instead of too damp.

At any rate, it was a really interesting experiment to figure out why our energy bill was so much higher than we're used to - I get really peeved when I can't figure out why I'm paying more for something. In this case, it's pretty clear that I'm getting more of that something - electricity - even though it's hard to directly see the increase in our consumption. I now find myself turning off lights, or not turning them on to begin with, thanks to our little exercise, and I'm not so grumpy about paying the bills.



Thursday, September 11, 2014

Also better late than never - September goals!

1. Move savings account, close old one. More on this in a different post, but I'm doing a little bit of rate chasing and just need to clean up some odds and ends to get it all done.

2. Lower grocery spending. Our food spending has been a leeeetle bit out of control lately. Our increased grocery store prices and loss of double coupon days is making an impact, but most of it is just buying whatever I want when I'm in the store, I think. Time to do a little better with planning and listmaking (and tamping down on the nesting urge to stock up - the grocery store will still be there after the baby is born, and I know now what a treat it is to get out and go somewhere alone in the early days!).

3. Get some nesting done without spending $$$. My honey-do list is long, long, long, and most of the things on there could be accomplished if we spent out on it. But I'm trying to find cheaper ways to cross things off. Example: I want a johnny-wall cabinet for our bathroom. I've wanted one for years, pretty much since we moved into this house. I found one at Home Depot for $90 and told Peanut that I'm going to buy it in one month, unless he makes me one before then. He likes doing wood-working stuff and this is a project I will be happy to lose him to for an afternoon, so we both win.

Better Late Than Never: August Spending Recap




business ($3.89)
car jeep ($56.16)
car mazda ($162.70)
Cell phones ($100.00)
charity ($10.00)
clothing ($227.78)
electric ($136.24)
Entertainment ($192.36)
food - groceries ($521.90)
food - other ($353.43)
gas ($24.54)
Helicopter/Robot ($39.18)
house ($1,401.71)
household ($421.71)
Hygiene ($20.00)
internet ($75.57)
medical ($18.59)
transportation ($50.00)
Water & Trash ($76.46)
Things of Note: 
The clothing category was quite a bit higher than usual, for a couple reasons. I had to start wearing maternity clothes, which I never had to do with Pickle, and so I had to go buy some. I've been getting them from thrift stores and clearance racks and hand me downs, and I think I've got all I need now. I also hit up the kids' consignment sale for things for Pickle and baby boy, and picked up some new cloth diapers to try out. 

Our entertainment category was higher than usual as well - the state fair and Renaissance Festival both fall during this month, and we did both (this is also why our food - other category is kind of high too, ahem). 

A massive Costco trip covers the bump in household and food - groceries categories. 

Overall, not a bad month. 


How was your August spending?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Mo' Money, Mo' Grind

Things have settled down a little for me financially - I was feeling the pinch of consumerism earlier this month, but that's mostly gone away now. The biggest reason is because we are basically ready for the newest Moneybags to join the family - we've got everything we need on hand, mostly thanks to the most recent kids' consignment sale. I got a whole boy's first nine months wardrobe and a double stroller for $150, and I sold enough stuff to make almost $90 - not a bad deal! I also swapped a bunch of clothes with my NICU mom friend - girly stuff for her, adorable boy stuff for me (with nary a baseball or football on them, all monsters and bears and dinosaurs, yay!).

Since then, Pickle and I have been out and about enjoying the summer, and not focused on acquiring things for the new baby. We've visited local parks, playgrounds and pools as well as a children's museum (we bought a membership). We haven't been taking too many stroller walks because I need to be off my feet a lot, but we're spending tons of time in the backyard - someone put one of those turtle sandbox things out by their mailbox with a "free" sign on it, and I snatched it up and turned it into a wading pool for her. She's fascinated by airplanes, so we like to sit in the shade and making zooming noises as they go by.

Which reminds me, if you've got a little aerophile like I do, a great free thing to do is head somewhere near your local airport where you can watch planes take off and land. We haven't done it yet, but a great place to do this in the Twin Cities is the rooftop parking lot of the Mall of America - the planes come in right overhead; you can almost see the people in the windows! We'll be doing that at least once in the coming weeks.

I have a few more projects that I'd like to complete before baby arrives - eventually we will be redoing the nursery and I've got some things I can do now to make the space work better for two than for one. These Ikea spice rack bookshelves are at the top of my list. The other thing we have coming up is Pickle's second birthday next month. We will be having a small, family-and-friends-who-are-family-only party at our house, with cake and ice cream. (Last year I also made dinner for everyone, but that's not happening this time.) I am thinking about making an Elmo cake, since that's her newest obsession (thank you, Grandma), but I'm not sure if it would freak her out to actually eat Elmo. We'll see.

Anyway, that's what's been new around here - it's been nice to have a break from all the money thoughts for a while.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Sous Chef: Chicken Burrito Bowl


Prep: One pot, minimal attention, half an hour to table, inexpensive - meets most of my criteria for a great dinner. I forgot to thaw the chicken ahead of time and had to cook it from frozen, which took a little longer but didn't ruin my plans or anything. Easy clean up.

Taste: Really good! The Mexican Quinoa recipe is basically a variation of this, and I think I like that slightly better than the rice, but this is really good, filling, tasty, family-friendly, and makes good leftovers.

Reaction: Thumbs up all around - this is another good one to keep on the menu on a regular basis.

Anecdata: Makes four servings, if I remember correctly.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Top savings targets for Brits

It's always a good idea to put some money away whenever you can and a brand new infographic from MYJAR makes it clear what Brits are interested in saving up for.


With 22% managing to add at least £250 a month to their savings pot, even the typical saver puts £144 away. So what is it that people are looking to achieve by making savings?

Top goals

It seems that 36% of savers are thinking about getting away from it all on a holiday, whilst 32% also have the weather in mind, but they are more concerned about having some back-up funds for the proverbial 'rainy day'.

For the future, 26% of savers are looking to make their retirement years easier and 14% are saving for their children, and a further 9% for their grandchildren.

With property prices never far from the headlines and deposits becoming larger all the time, 13% of savers are trying to buy a home and 11% are betting against having to outlay for future repairs.

Loans

Of course for many others the idea of making savings just doesn't come into their planning because the task of simply making ends meet is so demanding.

In fact, one million Brits use payday loans to balance their household budgets and pay basic bills.

Thankfully companies like MYJAR aim to protect their customer's interests by taking a responsible attitude to making loans. By using a system of thorough checks to support their lending decisions they only lend money to people who have a predictable and regular source of income, and they will never encourage anyone to borrow more than they can afford to repay.

Warning: Late repayment can cause you serious money problems. For help, go to moneyadviceservice.org.uk.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Sous Chef: Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken and Rice



Prep: This is an easy slowcooker meal that dirties only the crockpot and rice cooker (unless you use rice made earlier in the week, which you could easily do). Takes almost no attention or time.

Taste: The taste was okay but this was really dry. Part of the problem is that the recipe doesn't have amounts in it, and I used plain rice instead of boxed rice, so I think I used too much. I even added milk which didn't seem to make a difference at all.

Reaction: Meh. I like the flavor but the texture left something to be desired. One thing I like is that this is really easy to pair with a veg and salad, so I'll be tweaking it to get a better consistency.

Anecdata: The recipe said to cook on low 7-8 hours but I don't think I'd do more than 5 hours next time - it smelled and looked done by then. On high would be just a couple hours, enough to cook the chicken through. Also, possibly because of my rice enthusiasm, this made a TON of food. I'm going to have to figure out how to make it creamier for us to eat up these leftovers.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Rethinking freezer cooking

I have flirted with freezer cooking for years, but have not had a lot of luck doing it. I've tried doubling recipes and freezing half for later, freezing leftovers, freezing extra bits of things (like half a can of coconut milk or enchilada sauce), and Once A Month Cooking (a special kind of hell where you spend an entire day slaving away to make sixteen versions of basically the same dish and you are so tired of looking at them that you never want to eat them again). The only things that have really worked for me are taco meat and breakfast burritos.

My problems are as follows:
1. Freezer burn. I have tried wrapping in plastic, foil, and freezer bags. I have tried freezing in the dish. I have tried flash freezing. None of it seems to work - food that's cooked and then frozen just tastes like that when you reheat it - it's not as good as if it were made fresh.
2. Storage space. We have a freezer on top of our fridge as well as a chest freezer, but it seems like the kinds of thing I'm storing don't fit well in either freezer, and it's hard to get to the older things first, which means I use up new stuff so the old stuff just sits in the back and gets more freezer burned.
3. System. Keeping track of what's in the freezer and when it was put there is somehow beyond me. Writing the name of the contents on the bag is a good idea, but it doesn't do much good when you forget that it exists. We have a list on the fridge of what's in the chest freezer but I never look at it and it never gets updated. And the reorganization of newer stuff to the back/bottom of the freezer just doesn't seem to happen in my house.

I'd like to get better at this, because we're going to need some stockpiles of stuff for when the newest Baby M comes home. And "freezer meals" has been on my "before baby" checklist since we found out we were expecting, but I have been avoiding this task like the plague.

Cue a new idea!

What if I thought about freezer cooking in a totally different manner? What if I thought about it as stockpiling meals, rather than freezer specific cooking? What if I looked for components of meals on sale, stocked up on those, and froze the perishables, withOUT cooking them ahead of time? Keeping cans of soup, frozen veggies, rice or quinoa, and frozen chicken breasts on hand is not complicated, but toss all of those things in a slow cooker and you've got dinner! If I cooked them ahead of time and then froze them, I would never eat them - but knowing that I have the components on hand would be easier to organize and keep track of, and easier to throw meals together with some semblance of variety.

So. Here's my NEW freezer cooking plan:
1. Stockpiling. Keep an eye out for the following staples, and scoop them up x3 whenever they are on sale: chicken breast, ground beef, canned cream of ______ soups, canned corn, shredded cheese, frozen veggies.
2. Preparing. Chop chicken into bite size pieces, bag up into meal-size bags, freeze. Turn ground beef into taco meat, freeze. Freeze frozen veg (obviously) and shredded cheese (we do this with mozzarella for pizza; surely it would work with cheddar or mexican, right?).
3. Organizing. Get some shallow baskets for the chest freezer. Chicken goes into one basket, taco meat into another, cheese into another, etc. Add new bags to the back of the basket, take from the front. Baskets should be stackable so things don't get lost in the bottom of the freezer.
4. Preparing. Sous Chef posts are focusing on easy throw-together dinners that make use of these kind of staples, as opposed to requiring all fresh ingredients or things that I would only buy for that purpose. So hopefully when the time comes, I will be able to have a basic fresh produce shopping list for adding veggies and fruit to our meals, and otherwise be able to shop the pantry to make slow cooker or one-pot meals for my bigger family.

This seems like something I will actually be able to stick with. I already kind of shop this way - buying extra brats or cereal when they are on sale. I don't know why it never occurred to me to do it with meal components as well.


Friday, August 1, 2014

Ugh, I feel like such a CONSUMER

Seriously, I don't know what is going on with me lately, but I feel like all I'm doing is trying to find ways to spend money.

I blame the pregnancy for the most part. Early on when I had a hard time being interested in food, I gave myself permission to go get whatever sounded good at least every couple of days. Usually I wanted a chicken sandwich and fries from Wendy's, so it wasn't that expensive, but it started a bad habit of talking myself into a "treat" every time I leave the house. I've been combating this by bringing snacks and water with me everywhere now that I'm feeling better, but the habit remains. It mainly stuck out the day I went to the zoo with some friends - I was looking forward to the outing in general but also as a chance to get to eat out, and they all brought food with them. I wound up waiting in line forever with a fussy toddler for greasy park food that wasn't that good but was super expensive. Ugh.

So now I've been trying to be better about not falling into the trap of getting a treat just because I want one. I've been buying soda and ice cream at the grocery store so I have them on hand for cheaper. But then another problem came up - I'm not on bedrest or anything, but I do have to take it easy. When Baby M and I go to the park, I can't push her in the stroller; I have to drive. I kind of rolled my eyes at my doctor's request about this, but it really is too difficult for me to handle the walking and the heat and the stroller and everything else - I start getting lots of contractions and that's not a good thing.

So now we're driving everywhere all the time, which makes it SO EASY to just pop into Target or whatever. And I am relishing the ability to take Pickle out in public - she spent two winters in heavy isolation and just loves going places. She pretends to eat all the food at the grocery store and goes "WOW! WOW!" to almost everything we pass. But of course, I almost always wind up picking up a few things on these trips. I try to go with specific lists and I'm pretty good about it but it's still money that we probably don't need to be spending.

And now I am in full on nesting mode for the new baby - I just want to buy all sorts of cute little boy outfits and get the new cloth diaper stash put into place and everything, and it's just money money money flying right out the window. I have restrained myself so far (with the exception of two sleepers that were at Goodwill for $.75 each) because the kids' consignment sale is coming up next week and I can probably do all my shopping then at once. I'm limiting myself to going on half-price day in hopes that it does some good.

Still, I don't like the way my brain seems to constantly be in "acquiring" mode. It's tiring and distracting, and I don't know how to turn it off. Does anyone else know what I'm talking about?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Baby clothes!

Since the newest Baby Moneybags is expected to like blue and guns and sports, I've been debating what to do about clothing him. I wish I were maverick enough to dress my boy in pink and purple and therefore reuse all of Pickle's old clothes, but I'm not. So what do I do, both about the boxes of clothes in the attic and the soon-to-be naked little boy in my house?

It's a multi-faceted question. We got so much cute stuff for Pickle, mostly as gifts but also at consignment sales. A lot of the stuff is practically brand new because things like over-the-head onesies and zip-up outfits are not practical for a baby on oxygen and with a feeding tube. So do I save it in case we decide to have a third baby, and it's a girl? Do I pass it on to my sister-in-law, who at this very moment might be going into labor with a girl? Do I share it with our NICU friend who had a girl two weeks ago? Do I sell it and try to make some money with which to buy boy clothes?

I decided to do a combination of these things. First of all, I decided that I'd rather stuff get used than sit in storage for years - and we don't even know if we'll want to have another baby after this one, or if it will be safe for me to do so, or if we did, whether it would even be a girl! I hate to see these super cute clothes get musty or damaged because I wanted to keep them all to myself. (And anyway, if we did have another girl, say, three years from now, there will be so much NEW cute stuff to buy! Ahem.)

Second, I got some really nice hand-me-downs, so I didn't feel right simply selling all of our stuff to make money, especially when I know so many moms with babies who could be wearing these clothes right now. I felt the need to pass it forward. So I offered my sister-in-law and cousin a chance to go through everything and take whatever they want. I will take a few of my favorite pieces to my NICU mom friend as well. I'm excited to see babies I know and love wearing some of Pickle's favorite outfits.

Then, I will sell whatever is left. Already, my generosity has paid off - my cousin is passing on her maternity clothes to me and my sister-in-law has given me some toys for Pickle and some boy clothes she bought before she knew what she was having - along with a high chair for me to consign!

And lastly, I'm going to try to reign it in when shopping for baby boy. Clearly, we had way too much stuff for Pickle, so I'm going to try to remember that as I fill my shopping cart. Also, I don't think we'll have any baby showers for this one, so we shouldn't get quite as many new things. We do have more friends with older boy children than girl children, so we might get hand-me-downs, but that's okay.

Weirdly, my "need" for boy stuff is pretty much limited to clothes - he can use Pickle's pink bathtub and sheets and stuff, and that doesn't bother me at all. I just want to get him some cute outfits with monsters or monkeys or trucks on them (no sports, please no sports!) so he'll look all adorable and boylike.