Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Women's Money Week 2015: Not Qualifying for FMLA

It might be Women's Money Week, but paternity leave affects women too. FMLA covers family leave for men AND women, but few men take full advantage of it, even when they qualify. There's a lot to be said about the sexism exposed by punishing employees who take all the leave they are qualified to take when they have a child (or are caring for a sick spouse, or other things that FMLA covers), but that's not something I'm taking on today.

Today I'm going to talk about what happens if you aren't covered by FMLA.

Peanut's employer is very small - there have been about a dozen employees during the four years he's been there. Their size means they aren't required to offer FMLA to their employees - so basically, Peanut was legally out of luck when it came to job-protected leave when our children were born.

Luckily, the fact that it's a small, close-knit company has some other benefits. In his case, employees are trusted regarding their PTO - there's no formal record keeping involved for vacation or sick days, and the owner of the company trusts his employees to be at work when they can be. Peanut wanted to be at home for a little while when both of our children were born, and he was able to do that without it counting against his regular days off. With Pickle, I seem to remember that he was home for two full weeks and then took a day off each week for the next eight weeks to help me take her and her 25 pounds of medical equipment to our various appointments. With Baby Bear, he took a few days off right at birth (two maybe?) and then stayed home for two weeks (which happened to fall during the holidays), and has also taken a few random days off here and there to help me out since then.

We're lucky that this small company is family-friendly and that he was able to take this time without repercussion or even using up vacation days. There aren't a lot of families among his coworkers yet, so I like to think that we are blazing a trail of expectations regarding a man's time off at the birth of his child as well. Peanut had an honest conversation with his boss about what would work best for our family, and that has served everyone well in our situation. If your employer doesn't offer FMLA, try asking for leave anyway - they may not be legally required to provide it, but they might be willing to do so anyway.

If you're the parent giving birth, you really do need to take some time off. Even a vaginal birth requires recovery time, and if you breastfeed, you'll be unbelievably sleep deprived for at least four weeks, more likely six. And if you're the parent who didn't give birth, you should still take some time off if you can. Caring for an infant is mindnumbing work, but there are also beautiful moments of building a family during this time, and I'm glad that Peanut was able to be there for it.

(Now, that said, I will be honest: two weeks was the right amount of time for both of us to be home full time. Beyond that, people start getting stir-crazy and irritating to each other. Even when they love each other dearly.)

Next up: FMLA is unpaid - how does that work?!



Monday, March 2, 2015

Women's Money Week 2015: My Parental Leave

Welcome to Women's Money Week 2015! This year's topic is Parental Leave, which is something I have some strong opinions on.

I was working when I became pregnant with my first child. We tried to time the pregnancy so that I would qualify for FMLA leave, and we planned for me to go back to work. As a quick refresher, FMLA provides 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave for qualifying employees (you have to be employed full-time at your job for at least one year, and there are other criteria which you can find here - as you can see, it's very easy not to qualify for leave). My employer was required to offer FMLA leave, and I did qualify once I'd been there for a year. There is no additional state mandated leave where I live. I also had a disability policy that provided 60% of my salary for 6-8 weeks following giving birth.

Pickle was born unexpectedly 25 weeks into my pregnancy - 15 weeks before her due date. If you do the math on that, you can see that I didn't even have enough maternity leave to make it to what should have been her birthday before I had to go back to work. I had to take some leave right after she was born - I was recovering from a c-section and had a baby in the hospital, after all, and the disability benefit only applies immediately following birth. So I opted to take the maximum time off that I could to get the most disability pay, which was eight weeks. Leaving me with just four weeks banked to take when my daughter eventually came home from the hospital - not just a newborn, but a medically fragile newborn with multiple doctor's appointments each week. Not only will most daycares not take infants under six weeks of age, but we didn't think we could find one that could handle a baby on oxygen and a feeding tube - AND we were under strict orders from her pulmonologist to keep her away from other kids for a year anyway. We couldn't afford a nanny.

I quickly realized that this was impossible. So I tried to quit my job.

My wonderful employer offered me something that I didn't even think to ask for - six additional months of unpaid leave, beginning whenever Pickle came home from the hospital. Six months seemed like enough time to get her health stabilized, get us through cold and flu season, and get used to having a baby around.

As it turns out, Pickle's health did not improve enough for me to go back to work when that six months was up. She had surgery the week before I was supposed to go back to work, and her day to day care still requires more skill than I am comfortable handing off to someone who's not as invested as her parent is. I was very sad to give notice at my job, especially given their generosity to me. They didn't have to keep my job on ice for as long as they did, and it probably created some big headaches for them. It's the kind of thing that doesn't happen very often in America, I suspect, where mostly we hear about people being unfairly denied leave, or not having the criteria thoroughly explained to them in order to make informed decisions about their family planning. I felt valued by my employer, and when I'm ready to go back to work, they'll be among my first inquiries - and you can probably guess how loyal I'll feel to them if I were to work for them again.

Up next, something else that happened in our family: what if you don't qualify for FMLA?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

This Week's Meal Plan and a Round-Up

This week's meal plan:

Sunday - baked potato pancakes, sweet chili glazed salmon
Monday - Mexican quinoa
Tuesday - slow cooker lasagna from The Can't Cook Book
Wednesday - Chicken tortilla soup (Costco!)
Thursday - Minstrone soup (Costco!), Red Lobster cheddar biscuits
Friday - BLTs

Check out my pinterest board Sous Chef for links to the recipes.

Financial Round-Up

* We filed our taxes today. We're getting a hefty refund back - it looks like Peanut's withholding never changed after Pickle's birth even though he's pretty sure he filed the paperwork. And now with our second little tax deduction, well - we're getting a big deposit pretty soon from both federal and state. We'll use it to fully fund Roth IRAs for us both, and make sure the paperwork gets filed this time.

* We're pretty sure the error was at Peanut's company because they also messed up his Simple IRA pretty bad this year - the payroll company took the money out of his paycheck but didn't deposit it into his IRA more often than not. His boss caught the error and it has been corrected, but now we actually have to check each month that his contribution has been made.

* We also get a property tax refund separate from income taxes. I wish there was a way that we could keep this money in our accounts rather than giving an interest-free loan to the state, but it looks like that's not possible.

* We bought a new washing machine a few weeks ago and have had to have three service calls on it already. A part was bad when it was installed, and since that part was replaced, about half the loads get unbalanced and create an unholy racket throughout the house. I'm waiting to hear from the main office of the store we bought it from tomorrow - I'm hoping they will just replace it instead of setting up another repair call. I think it's a lemon.

* I got a Target Red Card a few months ago to save 5% on all our diapers (cloth diapering is sort of a pipe dream right now). Their online interface is the worst I've ever seen, and the amounts of the purchases don't match what I put into my spreadsheet. I'm going to start saving all my receipts and ask their customer service if they can print off old versions of the receipts that don't match. Something's fishy and it's driving me nuts. Is it worth it to save 5%? I'm not sure.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

The financial implications of a third child

I have zero business thinking about having a third child at this point in my life, but you wouldn't believe how soon people started asking me if we were done or not. (Let's put it this way: I hadn't left the hospital yet.)

It's easy to be all, ha, ha, whatever about it, but I came to the startling realization that the jump from one kid to two kids is VASTLY different from the jump from two to three, at least in terms of finances.

Bigger house
Our three-bedroom could technically house more kids without complaining too much, but not for long, I don't think. The bedrooms are small and not conducive for sharing between more than two kids, and I don't like the idea of being on a different floor from tiny children. Also: one bathroom. (Okay, 1.5 - still one bathtub/shower.) As it is, the four of us sleep in four different rooms in order to maximize the amount of sleep everyone is getting, and I don't know how that would work with a fifth person. Who'd be sleeping in the kitchen?

Bigger car
Non-negotiable, we'd need to buy a larger car. Ours can fit two car seats safely but not three, and not two car seats and a person in the backseat. And Peanut's Jeep - well, there will be no kids riding in that thing until they're old enough to drive it. Minivan city. (Plus higher gas prices...would insurance be lower or higher on a mom-mobile?)

Replacing instead of reusing
Baby Bear is currently using Pickle's old bucket seat, but this hypothetical third child might need his or her own new car seats due to the expiration dates on the plastic parts. I have bought three car seats already; it pains me to think of buying more. (We have a portable infant seat and two convertibles - because we already know that Pickle will still be small enough to need one by the time Baby Bear outgrows the bucket.)

Insurance
When updating our beneficiaries, I thought about whether we needed to up our life insurance policies as well, but figured that they are generous enough to be split between two kids in the unlikely event that something happened to both Peanut and I. (Pickle may disagree if it ever occurs to her that she would have been the sole recipient until just a few weeks ago....). But add a third kid to the mix and we'd definitely need to rethink that.

College tuition, weddings, etc.
I can't even bear to think of it.

While we wouldn't make the decision to have another child based on finances alone, the question "can we afford it?" would have to be very carefully looked at. I don't think it's something we even thought about when we decided to have a second.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

That Good Old HDHP

We've had a high deductible health plan since 2012, but in a way this is the first year that we're really experiencing what it's like. Since Pickle was born, she has been classified as disabled by the state, and receives medical assistance as a secondary insurance. They cover any bills that our primary insurance doesn't cover, which is only the deductible ($3,300) and 20% cost sharing up to an additional $3,300. Most years, we really only have her medical expenses, so we haven't had to spend much on medical care despite having a high deductible health plan. (I should also note that we pay no premiums, as those are covered entirely by Peanut's employer.)

This year, that's different - Baby Bear and I have both had doctor visits, and I had a lovely trip to urgent care for food poisoning and mastitis last week. We'll have to pay for all of that out of pocket - I remember being kind of slumped against the check-in desk wondering rather bitterly what this fantastic evening was going to cost me. It was an inane thing to be thinking about, because a) I really, really needed antibiotics and b) it'll all even out in the long run - I essentially got two pregnancies and deliveries for free, so it's probably time I started paying some bills!

It's going to hurt opening those bills when they show up, but I'm trying to remind myself that this plan is actually a good thing - we already know the maximum amount that our out-of-pocket medical expenses can be for the year and I know that they will actually be less than that (since Pickle has had an appointment as well, and has more scheduled for the early part of the year, and those will be covered by MA but will count towards our deductible and out of pocket). It's nice that it's a known entity, so that we can save up in anticipation (and use a health savings plan to get some tax savings on that money as well). In the grand scheme of things, $6,600 a year for the excellent level of medical care we've received is an absolute bargain.




Tuesday, February 17, 2015

This week's meal plan

I'm trying to get back on the meal planning wagon. I fell off of it with aplomb after Baby Bear made his appearance, but I've been getting back into the swing of things, and there's nothing like accountability to help keep me on track.

Here's what we're eating this week:

Sunday - Mac & cheese, steamed broccoli
Monday - Mexican quinoa
Tuesday - crockpot chicken pot pie soup and biscuits
Wednesday - salmon and baked potatoes
Thursday - crockpot salsa chicken, rice & beans
Friday - BLTs
Saturday - fried rice


Friday, February 13, 2015

Have baby, fall off radar

Random updates from my neck of the woods and random stuff that I've been reading online and off:

* Two growing babies. Two kids is a lot of work, y'all. I can't wait until things have settled down a little bit. I feel like my to-do list is groundhog's day - everything that I accomplish has to be repeated in an hour (change diaper, wash dishes, feed baby, repeat!). But everyone's happy and generally healthy and that's wonderful. 

* What postpartum moms really need: SUPPORT and UNDERSTANDING. It is insane that we think someone should have her body back within six weeks. It is insane that we think she should have her body back in six MONTHS, given that it was ravaged by pregnancy for close to ten months. It's crazy that we think women should be able to do it all in the months after giving birth, and then provide them next to no support to do it. My mom said she noticed that while pregnant, people would hold doors, carry groceries, and do anything else they could for her - but would let the door slam shut in her face once she was holding the infant in her arms instead of in her belly. I found it to be true as well. What a weird society we live in. 

* The IRS recently concluded that breastfeeding supplies are deductible as medical expenses! This applies to things like breast pumps not covered by insurance, pump parts, milk storage bags and the like (I hope lanolin is included, because that stuff is expensive!). They can be included in expenses submitted for reimbursement under FSAs or HSAs or deducted directly off of taxes if more than 7.5% of the taxpayer's income goes to medical expenses. Great news!

* Holy cow, I love this post so much. First of all, the use of the word "perspectacles", which I am totally stealing for every day use. But second, what happens when the author takes a look at her "outdated" kitchen using her perspectacles, and the amazing things she sees. I'm trying to use it as a reminder for so many of the things in my life that don't look like they came out of a magazine. Which is, well, everything, but especially lately our well-loved-and-lived-on couch - I see the spit-up stains and the ink marks and cringe, but I'm trying to remember not only that I have a super comfortable couch that's big enough to house a bunch of people, but each stain on it is a memory of something from someone I love - the worn mark on the arm is from the hundreds of pizzas Peanut made next to it in our New York apartment, this pen mark is from my miracle toddler, those claw marks from my cat, that spit up bubble from my son. It's not fancy - it's even ugly - but it tells a story. I'll try to focus on the story until a time when it makes sense to replace the couch. (Which will be well after my kids stop puking and drawing on random surfaces, sigh.)

* Just discovered the store Tuesday Morning. I got some really cute gifts for upcoming preschooler birthdays for super cheap. I didn't have a chance to look at what else they had, but I'll go back. It's kind of like the non-clothing departments of a very curated Marshalls or TJ Maxx, I guess, with a little bit of World Market thrown in. 

* It's Feeding Tube Awareness Week again. Feeding tubes are out there among us, be aware! I didn't have time to do a whole dedicated post about it this time, but Pickle is still 100% dependent on her g-tube so feeding tubes are still a very major part of my life. We're going to start some more intensive therapy with her to see if it helps things move along, since it seems that the medical reasons that required the tube are resolved and what we have left is simply a toddler who's never had to eat by mouth...so she doesn't. 

* Excellent parenting book: Parenting in the Present Moment: How to Stay Focused on What Really Matters. The cover alone describes how I feel during 90% of my day. 

* I should be sleeping. But I know the baby will wake up the minute I close my eyes...

Monday, February 2, 2015

Washing our dollars

It seems like it's one big thing each year with our house. The furnace, the basement - this time it's the washing machine. I had noticed a few loads over the last few weeks were still pretty soaked when I pulled them out, so I made sure I wasn't filling the washer too full. Then the next time it happened, I mentioned it to Peanut who took a look and determined that the drum isn't rotating consistently - sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn't, and sometimes it does but not fast enough. He looked up some info online and took the washer apart to see if it was something that we could fix. After ruling out two inexpensive problems, he figured that it is most likely the clutch and brake assembly, which is a more expensive fix - and one that it is commonly recommended be skipped in favor of replacing that machine.

Eh, bummer. We probably could have had a repairman take a look at it to double check but with a toddler and a newborn, I do a load of laundry a day and three a day on weekends, so I didn't feel like we had the luxury of time to futz around with waiting on appointments. Also, the machine is an older one and not very water efficient. So we got a recommendation for an appliance supplier and went and picked out our new machine yesterday, and it will be installed tomorrow. We didn't buy a new dryer because our old one works just fine.

Our total cost was around $600 including delivery/installation and removal of the old machine. The new one is a high efficiency machine that can be programmed to do multiple steps (soak, wash, extra rinse) which saves me running up and down stairs with a toddler trying to follow me. We skipped the version that can sync to our smartphones, because, um, who needs that?

As we discussed what we wanted to do about replacing the washer, it occurred to me that our discussion was quite a bit larger than just the machine itself. Since appliances are generally sold with the house, but not incorporated into the sale price, it made sense to consider how much longer we plan to live in this house. (We've been here three years.) If we're planning on staying for a long, long time, it makes sense to splurge on a machine that I'll get a lot of use out of. But if we were planning to sell in a year or so, it might make more sense to buy a more basic model (and possibly a matching dryer, too, as potential buyers might be weirded out by a fancy washer/boring dryer combo).

Now, we have no intention of moving anytime soon, and as long as we are a family of four we should fit nicely into this house for a long time. Still, it made sense that the possibility of moving should influence our decision. I'd say the model we got is mid-range - it's programmable and high efficiency and quite a bit fancier than what I currently have, but definitely not close to the most expensive option in the store. I think I'll get plenty of good use out of this machine, and while it's not a purchase I wanted to make this weekend, I'm once again glad for our savings, which meant that this isn't more than a speed bump in my week (although I am NOT looking forward to catching up on four days worth of laundry tomorrow!).

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

2014 Spending Recap

Previous Years: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013


2014 2013 Percent change
alcohol $0.00 $20.00 100%
baby $0.00 $1,034.70 100%
blog $37.62 $40.13 6%
business $64.48 $72.55 11%
car jeep $662.58 $1,975.94 66%
car mazda $3,065.02 $2,289.22 -34%
cat $344.20 $483.94 28%
Cell phones $1,345.62 $1,229.93 -9%
charity $150.00 $167.00 10%
clothing $1,137.07 $387.92 -193%
dental $1,188.15 $1,892.95 37%
electric $1,392.48 $966.52 -44%
electronics $468.37 $297.73 -57%
Entertainment $929.21 $509.33 -82%
food - groceries $5,273.68 $3,413.48 -54%
food - other $2,719.13 $2,881.59 5%
gardening $21.95 $50.91 57%
gas $913.73 $787.37 -16%
gifts $527.63 $580.99 9%
Helicopter/Robot $189.35 $473.36 60%
house $16,761.92 $23,248.78 28%
household $2,893.55 $1,235.06 -134%
Hygiene $380.30 $367.02 -4%
insurance $560.00 $560.00 0%
internet $906.84 $797.50 -14%
medical $254.20 $178.94 -42%
sewing/quilting $6.99 $107.73 93%
therapy $0.00 $204.80 100%
transportation $350.00 $350.00 0%
travel $1,627.26 $0.00 -100%
Water & Trash $1,047.04 $812.34 -29%
yoga $40.00 $160.00 75%
Grand Total $45,258.37 $47,577.73


We had around 1,100 transactions in 2014. This is not exactly accurate - in order to correctly categorize purchases, we have to break up some transactions into separate line items. So a single trip to Costco for toilet paper, food items, and socks winds up getting three lines in the spreadsheet: one for household, one for groceries and one for clothing. Nonetheless, it's interesting thing to think about how often we make decisions that involve money coming in or coming out. 

It's interesting to see where the biggest spending differences are - we spent less on hobbies but a lot more on clothes (thanks, pregnancy), exactly the same on bus fare and insurance, more on groceries and nothing on therapy or alcohol. Now that we've paid off all debt but the mortgage, we're focused on putting away money for retirement and saving money on everyday spending where we can. We live a comfortable life as a family of four on one income, thanks to the groundwork we set years ago. For the first time, though, it seems like our financial picture isn't going to change dramatically for a long time. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

2015 New Year's Resolutions

Each year, I make the same number of resolutions as the last number of the year. So this year, I am making five resolutions.

1. Less yelling. I would like to make this one "no yelling" but I also want to have a chance to succeed. :) The truth is, staying home with a toddler was challenging enough and now I'm adding a newborn to the mix. I don't want to be a yelling mom, especially given that Pickle is so not a bad kid - she's just a normal two year old and while that can be annoying at times, she doesn't deserve to be yelled at for it. I tend to yell when frustrated, and I want to curb this tendency while my kids are young enough to not remember that it ever happened.

2. Get stronger. Spending nine months taking it easy was tough on my body, as if pregnancy and a c-section weren't enough. I couldn't even push Pickle in a stroller two blocks to the park (doctor's orders!) so now everything feels like a challenge. When I'm cleared to resume exercise, I'd like to actually make a point to do it - I don't care so much about weight loss or appearance, but I want to feel strong again and I want to lose some of the pain I'm feeling from compensating for weaker abdominal muscles. I think something like a short daily yoga routine, plus 100 push-ups or 200 sit-ups, or even just dropping down and doing something active when I have a few minutes while both kids are napping or occupied. 

3. Treasure the moment.  At the end of 2015, I will have a preschooler and a toddler - no babies. And since Baby Bear is probably our last child, I'd like to really appreciate the moments that I have home with them. Being a stay at home mom (or any parent, really) is full of frustration and boredom, but there are such beautiful moments as well. I want to try to pay attention to those and treasure them instead of rushing through to the next thing on my to-do list.

4. Max out retirement. Peanut and I have been trying really hard to max out Roth IRAs for  both of us each year, even though I'm not working, to minimize the long-term effect my unemployment will have for our family. This means making some sacrifices and doing some planning, and I am committed to doing it for 2015 again.

5. Bring in some side income. I contribute to our family in lots of ways, but I like to bring in some cash, too - especially for "extras" like trips. Last year I did some freelancing, which might not be possible this year, but I'll be on the lookout for survey and focus group opportunities, chances to sell baby items, and other ways to bring home some bacon.




Sunday, January 4, 2015

2014 New Year's Resolutions Recap

2014 was such a quiet year for me compared to 2013 and 2012. I would say that it's one of my very favorite years to date - I hope that 2015 is as lovely!

1. Transition Pickle to a fully homemade diet. Success! Medical protocol for tube-fed people is generally commercial formula, and we weren't having a lot of luck with that. A homemade blended diet is becoming more popular, and we successfully transitioned to that in January of 2014. The difference it made was immense - Pickle's multiple-times-a-day vomiting stopped entirely, her weight gain picked up, her color looks great, her hair started growing in, and her bloodwork improved. It's a little more work, and a little more expensive, but totally worth it!

2. Be here now. Success! One weird thing about pregnancy is that as much as it is about looking forward to the birth of the child, it really does keep you in the moment as well. Whether you're thinking about what is happening with the fetus or with your changing body, pregnancy is kind of a day-by-day experience. In addition, expecting a second child made me appreciate the small moments with Pickle more than ever - I knew that my time to rock her all the way to sleep for naps would be limited, and I took advantage of every moment to snuggle her. 

3. Contribute to retirement savings again. A planned success. We maxed out two Roth IRAs for 2013, despite being on one income, and we are set to do so again for 2014. We have until the tax filing deadline of April 15 to do it, but we're on track. 

4. Give back. Success! I joined a family volunteer organization at the hospital where Pickle spent the first four and a half months of her life, and I organized a meal at the Ronald McDonald House where we ate daily for that time. My involvement in both is rather limited with the new baby, but I plan to stay involved. 

How did you do with your 2014 resolutions?

Monday, December 15, 2014

My radio silence has a name...

And it is Baby Bear. Born healthy, full term and with a head full of dark hair. Peanut and I are of course over the moon, although Pickle was skeptical at first.

We are settling in as a family of four. Hopefully I will be back to budgeting soon!

Monday, November 10, 2014

October Spending


business ($25.58)
car jeep ($61.47)
car mazda ($784.11)
Cell phones ($100.00)
charity ($10.00)
clothing ($99.99)
electric ($99.89)
Entertainment ($178.49)
food - groceries ($402.80)
food - other ($243.61)
gas ($30.22)
gifts ($52.08)
Helicopter/Robot ($10.67)
house ($1,401.71)
household ($18.78)
internet ($75.57)
medical ($17.00)
Water & Trash ($70.00)


Things of Note: 
We're sort of keeping up our trend of spending less in most categories, although we had some big expenses this month, too. We replaced the tires on our Mazda (sorely needed, and just in time for winter!) and I entertained myself quite a bit in October - I went to a musical and got a great Groupon deal for prenatal massage. We also saw some increases in household expenses due to the projects we've been finishing up. 

We sure are being average with our food spending though - we were only off by $2 month to month!

Let's not talk about what the stock market is doing to our retirement accounts, though, eh? At least we were able to put some money into savings this month, on top of our expenses!

October Recap/November Goals

October Goals
1. Take a look at retirement savings.  Success - we've figured out a plan to try to max out our Roths for this year, despite being on a single income.

2. Finish my big nesting projects. Well, things aren't finished, but they are well underway. There are some things that aren't going to get done before the baby comes (or probably ever), and that's okay, but I got a surprising amount done and I feel good about it. 

3. Take time to enjoy it. Working on it. When raising a toddler, the days are long but the years are short, and that goes doubly so for raising a toddler while pregnant. I've been reading a lot of interesting parenting books lately, and that is helping me appreciate what a finite period of time this really is. 

November Goals
1. Stay pregnant and/or have a baby. Whatevs. Baby's coming out early in December whether he wants to or not, but I'm almost at the point of being okay with him coming whenever he'd like. In fact, I'm almost at the point of begging him to come out. 

2. Take it easy. I realized today that my calendar is just way too freaking packed for the next few weeks and I need to cancel some things. I've been kind of making frantic plans with friends for "one last outing before baby" type stuff, and really it just has to stop. There are also some appointments for both me and Pickle that could be canceled with pretty much no harm done. It feels like failure to me to quit before I "have" to, but slowing down before the baby comes will probably be less traumatic than suddenly having a baby and sitting on the couch for two weeks. 

3. Eat some pumpkin pie. 'Nuff said. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Financial Impact of Pregnancy, the Second Time Around

Comparing my first pregnancy to my second pregnancy is almost impossible for any number of reasons, but one interesting aspect is financial. Everyone talks about how much babies cost, but the second baby hardly ever costs as much as the first. Part of it is that you already have a bunch of stuff, but also you're more likely to know what actually IS necessary.

Pregnancy
I did not have a chance to wear maternity clothes last time around, so I didn't have any. I've received some hand-me-downs and bought mostly secondhand stuff, and I'm definitely set until baby arrives. I've got four pairs of maternity jeans (only two really fit well), three pairs of maternity leggings, one pair of maternity yoga/pajama pants, two maternity dresses (one summer, one winter), one tank top, four t-shirts, two 3/4 sleeve shirts, and three long sleeve maternity shirts. I won't buy a maternity coat because I'd only need it for a few weeks in really cold weather, and I'm such a furnace being pregnant I don't think I'll feel that cold without one. I'll wear a lot of my maternity clothes post-partum, and either pass them to a pregnant friend or consign them.

Due to Pickle's ongoing medical needs, we have reached our out-of-pocket maximum for health insurance for the year, so I've had almost no prenatal care costs (most prenatal care is covered in full anyway, but some labs and things are subject to patient cost sharing).

I have also bought random things like prenatal vitamins, DHA and calcium supplements, lotion for the bump, and pantiliners (pregnancy is weird). I have caved to fast food cravings only a handful of times.

Baby Preparations
I did buy some baby boy clothes (yay consignment!) as well as a secondhand Ergo carrier and a used double stroller, but not much else is needed for a second baby - we've still got the big stuff from the first time around and I know myself much better in terms of what I am likely to use and need. I stocked up on disposable diapers during Target's sale, and have been slowly restocking our cloth diaper stash as well. In terms of buying stuff, we're as ready as we're going to be for him to arrive.

Delivery
The delivery and hospital stay will be covered by insurance entirely. Assuming, that is, that we don't get any surprise out-of-network bills for people I don't have a chance to shop around for, like the anesthesiologist. I'm not expecting this to be a problem, though, since I'm delivering at the same hospital as last time and we didn't have a problem then. We'll incur some costs for Peanut's meals and parking while I'm in the hospital, but that should be about it.

Postpartum (me)
I still have to buy my postpartum supplies. It was such a shock last time that I didn't even do my own shopping for pads and stuff, so I don't remember what I had or what I needed. I do remember that they send you home from the hospital with a bunch of extra stuff, which I actually just threw out like minutes before I got knocked up this time. I'll probably just buy a pack of the biggest pads they make next time I'm in Target and call it good.

I am on the fence about high-waisted underwear - I didn't have any last time (the hospital provides mesh panties that are gentle on the incision, and I just used those until I didn't need to avoid the incision area). My only concern is that since I actually got a bump this time it might take longer to get to that point, but I figure if I really need some granny panties, someone can go get them for me. And if I don't, that's money I didn't spend on unflattering underwear.

I think I also need lanolin for breastfeeding, but again, I know the hospital provides samples and that can get me through at least the first couple days. The tubes of lanolin at Target are $10, so I'm going to try to hunt down a coupon in the next few weeks - for some reason, that's my threshold for not being willing to just try a product I'm not sure I'll need.

I've got several nursing tanks from my pumping days, and many of my maternity shirts can work as nursing wear as well. I have a nursing cover and a breast pump already, and just need to get some new tubing.

Postpartum (baby)
I bought a lot of diapers but I still think I underestimated how often babies poop. My mother will be staying with us and probably making lots of food, but we might be ordering out a bit more than usual for a while. I am not really doing a lot of freezer meals because I don't have any good recipes that have stood up to being thawed and reheated. Instead, I'm stocking up on chicken breasts, taco meat/beans, and nonperishables so that we always have the makings of one of my usual throw-together dinners. It's not that much more work than thawing and reheating something, but it will taste a lot better and that will make us less likely to order food.

I will be baking some batches of banana and zucchini bread, though, and probably a couple batches of lactation cookies as well.

Aside from that....this is going to sound kind of funny, but most unexpected pregnancy expense has probably been Starbucks. Since I'm high risk, I've been getting a shot in the bum every week since June to prevent pre-term labor, and these shots are TERRIBLE. They give me hives at the injection site and I have to wear an ice pack in my pants for two days after each one. So to make up for it, I treat myself to a soy chai latte after every shot. I managed to get Starbucks credit from a survey site that took care of more than half the drinks, but I've had to use real money to pay for them the last few weeks, so I think I will wind up spending about $40 on Starbucks by the time the baby comes. Who'd have guessed that would make my baby spending list?