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!).