adventures in the black

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Re: adventures in the black

Postby galactic » Sat Jan 28, 2012 4:55 pm

unfortunately we had minimal savings progress again this month. a lot of stuff came up, but a lot of it was productive in non-savings areas.

some needed vehicle maintenance (we've just had a lot of this stuff strike recently i guess, but it's long-term reliability investment type stuff like quality tires), booked flights home for our last pre-baby visit with family and a baby shower, a foray into maternity clothing (sigh!), prepaying for doctor's services, and some items we need to get various projects done to prepare the baby's room.

all this and we're ending the month with everything paid for and no debt except that car loan, so i can't complain too much.

i'm hoping to jump on the best deal possible for the crib we want- it's not good timing for my pay-as-we-go strategy, but there is a mega sale on the crib and mattress we want this week. it's a little early but i might do it for the amazing price.

we have a car seat and some health/wellness items stocked up for now. but for the record, we are trying to go as minimalist as possible. we do have a tiny apartment...

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Re: adventures in the black

Postby Panda » Wed Feb 01, 2012 12:26 pm

Congrats on the baby!

I'm also expecting a new little one this year. We've bought nothing yet, but I know it's all coming. I'm with you on trying to go minimalist. The baby won't likely care and I don't want to have that much extra stuff around! (Unlesss it's really really useful.) :)

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Re: adventures in the black

Postby galactic » Fri Mar 09, 2012 6:58 pm

oof. i sound like a broken record lately, with all the things that keep on pulling the rug out from under us every month! but we have now reached the early weeks of march and haven't made even half the savings progress i was hoping for. i'm growing really frustrated with this. :(

spouse's brand new tire got punctured in a nasty pothole, which also screwed up both wheels on that side. the tire is covered under road hazard warranty, but (after some tense phone calls) the bottom line is that we are stuck paying out of pocket on the wheels.

then insult got added to injury. the cheap POS tire on the (full size) spare wheel, the one tire that we *didn't* replace a few weeks prior, blew out on the highway. we discovered that THAT wheel had been cracked and very shoddily repaired at some point long ago.

1. 3 wheels (salvage yard): $290 shipped, actually a decent deal but still
2. tow truck: $105
3. new (not fancy brand, plus limited to local stocks on hand) "spare" tire on the least-FUBAR wheel so the car has 4 wheels/tires to get us through: $120 installed
we're looking at about $20/tire for mount and balance when everything gets here.

baby expenses hit us now that we're coming into the final couple of months. i got us that nice crib on super sale and saved us over $100. however, cribs are not generally cheap things. i also had a baby shower when we went to visit home last month, and had to get those gifts home somehow. oh, and my siblings gave me a bunch of hand-me-down baby clothes from my nephews, and my friend gave me a bunch of maternity clothes that also had to travel across the country. (plus side: we have our defined Absolute Necessities for baby now so i can relax and worry about any small stuff later.) and now we're looking at expenses like childbirth classes, which our insurance won't chip in for.

4. crib $170 shipped including mattress (w00t!)
5. 4 checked bags ~$150
6. taxi ride home (couldn't take public transportation with so many luggage items) $80
7. childbirth class $130

top it off with the fact that our trip back ran us a chunk of change more than we planned for, and spouse had no paid time off for the trip. ouch. ouch. ouch.

we came back and picked up my car from the repair shop (yes, it took 6+ months to get my insurance and the dealership stuff ironed out, but it is fixed now). and my headlight went out when i turned them on. and i'm due for an oil change. ARGH.

8. OEM headlight pair for my car: $58 (aftermarket bulbs last 1/10 the time, we tried.)
9. oil and filter $50

i'm sure i've missed something here. it's been one of those months for several months in a row. i want to hide so nothing else happens.

so, unfortunately, for the first time in ages we had to carry a card balance this month. the money that we would usually be putting away toward our eventual down payment savings has all gone to cover these issues as they've come up. yes, i realize the car stuff could be pulled from the emergency fund. what is more emergency than "my car has three tires and two un-bent wheels and i need to get to work on Monday"? but i've paid more than the statement balance and we should get rid of the rest of the balance next week, so there should be no interest.

we are also facing uncertainty as to the length of spouse's current job. it might end at the end of this month. we are preparing for this possibility as well. fortunately our base expenses are pretty low already- we're pretty low-frill. and we should be ok on baby stuff and car stuff after the last month. (or ELSE.)


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Re: adventures in the black

Postby galactic » Sun Apr 01, 2012 8:24 pm

slowly getting back on track over here. at least, progress is in the right direction. knocked out the credit card, net worth is going up again, and we crossed a minor milestone this month. always nice to see. we're also very near to having 2/3 of our desired down payment fund put away. i think it will still be some time before we anticipate buying a house, but i will be happy for any and all progress toward this goal.

i need to find another place to get wheels for spouse's car, the salvage yard i dealt with last month has been less than useful. i also need to get the road hazard warranty claim out soon, and get our money back. after that, i think we're all settled with the car stuff. i need a break from that after 8 straight months of car nonsense.

one more reimbursement from each of our workplaces and i think we're done there, too. but i hate having all this stuff hanging over my head. i prefer the simple pay-as-you-go model... less crap to keep track of.

we also need to get spouse to the eye doctor to use up his vision benefit through his current job. he needs some new glasses, and we kinda got the vision insurance knowing we'd make out like bandits by getting my contacts and his glasses while only paying premiums for 5 months.

on a good note, i'm feeling pretty good about baby prep now. all the essentials in my minimalist list are here, and i've still got some gift cards/coupons/discount offers that i haven't used. i've been hunting springtime consignment sales for clothing needs as baby gets older (we were given a ton of hand-me-down 0-3 month clothing), and board books, and etc. i am of the opinion we can never have enough books for baby. on paper, it's looking like washable diapers and wipes are going to be a very good choice over disposables. (13 cents/change vs 36 cents/change adds up. and yes, that includes water and energy costs.) it's even better when 3/4 of the initial investment items were gifted to us! most of the baby investment we need to make now is time- completing household projects, mostly. we don't have a ton of time, but it should be enough :)

medical expenses aren't going to be as awful as i expected since we prepaid the ob/gyn. this means i've already got the deductible met and almost half my coinsurance max. i need to find out what standard charges to expect for baby, but i do hate dealing with the insurance company's customer service...

spouse is working on landing the next job after this current one ends. he has two leads, and hopefully we will know more after this week. we are ready to handle the worst, but we're cautiously optimistic we won't have to go there.

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Re: adventures in the black

Postby galactic » Fri May 04, 2012 5:58 pm

i have a lot of little things to follow up on this month. still tracking several refunds/reimbursements. annoying.

but forward progress has resumed, and things seem to be going well enough. we have now surpassed the 2/3 mark of our down payment goal, that was the goal to reach by the end of may! at this rate, the savings contributions from my paychecks alone will surpass our year-end goal.

spouse nailed an interview today, with any luck this will be the one. there is a pay cut from his current job, but we pretty much expected that. it's a trade-off situation, let's say.

i'm finding the entire parental-guilt baby supplies marketing industry pretty amazing. i was feeling a bit insecure, as we get near to D-day and we don't have a ton of baby stuff filling our tiny apartment. i foolishly thought i'd wander through Big Box Baby store and see if there was anything glaringly missing from our preparations. (i also had a coupon.) my fear was that i'd walk out of there with too much stuff, and i prepared myself for that. instead, i had a hard time spending the minimum to use the coupon! i just found so much of that store to be utterly preposterous, even though it was all marketed as basic essentials you just can't get by without.

definitely made me feel better about our preparations, though. we did end up spending a bit on hospital comfort items, but that's about all this month. we still have some gift cards and such in case we find we need something else.

so it's more projects around the apartment and just waiting, waiting, waiting for baby to arrive. financially we feel as set as we can be.

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Re: adventures in the black

Postby peachy » Sat May 05, 2012 4:37 am

I'm so excited for you guys!
You have done a great job with your expenses, and keeping your baby stuff to a minimum. I know what you mean about Babies R Us. There is too much stuff, and for someone without kids, I never know what to get the new moms.

I can't wait to hear the big, big news when the day comes!

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Re: adventures in the black

Postby Panda » Mon May 07, 2012 8:22 am

Good job on feeling ready! And sympathies with the waiting game. I'm not looking forward to that part as I might be the lease patient person I know.

So mind sharing your minimalist Absolute Necessities list? I'm not sure we're going as minimalist, but definitely trying not to go overboard.

So far we're doing okay. There's a crib in the nursery now and a dresser/changing table. We were gifted a lot of hand-me-down clothes which I've washed and put away. Makes me feel like we could manage now if the baby came, which is a step in the right direction. No car seat yet, so that would need to be taken care of. (Shower's not for another month, so holding off on purchases for the moment.)

We're also going with cloth diapers (although using disposables for the newborn period). I've bought a few as they were on sale and am registered for some more. Hopefully will get some more as shower gifts.

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Re: adventures in the black

Postby galactic » Fri May 11, 2012 8:31 pm

more good news! spouse has a shiny new job offer for a job that doesn't have an expiration date. whew!

now i have to get the finances for this month automated, because baby should arrive before month's end and i don't want to be caught too sleep-deprived to remember. i normally do this all manually through the bank's online bill payment system.

now: replies!

high praise from the diligent Peachy! thank you! hope to see you soon :)

Panda- thanks, yeah i'm already very tired of this and ready for baby to come. (sigh.) i can try to recreate my necessities list! let me see:

crib with mattress (i stalked sales for *months*)
mattress pad (i did not think of this, because the mattress is waterproof, but now i am glad we received it)
2 crib sheets
2 sheet savers
receiving blankets
swaddlers/swaddle blankets
we received an adorable mobile and i rather like it, but i don't think it's critical. also, people will give you a TON of blankets.

in lieu of a kids' dresser, we got a storage cube organizer with 9 brightly colored fabric drawers. it holds pretty much *everything* including the truckload of 0-3 month clothing, and seems pretty versatile.

diapering was pretty much the biggest thing.
24 diapers (assortment of different bumgenius types)
30+ wipes (assortment of types as well- thicker fleece type as well as thinner flannel)
a whole ton of cut-up old t-shirt rags (obviously free)
2 *large* wet bags (in lieu of diaper pail)
drying rack, clothes pins (for outdoor drying on our little patio this summer)
cloth diaper compatible diaper cream
wipe solution components (soap and oil, basically)
diaper sprayer (DIY for $20, not the $45 cheapass one they market)
a month of disposable diapers and wipes for the newborn stage- we stalked for mega sales and then stocked up.

feeding is the other big thing.
glider and footrest (i would have convinced myself to not buy this, but a friend bought it for us and we both adore it. has been great already for going through the pre-labor pains i'm feeling now.)
feeding support pillow
cream, for soreness
some kind of heat/cool pack, also for soreness
nursing pads (i splurged on some high-end soft and washable ones, as i've been using these since 18 weeks! i have to say this was one of my better purchases, especially over those flat and uncomfortable ones that leave marks.)
we were given regular prefold cloth diapers with a suggestion to use them as burp rags- this seems like a good idea from what i can tell. or the free cut-up rags would work if sewn into several layers (we made a bunch of those, too.)

a sink pad (in lieu of a huge plastic tub to put inside the regular tub, because geez)
misc soaps, lotions, what have you
thermometer, grooming kit, nose bulb, blah

for when i go back to work/feeding later on:
diaper bag to send to daycare with baby
medium wet bag for the day's dirty diapers and dirty clothes
dual electric pump (mine has a cooler and bottles and such included for storing at work)
full spare parts kit for pump (to prevent pumping emergency)
bottles (7) and brush and cleaning accessories
freezer storage for milk

car seat, obviously (we skipped the infant bucket for the convertible)
infant insert for the convertible seat
baby carrier (since there will be no infant bucket- we were given a wrap and a backpack-style carrier)
no stroller yet, and i don't know if/when we will go there

for the hospital:
robe, slippers that i am not at all attached to
nursing friendly nightgown i am not at all attached to
nursing top (though i intend to make my own from some cheap tank tops later)
very stretchy pajama pants

this is still quite a bit of stuff, but it does not add up to a lot of space. as i mentioned, it basically all fits in the 9 fabric drawers (with kitchen stuff stored in the kitchen, and so forth). we are fortunate to have had a lot of help from friends and family, who have been waiting forever for us to have kids, so we only had to buy a handful of these items. whew!

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Re: adventures in the black

Postby galactic » Sun Jun 10, 2012 3:55 pm

news! baby arrived late last month.

i feel like we were very well prepared despite resisting the baby commercialism blitz. yay!

financially, this is a wash month. i'm pleased that we did as well as we did with my most recent paycheck, and we're in a holding pattern until spouse's new job sends his first paycheck. we've had enough to pay for last minute comfort/baby/nice to have while we're tooling around at home items and take-out, though we were well prepared with lots of food in the freezer (and we're cooking more of a simple recipe today to restock because we really like it).

have had several copays to handle for pediatrician visits, and the hospital bills are just now rolling in... i await the final damage once all the claims have processed and i finish my 6-week checkup. i have prepaid the majority of what the insurance currently says we will owe, so yay!

the goal for now is to not increase debt, anything else is bonus.

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Re: adventures in the black

Postby Panda » Sun Jun 10, 2012 5:13 pm


Good job on being so prepared and on top of everything. I'm fully planning to channel you for the next month. ;-)

Good luck with staying even over the next month, although I'm sure you'll do just fine.

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Re: adventures in the black

Postby chasingthegoodlife » Sun Jun 10, 2012 6:00 pm

Congratulations on your new family member!

And good work on resisting all the 'must have' baby commercialization. I went to a baby superstore to get a shower gift this weekend and was shocked at how many 'essential' gizmos there were and how insanely expensive it all was ($50 for a fabric square to cover yourself while breastfeeding?).

I'm not a mother myself but I can't imagine that all those things are necessary or that they didn't manage perfectly well with much less in my mother's era.

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Re: adventures in the black

Postby peachy » Sun Jun 10, 2012 6:37 pm

I'm so happy you finally posted!!
Congrats again. You guys have really come a long way, and I'm so proud to be your friend.
Now that the baby is here, and you did your pre-baby prep, what is one thing you wish you had that you didn't get for a shower gift, or thought about beforehand? This is a hint for me (ha ha), and also something Panda should look into.

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Re: adventures in the black

Postby fantasma » Mon Jun 11, 2012 8:16 am

Congrats on your bundle of joy Galactic!
Be what you want to attract.

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Re: adventures in the black

Postby geoff_tewierik » Mon Jun 11, 2012 4:42 pm

Congrats on the new arrival, glad to hear everything is working out so far.

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Re: adventures in the black

Postby galactic » Mon Jun 11, 2012 6:32 pm

thank you for the congrats, everyone! we're pretty thrilled.

we have picked up a couple of things since baby arrived:
-a small sleeper for our room (it's more convenient @ 3-4 feedings/night) but not a freestanding $$$ bassinet
-a second pack of swaddle-me wraps (baby loved them at first, we're transitioning out now but that was worth the money regardless)
-additional change pads to help extend laundry intervals
-nursing bras (i wanted to wait until i knew for sure what size to get)
-minor nursing supplies
-baby vitamin drops

yeah, big deal kinda stuff, right? ha! indeed, the baby superstores terrified me since well before we had one of our own- and i genuinely hope we can avoid those places. they also seem to mark-up several hundred percent when the word "baby" comes into play. ugh! no thanks! the baby aisle at the little target near us is overstocked as far as i'm concerned.

we're already into the cloth wipes, saving the rest of our disposables for when we're away from home. i like them *so* much better than the disposables! they're also easier on baby. so that's excellent- no more wipes costs. we're halfway through the disposable diapers now, and don't plan to buy any more of those either. i am hoping to try out the washable diapers in the next few days.

the flat prefold cloth diapers as burp rags... that has to be the most useful item ever. they soak up anything, and babies do provide lots of material to soak up! far superior to the cut up rags i made.

we are getting a lot of use from the (folding!) floor gym my coworkers gave us, and a (spacesaving!) swing/seat we received from friends. they do make it a bit easier to have free time... and that is valuable. so that is a consideration i hadn't really made before in my essentials list. sanity is important...

now for Peachy's question... i have to say from the trenches here that the best gift a new parent could use, especially once they have all the "stuff" they need, is food they don't have to cook. gift cards for take-out, or prepared food, or the like is quite possibly the most useful thing we could encounter at this time. in part because i can't imagine more "stuff" beyond what i've identified as useful to us (i am so anti-stuff, plus my brain just can't fathom anything i don't already have, short of an automatic diaper changer!) and in part because i am eating SO MUCH right now to make food for baby.

we're hanging in there. so far i am very pleased with our preparations and hope things continue on this smoothly. good luck to you, Panda! it's a wild ride all the way, you'll do great!

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