Archive for January, 2012
This question has little to do with personal finance, but I would like to hear from anyone with suggestions. I’d like to begin writing a journal for my son. While I’m with him I think of all sorts of things that I want to write down. Just various thoughts and moments I want to capture as he grows.
I started a blog while I was pregnant, and wrote at least once a week, but I’ve only blogged once in the three months since he was born. It seems that each time I attempt to type up my thoughts my mind goes blank and I can’t quite find the words to express my thoughts and emotions.
Perhaps I get writer’s block because I want this to be a journal that he can read when he gets older. Maybe I’m placing too much thought into exactly what I want to say. I’m not exactly sure what the issue is but I’m saddened that I’ve only captured one post in the past three months.
I am photographing and videotaping my son a few times a week, but I really want to write about my time with him as well. Maybe I should give up on typing my thoughts and move to a paper journal? I’m really not sure.
If anyone has advice for me I’d love to hear it. Any and all suggestions are welcome.
January 31, 2012 at 3:15 AM
My three month old son is the 95th percentile for height. I’m not surprised by his length, though many people I meet out in public seem to be. I’m over 6 feet tall and my husband is nearly 5’11”.
He fit into newborn clothes for two weeks, size three month for about 30 days, size six months for 30 to 45 days after that and now he’s wearing size nine months.
Every two to three days I snap pictures of him wearing his adorable little clothes. (As a first time mom I don’t want to miss a moment.) Friends and family blessed us with a lot of really adorable outfits before and after he was born, so I haven’t had to purchase much for him up until this point.
As he outgrows his clothes I’ve turned to hand-me-downs and the thrift store in search of cute little outfits that will fit. This week I went to a thrift store a little farther away from our home. It’s three times the size of the one I typically visit. Since I wasn’t exactly sure where to find baby clothes I wandered around a bit. Eventually I made my way to the infant and toddler section. There I found an entire wall of outfits for little girls.
I was astounded by the amount of pink and purple clothing lining that wall. The girls clothes ran three-quarters of the length of the building. There were hundreds of tiny dresses and skirts hanging from the rods.
In comparison the little boys section of the store took up less than a quarter of that same wall and contained at most a hundred articles of clothing. Some of the outfits were blue, but unlike the girls section, which was mostly purple and pink, the boys section was filled with clothes of many different colors. Granted a lot of those colors were rather drab. Lots of green, gray and brown, but at least there was a bit of variety.
Based on the amount of girls clothing in that store it certainly seems that parents are purchasing girls clothing in abundance. To say the least they seem to be purchasing much more clothing for girls than boys.
Of course, there may be other reasons for the difference. Perhaps a lot of little girls live near this particular thrift store. Perhaps little boys are harder on their clothes and thus fewer articles of boys clothing are donated to charity. (Although it would be hard to believe that infant boys can be that much harder on their clothing than infant girls.) I can’t say for certain.
As I looked at the difference between the racks of clothes I definitely stepped back and asked myself if I would buy more clothes for a daughter than I would for a son. Since I don’t have a daughter the question is completely hypothetical, but it does make me wonder if mothers plant the seed of style and fashion in their little girl’s minds right from birth.
Why was the rack of girls clothing so large and do all of those little pink and purple outfits have an early impact on the lives and spending habits of girls?
January 30, 2012 at 4:25 AM
I became interested in money at a very young age. When I was little I remember watching my father roll coins into those stiff paper tubes. He kept his coins in an old cheese curls can and I remember how excited I would get when he pulled the can out of the closet to begin his counting process. When I was old enough to count he would let me create little piles of coins equaling fifty cents or one dollar depending on what type of coin he was rolling.
I learned quite quickly to covet the all mighty coin and my mom helped me grow quite a collection of them. My mom was one of those women who carried an extremely large purse. She had a ton of pocketbooks in her closet and every so often she’d switch from carrying one bag to carrying another. One day I helped her switch purses and realized there was a ton of lose change hanging out in the bottom of her bag. I remember counting the coins and asking her if I could keep them. Of course, without hesitation she said yes.
Even as a small child I knew I was on to something. From that point on I constantly asked my mom for the coins I found in the bottom of her purse. Of course, every week without hesitation my mom permitted me to count and keep them.
To this day my brother believes I netted quite a bit of money from those old pocketbooks. I actually have no idea how much I found, but it’s not inconceivable to think the total might have added up to a few hundred dollars.
I know my brother feels robbed, but in truth he never thought to ask for that money and if he did he would’ve spent it in a heartbeat. I on the other hand would immediately roll the coins, write the amount on the outside of the wrapper and stow them away in a hidden place where my brother couldn’t find them and ask for a loan.
My brother and I had one big difference when it came to money. He always saved with a specific goal in mind. In the beginning he wanted new toys or games, then records, cassettes or CDs. As soon as he reached the magic number for whatever an item cost he went out and spent his money.
I on the other hand saved my money with absolutely no goal in mind. The more money I found or earned the bigger I wanted the total to grow. For me the goal was simply adding more money to the pot. The larger the total became the happier it made me.
As an adult I still feel the same way. Luckily my husband and I are similar in this regard. Neither one of us has any problem putting money in the bank without knowing how it will be spent. In fact, I wonder if we would have saved as much money if we had specific goals in mind. Would we spend money faster if we already had a vision of how we wanted to spend it?
What do you think? Do you save with a specific goal in mind or do you just save for the sake of saving and do you think your overall savings is larger or smaller as a result of the way you focus on saving?
January 28, 2012 at 4:00 PM
I’ve been able to stay home with my son since he was born just over three months ago. Despite feeling a bit sleep deprived this has been the most amazing time in my life! What has been most surprising is how much I’ve learned from watching him in these last three months.
First, when you wake from a long night’s slumber or even a short cat nap reach your arms above your head and point your toes. Don’t be shy about it. Stretch as far as your body will allow. It’s funny that this is such a natural instinct, yet as adults we rush out of bed in the morning and never think to stretch our our limbs.
Second, every day is a journey and while you may do the same things day after day you can make them feel fresh and new when you live in the moment. Since my son is so young I find myself pointing out all of the sights, sounds and smells around us. When we go for a walk I notice the little flowers blooming, the smell of wood burning in the neighbor’s fireplace and the sound of the trucks lifting trash cans. I thought I was aware of my surroundings before, but now that I want to point everything out to him I realize just how little I was actually paying attention to before.
Third, communication is the key to survival. I can now tell when my little one is hungry or tired or just needs to be changed, but in those first few weeks I had absolutely no idea what he was trying to tell me. Now that he smiles I can tell if he’s truly happy and having fun or if he’d rather be doing something else. I find it funny when relatives tell me he’s tired. Most of the time he falls asleep because they don’t interact with him enough and he gets bored. As a result of being with him day after day I find that I am learning to communicate better with the rest of my family. I’m more in tune to non-verbal communication than ever before and notice the expressions and gestures that often say much more than their words.
Fourth, you don’t need much in life to keep you happy. We have two or three small, colorful, hand-me-down toys that my son plays with every day, but at this stage he is just as content to coo and babble with my husband and I. I read him books everyday, but he is just as happy reading the same book three times as he is if I read him three different books in a row.
Fifth, it’s important to treasure the time we have together. I can’t believe that my son is already three months old. Despite the long sleepless nights I feel like that time passed in the blink of an eye. As a first time mom I initially wanted to do everything just right. I wanted him to sleep in his crib, go to bed at 7 o’clock and nap for two hours at a time, but now I realize that he won’t be a baby for very long. Rather than fussing about waking every three or four hours to feed him, I’m happy that I can snuggle him close to me and listen to his breathing change as he falls asleep on my shoulder.
January 27, 2012 at 8:35 PM
As I mentioned a few days ago I am currently in the process of rolling my 401(k) into an IRA. My employer instituted a Roth 401(k) a few years ago, so some money will roll into a Roth IRA and the rest will roll into a traditional IRA. To be more precise roughly $100,000 will move into the Roth and $175,000 will move into the traditional account.
I planned to move the money to Charles Schwab, because that’s where my husband and I keep all of our accounts. In fact, we gave me up traditional banking years ago and haven’t looked back once since.
Well it just so happens that Schwab is offering a bonus to anyone who rolls a 401(k) into a new or existing IRA from now until April 17th. The bonus amount paid is tied to the amount of money you plan to roll over.
In my case since both accounts will be over $100,000 Schwab will deposit an additional $300 into each account. Given the amount of money I’m rolling over it’s certainly not much, but since I’m moving the money anyway it certainly doesn’t hurt.
January 26, 2012 at 4:10 AM
Do you find yourself craving new things? New clothes, new furniture, a new job, new cell phone, etc. Have you ever wondered why you want all of that new stuff in the first place?
Winifred Gallagher attempts to explain the human desire to engage in things that are new and different in her book NEW: Understanding Our Need for Novelty and Change. Throughout the book Gallagher discusses ‘the love of the new’, otherwise known as neophilia.
Desiring new things is not always bad. Gallagher’s book explains how the desire for newness has pushed inventors to discover new technologies, researchers to create new vaccines and explorers to discover uncharted worlds.
However, as with all things in the life there is a certain yin and yang to newness. While the love of new things may spur great exploration and invention in some, it can cause out of control spending and addiction in others. The desire for new is not so great if it results in sky high credit card bills and closets full of unworn clothing.
The Internet age has added an even bigger sense of new to our lives. We are constantly inundated with new news, new blogs and new emails. In the book, Gallagher mentions the ‘new boredom.’ She believes that this constant influx of data and information is causing humans to become overstimulated. She believes this overstimulation causes us to become bored faster and that this boredom forces us to constantly seek out new things. Whether it’s emails or gadgets we quickly get bored of them and move onto the next newest and greatest thing.
Gallagher provides steps for diminishing people’s addiction to new technologies and data. By using timeout techniques, developing a limitation on emails and keeping a log of how often you use a gadget and how it make you feel.
I’m surprised how my own desire for new stuff has diminished to almost nothing over time. Rather than buying new things I now wish for more meaningful, fulfilling moments spent with those I love. I haven’t gotten rid of my desire for ‘new’ I just changed my desire from meaningless new objects to rewarding new experiences.
I can credit my new values on my minimalist lifestyle. I’ve always been a bit clutter phobic and with the addition of my son I now realize that I simply don’t have room for all of the extra ‘stuff’ I used to desire. Spending my days shopping, dusting and cleaning all of those new objects simply takes me away from spending time with the ones I love. Similarly I’ve cut out clicking on my email or google reader every few minutes. I want to take time outs for those throughout the day, but otherwise I want to treasure the time I have on this earth. Just as no one ever says “I wish I worked more” on their gravestone I don’t think anyone will say “I wish I checked my email more often.”
January 23, 2012 at 3:00 PM
I have absolutely loved being home with my son these last three months, but I do miss the sense of community I felt going to work each day. Since I’m not going out much these days I decided to reach out to the digital community and joined the Yakezie Challenge!
I’m already a reader of many of the Yakezie members blogs, but I don’t often comment on their posts. I guess you can say I’m kind of like that secret lurker who loves what she reads, but doesn’t share her thoughts with the bloggers whose work I enjoy.
With this challenge I hope to open myself up to the blogging community and hopefully make some great friendships and relationships along the way!
January 22, 2012 at 10:30 PM
My job officially ended with my former company in November of last year. In early December I received my last paycheck and on the last day of 2011 I received my severance payout. As each of these events transpire I feel the book officially closing on my previous employment.
I believe yesterday marked the final chapter as I withdrew the money in my retirement plan in preparation for a 401(k) rollover. After twelve years of saving my final tally borders $275,000.
Better market conditions may have resulted in a larger sum, but I still think that’s a pretty decent chunk of change. It proves two things to me. First, that I didn’t miss the money that was automatically deposited into my 401(k) each month and second that saving small amounts of money month after month really adds up.
Seeing this number in black and white makes me a little more confident about my (possible) decision to stay home for a couple of years. I won’t add more money, (or at least not a significant amount), to my retirement accounts while I’m out of work, but the money that is already in my account can certainly grow. I also have money in a Roth IRA that I opened the year after I graduated from college.
In fact, based on a few quick calculations at a 4% rate of return my investments could be worth as much as $1 million by the time I’m ready to retire at age 60. That’s $1 million without saving another dime. Of course, I don’t plan to be out of the workforce forever, so I would certainly start saving again at some point in the not so distant future.
I haven’t made any final decisions about returning to work, but reviewing the numbers makes me feel much more confident about the possibility of staying home. One of my fears is that today’s decisions will impact tomorrow’s goals. Looking at these numbers I feel more confident that one decision will not dramatically impact another.
January 21, 2012 at 9:25 PM
I started One Frugal Girl as a simple means to document my relationship with money. It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly six years since I wrote my first post! I am grateful to everyone who leaves comments or sends me emails. I’ve grown to know a number of bloggers and commenters personally. One or two have even rented my beach house in North Carolina.
Since this blog was never about anything other than telling my story I’ve never tried to make much money from writing it. However, now that I want to stay home with my son I’m thinking more and more about permitting additional advertisements on the sidebar.
Any money that I earn would be thrown towards our health insurance. Even a few hundred a month would make a dent in the overall bill.
I must admit that I rarely notice the advertisements on the blogs I read, but a very messy blog inundated with ads is a real turnoff for me.
What do you think about blogs with a lot advertisements? Do they make you less likely to read them? Would you still read One Frugal Girl if I added them?
January 20, 2012 at 4:45 AM
In my quest to stay home with my son I’ve discussed eliminating unnecessary expenses, adding up expenses and the cost of insurance. The next point of focus is the effect of my choice on future earnings and retirement.
If I step out of the workforce for a couple of years my future salary will likely suffer. If I left my job and returned to the exact same position a few years later my salary wouldn’t benefit from any raises or cost of living increases during the years that I don’t work.
I could argue that I didn’t receive a raise last year and that I wouldn’t have received one this year either, but I think it’s safe to assume most people do get a raise or cost of living adjustment each year and from what I’ve read most advisers suggest factoring in a 2 to 4% loss each year you remain out of the workforce.
Of course, we all know that I will not be returning to the exact same position, so the question becomes what would I earn after I return in a new job at a different company. There’s really no way to know the exact figure, but it is fair to say that I probably won’t make as much as I do now. I currently work in technology and unless I stay up to date in the latest and greatest software my salary is likely to plummet the longer I stay out of work.
The honest truth is that I don’t particularly love writing software. I liked the puzzle solving aspects and of course the big salary, but I think I’m too much of a people person to spend my entire day facing a computer. So the bigger question of leaving the working world is whether or not I would return to a software development job at all.
I don’t love software enough to learn about it and stay up to date on the latest and greatest technologies while I’m at home with my son. If I stay home I will probably take the opportunity to transition into an entirely different role when I return to the working world.
I could apply for positions as an analyst or project manager, (I have a bunch of certifications). While I wouldn’t be particularly in love with these jobs they do have salary ranges similar to my previous position and they involve a lot more human interaction. They also require less overtime and late hours.
I have a feeling that unless I find a job I absolutely adore my family time will remain my number one priority. In fact, I would be willing to take a lesser paying job in the future if it was closer to home and/or provided greater flexibility and decent benefits.
As you can see the question for me is larger than just leaving the workforce, A teacher may stay home and return to teaching a few years later, but if I leave I have a feeling I’m looking at a whole new career.
The question is how does that career impact my future goals and lifestyle? I’m not certain that’s something I can answer.
January 18, 2012 at 12:45 AM