Archive for March, 2012
My little guy is five months old. So far he’s on the big and tall spectrum of the height and weight scale and is already wearing clothes in nine and twelve month sizes. In the first few months he’s barely had time to wear the same outfit more than two or three times before he outgrows them. Luckily I received a bunch of outfits as gifts and hand-me-downs. I also bought a few adorable onesies using gift cards I received from my baby shower.
Now that he’s getting bigger I’ll need to buy a greater share of his clothes. I’ve considered taking advantage of end of season sales on everything from winter coats to snow boots, but of course I have no idea if he’ll continue to grow at this rate or not. While I could purchase items for nearly 90% off the retail value I fear that I’ll choose the wrong size and that they ultimately won’t fit.
A bargain is no bargain if he doesn’t end up wearing anything I buy. So now I’m wondering if I should try to estimate what size he’ll be wearing and search around for seasonal sales or if I should keep my money in my pocket since I really have no idea what size he’ll wear next season.
Any thoughts from my readers? Do you take advantage of end of season sales and have you found that most of the items actually fit when the next year rolls around?
I’ve been saving money for no particular reason. I’m just a saver and so I did my best to squirrel my pennies. I clipped coupons, I searched for bargains and I stayed out of stores. I sold unwanted items on eBay and promised myself to limit future purchases of items I do and did not need.
I never tapped into that money. Once it crossed the threshold from checking to savings it never crossed back. That’s the way I like it and that’s the way I intended to be. I figured I would tap the money once I reached financial independence or retirement, whichever came first.
But then, one day, back in October my son was born and I decided to rethink my plans for that money.
I previously carried health insurance through my employer so with my job loss comes a $1500 monthly COBRA bill. That means I not only lost my paycheck, but now owe an additional $18,000 in medical premiums each year! (My husband is self employed and all of the policies we’ve found to date have similar costs.)
I am now considering staying home with my son and plan to use a portion of the money my husband and I have saved to pay our monthly medical insurance bills.
I know people who drain their savings to buy their first home. I know others who drain their account every six months or a year to travel the world. So why is it that I feel guilty for using the money to stay home with my son?
It has been FOREVER since I posted a list of my favorite weekly links. I simply haven’t had the time to keep up to date with blogs these days, so I’ve cut a bunch from my RSS reader in the hopes of focusing on posts that are most relevant to me. Of course, I seem to flag them and rarely remember to go back and read them. Tonight I had a few minutes and found a couple I really enjoyed…
- On Remembering What’s Most Important (becoming minimalist)
- This I Believe: 43 Lessons from 43 Years (Get Rich Slowly)
- The Value of Contentment (MoneyCrush)
- You Don’t Need a Vacation. You Need a New Life (The Minimalist Mom)
- Negativity Gets Us Nowhere (Frugal Babe)
With a five month old son at home my days seem to consist of finding spare moments during sporadic naps to accomplish whatever it is that needs to be done. In an effort to waste less time I’ve instituted the following changes in my life.
- I bought a small shelving unit similar to the one above and a bunch of square, cloth bins to store all of Baby A’s books and toys. I keep one of the bins under a table next to the couch and throw items in as soon as Baby A tires of them for the day. When I clean up for the night I simply move the bin from under the table to the shelves and within seconds everything is semi-organized and hidden from sight.
- I started sorting my RSS reader in list view. I skim through the list of titles and star anything that looks interesting. Once I’m finished I click ‘Mark all as read’ and with the click of a button all uninteresting, unread blog posts vanish.
- I unsubscribed from all emails for sales, stores and daily deal sites. Looking back I’m amazed at how much garbage collected in my inbox. Now the majority of emails are from friends and family. If an errant email makes it’s way across my path I search for the unsubscribe button and request immediate removal.
- I let my husband convince me that my time with Baby A was more valuable than vacuuming. This realization cost me quite a bit of money as he purchased two Roomba’s to do the job for me.
- I stocked the freezer with convenience foods like tortellini and ravioli. I bought them in bulk from Costco and use them when I simply haven’t found the time to prepare a decent dinner. They cost slightly more than other meals I make, but they are much cheaper than take out and they freeze well and can be cooked at a moment’s notice.
- I stopped requesting every freebie that comes my way. Unless it’s for a full sized product or a high value coupon I leave it for the next person. Less freebies mean less mail and less mail means less things to sort through and pick up each day.
Have you found a way to waste less time in your day? If so leave a comment and tell me all about it.
I consider myself to be pretty level headed. It takes quite a bit to stir me up and I tend to be the type to shout obscenities for a minute or two to release the anger and then let it all go. I rarely hold a grudge. In fact, you have to commit multiple acts against me before I’ll make a mental note of the wrongs you’ve caused.
I don’t cause a lot of drama in my own life. In fact, I’m risk and drama averse. Ask my friends and they’ll tell you I’m about as stable as they come. I’ve been dating, (now married to), the same guy for fifteen years, lived in the same house for eleven and until recently worked at the same company for twelve.
If you like to live with a lot of drama in your life odds are that you and I aren’t friends. I don’t have the energy or patience for it these days. Some may say that makes me boring, but if that’s the title for someone who has their shit together, then I’ll rightly accept it.
Unfortunately, when it comes to family members it’s not quite so easy to escape the problem. I find the same people are always causing the same issues in my life and I’m beyond the point of sick and tired about it.
I’m not sure that I can go into specific details about my problem, but I can say that the drama revolves around one specific person. Most of the drama involves imaginary issues made up in that person’s mind. The truths are often distorted to further the cause and usually before the day is done they pull out the victim card.
Due to other people in my life I cannot completely ignore this person or write them out of my life. I’d love to hear suggestions and advice from ANYONE who reads this post. If you’ve ever faced something similar please leave a comment below. If nothing else misery loves company
On Monday J.D. of Get Rich Slowly wrote a post called Burgers or Blogging? Further Thoughts on Pursuing Your Passion. In it he points out that even a “dead-end job can be fun, meaningful and fulfilling under the right circumstances.” While I’ve never worked at a dead-end job I can attest to the fact that an often boring and spiritually unfulfilling job should never be looked down upon. These days a lot of bloggers write about becoming rich off their blogs. They dream of a world where they can wake up in their pajamas and write when they are inspired. I for one think there should be more praise for the guy, (or gal), who works nine-to-five. I don’t think people give enough credit to the value a boring, even spiritually unfulfilling job can provide.
I worked for twelve years as a software developer. While I was initially interested in the problem solving aspects of this role I found it quite difficult to spend the majority of my working hours staring at a computer. Unlike your stereotypical nerd I prefer the company of humans to those of machines. My favorite projects were those that required a significant amount of collaboration and teamwork; projects where we spent days and weeks discussing the best designs and tweaking our plans along the way. I’d like to think that most of my days were spent working in this manner, but as the years went by I actually found myself working on more isolated applications, which meant I spent more time staring at a computer and less time interacting with others.
At the end of the day software is simply not my passion. Even though I liked interactive projects a lot better than isolated ones I rarely went to work truly excited to write code. So why didn’t I leave that job for something I felt more passionate about? The answer is simple… I earned a six figure salary from that gig.
I realize this is not an option for everyone. I realize that a lot of people make a lot less money and so they are willing to dump their day job for something they are more passionate about. If you can make the same salary pursuing your passion than I see no reason to remain in your boring day job, but if you make a lot of money I see no reason to leave it all behind.
Working at that boring, spiritually unfulfilling job enabled me to purchase three properties and still save a significant amount of money each month. (It didn’t hurt that my husband earned an equivalent amount). With that money in the bank I now have the option of staying home with my son.
By pursuing my passion I may have been happier to go to work, but I wonder if I would’ve been happier overall. I have a lot of friends who make very little in their spiritually fulfilling jobs. While they enjoy their work they are often stressed by their financial situations. That stress carries over into every aspect of their lives particularly their home life and marriages.
It’s important to realize that sometimes the money from a day job can help you live the life you really want. I don’t mean wasting your money on things you don’t need, but rather spending money wisely to pursue your interests and passions. In fact, with money in the bank the possibilities can expand to things you never dreamed of. Initially you may have to pursue your passions at night or on the weekends, but one day you may wake up and realize you can focus your attention on the things you truly love.
Just my two cents… What do you think?
I’ve reviewed quite a few books over the past few years, but none of them captured my attention quite the way John Green does in The Fault in Our Stars.
I was intrigued the minute I read the book jacket and I stayed up late two nights in a row in order to finish it as quickly as possible. That’s a bigger compliment than you know. With a five month son still waking once in the night and again very early in the morning I savor my sleep and don’t often give it up for something like reading.
The Fault in Our Stars is narrated by a young girl with cancer. Sounds uplifting, right? Interestingly the book doesn’t drag you down the way you might imagine. Along the way you get to understand and know the narrator through the interactions with her parents and other cancer patients she meets in a local support group.
I so want to say more about this book, but I fear I’ll give too much of the story away and it is simply to good to have someone spoil it for you. I will say this story is less about death than it is about truly living.
I know this will sound cliche, but I’ll say it anyway. If you are looking for a good book to draw you in this is it. If you don’t believe me check out the high ratings and comments on Amazon.
Note: I was compensated for this BlogHer Book Club review but all opinions expressed are my own.
If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile you know that I have been struggling with the decision to become a stay-at-home parent.
If I stay out of the work force for the next few years I will certainly struggle to return to my prior career as a software developer. Technology moves quickly and to maintain marketability I would definitely need to stay up to date on the latest and greatest in software. I kind of ‘fell into’ the profession and I certainly don’t enjoy it enough to read up on it while I’m not employed.
So part of me thinks I should seek employment so that I can maintain marketability. Part of me thinks I should find work so that I can continue to be intellectually stimulated. Another piece fears I’ll become so wrapped up in my child’s life that I’ll be unable to think, focus or talk about anything other than my son and of course, there’s also the fact that I’m giving up a six figure salary to stay-at-home.
I’ve asked just about everyone what they think of my options. I’ve asked every parent I know if they stayed home or went to work and then I ask if they were happy with their decision. I listen to the pros and cons and then gauge how I feel after hearing their thoughts and listening to their suggestions.
I’m amazed at how LARGE this decision feels to me. Although I know it’s not set in stone and that I can always change my mind six months, a year, or longer from now it still weighs heavily in my heart and mind.
Well today I was asked a question that helped me find at least a small sense of clarity. A friend told me she was going to ask a question and that I didn’t have five minutes to analyze my answer. (Something she knew I would do.) She said I had to answer as soon as she asked it.
Her question was simple, “how would you spend the next year if you knew it was your last?” Without hesitation I knew the answer was staying home with my son. I have to admit I was surprised by how quickly my heart pulled me in that direction.
I’m not one to move forward in life without a plan. In fact, I hate to admit it but I think the lack of a plan is the thing I’m struggling with the most in making this decision. If I choose to stay home I have no idea what type of job I will have to take in the future. Will I make less money? Will it be difficult to find work? Will these things make me regret my decision?
Sometimes in life I think I need to step back and pause. I need to listen to my heart and believe that life will work out and that so far it always has. If this was my last year on earth I would not want to spend it sitting in a cubicle staring at a computer. I would want to spend every single moment with my son.
Does that mean I’ve finally made a decision? Not exactly, but today’s question definitely got me one step closer to figuring it out.
How about you? Do you have any words of wisdom for my dilemma or do you know how you would spend this year or next year if you knew it were your last?
Every once in awhile I clean out the house and find a couple of items that I might just be able to sell. I typically search eBay for similar items and then determine whether or not it’s worth my time to list them.
We have less and less clutter these days but I’ve had good luck selling items like video games and high-end clothing in the past. My rule is that an item has to sell for at least $10 to make it worth my time and energy, otherwise PayPal and eBay fees eat away any decent form of profit.
Two weeks ago I placed watches on items similar to the ones I intended to sell and noticed that the video games were selling for close to $15 each. I also planned to sell a high-end baby gift that was out of season for my little tyke. That one item was selling in new condition for roughly $35.
Well I priced my items low and waited to see what would happen. I kept watch over similar items and watched their prices go higher and higher, but unfortunately this week the cards didn’t play out in my favor.
I’m not sure why. My auctions had good pictures and details. I typically run auctions from Saturday to Saturday, but this time they all ended on a Sunday evening. Perhaps less people bid on eBay auctions on Sunday evenings, since they are going to bed early and preparing for the week of work that lies ahead.
I’m not sure what happened. At the end of the day my baby item sold for $23, which was $12 less than comparable auctions and my video games sold for $7 each, which was less than half of what I expected.
It’s certainly not the end of the world, but it is a bit frustrating. Add to that the fact that one of the items was too big to drop in a postal slot, so I had to wait on line at the post office just to hand over a box with prepaid postage. I would’ve left it outside for the mailman, but I hate giving him extra stuff to carry as he delivers our neighbor’s mail.
If I attempt eBay at any point in the future I’m going to choose a different end date for my auctions and only provide UPS postage options. It might be more expensive but I despise the post office!
Have you ever purchased something you couldn’t return and immediately regretted it? It might be something small like a painting or clothing or something as large as a house or car. For me it is the large wooden table pictured above.
One afternoon on my way home from work I saw a going out of business sign on a fancy furniture store. The road was jammed with cars that day so I pulled off the road and decided to head inside to take a look around and wait out the traffic. It seemed like a better way to spend my time than idling on a four lane highway, plus my husband and I were in need of a new coffee table. The poor excuse we had for a table was so old and shabby it would probably have been better used as kindling than a place to set down your drink. We’d continue to use it because all four legs were still connected and it was junky enough to put our feet up and not feel guilty about it.
I walked around the furniture store for roughly an hour and found a bunch of tables that I really liked. Because the store was going out of business you had to haul away whatever items you purchased, so I called my husband and told him to drive over with the truck.
I waited around for an hour for my husband to show up and by the time he opened the door I’d been in that store for over two hours.
I took my husband on a walking tour and showed him all of the tables we could buy to replace the awful one we had at home. He had one excuse after another for not liking anything I picked out. We started to fight, which is something we never do on a normal basis, but ALWAYS do when we shop for furniture together. (I’m actually not sure why that happens, but each and every time our tempers flare.)
By this time I’d been in the store for nearly three hours. I hadn’t gone home, I hadn’t eaten dinner and I refused to accept that the last three hours were a complete waste of time. I was determined to go home with a table. Needless to say my husband and I argued for another hour about this purchase, but after a whole lot of convincing my husband and I walked out of the store as proud new owners of the table you see pictured above.
Unfortunately we found a problem with it the minute we moved it into the living room. It was too big for the space! I refused to admit the error. I was adamant that it would work. I moved other chairs and ottomans around, but there was no mistaking it. That table just didn’t fit! For weeks my husband and I did our best to walk around it. We maneuvered through the living room like an obstacle course. We weaved our way around chairs and tables each and every time we made our way to the couch.
Eventually I had to admit defeat. I shouldn’t have bought the table. Even on sale it cost us quite a bit of money and since the store was going out of business it couldn’t be returned. We were stuck with it.
We kept it in the living room for a few weeks and then I decided enough was enough. I moved it to the sun room where it took up even more space! The sun room is half the size of our living room, but we don’t spend much time there so it hung out unused and unwanted for years. Not days or weeks or months, but years. I couldn’t stand the sight of it, but I couldn’t bear to get rid of it. We’d paid too much and wouldn’t recoup our cost if we tried to sell it. Something about that fact made it unbelievably difficult to sell or donate.
I convinced myself that we would move it to the basement as soon as it was refinished. Unfortunately refinishing the basement is at the bottom of our priority list.
Flash forward five years. Now that the weather is getting nicer I want my son to play in the sun room. It’s the one area in the house with carpet so it’s much softer to set him down on the ground. Of course the first day I carried him in there I realized that awful table was taking up way too much space.
I’d finally had enough! I thought about selling it, but ultimately decided to just take it outside so the donation truck could haul it away. As I carried it down the front steps I took note of how terribly I felt for spending so much money on something we never used. Then I vowed to remember that table. I took a photograph of it and thought long and hard about the whole ordeal. I want to remember how and why I bought that table so I don’t ever make a similar mistake again.
By the way… Once that table moved out of the living room the shabby, old table we’d owned for years moved back in. Twelve years later it’s still the spot where we rest our feet and put our drinks down.