Thursday, December 30, 2010

tripple crud

three days back to work and i caught the crud. then i gave it to the baby. a few days later. my husband rounded it out by catching his own version of the crud a few days after that.

i'm finally better, but the baby is not. he's snotty and stuffy. avoiding the bulb syringe has helped him hone his aim, backhand, and scream.

he also seems to be outgrowing his reflux meeds dose. the plan with his doctor was to try and maintain his dose as he grows as a way to wean him off. the acid in his stomach seems to disagree. the last few days he's been fussier when spitting up about half of the time and generally cranky. today when wiping up some spit up i noticed reddish orange flecks suspended in the yuck. so somewhere between his stomach and lips there's a little bleeding happening.

because fun comes in three's our boy is also gassy. and trying to pass gas makes him spit up.

dealing with the fussiness and general unhappy is no fun. though there isn't much i wouldn't do for him to feel good.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Big Changes

Outside of the whole growing a person thing there have been some big changes at Casa POMF. Last night we signed closing papers to refinance our house. Last week we paid off the Prius. Now we're just a wee bit broke.

The refinance will save us $300/month, cut out PMI, and cut our rate 1.67%. Sadly, refinancing was almost (if not more) complicated that originally purchasing the house. The biggest pain was the appraisal process. The short story is appraiser 1 committed appraisal fraud. In between appraisal 1 and 2 we were doing things like choosing paint colors, getting supplies/packages for baby, and just a general me being pregnant. Scheduling time off to meet people and keep things neat while trying to finish up at work was no fun. The up side of the crazy is our house appraised 20K higher than when we bought it. This was also 20K higher than appraisal 1.

We kept the mortgage in just my name due to credit reasons. Though I had no problem getting a mortgage the first time around this time our debt to income rations with just my income were too high. So after a few discussions of the options we decided to pay off the Prius. This wiped out the majority of our cash on hand. I just updated our spreadsheet/Networth IQ and we went from around 20K in cash to 6K in cash. Half of that is currently allocated to something specific, but liquid if we need it.

The upside is we should be able to rebuild our cushion pretty quickly. Making those two moves is saving us $810/month. For the next few months we'll send the money we would have sent to the mortgage/etc to our efund to get it rebuilt. This also reduces how much we need in case of emergency, because we don't have as many obligations.

While all of that has been going on we've also gotten the nursery painted, bought the last of the baby furniture, purchased carseats and gotten the carpets cleaned in anticipation of the baby/my mom's arrival. This weekend was my shower, so the living room looks like a baby store threw up all over it, in the best possible way.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Thoughts on Space

In the 3 months since I've posted time has sped by. The baby is due in 5.5 weeks. We've gotten all of the big baby stuff (car seat, crib, dresser, stroller)- or at least ordered it. I closed out the fiscal year at work and am getting my coworkers prepped for my maternity leave. Half of the fall programming I run is scheduled and the other half is underway. We're also in the middle of refinancing our mortgage, possibly paying off the Prius, and getting ready for the added expenses of baby.

There is a lot to blog about in that last paragraph but something a friend put on facebook yesterday is bugging me. The friend is married, both working professionals, and recently they had twins. I don't know the numbers, but I'd guess they earn in the $100-150 range as a couple.

They live in a 3 bedroom, 2 story house in a suburban style neighborhood not too far from us. Zillow says it's 1800 sq feet. They have a master, an office, and the twins currently share a room. The house is upside down, I'm guessing by approx $40K, though the area is slowly starting to rebound.

With twins they feel that the house is too small. Our friend has said multiple times that they're bursting at the seams. They just found out that they can't qualify for a short sale because they make too much money. Until then the plan had been to short sell their current place and buy a bigger place*. So now they're considering letting the house go into foreclosure.

To me the whole thing just seems crazy. Totally screw your credit, ability to buy anything for 7-10 years, and your neighbors because you think your house is too small.

My husband and I were discussing this last night and I realized that a big part of the outlook has to do with our beginnings. This couple has always lived (even as kids) in suburban type homes. Hubby and I are both city kids. Each of us remembers periods where multiple relatives were living with us for whatever reason in less than 1,000 sq foot homes. Our families made due because that was the circumstance they found themselves in and what was necessary to take care of everyone.

To us enough space is a very relative thing. Our current house is large (2500+ sq ft). We bought when the market was crashing with the idea that we could stay here for 20 years, raise 2-4 kids, and be happy if necessary. But if we only had 1,000 sq feet we could make that work too.

It just seems like such a waste to ruin so much of your financial life over 500-1000 sq feet.

*Though the logistics of that makes my head hurt.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Unexpected Pregnancy Expenses

There are a couple of things you expect to spend money on when you're pregnant. The are the clothes, the doctors appointments and prenatal classes. In the past few months I've noticed a few other areas.

Most recently it's been gasoline. Before I started growing another person I was always cold when it was cold and really good at withstanding the heat. Like I lived in DC for 2 years with no A/C and didn't melt. What people failed to tell me is that being pregnant is like turning on a furnace in your body. Now if it's warmer than 73 and sunny I have to have the A/C on in my car. I have tried all sorts of things (cold water in the car, fan going, windows, A/C for a few to cool the car then the fan) and none of it works. I end up crabby at best, but most days it's more along the lines of feeling faint.

Similarly, I'm expecting our electric bill to go up over the summer. Usually we just open windows at night and do nothing during the day over the summer months. Hubby complains here and there but otherwise deals. Something tells me I won't be able to. This is still uncertain because warm days in clumps it's still been pretty cold here. Our furnace is still going since I caved in October and got it started for the season.

Then there's food. Not so much the volume, but the kinds/quality. I'm trying to buy more organics when it comes to fruits and veggies. I'm also being careful about protein. I met with a dietitian last fall and her main point for my vegetarian pregnancy was getting 3 animal sources of protein a day and eating enough protein in general. I made the switch from regular yogurt to Greek yogurt because of it's higher protein ounce for ounce.

On the other hand there are the things that I inexplicably crave. Like K*raft Mac and Cheese. The volume of prepared things I buy because I'm often lacking in energy or the going out to eat is not good, but I have to eat. Also, all of a sudden I hate leftovers. I put a 24-36 hour window on anything I bring home in case it appeals to me again but my husband is definitely benefiting.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Neighborly Fences

This year will be our second full summer in the house. On a to do list since we got the place has been putting in a back fence. The sides of our yard to the east and west have fences (but in by those neighbors) but the north and south ends are open. To the south we have neighbors and the north side is the front of the house where there would be two smaller portions.

Our plan had been to save up enough cash and approach the backyard neighbors about splitting that part of the fence. Only within 2 months of us moving in the backyard neighbors moved out. The house was on the market for 8-10 months and mid last summer we got new neighbors. The fence would have probably been at the top of the list of things to do this summer but I'm trying to be conservative with the baby on the way.

The other bit of info is that we've never actually met the backyard neighbors. On their second night my husband tried but failed miserably. Since there is no backyard fence (and social graces aren't his strong suit) he decided to just walk across the yards and knock on their patio sliding door. Other than the inviting himself onto other people's property business, he did this at dusk. He's a former college football player (defensive stuff) who was sporting a pretty crazy afro. So hubby walks up to the sliding door when it's a bit dark (and in my opinion) scares the bejesus out of the new neighbors. The neighbor husband freaks out and starts yelling. Mine gets offended because he was just trying to be neighborly and comes back to our house in a huff.

Not too long after that I got depressed. Around when I started feeling better mother nature decided that lots of snow was in order. From mid-October to late February our backyard was buried (the front yard didn't fully melt until late April). All of this was followed by the first trimester. Otherwise known as the 'why is my body made of lead' or 'can I take another nap yet' period of life. That's the long way of explaining why 10 months later I haven't introduce myself or mended fences.

So tonight when I get home there's an envelope in the door with a note and an estimate. The note essentially said hi, can't believe we haven't met, we're getting a fence installed this weekend. The fence will match your other parts, if you have questions give us a call. The estimate is from the fencing company. It breaks down the work on the north, south, east, and west portions of their yard. They highlighted the description of what will border our property.

My initial thought is we should offer them some cash towards that part of the work. Hubby thinks it was a veiled way of asking us to contribute and if they want money they should have asked.

So do we offer? Do we take it as a nice note letting us know there will likely be workmen in our yard? Or do we just keep on moving?

Half is approx $550. If we shift around some of the priorities/plans that I wrote about last time we could probably get this out of our next checks. Getting the rest of our yard finished (based on their estimates) would be another $700. Just in case that factors in for anyone else.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Baby Changes

Over the past few months I've read a lot about getting your finances ready for baby and we'll be making so significant changes to where our money goes. Most of these changes will be temporary- but help us handle any big changes after the baby. Each month I'll pay the required things- mortgage, monthly credit card bill, car payment, student loan, utilities and what we set aside for insurance. In a perfect world I'd pay these all directly from my husband's check but I don't think that will be possible again until June/July. Any additional funds that are left (including my paychecks) will go to new sub account titled baby stuff and oh baby.

Baby stuff is for (shocker) the things we'll need to get for the baby. I'm giving us a tentative budget of $3000 for gear, including the crib, mattress, car seats, and clothes that we aren't otherwise gifted at the baby shower. I'm hoping that our friends with older babies will want to give us their used stuff so we don't have to spend anywhere near this amount.

Oh baby is the baby related emergency fund. A few days a week I listen to Dave Ramsey at lunch. Anytime someone says they're having a baby he tells them to pile up cash (what you would send to debts otherwise) until the baby gets here. If everything goes fine make a huge debt repayment. If there's a problem for mama or baby you have the cash to help deal with it. I was on the fence about this initially but then I got a survey from my HR department. They're currently shopping for next year's (July 1 for us) rates. Right now I have an HMO and delivering the baby would be $1000 but the survey made it seem like everything, including high deductible HSA plans, was on the table. Since I'll deliver within 2 months of our new plan start I want to make sure we're covered if the costs change drastically.

Any money in the checking account above the regular bills will go into two funds or the low months fund. It will be 30% to baby stuff, 30% to Oh baby, and 40% to the low months fund. Once we get baby stuff to $3,000 I'll reevaluate the percentages. Last year I optimistically thought $3,400 would get us through the low months. This year I want to aim for $10,000. I won't be able to work the extra hours over the fall/winter and maybe spring. I also don't want to worry about money while we're getting to know the baby.

The only bill we will pay more that what is actually due on is my student loan. When I switched to reduced payments it was with the understanding that I'd be paying the original amount each month to avoid extending repayment.

Friday, April 16, 2010

How much is a week worth

Our fiscal agent for work, who is also technically our employer, has a kind of crazy vacation policy. The start of this fiscal year we could accrue PTO without limit. This year they decided that at the start of each fiscal year they don't want anyone to have more than 80 hours, scaling us down in 32 hour increments each quarter. If you don't meet the new limit you don't accrue new PTO.

Yesterday I sat down with HR to ask about some of my maternity leave questions. We don't technically have maternity leave. We have a burn all of your vacation hours and then you can access an extended leave bank plan. Though I work for a non profit, so I'm not really complaining. After those two options you can also take 30 days of unpaid leave. When we talked HR lady brought up an alternative to what I had been planning- stop taking PTO now (and accruing in July) if that will give me more time.

I'm aiming for about 10 weeks off full time and then coming back 1-2 days a week at a time. The baby is due September 10th. The other thing about my boss that is great is she will let me flex time around appointments, so I don't have to take off the time for appointments.

Currently I have 110 hours. We accrue 18.7 hours each month. April's time hasn't been accrued yet. The extended leave plan will be at 190 hours by then.

Plan A- Take enough time off over April, May, June to get down to 80 hours. This is aprox 1 day a week until the end of June. The time off is wonderful, though sometimes a challenge to fit in. My boss is awesome though and sometimes lets us fudge things a bit. July-baby I will accrue 18.7 hours/month. (117.4 hours)

Plan B- Stop taking time off now. I will accrue the 18.7 hours for April-June and stop accruing (166 hours total)

Plan B gives an additional 48 hours or 1 week and 1 day of time post baby, for a total of 4.15 weeks of paid time before extended leave. Plan A gives 2.93 weeks post baby before extended leave. But plan 8 means taking 86 hours over the next 2.5 months.

I can't decide if the time now or the time later is better. Since I have the additional buffer of 30 days leave without pay it comes down to my pay for that additional time. Is 6-7 days of pay worth not taking time off between now and the baby?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A bit much

In a move of stunning brilliance I think I've really over scheduled my next 10 days. Today I have a quarterly report, a letter telling someone I can't pay for her class, creating certificates, and editing multiple MOUs while missing 3.5 hours due to meetings. Tomorrow I'm off, which means all of the work stuff must happen today. Tomorrow I'll be doing my hair (it's an all day process) in preparation for a banquet for hubby's job Saturday evening. That morning I'll be subbing for one of my trainers for 6.5 hours. Starting Sunday morning I'm babysitting overnight for a week for a 7 yr old boy.

Just typing that makes me want a nap.

On the up side I get paid for the last two things. I didn't discuss a rate for babysitting, but that will be somewhere in the $300-400 range. This is more because she's a great friend of my mom's than for the money. If they didn't have the relationship I wouldn't have taken the job. On Saturday I'll make $27/hr for those 6.5 hours. Though if I can find another sub in the next 36 hours I'll happily give it up.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A little conversation

The sceen: Our living room. Sitting on different couches, laptops in both of out laps. Project Runway playing in the background. I'm working on the month end numbers, he's listening to something on his laptop because he hates PR.

Me: Pause what you're doing, I want to tell you something.
Him: What?
Me: (very excited) All of our debt is under $200K.
Him: (very dejected) That's just depressing.
Me: Dude, we've paid of $10K in 3 months. In the three months where you make the least. That's pretty impressive.
Him: No no, still depressing.

Though he thinks it's depressing I'm still excited. That's every penny we owe someone else, including our mortgage.

Dear CO,

You rock. We submitted out taxes on a Saturday. By the following Friday our refund was in our bank account. It has long since made it's way to our car loan. I am happy.

Tonight I should get through out month end numbers and get those posted. There's also been some maternity shoping. And lots of sleeping.

Happy Tuesday :)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Taxes Done!

This morning, for the first time in my life, I paid someone to do our taxes. It took around 1.5 hours and cost $190. I wouldn't say it's the best money I ever spent, but it's pretty high up there. I like not worrying about if I made a mistake in my interpretation and avoiding my husband freaking out. Though in the end she said I seemed really on top of things- which made me smile.

2009 was less complicated than 2008, but we still had a lot going on. 2 W-2's, 1 1099, bank interest, student loan and mortgage interest, donations, car purchase deduction (federal) and credit (state) & a home energy credit (door replacement).

I ran our taxes a few different times at home in February. One program had us getting a little more and one had us getting a little less than where we ended up. Though on the one where we had more I definitely didn't get enough guidance from the program I was using about the property loss not covered by our insurance and would have claimed something illegally.

In the end we're getting back just over $7,000. The state car credit was a huge ($3,110) part of that. The rest is due to unexpected deductions/stimulus stuff and my husband being squeamish about withholding. One year when he was single and working in the mortgage industry (with only 401(k) as tax shelter) he ended up owing a lot of money. Ever since he's wanted to claim 0. Logical thinks like being married and owning a house and having (my) student loan debt don't seem to compute. I'm trying to get us to both claim 1 for the rest of the year to avoid another huge return.

Approx $3,400 of the return will go to the Prius. My thought is if we get the money for buying the car it should help pay for the car. I'm pretty sure one of us, or maybe the dealer, used the state credit when discussing price. He wants to figure out which of us overpaid by how much (after the credits/deductions things like the car) and give 20% of that back to each of us, but that seems like a lot of math and brain cells. After the $3400 I think the remainder should be split in thirds and send to the baby fund, medical savings, and efund.

Baby fund is new and somewhat amorphous, but at least helping to buy baby furniture/stuff that we'll need after the baby shower. Medical savings is also new, but this year will be a pretty expensive medical year. Copays on OB visits are going to run around $350. Delivery will either be $500 or $1,000 depending on if a perk from a year ago still exists. So best case we're looking at $850 until the baby gets here and assuming absolutely nothing is out of the ordinary.

We have around 2 weeks (if not more) for the money to actually show up so I'm not going to stress about it right now. But it feels good to be done for the year.