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Random money bullets

March 14, 2019

In place of my monthly reports, here are a bunch of updates about money lately.

  • Our net worth has recovered after dropping last fall, due to market recovery and continued earnings.  Yay!
  • It appears we will owe a modest amount on our taxes, despite my rough projections and payroll adjustments trying to make a small refund happen. It was a little unclear how much taxable income I’d end up with, considering my maternity leave and short term disability.
  • My short term disability came through without trouble. The overall policy is not great, but it was good that the check came pretty easily. The real value is that it would have covered me if something extreme happened in my pregnancy early on.
  • We are now paying for childcare.  I might post more on this later, but we are paying about $600/week for 40 hours a week of nanny share.  This is expensive.  The share is close by, so we’re able to put off getting a second car for a bit longer.
  • We paid off the 0% interest car loan, mostly to have better cashflow throughout the year. The title came in the mail this week.
  • On that note, we may need a second car at some point in the next year. I’m keeping that in mind as we shuffle cash around. I love being a one car family, but if we ever move to a daycare, logistics get to tricky to manage.
  • I only worked 35% of February (half time for 3 weeks), and took about a week unpaid in January, after exhausting my sick and vacation leave (which I’d been hoarding for years in anticipation of maternity leave).  Most of my income thus far been shuttled to my retirement accounts. So, I’ve pulled money from our overfull cash buffer to cover expenses.  This was the plan – the money was to cover leave and I want to funnel the cash (indirectly) into retirement this year, regardless of whether we can cash flow it in the calendar year.
    Aside from childcare and lost wages (hahaha, aside from that huge expense), the baby isn’t so expensive! But anyone who says breastfeeding is free is a liar. First, that is only true if my time is worthless. Second, I am working so I have to pump. This requires milk storage and all the pumping accessories. So far, I’ve gotten a free hospital pump “rental” from my insurance. I may or may not have to start paying for it at the 6 month mark.
  • I have not created even a rough 2019 budget or tracked my expenses in months.  I want to create a budget, but the budget is largely useless without following up with expense tracking. This is a lot of effort and my previous system was not automated.  Is this OK?  Does anyone operate without a budget?
  • I think I need to open up a 529 account for the baby.  We’re saving for college indirectly via Roth IRAs because it gives the most flexibility, and we have an abnormal and abundant amount of retirement savings room. However, I want to enable family members to contribute in lieu of gifts, and it doesn’t seem acceptable to say “just write the check to me, I’ll put it in my Roth, and eventually she’ll benefit!”
  • To my dismay, we now employ a gardener for $25/week (2 hours every 2 weeks).  It helps a lot with our jungle-yard, and really, we don’t have time to keep up with it all ourselves… but it also feels wrong not to do it ourselves.  On the other hand, the gardener works for lots of our neighbors, was looking for more work, and is currently undergoing treatment for a medical condition. He’s an excellent gardener. He also helped with a larger short-term project.  We’re still doing (or not doing!) the house cleaning ourselves.  T is also doing a lot of yard stuff himself, it’s just there is so much!

That is all for now.  Things are relatively good.  I’m enjoying being back at work (mostly…), but things have been pretty busy.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. March 14, 2019 6:22 am

    $600/week for a baby in northern california is cheap! That’s cheap even for around here.

    We operate entirely without a budget. I deal with finances by paying attention to the stock in checking each month. If it goes down too much (or up too much) I figure out why and what to do about it. This is possible because we have a sizable emergency fund and we generally spend enough less than we earn that we don’t have to worry about it.

    Fully support opening up a 529 for family to donate to! I wish DH’s in-laws would do that! (So far his sister has opened one for her older son, but not her younger daughter, and has said she won’t be opening one for her daughter because her scammy retirement fund advisor said having two 529s didn’t make sense, so we’ve stopped giving to the son because it doesn’t seem fair.)

    Our lawn care (which is not in northern California) costs $50/week in the summer, just for mowing! We’re paying another $250 for mulching flower beds and trees this week.

    • March 14, 2019 1:46 pm

      Seriously?!? Annualized, it is $2600/mo for 40 hrs/week (plus we give paid vacation and holidays and sick time). I can’t find a daycare that expensive in town, – not that we were offered a spot at any of the daycares anyway!

      (As an aside, the cost also makes me less worried about saving a ton for college. If we can cash flow daycare, we can cash flow a certain amount of college, assuming we are still both working.)

      Yes, the gardener/landscaper is a great deal and hard worker. We (mostly my husband) still do most of it, so this is just to help us out and also get advice on what we need to be doing.

      • March 14, 2019 1:48 pm

        Whoops, my brain wasn’t working this morning when I read/typed that. I was getting weeks and months mixed up. I shouldn’t be allowed near a computer until 10:30 am at the earliest. It’s about normal for an infant. Sorry! (They get less expensive when they hit potty trained ages. But it’s still expensive!)

        • March 14, 2019 1:51 pm

          Ok, good! In my specific town, it’s on the higher side for the nanny shares and a bit more than daycare centers or in-home daycares. But I’m happy with the value overall. I’m sure she’d be fine in a center, but I’m thrilled she’s getting so much attention instead.

  2. March 14, 2019 3:11 pm

    We opened the 529 for that same reason – all gifts went in there whether directly or from cash/check gifts.

    We stopped using a specific budget and work on ratios. We max out our investments first, save 25% cash, we spend what’s left.

    We had to pay gardeners twice to remove tons of brush and a tree and it cost us several hundred dollars. I’ve shied away since from hiring out any additional work but mostly because I want to wait until we have a solid plan and have money set aside for it.

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