Friday, May 30, 2014

My Stay-At-Home Salary

I want to thank everyone for your support with my recent job change and our drastic lifestyle change! It was so kind and encouraging to read everyone's supportive words.

Today I'm going to talk about a few of the decisions we made to accommodate my approximate $18,000 pay cut.

Yeah, I hate doing the math. Excuse me while I sob while looking at that number.

The biggest thing has been of course me not needing daycare other than my awesome neighbor who lets me drop Callie off for 10 minutes if Nate gets caught in traffic. According to google, not sending my newborn to daycare saves me on average over $11,000 a year. I'd say that's a pretty big leap towards making our ends meet.

The most trivial savings that has shown up in our day to day has been me eating at home for breakfasts and lunches. It was too easy to grab a coffee and bagel on my way to work, as well as have Jimmy Johns delivered to my desk (or when I was pregnant a hot Dub and Cookies) so the approximate savings based on my bank statements last year was well over $2100 (and honestly probably more since I'm home to make Nate a sandwich to take to lunch)

This means just between food and daycare I'm already over a $13,000 salary for myself.

Next would obviously be cloth diapering. Now, since we didn't pay for our diapers (because we used amazon gift cards from baby showers) we didn't add that to our monthly expenses. It always makes me kind of twitch when people say that cloth diapering saves so much money. Saving money to me indicates spending something and then not spending it anymore. Like, I am saving on cable by cutting my service- Boom- I just saved $50 a month. If I was doing disposables and switched to cloth I still wouldn't be saving money because I would have had to buy diapers.

I just didn't do anything. My diapering budget stayed constant- $0.

We have our utilities on a high average bill- meaning I told them to bill me slightly more than my monthly average. At the end of the year I should have a credit which should cover the increase in our water and electric usage.


But, if we are going with the "how-much-I-make-staying-home" scanario, according to the googles again (I figured I'd keep my sources to the happy box that comes up when you ask google a direct question- I'm fully aware these numbers may not be accurate for my area, but I'm rounding) if we had gone the disposable route, I would spend about $2,577.35 over the course of Callie's diapering existence. 

I also breastfeed. Though while I do use my AMAZING Kiinde system (which I will promote until the cows come home) and that costs me money for my breastfeeding pouches, I am saving money on not having to use formula as well as the health benefits that the breastmilk provides. I am not going to put a monetary amount on this because it is just an impossible situation to tell.

Also, can you put a monetary amount on the cuteness of a daddy feeding his baby (and giving you a break in the process?)

We have had other simple "savings" as well. This includes things as simple as I'm happy to be home 98% of the time with my baby. I'm happy to be singing show tunes to my nursing baby, doing laundry and texting my mommy friends all day. And emotional happiness is saving us a lot of money. Even though it's honestly the hardest work I've ever done, I don't feel the need to go drop $300 on bullshit because I had a hard day at work, or my boss made me angry, or I just needed to be out somewhere. And, when the time comes for me to run over to the studio for a few hours I'm happy for the break! It uses a different part of my brain and allows me to not get vomited on for 3 hours (always a perk).

Another thing that has come from this is MOMMY FRIENDS. I have lived in this area for 5 years and never really clicked with anyone. I was too young to hang out with the older married couples but too...married to hang out with the younger couples. Kids are the world's greatest age equalizer. Hey, you have a kid? ME TOO! Hey, you nurse? ME TOO! You cloth diaper? OMG NO WAY.

This alone is worth the paycut to me.

Though at the end of the day, if you add the basics up, and put in my little salary from the art studio, we are just over breaking even to my full time job with the expenses of having a newborn.

So yes, I still took a paycut, but I'm happier, healthier, and I get to watch my child grow up. Which is worth a billion dollars to me.

What changes did you make when you had your children? What are some of your biggest successes and failures while adapting to a budget change?

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Day I Realized I was Done.

Last week, something happened to me and I realized, I'm done.

That's right, I am so, so, so done with my money not belonging to me.

Nate and I spent pretty much my entire maternity leave trying to figure out a way for me not to have to work 30+ hours a week to make our budget work, and honestly, had we not been frivolous and spent hundreds of dollars on take out over the last 3 years, I could be a stay at home mom.

Some how we didn't make that connection when we'd cruise through the drive-through on our way home from work.

It has always been our dream to have me stay home with our kids (and our goal is to have many of them, PCOS permitting) and have Nate bring the bacon- so why in our time of infertility treatments and our several years of marriage leading up to the birth of Calliope were we not living like that was the goal?

How do you justify making over 50k a year and have ZERO savings to show for it?


Granted, we do not have any "consumer" debt, and for that we are really lucky. But here we are, staring down the face of a dryer that does not dry, a 17 year old car that is going to explode any time now and, oh yeah, I had a baby in February so we have medical bills falling out of our ass.

So how have I been coping? Panic, mostly. And not understanding what we did so wrong.

And then, the weirdest thing happened.

Nate bought me a bedroom set.

He bought me the most beautiful new quilt, rug, and curtains for our master bedroom. He said things like, "it's for your birthday", "it'll get you back in the swing of blogging" and "we need a nice calming retreat at the end of the day with all the new stress" and even the logical "summer is coming and Seamus ate a hole in our summer quilt"

It was so sweet of him. And it only cost $173.27 according to the receipt.

Guys, real life, I could have crapped $173.27 several months ago- it wouldn't have phased me AT ALL to buy that much stuff.

But, as it sat in the bags in our bedroom for three weeks with me staring at it all I could think of were the bills I could pay with $173.27

So, I don't have a beautiful new bedroom set to show you today, I have an admission of hitting bottom.

I'm officially off the blogging bandwagon where I keep buying things to have new things to show. I'm OFF it. I still have things to say and it will take me awhile to get in the groove of things but it is different now. And, it's mostly money driven.

Somehow, we were able to make our tax return kush my entire maternity leave. And then the time came barreling towards me where it was time for me to go back to work. And I won't go into all the details, but I didn't go back to my office job.

And I'm terrified because of it.

That's right, somehow a bedroom set made me realize that I want my money to be mine, but that I needed to take a step back at the same time. When we looked at the numbers, the simplest reason I left my job was that it was not cost effective for me to be at work with Calliope in daycare. After daycare I was essentially going to be bringing home about $2 an hour. Add in the weight problems she's been having (which I think are mostly under control now, thank god- finally was able to put the NB sizes away!...well most of them) and it just seemed stupid for the food source to be away from the baby.

So I took a leap of faith and so far we haven't fallen on our faces. So far.

I went back to my roots. I recently moved into a very part time job at a local non-profit art studio in Lansing. I'm loving seeing my work every day. Every day a toddler comes to their first art class, or a teen comes in for a free after school class, I feel like I'm making a difference.

It also helps that with my new job, the baby is never without a parent. That's right. I work when Nate doesn't. And so far it's working great for us. I'm in a much better mood after not being in a stuffy IT job (which, don't get me wrong I was VERY thankful for) by being back in my non-profit bubble, and Callie is happy because she is always with her people.

I'm thankful for a husband that went out and got a second job so I could be home. I am also thankful for a world where we have the ability to make these hard choices to do what is best with our family.

I am also not a stepford blog-mom. At least not yet. Today I got excited because the baby fell asleep on Nate and I was able to scrub the toilet. I'm lucky if my kitchen is clean 3 nights a week. I'm REALLY lucky if the laundry is folded, or even better put away! (Although somehow the diapers always get washed, stuffed and put away- priorities?) And I'm pretty sure there's enough dog hair in my garbage can at the end of each week that I could make a new pet.

I've done a decent job of keeping up everything my mom did for us, but it for sure looks like a newborn who likes to be with her parents lives here. By the way, baby wrapping? Amazeballs. I just wish I could bend over with her on!

I guess long story short, I put everything down on paper and prioritized. And a certain squeaking baby and her bald daddy came out above Wendy's, a big bank account, and a full time job.

I just hope we can stay afloat long enough for Nate to graduate from school and for him to get a "real job".

Though, this doesn't mean I'm not still dreaming about the bedroom set.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Scales of Springs

I have been known to slap stuff up on the wall whether or not it is perfect (if I DIY it) just because I hate empty spaces on the wall where something obviously should be. An example of this is next to the hutch in the dining room.

The scale of the little fabric covered canvas has always bothered me, but not as much as the empty space would have. Back when I quit on our vintage crib (that I never used, coughcough) I put all the pieces out on the curb except for the springs. I've always wanted a vintage crib spring memo board. I love how people pin things to them and they look both industrial and artistic. So I slapped her up there and suddenly the dining room was a million times taller. The scale was way better...

I can't wait to get some pictures printed and hung up! Although, the weirdo in me kind of likes it empty... what do you think?