General Baby Thoughts
Can it really be called a baby update when I’m referring to a 20-month-old? She’s still under two, so I vote yes. My, how the time flies. This is an interesting age. Sally is both super fun and super difficult right now. Let’s talk about today, for instance. She put part of a plastic wrapper in her mouth, and when I tried to fish it out, she bit my finger as hard as she could. And laughed at my angry reaction. She threw her dinner all over the floor while Johnny and I were both shouting, “No, Sally!” And she fished a Diet Coke can out of the trash can and poured the last few drops on a pillow in the living room, also while I was saying, “No! Don’t do that!” On the flip side, she played at the splash pad for over an hour, giggling and running from it to Johnny and me. She cuddled with me on the couch several times today and gave both Johnny and me several spontaneous hugs and even tried to give the kitty a hug. And after throwing her dinner on the floor, she picked up every single piece by hand without complaint, per our orders. Finally, when she fell fast asleep tonight, she was cradling an open book on her chest. We love our girl more every single day.
So, yes, that’s the only way I know to explain this age. We have some of the sweetest, most blissful moments one second, followed by pure craziness and defiance the next second. Sally is talking so much these days, trying to repeat almost every word that comes out of our mouths. It’s so fun to see her learning so quickly. And it’s equally frustrating knowing that she understands exactly what we’re saying, but she chooses to do the exact opposite. In short, there’s never a dull moment in this household right now.
Financial Baby Thoughts
As far as baby finances go, we’ve been doing really well. Diapers and wipes are a constant cost, at about $50 per month. And while I do buy some separate snacks for Sally, they just go into our grocery budget. As far as clothing goes, Sally’s been growing at a much slower rate this year, which has been nice. We got her a few shirts a couple of weeks ago, which cost about $15 total. And I ordered her two puzzles from Amazon, which were worth every penny, and spent $20 total. Other than that, I’ve spent $5 on stickers. Each time she’s happy at the grocery store, she gets a $1 sticker pack. And that’s it for our baby spending for the month, a grand total of $90. I will say that she could use a few more shirts and dresses, but I’m kind of hoping I can hold out until Santa visits in December. I will say that I’m very excited about spending a little money on a Halloween outfit in the next month, though!
And now, some pictures of our girl:
after stuffing her mouth with raspberries
For the been-there-done-that crowd, does this sound pretty typical? How do we relate and differ? How can so much personality be bottled into such tiny little people?
Everyone’s definition of a budget seems to be different. And the way Johnny and I budget isn’t necessarily exactly how someone else should budget. A lot of it depends on the health of your finances. For instance, when Johnny and I first graduated from college, we had a $1,000 emergency fund, a couple thousand in savings, and $20,000 in school loans. And then we moved to one of the most expensive cities in the world — NYC. In order to put ourselves in a position to aggressively pay down our loans, save money each month, and contribute to our 401ks, our budget was very uncomfortable in the Big Apple.
So what’s the definition of an uncomfortable budget? During the two years of paying off our student loans, we rarely had more than a few bucks left in most of our budget categories. It was only through careful daily planning that our spending stayed within the boundaries of the budget we’d set. That’s not to say we were living off rice and beans (more like halal rice and lamb) and not showering regularly, but we were being extra frugal.
Now that we’re out of debt, our budget is less uncomfortable, meaning more comfortable. That said, we’re still trying to save a good percentage of our income each month to put toward an eventual down payment and second car, maxing out our Roth IRAs each year, learning to live on one income instead of two, spending money on Sally, and paying for things like car insurance, life insurance, and 529s, which we didn’t have to think of before.
That’s a lot of stuff. And if we weren’t saving for all that stuff, our budget could probably be a heckuva lot more lax. But those are our priorities, and so we keep our budget more comfortable than before, but way less comfortable than it could be.
Now, you. Is your budget as uncomfortable as it needs to be? In order to answer this, first I’ll ask a series of questions that Johnny and I have asked ourselves. Answer “yes” or “no” to each of these questions. For the questions in which you answered “no,” ask yourself if you’d like to be working toward that thing. If the answer is “yes,” then it’s time to see if you can make your budget more uncomfortable. Writing this paragraph gave me flashbacks of taking the SAT… sorry.
- Are you out of debt (other than a mortgage)?
- Do you have a 3- to 6-month emergency fund?
- Are you saving for retirement?
- Are you on track to have enough retirement savings by the time you’re retirement age?
- Are you saving for your children’s education?
Two disclaimers: One, you may already have your budget as uncomfortable as you can have it, while still wishing you could save more. That’s okay. Keep on keepin’ on and stay focused on one goal at a time. Two, as uncomfortable as a budget should be, make sure to give yourself some “fun” money each month to spend on something, anything, even if it’s just $10 or $20.
Is your budget too comfortable? Any other questions you’d add to that list?
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