Finally, the most important update of all! Shortly after we stopped blogging in 2014, Emily and I learned that we were expecting our firstborn daughter! We had been hoping for a gift from the stork and were overjoyed by the news. We spent most of last year in anticipation of our arrival, and she came into the world on Thanksgiving Day last year with our family all around us! It was the blessing of a lifetime. She is perfectly healthy and is one of the happiest babies we’ve ever seen. She’s now 5 months old and is doing very well, above the 99th percentile in height. We are blessed beyond measure and had a fabulous holiday season. Emily has done a great job taking care of her as a stay-at-home mom.
Financially, adding to our family was not the impact I expected it to be. We are grateful for a generous insurance policy that minimized our out-of-pocket medical expenses. I didn’t track it precisely, but I think we probably paid about $1000 out of pocket for all of Emily’s prenatal care and labor and delivery costs. We are thankful to have been able to pay it in cash (although I milked the hospital’s 0% interest policy to wait until our tax return arrived to pay the final bill). Friends and family have been more than generous with supplies and clothing and gift cards! Emily did a great job of thrifting and finding a ton of the stuff we had to buy at a deep discount used. I believe our Jenny Lind crib was about $30 used in perfect condition. We painted the nursery ourselves and I made some floating shelves, and we bought some cheap Ikea curtains and a used Pottery Barn changing table/dresser for I think $60, and a used daybed for the nursery for $75.
I also noticed that although there are some extra costs associated with the baby, like diapers and clothes, I have a hunch that we actually haven’t increased our overall spending, because we don’t eat out or go out as much, and have probably been spending less on things like personal care and other things for ourselves. I’m sure child costs will go way up as she gets older, but for now it’s probably been a wash financially month to month.
In the flood of emotions that a father-to-be experiences in anticipation of his daughter, I also made a toybox out of reclaimed cedar fence pickets that turned out so well it may become an heirloom piece! That was a fun project.
Emily decided not to keep refinishing furniture during her pregnancy to make sure we didn’t take any health chances with the baby and chemicals/fumes. She picked up a couple different retail sales jobs through 2014 to help us get ready for the costs of the baby as well. Her extra income really made a huge difference in offsetting the little costs that pop up, and we also took a quick Baby-moon to Puerto Rico last fall that we absolutely loved! A babymoon vacation is a splurge to be sure, but PR has great airfare rates, and we planned our own itinerary at reasonably priced hotels and ate well at local places for a decent amount of money. And another getaway for the two of us is nowhere in sight, so I’m glad we did it.
Odds and Ends
Thanks for reading and commenting on all of our updates. As I mentioned we’ve been busy, and we’ve made great financial progress, and are almost debt-free! Here are some additional odds and ends that might tie off some threads from our previous blogs.
– Our cars now have 210,000 and 85,000 miles. The older one is going to have to be replaced soon. I had hoped to get 250,000 miles out of it, but I have my doubts, as things keep breaking. I am tempted by some of the new pickup trucks on the market, but I am committed to never paying another car payment again in my life. We’ll be saving toward a car during the next year or so as well.
– We never have done a great job of getting back onto a monthly spending plan. I did start direct depositing the money needed for monthly bills into a separate account to pay bills directly, so our checking account gets whatever is leftover and that’s all available for spending. We are managing to keep our spending under control overall just by making sure we don’t blow our checking account.
– I also took a risk and signed up for a rewards credit card last year. We had desired to do more travel to see family, and so we thought that playing the miles and points game might enable us to afford more travel. So far it’s been great, but I don’t recommend it for everyone…the temptation is always there to spend more than we can pay off every month. But we’ve been able to put some monthly bills directly on the credit card to rack up points on spending we’d do anyway. I ended up signing up for the Chase Ink card which had a 50,000 points bonus if you signed up inside the branch. It’s a business card, which they let me have because I have rental properties, and interestingly, doesn’t seem to hit my personal credit report at all.
– I have been using the website Credit Karma to monitor my credit and I really like the changes they’ve made recently. You now have access to 2 free full credit reports all the time. After some late payments on my rental property in 2010 that hit my credit score, I have finally rebuilt my scores to the 740 range. Not that I plan to use it anytime soon, unless we decide to purchase a home in California.
That’s about all I can think of to bring you up to speed on! Maybe we’ll check in again in the future as we get closer to knocking out that student loan or as we get on our feet in California. Godspeed!