$ as in Vega$

We are nearing the end of life as we know it.  I think we’re more than ready to give up alllll of those over-abundant dinner dates with friends and nights out at the bars dancing and drinking until the wee hours.  Oh wait.  Sorry – I must have been channeling someone else’s life.  My bad.  The truth is, we get up, we go to work, we come home, we make dinner, we go to bed – even on Fridays, and Saturdays, annnnd Sundays.  The good part about having a baby in a town you practically just moved to is that there is no social life to sacrifice.  In fact, I think having a baby might actually increase our social life.  Sorry, Vegas, but you’re our current ticket to more friends.

Our financial life, however, is currently being renegotiated in order to make way for those pesky things we’ll need to raise a kid – you know, like pants and baby leashes.  Eventually, daycare will be the biggest monthly money-sucker at the tune of $200 per week.  Since we’re not out hemorrhaging 800 bucks a month on fancy dinners, a drug habit, or something easily removable from the budget, this is where we’re being forced to really analyze what we’re spending where.  We have an Excel spreadsheet.  No, I’m not kidding.

This morning, I spent 20 minutes (total) at the DMV getting the title to my car (the one that’s paid off) so that I can sell it to Carmax for five dollars and take myself out to lunch.  (Seriously, 20 minutes.  Ask me how much I like living in a smaller town?)  OK, maybe they’ll give me 10 dollars and I’ll invite my wife to come with me.  It’s a 1999 sedan with 132k miles and a variety of very exciting cosmetic issues, including a creeping and deformed dashboard that’s currently being forced into submission by two vice clamps so that the defrost will work.  Ten years and 100,000 miles ago, it was a shining beacon of independence – a gift from my family for my college graduation (that also came with monthly payments of $300/month).  Now, it sits on the street in front of my house, playing third fiddle to my SUV and my wife’s hatchback.  It originally was going to be passed down to “the family,” more specifically my 18 year old niece when she turned 16.  However, when 16 and 17 passed, and she still had no inclination of getting her driver’s license anytime soon, my motivation to be oh-so-generous quickly dissolved, and we embraced being a three-car household.

When I was driving millions of miles a day, the SUV that I bought (complete with leather seats and a sunroof) in preparation for giving the sedan away, sat in the parking lot Monday through Friday so that I could take full advantage of the sedan’s gas mileage.  Hell, 100,000 miles had to get there somehow.  But now, in our one-horse town, it’s become the big white burden in the front yard.  I should have sold it years (and many miles ago), when my father-in-law asked me if I had taken “that thing” out back and shot it yet.  No, selling it isn’t going to net me $200/week, but it will bring down the costs of getting it inspected and registered every year, plus the car insurance on it as well.  Every little bit helps.

In another car-related money-saving effort, I’m refinancing my SUV, which will alarmingly bring my car payments down by about $100/month.  That’s more than a little bit, and it sure as hell will help.

Aside from that, this is the time where we’re downsizing our cable/phone plan, renegotiating our cell phone plans, and racking our brains for any additional ways to make our new budget work.  We clip coupons, we shop at the grocery store that gives us 5% off our bill for working where we work, we grow our own herbs, and I’m slowly giving up my Whole Foods habit.  We have one emergency credit card, and use our paychecks to buy everything.  Five weeks from now, we’ll be slapped with a whole new reality, and eventually, we’ll forget there was ever a time when we could afford to buy a free-range, organic, massaged turkey for Thanksgiving.

Anything you all in internet-land did (or stopped doing, or are planning to do) that made (or will make) all the difference in financing a new (very expensive) member of your household?

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Posted on May 20, 2010, in everyday. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I wish I knew. We’re currently debating getting rid of cable (will only save us ~$40/month, IF that). Aside from that… I don’t know.

  2. hmmm. we got rid of cable also, and have down graded our netflix to two movies at a time, from four, because lets, face it, we barely have time to watch those two movies.

    i thought about getting meals from ezmeals.com but we don’t live close to any of the grocery stores they have.

    moving to nyc, we have one car. the wife is trying to get a job in the city so that we can get rid of the other car perhaps…making baby food and cloth diapering/cloth wiping saves us a ton of money on new expenses with baby. also breastfeeding did too for the time it lasted.

    we don’t have a home phone because we have cell phones. we eat in as much as possible. we haven’t given up everything though. about once a month we go out to the tune of $100 or so. it keeps us sane – besides, therapy would be more expensive anyway.

  3. We are still trying to find ways to cut our expenses down. Most of them invole getting rid of frivolous things – riding the bus instead of driving (saves $15 a day for parking), bringing lunches instead of purchasing them and drinking coffee at home instead of buying a $3.50 mocha. I will also be giving up my membership to a designer handbag club. I am guessing you probably don’t have one of those to cut 😉 We have changed our grocery habits quite a bit as well and that has made a BIG difference. We look for deals instead of buying what we want and we bought a freezer on craigslist so that we can buy and cook in bulk. We also buy everything we can for the kids second hand.

    For sure breastfeeding and cloth diapers will be a big help.

  4. Oh and a big one here – Cat quite smoking and that added $200 a month to the budget. I’m very proud of her.

  5. The way we afforded sperm and now childcare is by not owning a car (However, we live in a neighborhood where the norm is 1 car per family, not 2, because transit is quite good here). Cutting from 3 to 2 will likely save you more than you think.

    In some ways we’re lucky, we had our first when my wife was barely out of grad school and I was still in, so we were used to not having a lot of money. Daycare is really the biggie. Next year we’ll be paying for 3 days of care for two kids and it will erase one of our salaries for one year until our older one starts school.

    We also do well using a “two-week-meal-plan” for groceries. We eat more or less the same rotation of easy-to-cook-but-cheap foods every two weeks, so our grocery bill stays very constant and we waste very little. It sounds boring, but it works quite well and we sometimes cook something exciting on the weekends. We find this works better for us (in terms of both time and money) than stalking the sale flyers or buying tons in bulk, which for us seems to generate waste.

  6. Funny, it just seems to work itself out. Where was all that money going before? And now, with another on the way, we’re going to effectively double our budget-busting daycare, but it all seems to work out OK. We aren’t stressing this time.

    Our lives changed so much when we had our son – we too did not have any expensive habits – but for some reason, so many things changed that our budget just worked itself out.

    I realize it isn’t any helpful tip, or probably even particularly helpful today, but just know, from the other side of the cliff from which you’re about to jump, that everything is OK over here.

  7. Thanks, folks, for all of the input, advice, and tips. 🙂

  8. I’m just into your blog, so I don’t know your spending habits, but the Goodwill is a great place to buy clothes. Seriously. Especially for children, because kids outgrow their clothes before they wear them out. But I have found nice stuff for myself as well.

    We canceled our cable completely. We got tired of spending money not to watch TV. We get movies from the library. I do not buy books. Too expensive. Again, the library.

    It sounds like you already cook (you mention the grocery store). One friend made her own baby food – just threw the veg into the blender and voila.

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