$ 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?