January 31, 2008

Lack of Productivity

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:16 pm by bitsypieces

Ever since that Big Fat Positive on my home pregnancy test, my mind has been preoccupied with thoughts of Baby. Although I occasionally manage to concentrate on something else–house, work, family–I find that Baby thoughts are almost always at the foremost of my mind.

The result? My work productivity has decreased dramatically. Because I know that my concentration has been affected, I am accepting fewer freelance projects. I only accept the ones that I know I can give 110% effort.

Although this means that I’m at least still doing my best on the job, my total number of gigs has decreased. And so has my total number of paychecks.

I’ve got to find a way to regain my focus. With Baby on the way, Hubby and I can use all the paychecks we can get.

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January 30, 2008

Smart or Spendthrift?

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:38 pm by bitsypieces

Sometimes we should spend money, and sometimes we shouldn’t. I always have a problem differentiating between the two scenarios. Take the following recent event:

Background: The room in our house that will become the nursery is currently Hubby’s “catchall” room. So, as we prep the nursery, we need to find space for Hubby’s stuff–an armoire, Hubby’s clothes, bookcases, etc. We’re going to move it into the office, which is already super-cramped with two desks (mine and Hubby’s), office equipment/supplies, and numerous bookshelves.

I had three options:

  • Cheapest: Cram everything in the office as best as I could, and pray the clutter didn’t drive me mad.
  • Moderate Cost: Purchase two new, smaller desks for me and Hubby. This would free up some space and give us a little more room.
  • Expensive Cost: Purchase a new laptop computer for me, allowing me to do more work in other rooms of the house.

After much debate and discussion, I opted to buy two new desks. They were on sale for $50 each at Office Depot. I found a $20 off $100 from Wow-Coupons.com. Next-day shipping was free, so I got two new computer desks for a total of $80. It’s hard to find inexpensive used computer desks in good shape (the nice, old wood ones are generally too big for my needs), so I think I got a good buy.

But was it a smart buy?

January 28, 2008

Balancing Frugality With “Baby Excitement”

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:57 pm by bitsypieces

So I spent a few hours surfing the Internet for nursery accessories and baby gear. There are just soooooo many cute things out there. And the cost can add up to thousands!

I’d love to decorate Baby’s room in lots of matching items and have all the latest high-tech gear. But it just doesn’t fit into our financial philosophy (or our budget!). So I keep trying to remind myself:

  • Baby cares most about love and security, not matching curtains and quilts.
  • Used items do not require additional resources from the earth, making them eco-friendly.
  • Baby will outgrow all the decorations and gear in just a short period of time.
  • Saving money for Baby’s future is much more important than buying gadgets like wipe warmers.

I’ve come to realize that many things–like an elaborate, expensive nursery theme–is actually for the parents and guests instead of Baby. And isn’t that just another way of “keeping up with the Joneses”?

I’m going to do my best to outfit Baby and nursery with gifts and secondhand items. Sure… maybe we’ll paint Baby’s dresser so all the colors match. But I’m not going to fret if the quilt set is Noah’s Ark and the curtains are Winnie the Pooh.

January 26, 2008

It’s a GIRL!

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:42 pm by bitsypieces

My docs are the best!  One of them happens to go to church with my mom.  Knowing that she’s very sick, they offered to do a free (early) elective ultrasound to find out the sex of the baby for my mom… including a DVD of the event!

So we got to find out that our new baby is a GIRL!

And Mom got to watch the ultrasound on DVD.  It was great!   (Even better, my docs have the 4-D version.  Too cool!)

January 24, 2008

Turning Off The TV

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:34 pm by bitsypieces

Think Simple Now recently wrote a post titled The 9 Step Television Diet. Her post detailed some of the reasons we get “sucked” into watching TV, its negative effects on our health and minds, and some ways to cut back on our TV time.

I never used to watch a lot of TV. When I got my first job out of grad school, I lived alone in an apartment. Although I had a TV (and cable), I never turned it on. Instead, when I came home from work, I cracked open a book and read until bedtime. That was my Mon-Fri routine, and I loved it.

Fast forward 3 years, when I married a TV-addict. Hubby turns on the TV most evenings around 6PM, and it stays on until bedtime (often 3-4 AM). That’s a lot of TV!

I’ve already made it clear that I do not want the TV constantly on once Baby is born. I have every intention of teaching our child that there is activity outside of TV. Television shows will be occasional treats rather than the everyday norm. And I’ve forewarned Hubby that he better start finding other activities for his time.

But as of yet… no dice. He still watches tons of TV. And I’ve found myself spending hours–and hours and hours–in front of the Idiot Box, too. Hubby’s TV addiction has rubbed off on me, and it’s making me depressed.

So, inspired by Think Simple Now‘s post, I’m going to put myself on a TV diet. Here’s my plan:

Current TV Consumption: If I’m to be totally and absolutely honest, I probably watch an average of 6 hours of TV per day. That totals 42 hours a week!

TV Consumption Goal: I’d like to cut back to a total of 14 hours per week. (I’d like to cut out more than that, but that’s my first goal.)

ACTION STEPS

  • Choose specific (favorite) programs I want to watch. Shun all others.
  • Keep other activities–books, knitting, etc.–readily available.
  • Engage Hubby in other activities, such as board games or card games, to elicit his support.

I hope this works! I’ll keep you posted about my progress.

January 23, 2008

A big budget change

Posted in Uncategorized at 1:49 am by bitsypieces

Since I started tracking our monthly spending in June ’07, we typically averaged $150 a month on liquor store purchases. This was mostly wine… although some beer and hard liquor (mostly for entertaining).

Of course, I quit drinking once I got pregnant in October.

Our November liquor expenditures totaled $29, mostly because of a small party we hosted.

Our December liquor costs totaled exactly $0.

Our total alcohol savings–not including the cash we save by not drinking when we go out to restaurants–during my 9-month pregnancy will be about $1,350. (That’s a nice chunk of change to buy supplies for Baby!) Wow! It’s hard to believe I spent that much on my evening glass(es) of Merlot.

And since we’ll be drinking less–and hosting fewer parties–after Baby arrives, I suspect we’ll be able to keep our alcohol costs low for quite a while.

January 21, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:53 pm by bitsypieces

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In an effort to save more money–and get organized before Baby arrives–I am participating in something new. Organizing Junkie hosts Menu Plan Monday every week, and I’ve decided to join in.

Personally, I think menu planning is a smart idea. Here’s why:

  • Once a week I can look through my pantry/fridge/freezer and determine which foods need to be eaten before they reach the “too old” stage.
  • By planning my meals, I’ll be less likely to rely on the take-out and restaurant dinners that have become staples in our lives.
  • By forcing myself to cook, I can also force Hubby to eat certain meals. (I’ve tried to explain to my picky-eater husband that he better learn to like veggies before Baby comes, since I plan on serving them regularly.)

So here’s my first Menu Plan Monday post:

Monday (Hubby working, so not home for dinner): Amy’s frozen organic dinner (vegetarian Salisbury steak)

Tuesday: Stir-fry shrimp and veggies served over brown rice

Wednesday: Dining out with friends

Thursday: Stuffed baked potatoes with broccoli and cheese

Friday: Boboli-type homemade pizzas

My Shower

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:06 pm by bitsypieces

Had my “early” baby shower yesterday… which was held this early because Mom has cancer and her friends wanted to make sure she had a chance to enjoy a baby celebration.  It was mostly Mom’s friends, with only one person my age.  It was incredibly lovely.   The ladies who put it together (in less than 2 weeks time!) thought of everything!

We didn’t do any games or activities, mostly because it needed to be kept super-short (Mom just doesn’t have the energy for a lot of activity).  The food was a lovely mix of finger-type foods, including fruit trays, cheese and crackers, veggies and dip, brownies, meatballs and crab dips.  A beautiful white cake read “Congratulations!”

The baby received many wonderful gifts… lovely items, both useful and sentimental.

Best of all, Mom was having a “good” day.  She was able to participate during the entire shower, she seemed in good spirits, and she didn’t feel too sick or too tired.  (Although she did collapse when all the guests left.)  I was so happy that she was able to enjoy it all… it was really the best part of the day.

January 17, 2008

Shopping for maternity clothes

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:11 pm by bitsypieces

My mom likes me to look “nice.” And since this upcoming baby shower is mostly for her, I thought I should dress in something better than sweatpants (which have pretty much been my garment of choice lately). Unfortunately, I can’t fit into any of my “nice” clothing anymore.

So I ventured out to buy maternity clothing.

I initially tried used resources, like thrift stores and consignment shops. However, it quickly became apparent that the used maternity clothing market does not have a lot for someone my size.

So next I tried a Motherhood Maternity Outlet. I skipped the regular and “sale” racks, and went straight to the back “clearance” racks. I did find a few pieces, but even on clearance they were more than expected… about $15-$20 per item.

When I got home, I checked eBay. Although I didn’t hit the jackpot–Apparently, even the used maternity market on eBay has few items in my size–I did find one or two pieces for less than $10 each (including shipping). Not a super-duper bargain, but probably as good as can be expected given the small selection. And since I had tried on some items at Motherhood Maternity, I already knew my size.

I am hoping to buy just a few maternity basics–jeans, black pants, khaki pants, 2 shirts–and fill in the rest with Hubby’s shirts and some of my looser-fitting clothes. Since I work in my home, I don’t need to dress for the job. I’d really love to get through this pregnancy with a very small investment in maternity clothes.

January 16, 2008

Early shower

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:11 am by bitsypieces

Although I am just hitting the 15-week mark, I am having a small, early baby shower.

My mom is very sick. She has cancer, and it’s possible she won’t be around when the baby is born. This would be her first grandchild… a grandchild she’s been desperately praying for ever since I got married 6 years ago.

Two of her friends have decided to throw me an early baby shower–just something small and simple–so that my mother has a chance to share in the experience of this baby while she’s still able. It’s heart-wrenching and heart-warming at the same time.

Someone emailed me today and asked what type of things I already had for the baby. My honest response: We don’t have a thing yet.

I am a minimalist by nature, and am hoping to bring in this baby under budget!  So I’ve been reluctant to purchase anything until I find out what are the necessities and what are the luxuries (that I can do without).  Our credit card debt is zero, and I plan to keep it that way.

In the meantime… I have more important things to worry about than baby supplies.

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