Proud To Say I Insipried Somebody To Be Frugal

I was walking down the hall with a co-worker today, and he made a comment that floored me. It was simple. He said, “You inspired me to start bringing my lunch in everyday.”
I had no idea that I was able to inspire someone in that regard. I do bring my lunch everyday, but I don’t make a big deal about it. I simply bring my lunch bag every day and our re-usable container, and that’s that. Most of the time I bring sandwiches, but for variety, I’ll sometimes have leftovers or a pre-packaged meal.
Still, I had no idea that people were noticing.
I asked him about it and he said that it was more convenient to eat in the building versus going out or waiting in line at the cafeteria, and of course it was a big money saver. Only after he stopped spending the money on going out every day did he realize how much it was costing him.
I wonder how many expenses all of us have that we don’t even think about. For my co-worker it was lunch. For others, maybe it’s a daily coffee or a weekly trip to the mall.
We get so used to stuff that we don’t even think about another way.
I’m glad I insipired someone to see another way, and one that’s saving him money.
Now I can only wonder….
What else are people watching me do that I’m not aware of? :)

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Answering A Reader: Our Own Child Care

In a comment to my last post, reader Dog Ate My Finances (love the name, by the way), asked why my wife doesn’t start her own child care to make up for the difference in pay that we’ll be taking once she leaves her job to have our baby.
There are some financial reasons and some non-financial reasons for not doing so. I’ll start with the financial reasons:

  • The local economy in Michigan is not that good. Many parents are pulling their kids out of day care as they are losing their jobs, so the market is very tight. As such, there would be no guarantee that it would even take off.
  • The costs involved are not something we’re interested in. To open a home day care would require significant costs for certification, licensing, as well as changes I’m sure that we’d have to make around the house. Not to mention insurance that would have to be taken out. While I wouldn’t mind someday taking the venture into a start-up, this isn’t a risk that we really want to take.

This leads me to the non-financial reasons of why this idea wouldn’t fly around here. The biggest is that my wife simply has no desire to continue in that role in a long term fashion. Right now, her and I are both excited for her to have the opportunity to focus on our baby.
Her background in college was in Child Development. She had hoped to do something to the level where she could work within a health system or some other parallel position, and work with children who needed special assistance or had developmental needs. She didn’t have her teaching certificate, although this is something that she briefly considered, so classroom instruction was out of the question.
But to get the type of jobs that I described, at least here in Michigan, she would have needed a Masters Degree. She didn’t want to simply accumulate loans, so before she made that jump, she wanted to work for awhile, and see if she even was interested in pursuing that. Which would give her time to pay down some of the student loan debt she accumulated in her undergraduate studies. The job that was most available was working in child care facilities. These decisions were made solely by her as her and i were just dating at the time.
While she enjoys the interactions with children and is great at what she does, the bottom line is that she doesn’t have the passion to commit to it for a career. Now, before anybody says that taking care of our children is parallel, let me just say that there’s a huge difference in taking care of our children versus taking care of somebody else’s. She has a passion and a fire for one and not the other. I’ll let you guess which one!
And, honestly, once we started talking about when we wanted to start our family, we came to the conclusion that the timing wouldn’t make it so that going back for her Master’s was a good idea, at least not yet. Why? Because either way, we wanted my wife to take some time to focus on our family. This was something we discussed before we were even engaged, so we’ve been on the same page with this for a long time. Going back to school now would simply have added debt that we knew we wouldn’t have time to pay off before we started our family.
So, while there are financial reasons involved, the non-financial aspects hopefully fill in the rest of the picture.

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Cutting A Paycheck In Half

In advance of my wife having our baby in May, we are starting to prepare financially for the new baby.
One of the things we are preparing for is for my wife leaving the workforce. She is going to be a stay-at-home mom. We had always agreed that when we started our family, that this would be the way. The main reason from a financial perspective is that she doesn’t make a lot in her field. She works in child care, and that isn’t a high paying profession. We did the math, and for her to work, and us send our child to day care, the net income would be less than $7,000 per year. We decided that wouldn’t be worth it.
Plus, since she’s already in child care, I have full confidence that at least one of us will know what we’re doing once the baby comes home. It still blows my mind that they’ll just let us take him/her with us afterwards!
Anyways, since we’re about two months out from when we expect her to stop working, we are phasing out her income. No, we’re not giving it back to the company, but we’re applying it right to savings rather than even let it hit our checking account. By the time that the last few checks come through, hopefully we’ll have ‘weaned ‘ ourselves of her paycheck, and the transition to a one-income family will be relatively seamless.
Wish us luck!

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Avoiding The Mess Left By The Snow Plow

It’s been a very snowy season here in Michigan. I think I saw a statistic on the news the other morning that we’ve already exceeded our average snowfall for the season, and we still have a couple of months to go!
Although I have a snow blower (compliments of my dad), the hardest part of our driveway is the mess left at the end after the snow plower goes through. Nothing drives me more crazy than cleaning off the entire driveway, only to have the plow come through and leave a huge pile of snow at the end of the driveway.
I decided to look and see if anything can be done, and it turns out that there IS a way to reduce the amount of snow left by the plow.
Most people clear off the area in front of their driveway. To ‘avoid the plow’, you need to take it one step further. Clear off the street on either side of the driveway. The reasoning behind this is that you will then create a ‘drop off’ area for the plow to drop off what has been collected so far. According to some of the reading I did, you should still get some snow left in front of the driveway, but at a greatly reduced level.
I decided to try that this year when possible, and it does work! My wife even commented last week after one of our many snowfalls that we had less snow in front of our driveway than other neighbors, even though the plow had come during the day while we were both at work. I proudly told her that because of the little bit of extra work I did the evening before, it was indeed a lot less of a mess. Going out and cleaning up the little bit that was there was a breeze, compared to what it would have been had I not.
So, for those who have to shovel snow, my suggestion is to make an investment in your time in order to save some time later.

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