Our Water Bill Is Going Up Less Than I Thought

I was excited to see that our water bill will only be going up about 5% total for the next twelve months. We have been hit with 10-15% increases for the past couple of years, and I had been expecting a similar increase this year, but the increase was less than I had anticipated
One of the things that our city did is fix a problem that I complained about as soon as I moved into the city. Not that I had anything to do with changing it, but it was still nice to see. The problem: They went from collecting water bills four times a year to collecting them six times a year. But in doing so, they kept the ‘base fee’, which is a fee you pay just for having service, the same. This resulted in a 50% increase in revenue in the base fee structure. I didn’t think that was very fair, and was happy to see that they actually lowered the base fees by about 30% this year. Though that only represents a small portion of our total bill, it’s still nice to have even a little bit of savings!

Expenses For Maternity Clothes Haven’t Been Too Bad

Danielle asked how we’ve managed with the cost of maternity clothes for my wife during her pregnancy.

The answer: Not too bad.

Quite honestly, my wife didn’t start showing until about the fifth month, and only just recently has been to the point where her regular shirts don’t fit her anymore. She’s just now entering month eight.

She is taller, so the way the midwife explained is that the baby has more room to grow ‘up and down’ where with shorter women, they have no choice but to push the belly out.

What’s been lucky for us on top of that is that my wife has a smaller waist, and she hasn’t put on a lot of weight on her hips or butt, so she was able to wear a lot of the pants. She has bought a pair of maternity jeans, and was also wearing stretchy pants, but outside of that, we have been pretty lucky. She did use the ‘Belly Band’, available at maternity stores, which basically is a piece of spandex that grips the pants and belly and holds everything in place, allowing you to leave jeans or pants unbuttoned. It’s totally not obvious, and by the design, it just looks like a t-shirt hanging down.

When we did buy clothes, my wife has been fantastic about hunting down sales. We shopped a lot at Kohl’s, and a few other stores, and rarely bought anything that wasn’t on sale or that we didn’t have a coupon for.

I don’t have an exact dollar amount on maternity clothes spent so far, but I know I had thought it would be around $500, and it has been nowhere near that, so all in all, we’ve been pleasantly surprised!

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!

When Is A Kid’s Birthday Party Too Much?

Yesterday, there was a birthday party for a kid who lives in the first house by the neighborhood entrance. It was impossible not to notice, and it made me wonder, when is a kid’s party too much?
I noticed a lot of unloading and setup being done on Friday, when I pulled into the neighborhood after work. The location of the house made it a lot more noticeable. The next morning, a giant tent was being erected which covered most of the driveway. I’d estimate the dimensions at 40×20. Tables were being unloaded which covered the driveway.
The next day (Sunday) was obviously party day. There were table linens going on the tables, the sort which you would normally find at a wedding. There were giant inflatable toys being set up in the backyard, the kind which kids can actually go into and jump around. There was a valet service which was preparing to park cars for guests.
Later on, the party was in full swing. I swear, we weren’t spying, it was just impossible not to pass this house when pulling in or out of the neighborhood. Cars were lined up on both sides of the street, making for a dangerous game of chicken if one car was leaving and another was entering. The guests had arrived, and the gift tables (yes, plural) had piles of gifts so high you couldn’t actually see the guests. The caterers were off to one side getting the food ready.
I’ve seen the kids in this house, and I don’t think they’re old. My wife even speculated that this could be a first birthday party. I hope that wasn’t the case. At least, if there was a party that big, I’d hope that it would be for a kid that would at least be able to remember it. Even so, I have never seen such an event for a child of ANY age.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for celebrating birthdays. I had parties at my house growing up until I was a teenager. Family and friends were invited and it was a good time. But, the tables were set up in the basement and on the backyard patio. We played on the lawn with whatever toys were brought over or found in the garage. My mom did all the cooking with the possible exception of a cake being bought from a bakery. People parked their own cars.
And the thing about it, is that I had a great time. I didn’t need any more than that. I wonder if the parents are doing it for the kid or if it’s for themselves.
I also think this could be teaching the kid some bad personal finance lessons, which could hurt later in life. For example:

  • He/she might expect such a party every year. Or better. What if the parents can’t afford it one year? What about when the kid gets too old to get two tables worth of gifts? I think this could set the stage for feelings of entitlement, which is never a good lesson to teach children.
  • He/she might learn the lesson that spending money equals happiness. The parents were trying to create a happy time, but if you have to go overboard to do so, that could become the standard. This could create that mindset, and if it’s plugged in at a young age, that could lead to trouble.
  • It can create a pattern of jealousy. Assuming that friends of the birthday celebrant were invited, there could be feelings of jealousy, and that the things that go along with that generally only get stronger as one grows up.

I’m not trying to be a party pooper. I think kids birthday parties are great, and look forward to throwing them for my kids should we be blessed to have kids in the future. I really do think, though, that there are better ways to celebrate that might not teach your kids the wrong things about celebrating at an early age:

  • Backyard or basement parties
  • Pool parties
  • Pizza parties
  • Sporting event parties

These are fun, and plus I think kids enjoy them!

So, when is a kid’s birthday party too much?