When You Don’t Get The Answer You Were Looking For

My wife asked me a question the other day that I really didn’t even have to think about before answering.  She asked if I’ve noticed a measurable decrease in our spending each month as a result of our daughter no longer being on baby formula.

Our daughter is eighteen months old, so she’s been off of formula for quite a while.  She now eats ‘people food’ and drinks milk.  She was on a more expensive formula than the standard formula, though not the ultra-expensive stuff.  Luckily for us, the type that she required did have a version available in Target’s Up & Up brand.

But, the answer to my wife’s question was a very quick “No”.

Mrs. Beagle became a little annoyed and even asked again, probably thinking that maybe I had misunderstood the question.  I hadn’t.  The answer was still no.

She didn’t understand and you could tell that it bothered her as she had obviously expected the answer to be no.

The conversation led me to think about how we often make assumptions and how assumptions which prove to be incorrect can be problematic.  So, why do we make incorrect assumptions.

Well, I think in may cases, we don’t take into account all the facts.  When my wife asked about the formula, she took into consideration only one aspect, which was the cost of the formula.  She assumed that since we were no longer buying formula, those costs were gone.  Which, in and of itself, is true.

However, there are other costs that factor in.  Our daughter replaced formula with milk.  While milk is vastly less expensive than formula, there is still a cost there.  Our daughter also eats regular food, which means we have to buy slightly more of that, meaning an overall increase in our grocery bills.  As she (and Little Boy Beagle) continue to grow, they will consume more food which will cost money.

Finally, there’s the indirect costs.  Think about how the cost of food rises, which eats away some of those savings.  Just from the food perspective, you can see how while formula costs might go down, other related costs to meet their nutritional needs will go up, offsetting all or part of the ‘savings’ from the elimination of formula.  They need bigger clothes which can cost more money.

One of the basic facts of being a parent is I’m learning that costs do not really seem to decrease in any fashion whatsoever.  I guess after they move out and start earning their own keep the costs will go down, but until then, as they get bigger, so will the cost of raising them.

Here are a few tips on how to handle things when the answer you get doesn’t match the assumption you had made when you asked the question:

  • Understand the butterfly effect – Looking at something from a cost perspective will often not tell you the complete picture, as my wife learned with her question about baby formula.  Changing one thing, the purchase of formula, also created changes in other areas which all had a ripple effect on how and where we spend money.  Bottom line, too look at just the formula costs was overly simplistic.
  • Don’t spend what you don’t have – It occurred to me that this could have led to dangerous outcomes had the assumptions not been about something so simple as baby formula and had it not been by someone as financially responsible as my wife.  I’m sure others out there have made assumptions on much costlier items, and made follow-up actions that proved dramatically incorrect.  Think about those people a few years ago who assumed that they could afford the monthly mortgage payment that their lenders told them they could afford.  By simply trusting the assumption, many people found themselves in dire straits and ended up losing their home, their credit, and probably a good deal of money along the way.
  • Make it a learning opportunity – I think my wife was disappointed that we weren’t spending less as a result of not buying baby formula, but I know that once we talked about it, she thought about things differently.  If you find that an assumption you’re making isn’t correct, take it as an opportunity to understand what went wrong into the assumption you had, and how to best apply it moving forward.  I’m pretty sure now Mrs. Beagle will be thinking more broadly about things like offsetting costs that, through not fault of her own, she hadn’t thought of in the first place.

Readers, when have you recently made an assumption that turned out to be incorrect?  How did it affect you and more importantly, what did you take away that will lead you to making more accurate assumptions in the future?


Happy First Birthday To Our Little June Bug

A year ago, our little baby girl was born.  After she was delivered and moved over to the baby warmer, she started testing her little lungs.  And they worked great.

“Oh, that’s perfectly normal,” said the nurse.

After a few more minutes of frenzied screaming, she said, “Well, most of them stop by now.”

That’s when we knew we were in for it.

Many of the things that came easy with our first were not so much with her.

Both learned to sleep through the night relatively early, which we’re lucky for, but her wake up time was (and still is) around 5:30am.  I guess she realizes that the early bird catches the worm.

She had a lot of difficulty eating. The doctors said she probably had acid reflux, so we changed her formula.  Then her bottles.  For a while she’d eat great, then a switch would turn where every ounce drank was a struggle, and many tears were shed along the way, some by baby, and yes, many by mommy, too.

Still, she largely got past that and has absolutely amazed us in so many ways.  Here are a few examples:

  • She eats table food like it’s her last meal – For all the struggles we had with bottles, once she started eating table food, she realized it was what she was waiting for the entire time. In fact, she not only eats what’s given to her, but she inspects everybody elses plate to make sure that she has everything that everybody else has.
  • She is healthy – Any time we’ve had difficulty and seemed at our wits end, we are reminded that she’s healthy and happy.
  • She loves to play with her brother – They chatter and play with toys.  So far she doesn’t mind that he hoards the toys and gives her only what he doesn’t want, but I can imagine that she’ll come up with her own way of dealing with this once it starts to bug her!
  • She depends on her mommy and daddy – Our first was never very cuddly.  Our baby girl will reach out for us when she wants to be picked up and when she rests her little head on my shoulder, it melts my heart.  Every time!
  • She loves animals – Her first word has already been spoken.  Many times.  “Cat” is the word, as we have two cats.  She loves to follow them around and repeat “cat, cat, cat”.  Recently we were at the zoo and she was fussing in the stroller.  I took her out to carry her and she had the time of her life.  She looked at all the “cats” in the zoo (every animal, to her, was a cat) and pointed at them.  She’s definitely an animal lover!
  • She even loves parades – We went to a parade on Memorial Day.  We put our stuff back away from the street so that we had a shady spot (it was hot) but when the parade started, our son wanted to go closer.  I stayed back with June Bug, but she was restless.  So I picked her up and carried her over.  She can be afraid of crowds, lots of people, and loud noises, so I was pretty sure I’d have to take her back relatively quickly.  Nope.  She had a blast.  She waved and giggled and pointed at just about every part of the parade.  Who knew?!?
  • She loves to climb – Our first was never a climber.  He was perfectly content to stay on the floor and play with whatever was there.  Not our baby girl!  Chairs were the first obstacle.  Now she tries to climb up the back of chairs.  The small slide on the deck that’s for ages 2-6.  No problem.  Scooters, ottomans, picnic tables, even coffee tables are no match.
  • She’s just so darn beautiful – Mrs. Beagle and I say it at least once a day, that no matter how frustrating she can be at times, when she flashes you that beautiful smile, it just melts your heart.  She definitely has us wrapped around her finger.

I can’t wait to see where the next year takes us with her.  She’s already expanding her vocabulary just a tad.  She points at us when asked where mama and daddy are.  She has taken a few steps, so as soon as she achieves balance, she’ll be off and running.

Happy first birthday to our beautiful baby girl!  We can’t wait to see what comes next.