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« FMF March Money Madness, Round 2, Posts 5-8 | Main | Reader Profile: RV »

March 21, 2013


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Good job on saving and building a nest egg. One suggestion: you need to get a better track on your monthly spending. I suggest you consolidate your spending from one bank or credit card account. My bank offers a quicken type program (finance works) that allows us to easily track our spending. Further, I wouldn't be surprised if some of your purchases are rationalized because of the miles or points you'll earn. Essentially, I believe that you end up spending more when you are building points.

I'm curious if your property taxes are 525 month, which would seem very high.

First, you two are in a good position, congrats on that.

I see a few things. First, your net minus expenses seems to leave around $1200 missing (which you hint at). Sadly, talking from experience, you can nickel and dime yourself to debt. I thought we were doing good, but until I took three months and really kept track of every expense, I had no idea all the little ways we were tossing money away without thinking. That, to me, is the key, thinking about it versus just doing it without consideration. So I suggest before you budget, just use an empty pretzel jug or big jar or whatever works for you and both of you put every single receipt into the jar or log it down somehow. No judgement, no blame, just looking for the leaks and reality versus your perception (like I thought I had only been spending $15-20 a week at lunch, and it was more like $30-35). Keep a small pad of paper with pen or pencil next to the jug and when you put a receipt in and then also recall you dropped three dollars on two vending machine trips that day or gave $5 to an office pool, use the pad and pen to write it down and add it in. End of week, month, two months, when the jug gets full and needs emptying, whatever, just put it all into a spreadsheet. I suggest three full months worth before really analyizing the data, but that is up to you. It will likely be eye opening, possibly alarming. But you can't work on something until you've identified what the issue(s) might be.

Okay, now another point. You are spending $100 dollars a month for your child's future education, and $250 a month for kid stuff. Stuff, future, stuff, future, Hmmmm. 'nuff said.

I know you're young, but as the anticipated primary breadwinner in the near future I strongly suggest re-evaluating your life insurance now, prior to being struck down with some vile pestilance like office butt spread. You want enough insurance, but not enough to make you worth more dead than alive (particularly if your in-laws don't like you :-).

Speaking of nasty things like pestilance, death and in-laws, you got a kid now (not that I'm suggesting a kid is like pestilance, or death, or in-laws, though now that I think about it...:-). In any case, if you don't have one already, a will is another strong suggestion. Particulary one that identifies who gets the kid if you and your wife leave this plane of existance. Trust me, your parents likely already figure it will be them. Imagine each of them, in fifteen years, dealing with troubled teens. My mother thought she should get the kids, but would have been in her 80's. Didn't matter, she was not happy with our decision. Fun stuff to consider but do not avoid them.

"With each kid, my wife plans to work less and less." LOL!!!!!

Sorry, that line was a hoot. I really wouldn't say that in public or ladies you've never met will gang up on you like lioness' on a wounded zebra.

With respect to retirement, you may want to add slowly to your percentage. One thing that worked for me was if I got a raise of say, 4%, I'd add 1% or 2% to retirement savings. I think this is more important for you if your plan is for your wife to work less at an income producing job over time. Obviously if you are starting your own business, you'll have to figure out something else.

Best of luck.

Unless you get some sort of deal through the university, I'd be very concerned about paying $250/month for daycare for a 16 month old. Most places charge 3-4x that.


Maybe I'm the exception, but unless it's an absolute necessity, what parents in their 60s, 70s, and 80s would want to be in charge of handling grandchildren full time? I certainly would not want that responsibility unless it was the state or me.

I also never had any problem telling people that my wife would not be working once we had a child. People may have talked behind my back unbeknownst to me, but I never received any flack and I live in the one of the most materialistic parts of the country. Had I, I would have discussed the behavioral problems that my wife saw with children who were dumped at the "child development center" she previously was employed by for anywhere from 8-12 hours a day.

I am not a believer in spending money on international travel for one's children. Once children become teenagers they want to spend their time with their friends, not Mummy and Daddy. There's plenty to show them in the United States, especially the wonderful National Parks. I used to take our children on many backpack trips into the Sierra Nevada mountains and they enjoyed fishing for trout in some of the lakes and climbing up some of the peaks. We also reaped a lot of benefits from buying a cabin at Lake Tahoe, the lot was $4,000, with another $12,000 to have the cabin built, and another $2,000 for buying some secondhand furniture for it. As a family we spent many, many weekends there, skiing in the Winter and hiking, fishing, and boating in the summer. We purposely never had a phone or a TV set there but did many things as a family. Sometimes my wife and the children would spend a week or so there in the summer and I would visit at weekends. Inevitably children become teenagers, and inevitably they don't want to do many things with their parents so we sold the cabin for $90K and moved the money into a condo overlooking the Pacific ocean that was only 30 miles away. The condo turned out to be a great investment and has increased in price fivefold since we bought it.

It's very important that married couples get babysitters frequently so that they can do the things that they really enjoy and to keep their relationship happy and growing as the years slip by.

The other MAJOR thing that young couples like yourself need to avoid is, of course, Divorce. The divorce rate is sky high in this country and is devastating to families and devastating to one's finances.

The parents of our first grandchild got divorced and it was devastating for our young granddaughter. My daughter was working so we cared for her quite a lot. I remember that we looked after her on her birthday soon after the divorce. My wife baked a birthday cake for her and at the appropriate time said, "Elise, why don't you blow out the candles and make a wish". Her sad reply was, "Grandma, I don't make wishes any more because they never come true". She is 23 now and over it of course and is leading a very happy life working as a paralegal.

By all means when children are older help them financially to go on organized, supervised, trips with kids their own age to foreign countries or within the USA, but realize that, sad to say, teenage kids would rather do fun things with their friends than have their parents around at vacation time.

$33k car loan? It's 0% interest, but that seems pretty excessive.

@Old Limey

I agree 100% about all the very interesting and beautiful things that exist within the US. I wish I had more time to visit all the states.

@Old are so right about divorce and the effect it has on kids. I think a lot of people don't want to admit this truth.

@Noah, I think Getagrip meant that KK shouldn't have said his wife would be working less with each child, rather that she would be working less OUTSIDE THE HOUSE. More kids definitely equals more work, unpaid! :)

I've been following the comments closely today because this profile so closely matches what I expect mine to be in the next few years... maybe minus the kids, or part time work.

Old Limey makes a great point though... you have to keep investing in your marriage, too... sometimes it's not just about the tangible dollars but the intangible benefits of spending a nice dinner without the kids, or a weekend away from them at the beach.


Good point! If that was the intention then I am in agreement.

@KK....If you care to share your tips on making the most of travel credit cards, I'm all ears!

The property tax is pretty steep. But that must be the nature of local taxes.

The daycare seems quite low, but I"m guessing its subsidized in some way? Some employers have subsidized daycare.

Once the three children started arriving I am glad my wife insisted that we get a babysitter every week and go out to dinner on our own. Even though at 78 and 79 and 56 years of marriage the fire we once had has turned into embers I believe we about as happy after 21 years of retirement as it's possible to be. We ended all of our global travelling after a cruise down the Rhine and Moselle rivers in Germany in 2010. We stopped home entertaining years before that and life today couldn't be more tranquil and perfect. Our investments along with the two pension checks we get every month put us in a position where we have no money worries, if we want something we have it, but our wants are pretty small. We stay in close touch with the kids, and one daughter has become my weekly hiking companion since the Bay Area has more hiking trails than anywhere else I know about. The highlight of the day is usually "dinner". My wife is a fabulous cook and I'm a pretty good gardener and have just taught myself how to fillet fish, which is very plentiful at a nearby Asian supermarket. How about a beautiful, wild, Petrale sole, flown in from Canada for $3.99/lb, along with home made red potato french fries and a 3 bean salad.

We used to entertain a lot years ago but can't remember the last time we used our formal dining room - it's nicer using a small table in the family room in front of a lifelike gas fire, and watching a favorite program or something pre-recorded on TV while enjoying a home cooked meal and a nice bottle of Chardonnay before retiring at 10pm.

Thanks for all the comments.

1: I appreciate the budget/spending ideas comments. I definitely plan to track receipts. I have always thought about doing it but I honestly didn't want to face the facts: that I spend money on some dumb things. ha!

2: Property taxes: In my area that is just how it is. We have great schools, parks & rec, services etc.

3: Daycare: My wife works nights so we really only utilize daycare for 8-10 hours per week the way our schedules work out. At first we wanted to keep the hours down because we thought day care was bad and we were bad parents. Boy were we wrong, she has learned so much. She loves to interact with other kids and it's great to pick her up and see how much fun she has there.

4: @old limey I agree international travel doesn't make sense for us anytime soon. I was thinking more on the line of semester abroad type stuff. I also 100% agree on the date night and short weekend trips. We are lucky enough to have our parents around who will babysit on weekends so we have done this and will continue to do so.

5: Wife work comment- I guess that came across wrong. Every guy on here knows how hard mothers work!! My wife has the option to drop NURSING hours but still keep full time benefits. So what I meant was that she will drop to 24 nursing hours per week next year when baby 2 is here. She dropped to 32 after number 1. This was discussed and debated many times but it's what we think will work best. Once all the kids are in school she plans to go back to full time.

@ JM 33k excessive - yes, probably it is. It's a family SUV that keeps my wife happy! It also has all the bells and whistles to entertain kids on road trips. We plan to keep it at least 8-10 years.

@ mark - I learn most of my credit card points tricks from blogs such as: million mile secrets, noob traveler, mommy points. Flyer talk also has a great forum. Anything you want to learn can be found there. There are some great tips out there for beginners.

Thanks again for all the comments!

I've been to Old Limey's house, last November. I can attest that he is a very nice, hospitable individual with a lovely wife. They live in a very comfortable house, and are wonderful hosts, full of great stories and wonderful observers of life and welcoming to all.


It sounds like you guys are doing great! I would highly suggest tracking your expenses for a few months though, it is a very enlightening experience!

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