Monday, August 16, 2010

Revisiting the Budget

So last week I was talking about the new couch and eco-friendly mattress I wanted to get. Matt and I looked at a few furniture stores this weekend, and then I came home to look at our budget.

Um, we will not be getting a new couch or an eco-friendly mattress any time soon.

I was thinking we could make a few upgrades to our home because we have enough in the bank, and we've been adding to our "Lima Bean" savings account every month. I did not, however, take into account that my entire maternity leave would be unpaid. I haven't talked to an official representative of the Human Resources department within my school district, yet but I did talk to another teacher who has gone on maternity leave before (and will again this October). She said we get 12 weeks of unpaid leave.

So it's time to kick our savings into high-gear. The irony of the situation is that "to kick our savings into high-gear," I basically need to do nothing. My next step is to spend less. That's it!

I've already combed over our budget again (you can see our budget categories here), and there's really nothing more we can cut out. We just need to make sure we are sticking to our budget. Once the new month starts, I'm going to implement our index card system again. That should help keep us on track.

In terms of other action steps, here it goes:
  1. Give our couch a good cleaning. Once it's clean, we need to start cleaning it on a weekly basis.
  2. Continue to save money by checking out pregnancy and parenting books at the library rather than purchasing them.
  3. When we do go out to eat, we should be really conscious about choosing more inexpensive restaurants.
  4. Rather than seek to improve our home with monetary additions, I will try to find other ways, such as keeping it more tidy and by rearranging pieces we already have.

It's so tricky to find the balance between enjoying life now and saving more so we can enjoy more in the future. But in this case, it's pretty clear-cut. We need to spend the next 6.5 months saving, saving, saving, so I can enjoy at least three months of maternity leave. Once I make it through those 12 weeks, I'll go back to school for approximately three weeks and then I'll be on summer vacation for another 10 weeks (getting paid this time!). Woo-hoo!

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Annie said...

Hey Sara, for the dog-drooling-on-your-couch problem, my solution was to stitch a couch cover looking somewhat like this
made of thick coton canvas and wash it about twice a month (one a week would be better but I never get the time to do it).

Anyway, thanks for the useful and honest budgeting tips. Money can be somewhat of a taboo subject, so this is really refreshing to read. Hang on there!

katharina said...

Good to read that you didn't have a miscarriage. Hope the rest of your pregnancy will pass without any more shocks of that kind.
Good luck saving. I hope you'll find a way to stay home as long as you want to.

Anonymous said...

Sara, do you have short term disability? If you do, that may pay you for a portion of your time off. I know it does for state employees where I work.

bklyn76 said...

i know too well how hard it is to resist the restaurant outings and frivolous spending!

that's awesome that you get 12 months mat leave though! when i was in brooklyn with my babe, i got 12 WEEKS unpaid and thought that was absurd! especially being from canada, where mat leave is a year long and subsidized by the government!

lee said...

For your first major couch cleaning you may want to look into renting a steam cleaner (or borrowing one if you know someone who has one). They can work wonders.

Carrie Dee said...

I am still in the (pre)pre-conception phase (my husband and I just got married and are hoping to start try next fall). I've been doing some research on maternity leave options, since my employer only gives 6 weeks, unpaid.

Check out if you state has short term disability for pregnancy or Paid Family Leave. I was surprised to find out that it's an option in CA. Maybe it's available in Texas?

Here's the CA website, hopefully you can use it as a stepping stone in your research in your area.

Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

Maternity leave is one of the most infuriating things about this country. It shows how little we as value women, mothers and parenting (guys should get time off too to bond with their baby and share the experience). Most countries in the world have paid, protected maternity (and sometimes paternity) leave, except the US.

According to the all-knowing, always-correct =p internets, Texas doesn't have paid maternity leave or mandated short term disability, but you can try to get some time covered by the FMLA. (Here's the FMLA website:

Jessica said...

I can confirm the previous comments - I do underwriting for an insurnace company that provides benefits for companies offering benefits to employees. The only states that offer this are NJ, NY, RI, HI, CA, and Puerto Rico.

If you are planning to have another baby, sign up for your employers' short term disability plan. You will have to undergo medical underwriting to ensure that you are in good health, but it will be SO worth it - even if you have to pay for coverage.

As a tip to readers: ALWAYS sign up for disability insurance offered by employers. If you get injured (car accident, etc.) or decide to have a baby (preganancy is treated as any other illness), you will thank yourself.

Typically, you will have say, 30 days to sign up initially and then after that, you will be considered a late enrolee and will have to do the medical underwriting thing.

Beehive said...

Rearranging furniture is my favorite free way to spice up a space. I used to rearrange my bedroom several times a year as a kid, and I still do it now.

To save money I always ask myself several times at the store whether I need the item and usually by the time I leave, I'm ready to put it back and not buy. I also wait a few days before using the item at home to see if the novelty wears off, if it does, I return it. And I always have to remind myself that I really don't need that iced tea or pack of gum at the register....

Finally, make sure you think through your baby registry very carefully and ask lots of questions of new moms. I'm always surprised by how many "wants" people list and receive v. the needs. Your friend Carrie from ME is an awesome resource for this!

Marlene said...

You said you guys go out to eat 4 times a week, right? That seems pretty excessive...

Looking at your expenditure categories-

-Do you need to spend money on car washes? Just do it yourself?
-Savings; travel. Could put this on hold until after the baby comes
-Switch to a slower speed internet connection, cut out minutes from your cell phone bill

good luck! I am personally saving up my sick leave time for a few years to get my 12 weeks covered. Maybe you should consider aiming to have a baby in the summer next time since you are teachers. I know you like your midwife, but it's having a particular midwife vs less stress over the lack of income

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