Archive for October, 2009

Save a Little Money

YIN:

Even though we’re a two income family, like lots of others right now we’re living on a strict budget. But even before the ecomony went south, I was always a bit of a cheapskate. And proud of it : ) 98% of the time I don’t purchase anything that’s not on sale. I use coupons whenever I can. And I love to get tips on how others save. So here are some of my tips on how parents can save a little money.

Kid’s eat free: I never understood the greatness of this tip until I had a child. If you’re looking to go out for a break or a treat, only go to places that let your little one pick something off the kid’s menu for free when you purchase something. You can Google ‘kids eat free’ or if you have an iPhone you can get an app for that. Or ask your other mom friends for suggestions. Just be sure to read all the rules and regulations.

Coupons: Did you know Target (one of my favorite stores) allows you to use one of their store coupons along with a manufacturer’s coupon? What a deal! People have told me they don’t clip coupons because it takes too much time. But it doesn’t take that much time and is well worth it. If you’re not in the mood to clip your own coupons you could always purchase some on eBay (really).

Clothes: Children’s clothes are expensive. Expensive! It seems like such a waste but I like my daughter to look cute. What’s a cheapskate to do? Go to Goodwill! Find one that is close to a well-to-do area because of course they’ll drop their kids’ clothes off and rich people will purchase high end things. At my Goodwill infant clothes are $1.19 each. I’ve found a mini University of Florida cheerleader outfit (that retails for about $60), clothes with the tags still on them, and a pink Laura Ashley step stool I got for $7. Also try consignment shops or trade clothes with your friends who have children in a similar age range. My daughter even has worn boy’s clothes if I find them at the right price.

Buy inexpensive, not cheap: There is a big difference between buying something that is inexpensive and something that is cheap. I’ve learned the hard way that cheap things don’t last and you end up spending extra money to replace it. I don’t shop for myself a lot (because I don’t like to go to the mall) but when I do, a lot of times I’ll head to stores like Ann Taylor or Banana Republic and go straight to the sales racks. There are times I’ll find things I wasn’t looking for but I can’t leave behind. An example is a pair of khakis that fit perfectly I got at Banana Republic for $4.99. Of course I don’t find those kind of crazy deals all the time but when I do I don’t let it go. The trick is to shop off season. Guestimate your child’s size for next year and grab that swimsuit in October or that sweater in April.

Do you have any great tips on how you save money for your family? Pass them on – I’d love to hear about them!

P.S. You’ve probably noticed that Yang Mommy didn’t post on this subject. She loves to save too but to post a little more often we’re going to periodically post on our own. Don’t worry – we’ll still be posting together on a pretty regular basis!

Role Reversal Part II–How Green is it on the Other Side

This is a two-part posting to our blog, wherein Yin Mama and Yang Mommy dream about trading their Jimmy Choos—until the other shoe drops!

YANG:

Before I had my daughter, I worked about 50hrs a week in a very stressful job, but one that I enjoyed most of the time. So I know what it’s like to juggle a demanding career and a home life, but not one with a little one thrown in the mix too. So when it all gets a little too crazy for me at home, I wonder what it would be like to be working out of the home again with my daughter under the care of another…..

Days Off: Ah, being able to actually sleep in and not deal with the stress of work for an entire day. How rejuvenating! Vacation days and weekends just  don’t pack the same punch as they used to now that I’m a SAHM.

Adult Conversations: I can only answer Dora’s questions so many times convincingly. So I envision I’m talking about the latest in the news or showbiz gossip to like-minded adults while gathering around the water cooler. Scintillating!

Dressing Up: Wearing nice shoes, dresses, suits, jewelry and better still, needing to update my wardrobe every now and then for the office. Casual clothes are great, but after a while, donning a power suit makes you feel, well, powerful.

Day Care Bonus of Potty Training: Several of my friends have kids in daycare and there, the staff begins potty training. If I had to go back to work, day care or in-home care would be needed and ha–someone else can deal with the mess!

Sick Days: I could call in the office and tell them I’m sick (whether I am or not) and get the rest I’d need because again, the little one would be taken care of by someone else.

Less Interruptions: I could shut my door, put the phone on voice mail and just write, write, write without having a cute little face appear at my knees for something. Luxury!

A Paycheck! Healthcare!: Need I say more?

–“Ahh,” vs “Oh.”:  As in, “what do you do for a living.” “Ahh, you have an interesting job” vs the often more judgemental, “Oh, you’re at home.”

Yes, I still do occasionally pine for those long, drawn-out status meetings and the weekly bagel delivery (food I didn’t have to prepare!) because it would mean real vacation days, a paycheck and chats that aren’t with dollies. So for those working moms and dads out there, kudos for you for all that you juggle and remember, it’s not always so bad in the working world.

YIN:

I’m sorry but Yang Mommy’s fantasies were amusing to me. The only one I really get to do is have adult conversation, and there are days I wish I didn’t have to communicate with some of the “adults” I work with:

Days Off: What is that? The two days a week that I’m not at work I’m either spending time with my family or trying to get all my errands, laundry, bill paying, etc done that I wasn’t able to do the 5 days that I spent at work or when I got home from work.

Dressing Up: Due to the nature of my job, even though I’m considered a manager, 95% of the time I wear jeans and sneakers to work. It’s not feasible for me to get dressed nice and I can’t wear fancy shoes or cute sandals. Sure lawyers and account executives get to wear nice clothes and shoes to work. But I’d bet that at least 75% of women in the work force either wear some sort of uniform or do work that gets that dirty so they don’t too dressed up on a daily basis.

Daycare/Potty Training: Hey Yang Mommy – if you want to pay me $150 a week to potty train your little cutie, I’ll be up in a few months to start! : ) Yes it’s a bonus but they only do it because by that age the teachers at daycare are rightfully sick of all those diapers.

Sick Days: This one just amuses me. I don’t get sick days. I get Paid Time Off, which is what a lot of companies use. It is good for doctor’s appointments (which with a 1 year old I go to quite a few of), when my daughter gets sick, coming in late because of the Halloween parade at daycare, sick time, taking the car to the shop, vacation days, or even (God forbid) a death in the family. So I don’t use Paid Time Off just because I need a break. Plus if I did I’d just come back to more work to catch up on so what’s the use?

Less Interruptions: Yes, no one ever pages me, stops by to see me without an appointment, calls me, comes in to ask me a question, needs me to speak to a customer about my company’s community involvement, wants me to proof read anything . . .

A Paycheck! Healthcare!: Well I’m technically working 2 jobs and only getting paid for 1. And if you’re married and staying at home with the child most likely you are covered by healthcare under your husband’s healthcare program. If not most likely you didn’t leave a good healthcare program behind otherwise your husband would be a Mr. Mom.

“Ahh,” vs “Oh.”: As heard from my end (my responses are in parenthesis) “Ahh you work? (yes) Who do you leave your daughter with? (she goes to daycare) You left her at daycare at 3 months old??(yes – she enjoys eating and having a roof over her head)? Do you feel guilty? (no – she has to eat and she enjoys daycare)

As you can see there is no easy solution to being a mom period. So next time you’re thinking of picking on that SAHM or you’re at home thinking it would be better to be at the office remember that none of us have it easy at all. So let’s pick on the dads! (just kidding – they’ve got it rough sometimes too)

Role Reversal–How Green Is It on the Other Side?

This is a two-part posting to our blog, wherein Yin Mama and Yang Mommy dream about trading their Jimmy Choos—until the other shoe drops!

YIN:

I never get a moment to myself. I’m either at work having to talk to others or I’m at home with my family. I keep saying that I’m going to get a hotel room by myself one night but so far I haven’t.

So I keep daydreaming about how much free time I’d have if I were a stay at home mom (SAHM). And here’s what I’d do:

Take naps!: When my daughter is taking her afternoon nap I’d recharge myself and take one too.

Do laundry: I never get a chance to do my own laundry. My husband does his own and when I do have time I do my daughter’s. So I’d wash my laundry and never run out of underwear again.

Cook more and experiment in my cooking: Right now I get off work, pick up my daughter from daycare and come home and cook dinner. Kind if. It’s hardly ever what I’d call a well rounded meal but most days I prepare a meal or my husband grills something for us. If I were a SAHM I could really get back into cooking and experiment a little more.

Join a Mommy/Baby Group: Honestly this one doesn’t sound like a ton of fun but I’d do it so I could meet more women with children the general age of my own.

Relax: My job entails working a lot with the public and sometimes it can be stressful. Even though being with my daughter can be stressful it’s no where near like dealing with an irate person who didn’t get what they want.

Take my hobbies back up: I realized today I haven’t sewn anything since I got pregnant because I took my sewing machine down to set up a baby room. So I’d make an effort to start sewing, finish that latch hook that I started for my daughter’s room and a few other things I’ve put aside.

That’s my idea of what it would be like to not have to work outside the home. So all you SAHM’s savor what you have and enjoy la dolce vita ; )

YANG:

Boy, I had to laugh when I read Yin’s visions of what life as a SAHM would be! After I had a good, hearty chuckle, it occurred to me that long ago, I had different ideas about what staying at home with a child would be like, so I really can’t blame Yin for her fantasies.   But let’s take off those rosey-colored glasses and face the hard facts.

Take naps when the baby naps: Hardly! Those are the times when I get the laundry done, or clean the house, or better still, work. Just try to meet a work deadline with a wee one tugging your hand off the keyboard to get her a snack/ a drink/have a nose wiped/flash that enchanting smile so you’ll play with her. No, no, nap time is for work, not sleeping.

Laundry: See above.

Cooking more/Experimenting with food: Ah, a genie would say “your wish is my command!” Because by default, a lot of SAHP do cook more. They’re home, they have little mouths to feed around the clock. Yes, I’m totally in love with my new non-stick Ramsay skillet, but more often than not, the inner Julia doesn’t show up until the weekend when my husband can play at length with our daughter and I’m not so already exhausted from my own work day.

Join Mommy groups: I have to say, I absolutely love the fact that I can go to mom-centered activities during the day and not have to wait until after 5P or the weekends. That is one freedom of being a SAHM that I take advantage of whenever I can. Plus I’ve made some excellent friends in the process.

Relaxing: If I’m really, really lucky I get to relax when my girl naps, but see above. Toddlers aren’t the most cooperative beings on the planet (“wait until she’s a teen,” my dark side mutters). Otherwise, relaxing at any decent length of time comes after she’s in bed. A glass of cab and I’m a happy Yang.

Hobbies: Well, what parent of a young child(ren)  really has time for hobbies? I got a great sewing machine for Christmas and have yet had time to  even read the manual (a strict rule I’m adhering to lest I break the machine on my first go. Not to  mention it rather intimidates me, too). Some of my hobbies I can follow through on though, like this blog or taking nature walks, wherein my girl comes along with me. But again, finding quality time for  hobbies is like making a patchwork quilt–it’s in segments.

As a SAHM, who also works from home, I’m not only my daughter’s #1 playmate, but also her cook, maid, nurse and general all-around cheerleader. And when one of us, or worse yet both of us, are sick, the work only gets harder.We’re blessed to be able to do this and I wouldn’t change our situation overly much. But I too would like some relaxation time–like an hour’s long bubble bath and a good book to stick my nose in. The caveat being not to have to then cook dinner/clean up toys/wash the dishes afterwards, etc. So next time I get a few precious minutes, I’m going to dream about going back to work in an office and having adult conversations…getting real vacation days…heck, getting paid for what I do…ahhhh…..

Is It Time for Baby #2 (or 3 or 4 even)??

YANG:

Over the past few days, I have literally staggered in my steps over various news pieces. The first was a news story on NYC preschools offering “scholarships” for 3 and 4 year olds to attend their school (because they’re far too expensive in the first place and have some nerve charging what amounts to some colleges’ tuition fees!). Let alone the grueling and down right ridiculous “admission” process or trying to just get an application! The other story was on the latest figures of the cost of rearing children in America. The study says that the average cost to raise 1 child through high school will be around $220,000. What the?!? Add to that, our global economy isn’t exactly in the best of health which means both our national and local economies are hurting.

Despite the economic woes and challenges, we would still like another child.

Now the logical side of my brain (my husband will laugh at that statement) screams, “You have so much work to do now, how can you possibly handle two little ones!” For instance, it just took me 20 minutes to prepare my toddler’s clothes for the laundry (stain stick, bless you!). Not to mention that I just finished cleaning up the breakfast dishes and in just a few I’ll need to prepare lunch. Add on to that the fact that I work from home (a blog topic for another day), so I need to make the most of the “free time” I have to do my writing. Yang Mommy-time can be nearly nonexistent. So why would I want to add another little one into our current chaos?

Because I do. My husband and I both want another child. There’s so much love to give and receive, we have to try for it.

Even on my most desperately-hair-pulling-PMSing-exhausting days, I still would like to have another child. Despite the lack of sleep for about least a year a new baby guarantees to bring, despite the added work in the kitchen/laundry room/house, despite the added finances, we want another little child.

My husband and I have discussed all the pros and cons and are not entering into this lightly. No one should enter into a decision to have a child lightly, in fact. And if we’re blessed with another child of our own, we’ll be so very fortunate. If not, then we’ll take it from there. And since the bio clock is ticking, I’d better make the most of it 😉

PS Kudos to you moms and dads out there with more than 1 kid! If you have any sanity-tips, please pass them on!

YIN:

I think it’s easier for families with one working parent to consider having a second or third child than it is for families that have two parents working outside the home. That’s because of the cost of daycare.

My husband and I would love to have another child. If we do it will cost us $300 a week to put both children in daycare. That’s $1200 a month for child care. Which as of today we couldn’t afford. I make more money than my husband so I couldn’t stay home. Plus I enjoy working   outside the home. And while my husband could leave his job, not only would we sorely miss his salary, I don’t think he’d be happy. And that’s not fair to him.

I think all children should have a brother or sister to argue with. And I’d enjoy having a second child in the house. But we need to keep the child we have healthy and secure. So I leave it in God’s hands to see if we have another little one. Either way I’m thankful for what He’s provided for us and has in stored for us for the future.