Quarter One Musings

>> Friday, April 15, 2016

Wow. You guys are awesome for sharing all those tips and suggestions for cloth diapering. I am feeling more confident that we'll be able to swing it this time around. I had forgotten that I was using Charlie's Soap toward the end, and someone mentioned that they didn't like it for diapers. I'm wondering if that's where our process started to go sour.

I have joined that Fluff Love Facebook group, too -- I can't believe how many people are a part of it! And maybe we'll install a sprayer. I tend to remember that in the exclusive breastfeeding days, the poo can sort of just clear away in the wash.

So, it's Friday. This weekend, we aren't expecting a snow storm! I almost can't believe the 10-day forecast. The highs are all mostly above 60 and even 70 in some cases.

If you don't follow me on Instagram, I'll just give you my excuse for being so quiet lately. Taxes! On top of Stephen's 11-12 hour weekdays and Saturdays away from home, I've been keeping up as much as possible with my freelance work . . . and then taxes got added into the equation these last two weeks and I almost imploded. We actually have an awesome accountant, but there were some loose ends that look me a while to tie up. It's all consuming for me, mentally and physically. Numbers are like a foreign language (and I never did well with those). But everything is signed and ready to be delivered. Goodbye, money.

As you can imagine, this entire month, I've been utterly immersed in our finances. And we knew this was coming, but as we draw ever-closer to June, the reality of having a summer baby on a teacher and freelancer income is  kind of freaking us out. (We didn't plan it this way, it's just how it happened, and we still feel immensely blessed!)

Thankfully, we're actually fine and able to shoulder the extra burden (we have six months of our budget saved), but it's definitely going to mean we need to watch things over the summer when I take my "leave" from writing (thinking 6-8 weeks of a hard break -- the good news is that most of my payments are on a one- or two-month lag schedule) and Stephen doesn't get paychecks for two months (he'll be switching over to a 12-month pay schedule next year). When classes resume in the fall, we'll get bumped back up again and all will be well.

Some frugal stuff we're planning:

  • Installing a DIY backyard clothesline (like these ones) to dry our duds in the fresh air. It's something we had at our old house, and I miss it. Electricity is expensive, so I'm wondering how making the switch to drying what we can outdoors will affect our bills.
  • Planting a garden with some of the easy-to-grow "essentials" that cost $$$ at the grocery store, like tomatoes and basil. I think spring has finally arrived, so I really need to get on the whole gardening thing if it's going to happen this year. The problem right now is just getting the time to do it.
  • Switching our internet. We have Time Warner Cable, and I am TOTALLY not impressed. We only want internet, not cable. Somehow, we were able to get a "deal" on our internet by adding very basic television that we only watch on Thursdays for Grey's Anatomy (and if we waited one night, we could see it on Hulu). The bill keeps climbing, so we're surveying our very limited options and hopefully seeing if they'll just drop our bill. Does anyone have that $14.99 plan? Would that work with Netflix?
  • Evaluating our central air usage. We let the thing blast all the time in the summer because it's convenient and comfortable. But I actually love opening windows and getting some breeze indoors. I want to get smarter about how we use it, but I also need to remain realistic because we'll have a newborn and I don't want the inside boiling, sticky hot.
  • Ever lowering our grocery budget. Being pregnant has shifted things a bit. And I know breastfeeding will, too. I want to get better at making meals in bulk again and maximizing what we do with the ingredients we have. For those of you on a tight food budget -- is it an ongoing battle? We do so well for so long and then BOOM, it's back to square one.
  • Retooling our overall budget to assess how much I'll need to work in the year after Baby E. is born. With Stephen taking on two coaching positions, his income has been bumped. It also takes a great deal of time I used to have for working myself. I need to figure out how we'll balance having an infant with all this and see what realistically I can do. I am thinking it'll be in 6 month phases. I see myself being able to be back at the hours I do now (20-30) when the baby is 18 months old. 
  • Planning a free-fun summer. We won't be vacationing this year by choice. Everyone tried to get us to go down to the shore, but I don't think a beach vacation with a newborn sounds like fun at all. I want to find lots of frugal stuff to do this summer and make a plan so we feel refreshed and recharged between all the sleep loss madness.
  • Paying down our car. We have two car payments right now. It's not ideal, but it ended up being a necessity. One of them has less than $5,000 left on it, and with anything we end up having extra in the budget, I'd like to toss it at paying this debt down ASAP to free up around $200/month in our budget. Aside from the cars, we both have about $10,000 left in student loans -- but that's it for our debt beyond mortgage.
That's what's been on my mind this week. I have a tasty and incredibly simple recipe ready for post on Monday (Mexican quinoa salad!), a pregnancy update, and I'll return to the final installments of the whole spring cleaning series.


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