Spending that Works for Me

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Categories Attitude, Balance, Household and Family Management, Parenting

Now that I am on the brink of returning to work, I can start to assess where we have been financially as well as where my income will take us. For the first 3.5 months of the twins’ lives, Husband stayed home on “paternity leave.” Actually a lot of it was accrued vacation time, and then it became unpaid. He went back to work with a new job, and took a slight pay cut for less stress and better hours. I stayed home starting at 28 weeks gestation, so really I was only around for the first month and a half of last school year. After that there was disability, and then unpaid FMLA (but we kept our insurance). I had no idea what things would be like financially after all of that, but surprisingly we’ve come through just fine. Getting the new minivan actually saved us a little money, since the payments and insurance are cheaper than the previous leased BMW, our tax refund helped quite a bit, and of course now that Husband is back at work we have the steady income again.

My working will necessitate some childcare costs though. I will be back to subsidizing my mom for watching the twins, and Toddler’s preschool will be a new expense. My income will be further reduced by the rising cost of health insurance (with the addition of two more family members we also need the next tier of coverage). But I think we’ll do alright. Probably not going to be socking away any impressive amount for that new house we’re dreaming of, but we’ll be okay.

Nevertheless, maybe we should cut back on some things just in case. Although we’re not extravagant spenders in general, we could probably do without spending so much on take-out and junk food. But some things we spend on are really worth every penny.

Cleaning

We have a cleaning lady. She comes every other Thursday for a few hours and cleans everything we don’t want to clean. A long time ago, Husband and I decided it was worth it to get someone to do it for us when we were spending way too much time and energy arguing about who cleaned what when and how often. We go shoeless in our house, but with 3 young children now running, crawling, and rolling all over the place, the floor needs to be very, very clean. Half our house is floor, half carpet. The floor part needs to be swept and steam mopped. The carpet vacuumed. Just this alone is a 2-3 hour endeavor with all the moving around of baby equipment and stuff that’s strewn all over the place. That’s time we’d rather spend with our kids, not arguing (about cleaning anyway) or getting sweaty mopping floors. I still do our dishes and laundry, and Swifter just about every other day, but no floors/kitchen/bathrooms! Hurray! Best money spent, in my opinion, if you’re able to find someone you can trust.

Ready Meals

I’m not much of a cook. In fact, the only meal I actually enjoy making is breakfast. I can do eggs well, several different ways. Toast, pancakes, waffles, fruit, muffins, all good. The other meals? Forget it. One meal a day is enough. I don’t do meal planning, no good at grocery shopping, can’t handle the prep and cleanup. I just don’t like it. That’s why ready-to-eat is made for me. I love the meal-in-a-bag types. And the casserole style ones are great too. I do a biweekly trip to Costco, and maybe weekly to Trader Joe’s or other market for our fruits and vegetables. To be honest we rely quite a bit on our parents and take out as well. I know we should be more focused on nutritious fresh food for our family, but it’s so. much. work. I don’t know how other people do it. I once tried a prepared meal service for a summer, where I would go once a month to a location where recipes and ingredients were provided, using which I would assemble many meals at once, and then take them home to freeze and just pull out and cook. That still wasn’t convenient enough for me. Oh well, can’t be great at everything. What works for now is pop in the oven or microwave and eat. Perhaps I should look into using a slow cooker.

Amazon

I am an Amazon Subscribe and Save member, as well as an Amazon Mom and Prime member. Though Amazon makes it way too convenient to buy other random stuff we don’t need, the discounts, two day shipping, and recurring delivery features can’t be beat. Besides the obvious diapers for two, I’ve bought baby food, jumpers and swings, feeding accessories, toys, teethers, bathing supplies… almost everything baby (and toddler) in our house is from Amazon, except for clothes and strollers. Especially in the early days, getting out the door was an effort of heroic proportions, and getting a delivery of necessities at home was a lifesaver. A click gets me something on my doorstep in two days, sometimes even as fast as the next day. With their generous return policy, selection beyond compare, and ratings from other buyers, who needs to acutally go to a real store these days? (I see that they’re doing groceries now too– need to check it out!)

What other sanity saving ways do you spend your hard earned money?

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lunchldyd

lunchldyd is mom to 3 year old boy/girl twins and their 5.5 year old sister. She is now teaches part-time to juggle the needs of her young children. When not at work and the kids are asleep, she is addicted to watching TV and sometimes sacrifices sleep to read in bed. She lives in the Los Angeles suburbs with her husband, three kids, and two dogs.

9 thoughts on “Spending that Works for Me”

  1. I second the cleaning lady (we have one that comes monthly) and Amazon Prime/subscribe and save. It came in especially handy when the girls brought tractors home from a 2-year old birthday party as favors and played with them until they broke. I couldn’t find toy tractors in any of our local stores (Target, Wal-Mart, etc.) Amazon to the rescue, we had a 5 pack of John Deere in two days!

  2. I’ve been debating the merits of hiring someone to clean even before the arrival of twins (now toddlers). It always seemed to be a little too much to justify, but now that they’re a little older and daycare fees are going down it might be worth a little monthly treat.

  3. I LOVED Amazon Subscribe and Save for diapers. Since I didn’t have anyone to leave the kids with to go shopping, not having big boxes of diapers to transport was worth paying more. Paying less was a bonus!

    I’ve had a couple of bad experiences hiring cleaning help. The first ladies I used ended up cashing two checks for the same week (they lost one, had me write a new one, then cashed both) so we said goodbye. The second time I went with a company who just did a shoddy job. If I’m paying someone to clean, I expect not to have to go back and clean up after them! I had them come by once to see how they did and never asked them to come back. Also, I’m really good at cleaning (I actually enjoy scrubbing), but tidying and laundry are my challenges, and cleaning ladies don’t to that.

    I’m seriously considering hiring a mothers’ helper, maybe a middle or high school kid who can play with my girls so I can clean/cook etc.

    1. I worked as a tutor during my college years, for kids as young as yours through SAT prep high school juniors and seniors. You could look into “homework help”. My friends with school aged kids say homework is the bane of their day.

      1. I hadn’t thought about getting a tutor, which is ironic since, like you, I worked as one (from age 10 through the end of grad school, for both struggling and gifted kids, ages 9 through 25)! Homework isn’t that much of an issue for us since my kids are in after school care from 3:15 to 6:30 and usually (but not always!) do their homework there. We’ll have to see about next year, though. Last year they had weeklong assignments, so we could afford to bypass assignments a day or two a week if necessary. If we have daily assignments to contend with, things could be more challenging.

  4. I also recently gave in and started buying pre-cut fruit from the grocery store. I have let too many a watermelon or canteloupe go to waste because I just haven’t gotten around to cutting it up. (I love to cook, though, and have a pretty short list of pre-prepared food I’ll purchase: bread, cereal, tortillas, crackers, pasta, tomato soup, granola bars, cookies, ice cream, cheese, yoghurt and cottage cheese, sausage, and now chopped fruit.)

    1. I consider cooking a chore, and a pretty involved one at that. Even if I wanted to make something, I’d have to buy all ingredients; as a non-cook, I don’t even have the basics. So it would not be any cheaper for me to cool. I think it really needs to be a hobby.

      As for laundry, some cleaning ladies will do it, and change your sheets too! It is tough to find a good one though. We went years without one until we finally found another one who worked out.

  5. We have someone come to do the deep cleaning at our house, once a month, and it truly saves my sanity. With me staying home with the girls, we cut other expenses (namely cell phone and cable) to be able to maintain that luxury. It makes me a much more balanced person that I don’t have to worry about scrubbing the bathrooms!

    I also treat myself to a pedicure every 4 – 6 weeks. (Between that and the cleaning, I sound pampered, don’t I?! HA!) I skimped on that when the girls were first born, and I realized how much I missed it. For an hour a month, I get to do something luxurious, and — no matter the state of my yoga pants and unkempt hair — I can look down and enjoy my pretty toes. 😉

  6. I am with you on loving amazon and the necessity of having a cleaning person. The cooking part is tricky too- I am working on trying to put together very easy and fast meals. Bit, I’m not getting to hard on myself if everything isn’t done perfectly. One day the babies will be out of the house and I will have a ton of free time to do everything – but I will miss them like crazy and miss these crazy chaotic times when they were young and life was fun.

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