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How to Budget for Your Baby

couple money baby girl

Even though it’s still a few months away, we’re counting down the arrival of our second daughter this winter. Having gone through this a few years ago, we’re not as stressed with getting ready. Becoming parents has been a wonderfully big change in our lives and we’re eager to see what will happen next as we become a family of four.

Speaking of finances and family, I’m excited to mention that Daily Finance interviewed us for their new Lifestage Lesson series about how we prepared for our first baby and what we’ve learned for our next one. The team spent the day at home and getting a close-up view of how we manage. Come check us out in the video!

elle baby fund daily finance

If you can’t see the video above, here’s the direct link

Why Have a Baby Fund?

What expenses can you expect? Every family is different, but here are some bills we’re expecting for our upcoming arrival:

  • Hospital Bills: Our insurance changed with this next child, so we will be having a higher hospital bill. :( The good news is that our OB appointments are cheaper this time around, so we aren’t feeling too squeezed.
  • Baby Gear: Though we plan on having all the essential ready, we want to have some buffer in case we’re misisng anything (every baby is different).
  • No Work for a Month: Based on the last time around, I’m estimating that I’ll be away from work for about a month.

There’s no way we can anticipate every expense, but we have some peace of mind knowing that we have a system in place.

Tips on How to Save for Your Baby

You can get more details in the video, but I just want to highlight some tips to help you get ready for the arrival of your little one.

  • Start an Automated Savings Plan: For us automated savings is a wonderful solution to not only keep us on track for our goals, but it saves us time. We’re using Capital One 360 to build our fund.
  • Let Your Network  of Family and Friends Help: It does take a village to raise a child, so welcome help  whenever you can. We were grateful when loved ones offered their talents and helped us get ready for our little one. Several friends contributed to preparing the nursery including painting, decorating, and even giving handmade art pieces.
  • Examine Your Work Situation: Childcare can be a huge expense, so sit down before the little one arrives to see what would be best for you and your family. Being self employed we had to look at whether I could finish my work while having her with me.

Thoughts on Savings for a Baby

Whether or not you start a baby fund separate from other savings, the important take away is having savings can help you with this big transition. You can focus on your bundle of joy instead of sweating over the finances.

Alternatives to Cable TV: Roku 3

couple money roku 3 review

If you’re looking for a way to still have some entertainment options, but don’t want to go the cable or satellite tv route, you may want to try out the Roku 3.

We cut our cable subscription I think last year when the price rose and we weren’t getting much out of it. Besides not being big TV watchers, we also don’t like having to keep up with a certain schedule for shows. We’d rather watch on our time.

We are fans of streaming services as the prices seemed more reasonable and we could watch shows whenever we were in the mood to catch them. After hearing some good reviews about the Roku 3 and the some of the free connect included, we bought one.

Roku’s Content Versus Cable TV

What appealed to me about Roku is that there is no monthly fee for the basic service. You buy a unit and out of the box your Roku comes with a lot of free channels and content.

One of my favorites is PBS. I’m enjoying watching the Roosevelt documentary series on my own schedule, which is an necessity with an active toddler.

Looking for more options, simply go to the channel store and only add the ones you want.

Potential Additional Costs

Even though there is plenty of free content to enjoy with Roku if you’re looking for something comparable to having a cable or satellite plan, you’ll probably need to pay for streaming services like Netflix, HuluPlus, or Amazon.

We’ve used Netflix for a few years now and have enjoyed it. They have a huge selection of tv shows and movies as well as some of their own original content like House of Cards. Currently streaming is available for $8.99/month and an additional $7.99 if you want to receive a single DVD at a time from their vast library.

When we set up our Roku, we were offered a two month trial to HuluPlus, which we are using right now. With the Plus, members can get subscription service with the full current season of many TV shows, access to to content on their electronics such as computers, iPod Touch, and TV. Hulu offers less ads for their shows, but they are still included with a paid subscription.

Amazon Instant will stream TV shows and movies as well. It’s included with out Prime membership, so it’s wonderful to have more options on the Roku. If you’re not a Prime member, you buy or rent a la carte, which can be pricy if you tend to watch a lot of shows.

There are also specialty sports channels, with some of them requiring a fee  (~$1.99- $3.99/month) to access live games.

Thoughts on Roku 3

For us, we keep mostly to the free channels and just added our current streaming subscriptions to roku and it’s perfect for us. We can catch the shows we enjoy and the cost is cheaper than our previous cable bill.

I’d love to hear from those who have used the Roku for awhile. What do you think of it? What channels do you recommend? Are there any features that you just love?

Versatile Blogger Award

getting to know elle couple money

I hope everyone is had a wonderful weekend. We went out of town and it feels good to be back home. On top of the fun we had this afternoon, I discovered that I’ve been nominated by Deb from DebtDebs for the Versatile Blogger Award. After reading Deb’s, I decided to go ahead and do it. For those who don’t know about the Versatile Blogger Awards, it’s a fun meme where you get to know more about bloggers. The rules are:

  • Tell 7 things about yourself (Debs asked me to give some tidbits about pregnancy and parenting).
  • Nominate 15 bloggers

Here are my 7 details:

  1. During my first pregnancy I had no food aversions (though I had bad morning sickness for the first 14 weeks). This time around I spent about a month avoiding meat, coffee, and ginger. Coffee has become a treat, I eat less meat, but ginger is pretty much off limits.
  2. Now that I’m a parent, I’m catching up on some of the kid shows on Netflix and have discovered remakes of my favorite shows growing up like Strawberry Shortcake, Ninja Turtles, and My Little Pony. It feels so weird so I skipped out on most of them.
  3. First baby was a summer one and she was born during a heatwave. This time around we planned a winter baby.
  4. No cravings with either pregnancy. Perhaps I should pretend so I can get some more cakes and pies :)
  5. We like to have fun and play around as parents, sometimes with unexpected consequences. Thanks to a joke from her daddy, whenever we pass a large patch of shadow she points at it and says ‘Batman is in the shadows’. My husband think it’s awesome.
  6. Speaking of superheroes, my daughter likes to mash up her dress up. Two of favorites of mine are ‘Batman Princess’ and ‘Dancing Ninja’.
  7. I exercise with my little girl by playing Just Dance. If it were up to her we would dance to the same 3 songs, but as her mom, I have her try at least a few new ones.

Here’s my nominations for the Versatile Blogger Award:

For those nominated, share whatever you like.Take care and I’ll get back to financial posts this week!

Introducing the Couple Money Podcast

couple money first podcast

I’m proud to announce that the first episode of the Couple Money Podcast is up! This has been a project I’ve been working on behind the scenes and I’m so happy to have Brian from Debt Discipline join me as the first guest.

It’s a weekly podcast that I’ll be hosting to cover money questions and situations couples may have as they try to build their net worth together.

Why Start the Couple Money Podcast?

I’ve been hearing from readers and others about starting a podcast, but my shyness held me back. This summer with some encouragement, I finally decided to go ahead and take the plunge. I’d love to reach out and connect with you in a new way.

I decided that the first episodes would be based on some of the biggest money questions and topics on Couple Money, such as:

  • How do I start talking about money with my spouse?
  • How can we dig ourselves out of debt?
  • How can we manage our money without counting every single penny?

It’s my hope that the podcast will help you two reach financial freedom together.

Learning from One Another

Even though podcasting is so different than writing here on Couple Money, I’ve discovered that it is incredibly fun.  I’ve had some great chats and hearing from others how they accomplished their financial goals as a couple and family.

Brian and his wife paid off over $100k in debt! I spoke with Julie about how they paid for their daughter’s college so she’d have no debt (and neither would they). Real people, real stories – that’s my favorite part of the podcast right now. It’s a feature that I hope will be the backbone of the show.

Need Your Help

I want to build a podcast that inspires and offer practical advice on how to communicate better about money AND grow your net worth. I can’t do that without you. I’d love to hear from you about this episode and the podcast. What topics and money questions do you want to see covered on the show? What stories do you want us to cover?

Please check out the first episode here and leave your thoughts in the comments!

Make Your Debt Payments Automatic

automate your finances relax

Today is the last in the Pay Off Your Debt Faster series. Over the last month, I shared step by step how the two of you can speed up your debt free plan. The last step – automating your payments – has been touched on briefly, but it has such a huge impact on your success, I want to take a few minutes to focus on how you can do it today.

Why You Should Automate Your Debt Payments

It’s no secret that I love automating finances, whether it’s for debt, savings, or investing. It’s a solution that has helped us tremendously with reaching our money goals.

One of the biggest reasons why automating your finances makes sense is that most couples I know live full (and sometimes hectic) lives and their payments already scheduled lets them focus on more important things. We have had times where work or family have kept us busy, but because our payments were already schedule, our cash flow didn’t suffer and we avoided getting it with late fees.

How to Set Up Your Debt Payments

Most banks and credit unions offer this money and time saving feature for free. If yours doesn’t or they are slow with their bill pay system, it’s time to switch for your joint accounts. Your bank should be helping you build your finances, not make it harder. We made the switch years ago to Capital One 360 and we’ve been happy with their service and the nice little bonus of earning some interest with checking. Always a plus in my book!

Getting your debt payments started is as simply as getting the minimums and debt snow ball payments up with them schedule early enough so you don’t ever have to pay late fees again.

We only needed around 20 minutes to set things up and we spend like 15 minutes each month just to review things.The goals is to make it easy for us to maintain and monitor so we can focus on more important things. You can also use services like Personal Capital, Finovera, or Mint to keep you up to date of your progress.

So how do you do it?

  1. Log into your checking account and go to your bill pay section
  2. Schedule your minimum and snowball/avalanche payments
  3. When scheduling payments give your bank enough time to process so you don’t ever get hit with late fees. (If they have really slow service, go ahead and switch banks. You shouldn’t have to stress over bills getting paid on time.)

And just like that, you’re done!

The only time you’d probably need to mess with things is when you have to increasing payments (huzzah!) or when you’ve paid off your debts (score!).

Thoughts on Paying Debt Off Faster

I’d love to get your take on how you manage to stay the course for your finances. How much of your financial system is automated?  How many of you have scheduled your debt payments? Which bank or credit union do you recommend? Which ones do you avoid?

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