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Packing Our (Labor) Bags

labor bag for the hospital

I’ve never felt time crawl slower than this month. We’re looking forward to getting the baby out meeting our daughter sometime in July (unless she picks August).

With the baby on my mind, it’s starting to show on Couple Money with topics. While not all posts in July will cover baby expenses, this week will probably be focused on the topic. I’m preparing posts on other topics for the rest of the month.

One of our assignments for our birth and labor class was getting a labor bag ready for our trip to the hospital. Each couple went around the room and shared what they packed. While I think we did a great job, I noticed we were missing some things.

While having an iPad2 for the big event would be fun, we just don’t have it in our budget.

Recommended Goodies

If there is one thing I learned quickly is that there are many strong opinions on what parents need to be prepared for their baby’s arrival. Everyone has their own advice, which is helpful and at the same time, overwhelming. I’m hoping you can help us with this project.

Essentials

From what I’ve gathered, there are some necessary items that you need to have ready in your labor bag.

  • Picture ID
  • Insurance Card
  • Hospital Registration Forms (if you haven’t pre-registered)
  • Contacts/Eyeglasses
  • Toiletries
  • List of people to call and their phone numbers, your cell phone and charger
  • Nursing bras, pads, and cream

I was also advised to check with the hospital to see what they provide. sometimes you can pack lighter if your hospital will take care of some of your needs. Since our house isn’t terribly far away, if we want something from home rather than the hospital, we’ll ask friends to swing by and pick them up.

What would you say is an absolute necessity to include in our birth/labor bag? Do you have any specific recommendations for us?

More Stuff

Everything below is considered nice, but not essential. Some parents swear that you’ll need it while others say most of the stuff stayed in the bag.

  • Bathrobe
  • Slippers
  • Pillows from home
  • Camera/Video camera with batteries, charger, and memory card
  • Comfortable clothes
  • Snacks
  • Bathing suit
  • Money for parking
  • Change for vending machines

What did you have to help you with the lull during labor? did you have video for the birth or did pictures suffice? What’s a comfortable combo for my husband when he stays overnight at the hospital with the baby and I?

Thoughts on Packing a Labor Bag

This posts is definitely more collaborative than most. I’m eager to hear your birth stories and advice. What did you actually use from the labor bag? What did you wish you included in your bag?

Just how long was it from when you checked in to when you gave birth?

Photo Credit: Stella Dauer

Saving Big Bucks on Baby Gear

baby girl gear deals

This week for the Baby Expense Series, two guest posts are tackling the big costs of raising your baby. Today Katie Doyle is sharing some wonderful tips on getting the best value. If you have any suggestions, please leave your tips on the comments.

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“Babies are so expensive.” “You’ll never have money to do anything anymore.” “Have you SEEN the price of diapers?!”

When people find out you’re pregnant, they have some uplifting comments for you, but mostly they want you to truly understand the financial impact this new life will bring.

But you can prove them wrong.

Our sweet daughter turned six months old this week and we sat down to figure out the financial cost of having a third person in our family. Turns out, she’s cost us $44.86 per month these past six months.  That’s less than a tank of gas or dinner out.

You can save major dough if you’re willing to work with your schedules and do a little diaper math.

There may be cheaper ways to get diapers and wipes than Amazon.com/mom, but if there are I haven’t found them. We have 168 Huggies diapers autoshipped to our house every month and they cost us a whopping $22.92. The diaper math on that? $0.136 per diaper. And wipes and Diaper Genie refills? We have them autoshipped, too for less than $7 per month each. Just imagine the added savings if you used cloth diapers!

The biggest cost of having a baby is finding someone you trust to take care of him or her. In our case, we were able to negotiate working from home half of each day with our respective employers for the first six months after she was born. My husband worked from home and stayed with her in the mornings and I took over in the afternoons. This saved us about $1,000 per month and allowed us to have precious extra time with our little one.

7 Tips to Saving on Baby Expenses

Bankrate.com offers up seven other tips that came into play in our situation and may work well for you:

1.       Barter online rather than buying baby items.

2.       Hold a party to swap baby items.

3.       Buy generic diapers and wipes.

4.       Breast-feed instead of buying formula.

5.       Use manufacturers’ coupons and grocers’ baby clubs.

6.       Join baby-sitting co-ops.

7.       Try free mommy programs at the library.

There are incidental costs that come up, but if you’re willing to do a little compromising, you can be sure that your little bundle of joy doesn’t require a wad of cash.

Katie Doyle is the mom of a 6-month-old princess and the director of content for Bankrate.com, a leading personal finance website.

Join In the Baby Expenses Series

Are you a parent or a parent to be with some helpful advice or stories? Please go ahead and join in on the fun, there are 4 ways you can be a part of it:

  1. Leave your tips in the comment section. I  love reviewing thoughtful comments from readers. Some topics have several ‘right’ answers and I think sharing different view points can be helpful.
  2. Submit your stories for future posts. As you know, baby and expenses can cover a variety of topics. If you have a short story or some tips you want to share, please submit them. If you’re a blogger, please share your site’s address with the email so I can credit you if you want.
  3. Write a blog post about your experience. Please include a link in your bio for your site and if you have a relevant post on your site, please link to it in your post.
  4. Share you favorite posts with friends. If you have a favorite post, please share them with your friends who are expecting. I’ve included share buttons for Facebook and Twitter to make it easier and you can always email them your favorite posts as well. If you think it’s a great for them, please encourage your friends to sign up and receive updates through RSS or directly to their inbox. It’s free and an easy way for them to keep up with the latest posts on Couple Money.

If you’re expecting or raising a newborn, I wish you and your family the best!

Photo Credit: {Charlotte.Morrall}

Welcome Wayward Googlers!

it crowd fan moss

As I write here on Couple Money, I look for ways to discover what topics interest readers so I can include more of them on the site. Besides comments, emails, and tweets, I also check to see what phrases on search engines bring people over. It’s fascinating to see what information people are looking for. Many times I have a post that answers their specific question, but once in a while I’ll see some search terms that are unexpected.

I thought it’ll be fun to share a few of these different search terms that get people to Couple Money along with my thoughts.

“the it crowd moss”

What’s insane is that this is due to 1 post and it was a personal finance carnival, not a long post on the show.  I am a fan of the show so it was interesting to see that the post is showing up when people are searching for IT crowd. I also discovered that Moss is more popular than Roy in my search results.

“rich people”

I was surprised to see this term come up over the last month. I haven’t written again specifically about rich people, so when I dug further I discovered that an older post was the culprit. I did a review about Siebold’s book How Rich People Think. Guess more and more people are interested in the topic.

“french cuisine”

LOL, I think this would be a better fit for my food/lifestyle blog. One weekly links post caused a bit of traffic to come in with this term. I’ll never understand the nuances of Google.

“flying baby”

Oh, no – someone catch her! It took me a moment to figure out it was a travel post for parents, but I still can’t get the imagine of a baby being thrown out of my head.

Those were my favorite from the past month. What about you? How many of my fellow bloggers are surprised by wayward Googlers?

Reader Tip

Thanks for Jan P. for sharing this information with Couple Money readers:

We are offering free Anat Baniel Method for Children lessons for children with special needs, during the Children’s Mastery Training Program, by Anat Baniel Method Practitioners, a value of $200 per lesson!

ABM is a gentle non-invasive method and a cutting edge approach based on neuroscience using movement to send new information to the brain that creates new neural pathways improving all areas of your child’s life, be it physical, emotional or mental.  ABM works with children with :

Cerebral Palsy – Autism Spectrum – Brain Damage – ADD/ADHD – Genetic Disorders – Brachial Plexus – Developmental Delay – Sensory Integration Disorder – Aspergers – GERD – Eating Disorders – Learning Disability – and more…

Anat Baniel’s work is inspiring and life changing. A clinical psychologist and dancer, she studied and collaborated closely with Dr Feldenkrais for over 15 years. From 30 years of remarkable outcomes with thousands of people, she developed her own cutting edge, scientifically based method for transforming the lives of children with special needs. Anat and her practitioners are internationally known for their outcomes with children.

Lesson space is available on Friday July 22nd, and Saturday July 23rd, 2011 in the morning of both days.   To register, Please call or email Mike Davis at 480.720-5854 or mike@anatbanielmethod.com with any questions. www.anatbanielmethod .com

Personal Finance Posts to Catch Up On

If you have some free time this weekend and want some tips and information for your finances, be sure to read some of these wonderful posts. There are some handy tips this week to help you out.

I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did. I also recommend checking out my blogroll to pick up some great personal finance blogs to follow. Please also let me know what are some of your favorite blogs that you enjoy reading on a regular basis.

Have fun this weekend with your family!

Photo Credit: artethgray

Being Grateful Can Make You Happier

be happy be grateful

Happiness is so important it is mentioned in the Declaration of Independence.  But it can seem elusive at times.  According to several studies, one key to happiness is gratitude.

It can be work to be thankful when things aren’t going your way.  But if you’re alive, there are reasons to be grateful.  Here are some ideas to bring gratitude and happiness into your life.

Create a Gratitude Journal

Start with a blank notebook and each evening before bed write down one (or five) things for which you are thankful.  By having to focus on appreciating the moments or things in your life you’ll become more appreciative.

Every once in while read back on past entries and it’ll make you happiness just seeing all the good things in your life.

Pay it Forward

Remember the commercial where one good deed by a person is noticed by another who turns around and does something nice for a third person?  That’s the concept of paying it forward.  Maybe you won’t know how your actions affect others but going out of your way feels nice.

It can be something as small as paying for the coffee of the person in line behind you at Starbucks.  Of course, if you’re Bill Gates it could be working to eradicate smallpox in the world.  The point is that you’re giving to someone else with no expectation of payback.    It feels good to help others.

Say Thank You

Two words can make such a big difference.   Thanking people for their time, service and deeds does two things.  It makes you stand out because not enough people show appreciation these days.

It also brings it home that you should be grateful for that person.  Take the time to write thank you notes or letters regularly.  The daughter of one of my co-workers sells a lot of Girl Scout cookies at our office every year.    I was blown away when she wrote thank you notes for every customer and kept it on my desk for months.

Stop Complaining

Complaining about the little things in life encourages discontent and unhappiness.   I first became intrigued with the concept of eradicating reducing complaining when hearing about a book titled “A Complaint Free World” and the 21 day challenge on Oprah.

I’m a complainer and focusing on gratitude helps me cut back and realize I really don’t have much to complain about in life.

Increase your personal happiness by showing gratitude with these ideas or others.    If you have an iPhone there’s even an app for that, aptly named “Gratitude and Happiness”.   What actions do you take to show gratitude?

Photo: Some rights reserved by kateausburn

Love Drop in July: Felicity

love drop join

Every month, I receive information from the Love Drop Network about a family in need of some support. They’re deserving families who could use a break. Here’s the Love Drop family for July:

This month we’re coming together to help out the Withrow family – Jon and Amanda and their two children. Their four-year-old daughter Felicity was diagnosed with brain cancer just a few months ago.

Felicity had immediate surgery and is currently undergoing aggressive radiation treatments for the remaining portion of the tumor, which has left the family with a huge amount of medical bills. Let’s raise at least $5,000 to help them with the cost of radiation therapy, especially with upcoming expenses from a new baby on the way!

Where Your Money Goes

For the entire month of July, we’ll be giving money, gifts and services to the Withrow family to help in three main areas: (1) medical expenses for Felicity’s treatment, (2) clothes and supplies for the new baby, and (3) prayers for the other kids at the hospital. Along the way we hope that people will also help out by coming up with cool things to give that will help them spend time and have fun as a family, as we’ve done for our other families. And by the way, if anyone could swing it (or part of it), their *dream* gift would be a new bedroom suite with a king-size bed. Just throwing it out there . . . you never know what you’re gonna get. :)

heartWhy We’re Helping This Family

In just the past few months, the Withrow family has gone from perfectly “normal” to experiencing the unthinkable – first when Felicity was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and then shortly after, when her 24-year-old uncle Chad, the life and spirit of her family, passed away from heatstroke while working outside. In addition, Amanda is pregnant with their third child, which is due sometime during Felicity’s treatments.

The emotional weight of these three situations is incredible, and the financial stresses are huge, but through it all the Withrow’s continue to care for others. In fact, when Amanda gets back from the hospital each day, she tells others about all the kids they met there, and asks for prayers and love for them as well. If you’ve ever had a child in the hospital, you know how valuable a loving community can be. This month, let’s become that community for them.

How You Can Get Involved

If you want to get involved and help the Withrow family and others, please sign up for membership to donate $1,$5, or even $20/month. When your donation is combined with other contributions, some wonderful results happen. You can also make a one time contribution.

Love Drop is a great project and I can’t wait to see what the team is up to next!