Sleep… It Is What a Family Needs, But at What Cost?

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sleeping beauty

sleeping beauty

How to get your wee one to sleep through the night has been a hot button topic for many years. Parents will spend any amount of money to “guarantee” that their child will sleep through the night. They will spend money on different sleep attire, noise/music playing devices, light displays, and even pay someone to sleep in their child’s room.

Our little family came to a grinding halt this week when our precious little bundle of joy went through some serious sleep regression. Before I go any further I must present a disclaimer. I am in no way endorsing or suggesting positively or negatively a certain method of getting your infant to sleep. We are in no way passing judgement on how you get your wee one to sleep. The following is our story and what has worked for us.

We lucked out in the baby department and our little girl slept through the night starting at about 6 weeks. I set alarms to get up to feed her until she was 8 weeks old and my pediatrician told me I was nuts. Stella was gaining weight and height like a champ and I no longer needed to night feed! Matt and I both subscribe to Dr. Harvey Karp’s Happiest Baby on the Block method.

Then about two weeks ago, Stella started waking up in the middle of the night. At first it was because she has pooped herself and would nurse back to sleep with no worries. Then a few days later she stopped pooping at night and would just wake up between 2-3am every night to play and it would take until about 4:30 am to get her back to sleep. Fast forward another couple of nights and she was waking up at 11pm and then 9 pm and would just shriek and cry. Nothing was calming her down at this point. I would pace with her for 2 hours and then wake Matt up to pace with her for 2 hours so we both could have some kind of sleep. We attempted co-sleeping in an act of desperation and it ended with Matt in the guest room and my straining every muscle in my neck and shoulders. We made a feeble attempt at the cry it out method and it only lasted 30 minutes before I thought my brain was going to explode, and my mother bear instincts were chomping on my ear drums.

After 72 hours of little to no sleep I was walking zombie and was praying to be hit by a car so I could nap in the hospital guilt free. I was driven to the wonderful world of the interwebs and with credit card in hand was ready to sign away however much it took for “THE” answer to our sleep problems. This led me to purchasing a 40$ sleep suit and two books on non-crying it out sleep methods. Just in case it was a bad case of gas I was ready to give up all caffeine, dairy, gluten, and soy products. As a mostly vegan this was a depressing prospect.

Of course the very next night she slept like a champ for 11 hours in her new sleep suit and with her air conditioning unit set slightly lower than I thought she would like. The books will still be an interesting read, but whoever would have thought that the baby liked sleeping in a lower temperature?!?!

The moral of the story here is that there are companies out there that prey on very very vulnerable parents. Listening to baby screams and being forced to stay awake is considered a form of torture. You can pay 5-10 thousand dollars for a sleep consultation when you can get the same advice from a 5$ used book from Amazon. I saw a very appropriate quote on the Facebooks the other day, “A worried parent does better research than the FBI”. Do some internet research on the subject and read a varied amount of sources.

If you are curious we will be reviewing the sleep suit and the two books once I have time to fully test all three products!

-Rachel


Our 529 College Savings Plan – Where are we so far

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As of 3 days ago, Stella is now a five month old.  Bring on the teething!  It’s also a good time to check-in on the ole 529.  That is what got us started here afterall.

Today her 529 account closed at $1,904.49.  As it’s only been open 4 months, to keep things simple we’ll call that an average of $476/mo we’ve been able to put into the account.  As that is quite a bit more than my car payment it feels rather considerable, but in the grand scheme of planning for college, not so much.

Screen Shot 2013-05-04 at 8.01.48 PM

Based on our current savings plan we’re on track to be $107,000 short of paying for in-state tuition.  Worse yet, the average monthly is skewed a bit as we had some gifts from family that are included in that total.  At our current rate of $300/mo we’re investing into the account it will actually be closer to a $140k shortfall – Time to hit up the grandparents.

What’s the plan?  I pitched the idea of buying a classic Porsche that would appreciate in value and easily pay for college in 18 years, but that plan was rejected fairly quickly (although it’s not all that crazy).  For us it includes finding some additional sources of income to supplement our savings.  Rachel now spends an hour or two a day researching vendors and wholesale pricing as we’re in the process of starting a small online store.  Our goal is to create a very modest $250-500/mo that we can put towards college.  While we’d love to shoot for the stars, this has to be a business that is manageable by a busy full-time mom and a dad who works a good bit more than full-time.

While our plans may not work for everyone, I do recommend getting a good handle on expenses.  We are fairly religious users of Mint.com to track our finances and investments.  This is a great way to aggregate all accounts into a single system that lets you create goals for college, paying down debts, saving, and investing.  Before we started using it we mainly flew by the seat of our pants with our finances.  Having our financial status in our face (we do try to go at least once a week) has been a great way to keep our spending in check and our savings on target.

Note – That’s not an advertisement.  I just find it to be a really great product… which also happens to be free. 

-Matt

 


Other Uses for Woven Wraps

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For the first night in quite some time the baby went to bed early… Matt and I found ourselves bored with nothing to do, and thus this blog post was created!

Have you been looking at the fancy expensive woven wraps? Haven’t been able to justify the cost to your significant other? 529onadime here to show you some other uses for woven wraps besides plain old wrapping! If these don’t help you justify that $200 purchase nothing will!

Ground Cover

Gone out for a picnic in the park and forgot your blanket? No worries if you are using a woven wrap!

blanket

soaking up the rays!

adorable

 

Superman Cape

faster than a speeding baby!

faster than a speeding baby!

Play Fort

queen of the world!

queen of the world!

Hammock

sup

sup

Cat Bed

this wrap was thoroughly lint rolled after this photo was taken!

this wrap was thoroughly lint rolled after this photo was taken!

Napkin

replace mei tai with woven wrap!

replace mei tai with woven wrap!

Table Runner

table_runner

Shower Power

shower

 

Tourniquet

we highly recommend only using this when all else has failed!

we highly recommend only using this when all else has failed!

Mummy Wrap/ Adult Blanket

mummy

Dress or Toga

dress

 

Airplane Neck Pillow

pillow

 

Carpet or Stair Runner

cat_bed

 

Fashion Scarf or Shawl

scarf

No wraps were harmed in the making of this blog post. All wraps were lint rolled and washed after the photo shoot!

Please note this was all in pure fun we absolutely do not encourage actually using your wraps for these purposes. For the love of everything that is good in the world do not leave your infant alone with a woven wrap. Do not try this at home, but please do send any other suggestions you have for other uses of woven wraps!


Do Not Pay For a New Breast Pump!

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Affordable Health Care for America ActHere at 529onadime we are always trying to point of ways for new families to save money and this is another great way to pocket some extra change and stash it away for your child’s college.

As an avid reader of a number of breastfeeding related blogs I find there is one common questions that is always asked. What kind of breast pump should I get and how do I get it at a reasonable cost. Under the Affordable Health Care For America Act women no longer have to pay for their breast pump out of pocket.

Non-grandfathered plans and issuers are required to provide coverage without cost sharing consistent with these guidelines in the first plan year (in the individual market, policy year) that begins on or after August 1, 2012. – US Department of Health and Human Services

Screen Shot 2013-04-24 at 9.16.07 PM

 What this means for women:

Your health insurance plan year that starts after 1 August 2012 must cover a lactation consultant and a breast pump for each birth.

It is about dang time breastfeeding mothers had some governmental support around here! This is a United States nation wide law. Under my insurance I was able to meet with the hospital IBCLC International Board Certified Lactation Consultant twice before the baby and I were discharge post birth, and I went home with a double electric pump at no additional cost to my family. In fact my c-section, brief strep b scare, lactation consultant, double electric breast pump, and four days in the hospital only cost my family $129.97. My co-worker who was 6 weeks further along than I was paid for the same breast pump that I received for free out of pocket because she was unaware that our insurance covered the breast pump. While I was attending birthing class I was very surprised at the number of mothers who were also oblivious to the new law that required all insurance companies to cover breast pumps and lactation consultants.

Get the help you need mommas!

As a first time mom I was completely floored that my child popped out not knowing how to breastfeed. I assumed it was one of those things that just happened! Thankfully, our hospital pediatrician put me on a breastfeeding watch list and insisted I see the IBCLC. The two days I spent with her was invaluable to my future breastfeeding success. The baby and I learned how to successfully breastfeed. Four and a half months later we are still exclusively breastfeeding and without the initial help from the IBCLC and the follow up assistance I received from my local La Leche League I fear I would have given up after engorgement hit and my milk came in.

Long Story Short:

Your insurance company must cover the following as per Obama Care aka the Affordable Health Care for America Act.

  1. Breastpump
  2. IBCLC

The Fine Print:

Unfortunately the law is very open ended. This means that insurance companies like Kaiser Permanente can get away with only providing a manual pump. – NPR

In order to be prudent call your insurance company and find out what is their interpretation of the new law to make sure that you are covered. If your insurance company does not cover the pump you desire make sure you speak to a manager and voice your compliant.

I highly recommend that you contact your local Congressman and push for the new law to be more specific and to cover the higher grade double electric pumps. Here is how to contact your local Congressman.

-Rachel


Paying for Medical School with a 529

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Paging Dr Baby

Paging Dr Baby

 

At my office I frequently equate the cost of  services provided to that of physical goods – “That consultant costs about a 3-series a month.”

My favorite comparison being that of a 3-series BMW as it’s easily digestible even to a mixed audience.

Want to pay for your kid to go to medical school?  That’s somewhere between a 3 and 5 series a year.

According to a survey of student tuition and fees by the Association of American Medical Colleges, the median cost in 2012-2013 for first year students at public medical schools is $54,625 per year for out-of-state students and $32,197 for in-state students, which includes tuition, fees and health insurance. First year students at private schools had median tuition, fees and health insurance costs of $50,078 for resident and $50,768 for nonresident students the same year.

When we started this blog our goal was to create a resource for others seeking information on college savings.  This is one of our primary goals for our child, and something we started almost immediately…. we did have to wait for a SSN which delayed us a few weeks.  While our coverage has expanded considerably, this is still a primary goal.

For our daughter, the focus isn’t on attending an Ivy League school, but ensuring she has the opportunity to follow her passion.  Is her dream to become a hair stylist?  While her 529 will be vastly overfunded for this career, she’s covered.  As the idealist, I have ensured Rachel our daughter will be an artsy engineer.  Not a requirement, but that’s my dream.  I hope she’s able to follow her passion while still being able to pay her mortgage.

The 529 calculators I’ve tried indicate we’ll be well over $100k short of paying for our daughters instate tuition…   Not exactly what I like to see every time we login to our bank account.  Four months in we’re at ~$2000 and our returns have been quite favorable.  Will we have the $300k estimated to cover the costs of her tuition   Not by a long shot, but we are on track to have all of the basics fully funded.

The Georgetown University School of Medicine, for example, lists costs of nearly $3,000 for books, supplies, equipment and boards for first year medical students.

$3000 for books?  Well shucks, I guess Rachel an I will have to sell some Plasma.

-Matt

Source US News


What Is Your Favorite Way to Save Money?

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I wish my hair was this awesome!

I wish my hair was this awesome!

My favorite way to save money is….

Having my husband or my sister cut my hair! Before joining the Army a few years back I was obsessed with coloring and styling my hair. It would cost me between 150$-200$ every 6-8 weeks to maintain my crazy hair styles and colors. The Army broke me of that habit with 3 months of bootcamp and no access to hair dye. The nerve!!! After boot camp I didn’t see the point to paying that kind of money for a hair color I was forbidden from wearing and hair styles that would be difficult to fit in my military approved bun. Thus, when my split ends got bad I would have my husband take an inch or two off the bottom!

Fast foward a few years and I have graduated to having my little sister cut my hair when she is in town. I no longer have the strict hair style/color restrictions of the military, but I have a wee one who loves to pull hair and stick it in her mouth. Yet again I find myself wearing the military style bun to save my poor hair from the sticky hands of the baby!

I have saved roughly $2,600 over the past two years just by staying away from the salon!

My husband’s favorite way to save money is…

Making his own beer! I will leave that for him to post about later 😉

Tell us your favorite way to save money by making a comment in the comments section!

-Rachel

 

 


Baby Activities for FREE!

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Staying at home all day with the baby making you crazy? Trying to find low-cost ways to get out of the house?

We are here to help!

 davis storytime

Baby Story Time at Your Local Library

Almost every single public library across the nation has free baby story time activities. In the San Jose area there are free baby sign language classes as well. If you live in a bigger metropolitan area check out libraries outside of your immediate area. While you most likely will not be able to check out books at a library outside of your district, you can still attend the events!

La Leche League Meetings

Even if breastfeeding is going swimmingly, check out your local La Leche League. Your experience and advice could be invaluable to new breastfeeding mothers, and while they would love any donation you can offer, the meetings are free! If you are having some trouble with breastfeeding or just have a question you are dying to have answered definitely go check out your local La Leche League! To find a local La Leche League near your click here.

Babywearing International Meeting

Have you ever been curious about babywearing? Babywearing International offers free monthly meetings for anyone who is babywearing curious. At each meeting there are at least two baby wearing educators who are trained to answer all of your questions. My favorite part about meetings is getting to try out new carriers from the lending library! To find a local Babywearing International meeting near you click here.

large_meetup_logo

Meetup.com

This has been an invaluable resource for our family. Both Matt and myself are originally from the East Coast and we only a couple of years ago moved to the West Coast. Then 2 months after the baby was born we moved again to the San Jose area. This made meeting new people really difficult. Meetup is a free site where you can find all sorts of people who share common interests to go hang out with. There are so many mommy meetups in our area that I have a hard time keeping up with all of them! Check out Meetup.com here.

Do you have a favorite getting baby out of the house activity? Please share it with us in the comments!

-Rachel


Saving For College by Ditching the Disposables?!

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While there is a lot of internet hype about how cloth diapers will save you thousands there is actually some truth there!

First let’s get into some of the background…

What are cloth diapers?

To be blunt… cloth that your baby poops and pees on! All joking aside there are many different types of cloth diapers. I will briefly describe the ones that I have used and their average cost.

Pocket Diaper

Pocket Diaper

Pocket Diapers – range from 10-30$ each + inserts which range from 1-8$ each. These are great for daycares, husbands, babysitters and anyone else who needs super simple to use diapers. I personally highly recommend velcro diapers for these people. Velcro has two names in the cloth diaper world, aplix or hook and loop. Snap diapers have a lot of different snap settings and hip snaps. Matt never remembers to do the hip snaps and it sometimes causes leaks!

 

All-in-Ones

All-in-Ones

All in Ones or All in Twos (AIOs or AI2s) – range 20+$ each. These are pocket diapers with a built in insert. The bonus of AIOs or AI2s is they are slimmer fitting and less bulky looking on baby. Many moms swear by these, but they did not work for our family. Our darling daughter urinates more than one would think is humanly possible. She will wet through an AIO in under an hour, and I don’t believe in spending that kind of money to have to add more inserts.

 

 

Prefold Diapers

Prefold Diapers

Prefolds & Covers – average 1-4$/prefold and 5-15$/cover. These make up the majority of my stash of cloth diapers. These are workhorses of the cloth diapering world and they are the most cost effective in my book. A cover is literally a plastic cover that goes over the pre-fold. A prefold is a flat that has been tri folded. There is some origami baby folding involved here, which makes these diapers less appealing for those, like my wonderful darling love-of-my-life husband, who aren’t totally on board with cloth diapering

 

Fitted

Fitted

 

Fitteds – 25-50$ each. These are super slim, super absorbent diapers that still require a cover over top of them. Again I don’t seem the point of paying an arm and a leg for something that I still have to purchase plastic pants to put over top.

 

 

Flats – Your cheapest option. you can turn an old 100% cotton tee-shirt into a flat. It is just a flat piece of fabric that you origami fold around baby and then throw some plastic covers over top! I have not yet tried flats, but have just put in a co-op order for some hemp and bamboo flats to try!

Cost of Disposable Diapers or Sposies

I am basing the costs off of my baby’s experience with disposables.  Your mileage may vary somewhat.

  • We had roughly 16 diaper changes a day for the first 3 weeks of her life and then it went down to 12-14 diaper changes for the following three weeks of her life. 
  • Note this does not include the numerous diapers that we would lay her on and then she would pee on them and have to be changed again.
  • Butt Cream – from the time we left the hospital until the time we switched to cloth diapers we were going through jars of aquaphor, hydrocortisone, bactrim, A&D ointment, Calmoseptine, and other various butt creams at an alarming rate

Pampers are currently on Amazon.com for .27/each. 16x21x.27 = $90.72 for the first three weeks of her life 13x21x.17 (she was in size 1 dipes by then and Amazon.com has them for .17/diaper) = $46.41

During the first 6 weeks of her life we went through 3 tubes of A&D cream, 3 tubes of Calmoseptine, 2 tubes of hydrocortisone, 2 jars of aquaphor, 2 tubes of destin and 1 tube of bacitracin. All of these prices are coming from Amazon.com. Cream Price = $88.86

I almost forgot about wipes! We were using Pampers sensitive wipes and we went through 2 of the giant boxes of wipes during the time we were using disposables. For a grand total Amazon.com cost of $34.38

For the first 6 weeks of the baby’s life we spent a grand total of $260.37 + tax 🙂

Cost of Our Cloth Diaper Stash

* Please note all of these prices are for brand new diapers and I bought all of ours second hand, seconds or irregular sales, or from a co-op

  • 24 GMD Pre-folds $36/dozen and we have 2 dozen = $72
  • 1 Bummis size medium, 1 best bottoms, 3 happy heiny covers, 1 thirsties = $79.14
  • 12 pockets (I have about one of each brand I swear so to make life simple I will go with what my favorite diapers Rumparooz cost which are currently on sale on Kangacare for $17.95 each) = $215.40
  • 12 hemp inserts ($3 each) = $36
  • 12 Charcoal bamboo inserts ($2 each) = $24
  • pack of 3 snappis = $9.95
  • 2 pail liners (also on sale at Kangacare for 5$ each) = $10

Grand total of: $446.49

Conclusions:

  • We could have stopped buying at the pre-folds and covers, but I got pockets for Matt and the ease of going out places
  • In real life we actually spent a lot less than that because everything we bought came from a co-op or mother’s group
  • We never have to purchase another diaper as long as Stella is in diapers. It is the beauty of one-size diapers!
  • Well cared for, these will last through the second child.  There is where cloth diapers really out shine disposables. I never have to buy another diaper for as long as even my future children are in diapers!
  • There is really no way anyone is escaping paying at least a thousand dollars in the the 2+ years their kids are in disposables. While even with utilities I am not going to get close to that number. 
  • The money we are saving by using cloth diapers will be going towards her 529 fund!

Full Disclosure:

Cloth diapering would super suck if you do not have a washer and dryer in your house. Coin operated laundry facilites in California are really expensive, and having do wash diapers every other day would definitely add up. Handwashing is an option, but as far as I am concerned I have no time for hand-washing and drying diapers every other day. We have not noticed a significant increase in the amount of electricity we use, and our HOA pays for our water usage.

-Rachel


Want Some New Kicks for Less? Try A Co-op!

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Before pregnancy the closest thing to a co-op I came to was ordering from Woot.So many diapers...

Then I got pregnant and became cloth diaper curious, they looked and sounded foreign and scary so I turned to a Facebook cloth diaper group. Then it hit me. These dang things that my baby is only going to poo and pee on cost A LOT of money. There are some brands of cloth diapers that cost over 40$ a diaper and then you still need to put plastic pants over them!?!

Needless to say there was no way on this good green earth that I was going to be able to convince the darling wonderful love-of-my-life husband to even try cloth diapers at that cost. Back to the Facebook cloth diaper chat group to research how the heck to afford these things. The answer… CO-OPS!

What is a co-op?

Co-op stands for cooperative. A co-op is a group of people who pool their collective buying power together to create a bulk order in order to get a discount. Normally there is a “host” who negotiates prices, creates an order spreadsheet, advertises the order, places the order with vendor, and then repackages and ships to the individual co-op members.

What can you co-op?

Anything your heart desires. Four months later and I belong to over 10 co-ops and I have recently started my own co-op! I have seen orders for Tom’s shoes, coconut oil, menstrual cups, cloth diapers, honey, makeup, teething necklaces, clothes, socks, and the list goes on and on…

What is the cost savings?

Well, that depends on what you order. In my co-op I make sure that our discount is at least 25% off of list price to make the deal worth the members’ while. I have to take into account the secondary shipping charges, and the discount has to be sufficient to more than offset those costs.

How do I find a co-op?

I found most of the co-ops I belong to by searching for groups on Facebook, The Babywearer.com, or Babycenter.com, and via Google.

Any other co-op questions please post them in the comments!

-Rachel


Cutting Back on TV Time in Order to Save For College?!

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77999_10151349095910886_2028961470_oI “liked” the Dave Ramsey facebook page a while back and this graphic came across my feed an idea popped into my head. What if everyone sold their television and put the money towards their children’s college savings plan? There would be more family time. There would be more children going to college. Violence in world would end as we know it? That may be a leap of the imagination, but on a serious note Maggie Ellis from SavingAdvice.com crunched the numbers and you could save almost $10k a year by not going over the national normal 4 hours of television a night.

If the average is four hours a night and you are watching five, it’s not the four hours that costs you $200, it’s that extra one. So an extra seven hours of TV for one week (or a total of five hours per night) costs you $1,400 per year. If you only watch an extra hour once per week for the fifty-two weeks in a year, you would tack on $10,400 to your spending over the year.

This may sounds completely ludacris, but Ellis goes on to explain how easy it is to get to that $10,000 + extra spending a year.

If you watch HGTV and decide to make over your kitchen, that $10,000 is gone in a heartbeat. If you watch the Travel Channel and head to Greece, you can probably kiss $5,000 goodbye. If you watch a lot of celebrity shows or shows set in expensive locales with expensive wardrobes, you may try to keep up.

– Maggie Ellis

Doesn’t seem so crazy anymore now does it? Will you think twice now before turning on that bad reality TV show?

-Rachel