Monday, December 19, 2011

Saving Series Part Four: A Frugal Future

Welcome to the last post in the Savings Series. I've had a lot of fun doing a series on a topic, so I think I'll do some more of that in the future on some of the other topics my blog focuses on.

I think a huge part of being frugal is having some plans as to how that will play into your future. If you don't do that, you will find yourself suddenly in the future, in a phase of life that may be new to you and no plan means that you will probably go into survival mode. Usually frugality gets pushed by the way side in survival mode because you're just trying to keep your head above water. You don't have time to clip grocery and other coupons. Sometimes that means that convenience is more important than being frugal, and we all know convenience is usually pricey!

The one that applies to me is preparing for having children. Even though it's a little bit of a ways off, I want to have put a good amount of thought into everything possible so I'm not left with a ton of questions, or just finding the most convenient option because I have a crazy busy life and new baby, and now don't have the time to figure it out. For example, I want my babies to play mostly with wooden toys. We also want our baby to have Catholic toys. In a lot of cases, these types of toys are more expensive. Since we don't make a lot of money, and we will be scraping to make ends meet if I stay home, we have to plan ahead so we don't give up on (what we feel is ) quality and/or important because the baby needs toys and we can't afford the ones we were planning on using. Catholic Deals is an awesome website that I will definitely be paying attention to because she posts deals on children's toys (she posted the Melissa and Doug deal I was drooling over). She also posts all kinds of non-children deals FYI. Anyway, we decided to start collecting baby/children's toys at some point after we get married but are not trying to conceive so that we have a decent collection when we do start a family. This way we have the luxury of slowly shopping, finding good deals, and only buying the things we really want our children playing with. As you can probably imagine, I'm super excited to start doing that!

We have lots of 'maybes' or 'we'll see how it goes' when it comes to parenting ideals but the one above and the one following are definites- so that makes it easy for me to plan for. We want to make our own baby food. This is mostly a health reason, as we want to feed our children locally grown, in season produce and stay meat free until they are a couple years old. But making baby food is SO much cheaper than buying it. My friend Jennifer made her son's baby food and I was always really impressed. Some items are really easy and others take a bit more time, but I think the pay off (both health and savings) are totally worth it. We've done only the brainstorming part of the planning so far because that's all that's necessary right now. When we're pregnant, we'll plan ahead to get the few things we need for that on our registry (yay free stuff!).

Ok so obviously baby stuff is on the brain for me. Another thing I've looked into lately is churches for after we have a baby. We are guessing that at some point attending the cathedral might not be practical. There is no cry room, nowhere indoors to take your baby if they are fussy/crying (which would be bad during really cold or rainy weather), no nursery if we wanted to use that at some point, etc. Who knows- maybe it will all work out, which I love, but the main thing that sometimes makes me think we will want more is because, besides faith formation, there aren't a lot of family oriented groups. There are lots of things for just adults, but that seems to be it. I think it's because our parish is downtown and serves such a different make up of people than most of the other Catholic churches in the area. But there is another Catholic church about the same distance away (with only a sliver of the beauty that the cathedral has) that offers all these awesome things for families like various groups, babysitting swaps, etc. The babysitting swap was what really caught my eye because I doubt we will have money for a babysitter. When the baby is old enough, we will definitely want a little couple time to focus on us, and rather than shelling out $30 to a babysitter so we can go out to dinner (and eat off the $1 menu at McD's because we could barely afford the babysitter) I think it would be a good plan for us to join a church like that which offers babysitting swaps.

Ready for a little non-baby talk? Yeah, Steven is too. :) As my NFP practitioner says, "Any man who does the charting will be a good father". I totally agree, but I know I have been talking his ear off about baby stuff lately, especially as it relates to our financial future.

We have other future plans such as keeping my car until Steven's payment is done in 3 years. By the way, Happy 10th birthday to Hallie Honda who I've had since she was 4 miles old. She is now over 130,000 miles old. Once his car is paid off, mine still might have life in her, but we don't want to get used to having that 'extra' money each month so we will go ahead and get me a mommy car, since both of our cars are compact. Hallie should get us an ok trade in and we will buy used to save money. This will mean we'll never be stranded because my car died beyond repair and sign to purchase a car that is probably out of our price range because we are emotional/stressed.

Retirement... this is a very scary word for us right now. Even though we have both begun to save for retirement, we have saved very little. In fact, I did a calculator on the Bank of America website and said that I'd save $100/mo until I retire and invest somewhat riskily, somewhat conservatively. It estimated that, if I retire at 65, I'd have enough to last me 1 year. Yeah, ONE stinkin' year. And I thought $100 a month was good! And... I'm not even doing that right now because we have so much else going on. Then I think about if I do stay home with our kids, how will we ever have money to put away for retirement??? So this is one area that obviously needs a LOT of working on for us. I don't want to find ourselves 65 or 70 and we are Walmart greeters to make ends meet in a time of our lives where we should be relaxing and playing with our grandkids. I have dreams of joining one of those senior centers where you go on field trips and do crafts. Heck, I'd join now if I could. So we've got a lot of work to do on that.

How about you? What are areas of the future where you have already made some plans to help yourself financially? Have you thought about, or begun saving for, retirement?


  1. We're not great on planning for the future, but we contribute the max to my husband's 401K and stock options that his employer will match. We also have figured out how to be a one car family for the near future, which helps on costs a TON.

    In terms of babysitting, I'm here! I'd be happy to swap duties when the time comes. I might give you a call in the future when our little one comes and we need some time out....

  2. I love hearing all these things about having the "man chart" it really goes with what this nun said at the retreat I was at last weekend. She said that a man needs to protect his wife's fertility as a treasure. Or something like that. I was like omg that is why husbands need to chart for us!

    Yeah I tell my sister i hope you live in a big house bc your mothers going to end up living with one of us bc she works for the church and doesn't have much in retirement. We've ended up spending a lot of it with moving and trying to make ends meet since I haven't worked in over 6 months. I haven't saved ANYTHING for retirement. I've yet to get a job with a 401k or health insurance. Heck I'm trying to get rid of debt.

    We are now a 1 car family since the bank took my car. Hopefully in a year or so when I get a job I'll be able to get a Prius (80MPG for sure!) I liked your savings series and your NFP post. It's nice to hear other peoples perspectives.

  3. Beth Anne, I hear you! As important as we all know saving for retirement is, sometimes there just isn't anything there to save. It's frustrating! If I have enough kids hopefully one of them will let me move in with them haha.

    The one car thing is hard, I'm sure. I told Steven I would be up for being a 1 car family if I stay home with future children to save money... he isn't having it so far! Kendra maybe you and your husband can influence him one day ;).

  4. When I was little we were a 1 car family. But we also lived in NY where my mom could easily take a bus to get the car on days she needed to do errands and then go pick my dad up. Sometimes I feel like by being a 1 car family we end up going through more gas than necessary.

    Yeah I agree because first you need to save for a house then u need to save for kids then college...when does retirement come into play? It's so frustrating! Blah!

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  6. I have always freaked out about retirement, so it's one of the first things I did. I set up a Roth IRA with my bank about five years ago. I asked what's a good amount to contribute, and the banker said at my age, $25 per month is more than sufficient. Looking at what you calculated, though, I don't know how that can be true! I figured if $25 was plenty, I'd triple it and do $75 so I wouldn't have to worry. I have it automatically transferred once a month. When Adrienne left me, life got a lot tighter. I had to take it down to $25 per month, and lower what was going into savings too, which I HATED doing. Mom and Dad have always been strong about saving and I have carried that into adulthood smoothly, so it killed me to reduce what I was putting in, but I was barely scraping by. Now I'm back to $75 per month and hope I can do more soon.

    I also have a pension plan at work, which is matched by the agency after you've been there five years. It was part of the union, which I was in until a couple months ago. I did the max contribution, which was $120 per month, and never let myself cut that down no matter what my financial situation was, because it felt stupid not to do the max when it would be matched. Now I'm not in a union position, so my contribution has stopped and that's just sitting there. I can take it out, leave it to gain interest, or invest it in a 403B. For now I'm just leaving it. Now as management, the agency does a pension plan FOR me, without any contribution for me. I have no idea how much, but I still wouldn't rely on just this because it can't be too much since we're a not-for-profit.