Category Archives: baby

Emergency fund… slow going

So, we are now at about 53%* of our emergency fund goal.

While we have only saved 3% since becoming Debt Free in October, we are actually encouraged that we were even able to save that much. While money going out to pay for debt does not happen anymore, we have had significant increases in other bills.

We’ve had a few situations create bills we didn’t plan on. Diapers, along with the price of fresh organic produce for baby food (I’m making Z’s food), have been creating some instability in our budget. I’m still breastfeeding the kiddo and believe it or not, this means I eat way more food than I ever did while pregnant.

However, the biggest item that is currently holding us back is our medical insurance premiums. We estimate that for the three of us, our monthly premiums are just shy of DOUBLE our home mortgage. Yes, you read that right. Granted, our mortgage is not massive (we’ve been wisely living in a home that my hubby purchased 9 years ago and he did not bite off more than he could chew), but still… this is an increase of 1160% since January 2013. (gulp!) Yes, again, you read that correctly.

Some of this increase is quite understandable, I went from being fully covered, to having a very small amount taken out of my check, to being laid off. Tack on an additional family member and we were bound to see increases. We get that. However, this is an absurdly high amount. It did not help that during this time of life change for us, the insurance market went into total meltdown/chaos. Our insurance broker even told us “Sorry – I can’t help you. I have no idea how to answer your questions at this point and I might not even be in business in a few months.”

That being said, we are working on a couple of options and hope to see our monthly premiums decrease significantly in the next couple months as we work to make changes. AND we are so thankful to be out of debt. Again, the margin created by not having debt and not throwing money away on interest, has allowed us to weather this medical insurance storm.

*100% will be 6 months of expenses as suggested by Dave Ramsey’s Baby Step 3. We saving 6 months over because we are a small business family where income is not always the same every month.

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Major Announcement (AKA October by the Numbers)

Proverbs 22:7 says “The rich rules over the poor,
And the borrower becomes the lender’s slave.” (NASB)

We have a major announcement.

We’re done.

That’s right… 22 months after we started, we are out of debt!

Seriously.  It hasn’t quite sunk in for us either.

DONE!

Feels a little anti climatic, right? 🙂

In Dave Ramsey style….. FREEEEEEEEDOOOOOM!

For a final ‘by the numbers’ here is how the numbers break down:
Extra Debt paid: $5,116

Total Debt paid in October: $5,362

Since 1/1/2012 – Total Debt Paid off: $46,453*

*For the purpose of Baby step 2 we are not factoring in our home mortgage

There you go.

A few more numbers to consider while letting that number, $46,453, sink in.

•22 months
•1 layoff
•6 months on only 1 income
•6 months of steep COBRA medical premiums
•4 months of slow small business income
•1 HVAC system
•3 Student loans
•2 Medical bills
•5 consignment sales
•1 garage renovation
•1 baby born

One item that has been an uncountable blessing, is the support of our family and friends. From gracious understanding on the numerous times we declined going out to eat to the boxes of hand-me-down clothing and piles of gifts for our little boy. We truly could not have done this without the support of loved ones.

Thank you LORD for providing for us.  Thank you for entrusting us with funds and teaching us to be good stewards. Thank you for giving us strength and endurance to do what is right with your money, even when we didn’t feel like it. With the wisdom of Proverbs 22:7 in mind, we choose to not become the lender’s slave.

In closing, while the monthly “by the numbers” posts are done, we will be chronicling our next steps. Dave Ramsey’s baby step 3 is an emergency fund to cover 3-6 months of expenses. Feel free to drop by and see our progress as we move forward, aiming for step 3.

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August by the Numbers (part 2)

Just a quick update.  The medical numbers did finish coming in and my previous post was correct.  We were able to use the crisis fund we’ve built up since November to pay all 5,714.40. This amount covers both Z & my deductibles and copays.

And then beyond that, we were able to make a lump sum extra payment toward debt of $2,591.

Which means… my student loan is So Close to being under 10K. I thought it would be years before I saw that.

Thank you Lord for providing the funds to do this as well as helping us be disciplined and focus to follow through and be good stewards of what you provide.

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August by the Numbers

Ok… so not ALL of the numbers are in yet and I’m still waiting for a few statements so we can actually write checks and pay off medical bills, but we do have a pretty good idea of how it will play out.

To start with, we have to pay the hospital. The hospital bill that we are paying out of pocket for both Z & myself: 5,714.40.

That’s quite a chunk of change! But… considering it’s the largest medical bill I’ve had in my adult life, where I have not had to say “Hey Hospital, here are my financials, I have no money, please let me work out a payment plan” I’m super PUMPED! We planned well and will be able to pay this entire amount with money we saved up in the “Crisis Fund.”

Next – I went to another consignment sale. Why is this part of the numbers this month? Because when we’ve spent money that was not initially in our budget for the baby, we’ve used Crisis Fund money to do so. What!? Going outside of the budget!? In this case, Yes. We purchased some much needed items like a standard stroller. The stroller we bought would have been at least $200 new. We spent $38. 🙂

In total, we spent $135 at the consignment sale, for items that would have totaled $425 if they were all new. Also, as a side note, I made some extra income through consigning. A whopping $22.

So … we now have a much better understanding of how much extra crisis money we have and can put it toward debt.

Medical Bills paid: $5,714.40

Consignment Money Spent: $135

Extra Income: $22

Extra Debt paid: $2,591

Total Debt paid in August: $2,837

Since 1/1/2012 – Total Debt Paid off: $35, 773*

*For the purpose of Baby step 2 we are not factoring in our home mortgage

 

Consignment savings Running Total numbers:

Running total for used items: $393
Approximate amount if all items were new: $1,119

Savings: $726

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My CHD – Pregnancy Edition

So last post, I ran through what I mean by “my heart condition.”

I thought this post, I might write about what it meant for being pregnant.

To lay some groundwork, when I was a teenager and young adult cardiologists said that I might not be able to have kids. Not that I couldn’t, but that it’s very highly likely that I shouldn’t.

Before you start thinking “Way to go and ignore your doctors, Debra. You just had a baby!” In the last maybe 8 years or so, my doctors changed that. My current cardiologist told me a handful of years ago that it shouldn’t be a problem. I would be high risk, and have to be watched closer than a ‘normal’ woman, but I should be able – and could if I wanted – to have kids.

Biggest Risk

Now, as I mentioned last post in “Long Term Outlook,” the long term risk to me with my CHD and resulting enlarged heart is Congestive Heart Failure.

The four main symptoms of Congestive Heart Failure are:

1. Irregular heart beats

2. Swelling due to the heart not being able to keep up, extra fluid in the lungs and around the heart, but also showing up in ones legs, hands, etc.

3. Trouble breathing, particularly while lying down and resting (due to fluid around the lungs)

4. Dizziness

These are the things I keep an eye out for. However, symptom 1 is VERY common for me. My heart skips beats or races on a fairly often basis. So it’s hard to take any special note of that symptom, unless I seem to notice it happening more frequently then what would be ‘normal’ for me.

Increased Risk While Pregnant

With the increased blood flow and fluid retention that pregnancy brings, Congestive Heart Failure is a bigger risk.

The second symptom was extremely frustrating during pregnancy. I had some major swelling issues at about 3 months. It was a little early for pregnancy swelling, yet, it was difficult to determine if it was pregnancy or heart related.

My cardiologist suggested to cut down on sodium and see if that helped. Thankfully, it did! I was pretty bummed to have to be super cautious about how much sodium I was eating for 6 months – and it did affect our food budget as my normal way of cooking (with canned goods) had to be altered, but it made a huge difference. I only had a little swelling for the remainder of the pregnancy. And when I did, it could usually be traced to a higher sodium meal recently eaten, or having just spent a lot of time on my feet (which is normal for pregnancy).

The other main risk is once the baby is born. When the body is eliminating all the extra fluids. I was told to expect to stay in the hospital for observation for 4-5 days after our baby was born.

Z was born. And things looked to be going well. However, about 4 days later, one of my feet blimped up really bad, and really quickly. I was told it probably was NOT heart related as the typical MO for that would be that both feet would be equally swollen, not just one foot becoming very swollen. It was a little scary and they had me go in for an ultrasound to make sure I didn’t have a blood clot. Thankfully, I did not.

It was not a big enough concern for me to stay much longer in the hospital as I was discharged the next day. It did take my foot a week or so to finally get back down to size, which was such a relief when it did.

I did experience symptom 3 (trouble breathing while lying down) when I got home. It was concerning enough to call the cardiologist. They suggested that (since my heart was looking so good when I left the hospital) it might just be something that anemia (from loss of blood during the c-section) was causing. Funny enough, the second night I experienced this, I discovered that in actuality, I was having issues with Snoring! (Which is not normal for me.) As annoying as it was, it was such a relief.

The same night I had trouble breathing, I was also dizzy (symptom 4) at one point around 12:30 am. This only happened once and was also chalked up to being anemic.

So there you go. I was able to be pregnant, and have a child, while not having Congestive Heart Failure. But it was not without a few scares and I was so thankful for the great care from my cardiologist, my OB, as well as the nursing staff and of course my loving family.

What All This Means For My Child

To quick rehash from my previous post, heart defects are the most common birth defect – just about 1% of babies are born with one. Major ones can be very obvious from day one, and minor ones might not be caught until adulthood. Even though my heart defect is not due to genetics – it still increases the risk that my children will have a CHD.  Statistics say bout 4-6%.

Jackpot! Little Z has a minor CHD. Because of the slightly higher statistical chance, at 20 weeks, and then again at 24 weeks because they thought they saw something – we had fetal echos done. Basically, a super long sonogram – focusing in on the little guy’s heart.

Based on those two tests, they recommended we have an echo done on Z once he was born, before he was discharged from the hospital. We did – and it confirmed the diagnosis: Pulmonary Stenosis. Same valve that I have an issue with, but different issue. He’s valve is slightly narrowed.

Thankfully, tests confirm it’s very mild and the long term outlook is quite good, probably not ever involving any type of surgery or procedure.

So there you go – more than you ever wanted to know about CHD and pregnancy.

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July by the Numbers

Z_Birth So… once again, not a lot to report. However – This is hopefully the last month that the debt snowball is on pause!

While I was laid off in April (and now plan on staying home), the self-employed one in the house has had a tremendous increase in work. Praise the Lord!

Also, baby boy was born mid month! 🙂 He’s so precious. Yep, I’m bias, but he’s a super cutie!

And if you recall from previous “by the numbers” once the hospital bills are finalized, we’ll be able to use the Crisis Fund to Pay All the Medical Bills (creating no new debt!) and throw the rest at my student loan.

I’m guessing that the total number toward debt will be a bit smaller than I would have liked or hoped (mainly due to my not working since mid April), but every little bit helps.

I was looking at my student loan this month, and just paying minimum or a few dollars over minimum since November means we’ve still made a little progress. We are now almost under 13K for the loan. To put this in perspective, this loan was around 35K when I consolidated it into a 20 year loan, in 2008. (We’ve paid off 22K in 6 years. And we plan on having it done in less than 12 months, which is ultimately 13 years ahead of schedule.)

All that to say I can’t wait to report back for “August by the Numbers.”

One thing that was a bummer for July is that we seem to have spent a lot on food. However, this is because my mom was in town and we made trips to Costco and Sams. We purchased extra, and then she made us a bunch of meals – of double or triple proportions. Now we have somewhere between 10-15 meals in the deep freeze for simple cooking. We also have a wonderful community of friends that are providing us with meals a few times a week for the next few weeks. Which means the August food bill will be low and more than make up for the larger food bill in July.

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Snowflake babies

Some friends of ours are in the process of embryo adoption.

I think it’s pretty awesome and wanted to share their story.

Merritt was a client of mine (years ago) and a fellow Watermark member. She and Todd got married about a year before JJ and I, and have often been encouraging to us on our Debt Free journey (as they also finished up their debt a year or so ago).

I’m working on adding a widget on this on the sidebar that shows their fundraising process, for the time being, here is the link to their page: Merritt & Todd’s Embryo Adoption. As I’m sure you’ve heard, adoption is expensive, and with a proven track of being financial wise (with paying off their debt), Merritt and Todd continue to be good stewards through this process.

If you can contribute – terrific. If you can’t you can always pray. AND you can share their story.
You never know who might be encouraged by this or who the story will resonate with.

Thanks!

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June by the Numbers

We are only a few weeks away from the birth of our little boy – and yes we are super excited to meet him.

In addition to meeting him, to not being pregnant anymore, to having a new baby at home and getting into a routine – we are REALLY looking forward to getting the debt snowball going again.

As you know, we’ve been on hold, but once the baby is born and medical bills are paid – we will use the rest of the Crisis Fund to throw at debt.

I. Can’t. Wait.

In the middle of this month, we did dip a little into the Crisis fund to purchase the last remaining necessities for the baby (like the car seat).  At the same time, at the end of the month, we had a bit of extra income and gift money that we put toward the Crisis Fund.

That being said, I’m guessing it will be at least August by the Numbers before we have exact figures and know what portion of the Crisis Fund is for medical expenses and what portion is for debt. Mostly, the timing will be based on when we get final bills from the hospital.

I’ll leave you with the following picture, me at 37 weeks. Officially full term.

37_weeks

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We’re Ready part 2

Now we really are as ready as we’ll ever be.  My husband installed the car seat today.  We finished securing the diaper changing station (formerly know as my desk). And my hospital bags are packed.

On top of that – today marks Week 37 – Officially Full Term. Praise the Lord.

It would be nice if our baby boy would turn (as he’s still breech) but since he’s been measuring large, he’s probably run about out of room. We have a tentative date for a c-section on the calendar, so we’ll see how the next few weeks go.

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We’re Ready!(?)

Well – probably not, but as ready as we’ll ever be.

35 weeks.  We have the car seat (still need to install) and all the starter diapers and clothing we need. So… just waiting for go time.

We should have the car seat installed this weekend, but even if not, we feel ready; because of my heart condition, we already know we will have some extra time in the hospital (like a few days). We figure worst case scenario, one of those afternoons, Daddy steps out to get the car seat installed so we can bring the little boy home.

Our little guy is still not head down and while I’m hoping and praying he turns, statistically that is becoming more unlikely by the day.

Time to get in our last-minute plans and activities.  Such as lunch today with a friend, hanging out with another friend at the end of the week, going to another friends shower on the weekend and (what I’ve wanted to do for YEARS and am really excited for!) going to Medieval Times this weekend.  Thank you groupon and some good friends for seeing the deal and asking if we wanted to go.

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