Financial Embarrassment

I bounced a freakin’ check.  Really.  It’s embarrassing.  We make too much money for crap like this. 

What?

The “bouncing” actually occurred a little over a week ago, but I was too mortified to write about it.  Thankfully it was our water bill and not a check to someone we actually knew.  That would have been so much more embarrassing. 

When I logged into our bank account a day before pay day and saw RED in the balance column.  I didn’t believe it at first.  I somehow miscalculated $176 and some change in our checkbook.  Don’t ask me how it happened, because I really don’t know.  Additionally, being a terrible forensic accountant, I was unwilling to go through more than 4 months of bank statements to try to find the error. I never did find the error, so I still don’t know where I went wrong.

What makes me upset is that we have money.  I mean, not “we’re ridiculously rich” money, but we have some stashed away in several places. I have almost $1,500 in cash at home, Henry has almost $1,000 in what he calls his “crusty cash” stash.  We have almost $9,000 in Online Savings, and at that time we had approximately $1,200 in local savings.  There were no excuses for bouncing a check.

How Did This Happen?

The answer to that answer is multi-fold.  1. We have a lot more expenses now that we pay $560+ every month for child care, not to mention the extra expenses of a baby.  2. Sometimes I really push the envelope in bill repayment.  I tell myself “If I pay X amount on the student loan, we won’t spend this money.”  It’s true, with us, out of sight, out of mind works with money.  That payoff strategy would probably work IF the CFO of the house (me) could count (I cannot). 

The Solution

To prevent this from ever happening again, I decided to create an “invisible buffer” in our checking account. I took $500 out of our local savings account and put it in the checking account.  Then, I drew a line in the check register both adding, and then “hiding” this money.  That way, if I make another screw up, we will not have to pay a $30 insufficient funds fee.  There’s probably a better way to prevent bouncing a check, but this was the best solution I could muster.

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Babies Aren’t What They Used to Be

I’ve been thinking about children a lot lately.  Probably because I have a 4 month old and she requires lots and lots of time and attention.  🙂 My life has changed very drastically since she was born, so obviously, I think about kids a lot.  Erica over at Newlyweds on a Budget recently posted about babies.  The discussion that ensued in the comments was very fascinating to me.  Also, HS over at Our Debt Blog posted a somewhat humorous view of staying home with a baby.  Although HS is notorious for writing from a tongue-in-cheek perspective (many of his readers call him selfish), his observations of being home with an infant were fairly accurate.

More Modern Couples Question Whether they Even Want to be Parents

My parents’ generation did not really question whether they would or would not have children.  If you got married, you had kids.  Unless you couldn’t and then you wanted to have kids.  It is rare to meet a married person in their 50’s or 60’s who did not produce one or more offspring.  However, this line of thinking has changed drastically.  Maybe it goes hand-in-hand with people getting married at older ages so they are smarter about their procreation choices.

I do not feel that there is a right or a wrong view on whether or not a person/couple should have children.  For me and my husband, it was right.  However, 5 years ago, I would have told you I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to have kids.  As a teenager, I would have emphatically said “no way” to kids.  But then, as a teenager, I never wanted to get married and I certainly did not stay single.

Having kids is both a sacrifice and a gift.  It’s hard to describe.  There are many days I want to just go home and crash, veg out, do nothing.  With a kid, that’s impossible.  There is always SOMETHING to do.  Yet, I love Baby Girl with all my heart and it makes me horribly sad when I have to be away for longer than expected.  I love making her smile and I love spending time with her.  However, I realize the sacrifices of having children.  It is still very fresh on my mind what life was like before children.  I had so much more free time.  I don’t think I fully appreciated how much free time I had.  To all of you out there who are planning to have children, enjoy that free time.  If you want to go to a local park and read a book–do it!  If you want to go to a local museum that just opened up–do it!  It’s not as much fun with an infant, trust me. 🙂

Do We Celebrate our Offspring More Today?

Another aspect that amuses me about modern couples and their kids is that they (we?) tend to celebrate our kids a great deal.  There are are endless expenses that our parents certainly did not indulge in.  For instance, my daughter had her first photo shoot at 9 days old.  Yep, a photo shoot.  Changes of outfits, different poses, different props.  Then again at 3 months, she had another.  I will tell you, she has more photo sessions scheduled for 6 months, 9 months, and 12 months.  When I visit my parents’ house, I am lucky to find a few, faded snapshots of myself as a baby.  I think my first professional photo was taken around 9 months, and it included my 2 older brothers. 

If you want to see celebrations of kids taken to the extreme, you have to look no further than celebrities.  Jay-Z and Beyonce’s baby Blue comes to mind.  I can remember a time when Hollywood’s couples didn’t have children or waited until they were 40+ because having children wasn’t looked upon as a blessing.  Now, one of the hottest couples alive (in my personal opinion) has SIX children

There’s really no point to this article, it’s just an observation of mine.  It seems like having kids has just changed in some hard-to-desribe way.  Maybe the change is really in my perspective.  What do you think?

Life Lately

Life is good right now.  Not like vacation-on-the-beach-in-Tahiti good, but good.  I have found new arrangements for Baby Girl that are making my life a lot easier.  Today she started her first day in the “new place.”  I found a stay at home mom of a 10-month old girl that lives 8 min. from my office.  I feel like the stars have aligned. haha!  Now I may even have time to exercise again.  Yay!  Can’t lose the mommy tummy if I’m not hitting the gym, and Lord knows I have not been for the past 3 weeks.  Ugh.

Anyway, football season has also started.  I love me some football.  Especially college ball.  Henry and I are avid fans and dutiful tailgaters, so Fall is a fun season for us.  He is also a big deer hunter, so he LOVES Fall.  That’s about all that has been happening in our neck of the woods.