The cost of not having a baby shower

I did not have a baby shower for baby MMD. He was born prematurely at 28 weeks and I struggled to put more items on my plate other than pumping, hospital visits and work. A friend and I actually have pinned down a date, but I went into labor before we got the chance to send the invite. My friend insisted that I should still have a shower, but I was reluctant to have it in the first place, even before baby MMD’s birth.

Celebrating milestones

I don’t like the attention that a baby shower brings. Similarly, I didn’t have the usual bachelorette party, because of this reason. I like the idea of being with friends and celebrating each other’s milestones. I just don’t like the hassle of planning it and expecting everyone to provide gifts for me. Since the birth of baby MMD was so traumatic, I also had a hard time celebrating at the time. I feel that I will spend my time masking the fear and anxiety that I have while baby MMD is in the NICU.

Free items from our neighbor

We were lucky to receive majority of the free items from our local buy nothing group. This includes a crib, crib mattress, sheets and blanket. Our neighbor is so nice that they even deliver the crib since it didn’t fit in our sedan. The crib is a solid wood and was used by her 2 boys. When I search for the instruction online, I was surprise to see that this crib cost $400. We also received an infant car seat with a couple of bases and caddy from our neighbor. She also had 2 boys and the car seat still has a couple more years life on it. This saves us another $300. We also received a changing table, activity play mat, anywhere chair, nursery mobile, moby wrap, bath tub and more. I’m very thankful for the generosity of our neighbor. These items will go back to this group once baby MMD outgrew it.

My old furniture and gifts

My old dresser from my parent’s house were delivered for the baby’s nursery. For his clothing, I found a lot of clothes for $50, that my sister picked up and gladly paid for. We also receive 20 bum genius cloth diaper to start our cloth diapering journey. I also receive a nursing pillow from a friend. My in-laws got us a carrier.

Things we bought and a discount on baby registry

I signed up for a baby registry at Amazon. I filled this out through out my pregnancy but never made it public. I had a hard time filling it out since I’m unsure of the items needed. I basically put everything that the nurse is using in the NICU. This includes the bottles, shampoos, diapers and diaper cream. I found out that I get a 15 percent discount, on one order from this registry. I made one order for everything on my list including the stroller, which gives about $200 savings and $100 worth of diaper items. I highly recommend signing up for Amazon Baby Registry. They have everything and I receive my items in 2 days since I’m a prime member.

Splurge

The lack of baby shower cost us about $1500. The biggest expense is the semi high end stroller followed by a high end swing that baby MMD used in NICU. The stroller and the swing alone, is about $1000. These are the splurge items we bought because we didn’t have the time to look for it in the use market. The rest are for feeding, baths and diapers.

Items I don’t need

I actually ended up buying more items that I needed. The discount is good for one order so I just bought everything on the registry once. The good news, Since I bought it from my registry, I can return the items in a longer return window. For example, I found out that I don’t really need all the level of nipples from the bottle since I plan on nursing baby MMD. A level 1 is enough for his bottle intake once a day and after I return to work. I also don’t need a lot of bottles and sheets. I returned items worth more than $200. Did I say that I highly recommend signing up for Amazon Baby Registry..

There are also some items I bought that was not useful, which I can’t return. For example, I bought a rocker and a bassinet stand. I found that I actually like the bassinet in the stroller while baby MMD is taking naps. I bought a changing pad which we hardly use. I probably spent $200+ worth of useless items.

Overall, I’m glad that I didn’t have a baby shower. Baby shower also cost some money and I’m glad I just ended up purchasing the items we needed (or thought I needed).

Monthly Spending – September 2017

September flew by fast. Baby MMD turned 1 month corrected age, clocking in a little over 10 lbs. Our days are spent taking care of baby MMD.

Family visit

Mr. MMDs family also visited this month and spent 10 days. I love my in-laws. I really like the fact that we can have an adult conversation aside from each other. My family is also a frequent visitor and a couple of our friends have seen baby MMD.

A household spending

My husband and I also combined our mint account for this month. This is our way of combining accounts without actually closing and sharing our individual credit cards and bank accounts. We spent time researching over the most effective way to look at our overall spending and net worth and decided that we will use one mint account from now on. So from here on out, I will start posting our combine expenses. We are still fairly new to this. This is the first month of our combine expenses too and I’m seeing this for the first time. After getting the data, I’m happy to say that we are on the same page when it comes to spending. Housing is our biggest expense which we are happy to pay for.

So here it is – our first combine spending for September 2017.

DESCRIPTIONAMOUNTWHAT ARE THESE?
Mortgage & Rent 3,600.00Mortgage & Rent. It's high, but we like living in the city.
Groceries 515.48Yikes. The Mr and I are evaluating this.
Furnishings 371.95A twin bed, twin mattress and sheets for the baby's room
Hockey 270.57Mr. MMD play's hockey and this is actually reimbursible
Student Loan 200.00Almost done
Utilities 144.92This is electric. I think we can cut this.
Pets 77.64Furbaby's food and treats. Our dog is spoiled by the Mr.
Mobile Phone 68.06Phone bill. Both of us have unlimited text and data with 100 minutes from T-mobile
Internet 66.22
Pharmacy 53.94Ointments and bandages for the Mr and baby MMD
Shopping 34.03More ointments and other stuff that we forget. It is so easy to buy things at Amazon and we need to be better at tracking it
Hair 25.00Yay!! I got a haircut. This includes shampoo and is super cheap, in my opinion
Movies & DVDs 15.37Monthly hulu subscription and rental of the Big Sick. It's an awesome film.
Fast Food 11.42McDonalds, yup!
Parking 1.25Mr have a doc's appt and this is his parking
Grand Total 5,455.85

Want to know more – just ask. If you have any recommendation where I can manage to decrease this, feel free to comment. I thank you in advance.

Tracking: I track my expenses using mint. I really like the app and made categorizing my expenses very easy. I enjoy looking at charts and the comparison feature is fantastic.

Six ways to save money on medical bills

I’ve been on my share of hospital stay. In the past three years, I had 2 outpatient surgeries and gave birth to wonderful baby boy. Fortunately, the surgeries were simple and I had a normal delivery, even though I gave birth prematurely, just after 28 weeks.

Insurance to the rescue

I’m very grateful that my employer provides insurance and my out of pocket was minimal. The claims that were filed were astronomical. I don’t think I can afford the kind of care I received without it. There are still some out of pocket expense, even with insurance. Here are some things that I learned which save me some money over the course of the year.

1. Research the insurance provided by your employer during open period

This is the key. Make sure you pay attention every year to open period and research the changes to your policy. Make sure that it is still the optimal choice for your life. For example, I fell on my bicycle and broke my ACL during the first week of work. I picked the insurance that will minimize my out of pocket expense. I considered both the monthly share of the premium and the maximum deductible. I also signed up for Flexible Spending Account.

2. Sign up for tax deductible health spending accounts

There are 2 types of tax deductible spending accounts, the Health Savings Account (HSA) and the Flexible Savings Account (FSA). You can only signed up for one for each plan period. If you sign up for HSA, you will also have a higher deductible amount. FSA, on the other hand have a lower deductible. I signed up for FSA during the year that I had an ACL reconstruction and this year, when I gave birth. My maximum deductible was $2k for these years. I then signed up for FSA for the maximum during that plan period. By using FSA, I saved taxes and I was able to use it right away. During the year when I don’t have a plan medical expense, I signed up for HSA, which also means a higher deductible amount. For my plan, this means $3k of maximum deductible. I maxed out by HSA during that year. Fortunately, I didn’t have any big medical expense during the year. I only had a preventative visits which were free.

3. Research doctors for in network coverage

When I had my ACL reconstruction, I researched doctors that were part of my network. Fortunately, he is also affiliated with the hospital where my primary doctor practices. He has a private practice, focusing on orthopedics. Similar when I gave birth, I chose an OB and a hospital that is part of my network.

4. Ask if the providers / hospital provide discounts

Providers and hospitals will typically provide discounts if you pay your out of pocket within 30 days. I received a 5% discount on my bill by paying within 30 days.

5. Use your credit cards and earn rewards and points

I signed up for new rewards cards to pay for medical bills. I was able to maximize the needed amount to received the sign up bonus. If you strategize, you can end up getting money back as a cash back or rewards through airline mileage.

6. Time appointments / planned surgeries on a single plan period

This will require some planning. For me, I will always have my annual physical exam during the end of the plan year or during open period. This will give me a chance to discuss with my doctor any concerns I have. I don’t advocate waiting to do this once a year if you have concerns that are really alarming. For me, I had my breast examine every year. For one year, I felt a small lump. I then had an ultra sound, a biopsy and a surgery for the next plan year.  The ultrasound itself covered most of my dedcutible. This year also happened to be the year I had my ACL reconstruction.

Monthly Spending – August 2017

I’m catching up on this blog and publishing another spending post for August. August was spent mainly in the hospital. During those times, I tried my best to work on nursing baby MMD and learned from the nurses as much as I could. I was spending 6 hours a day in the hospital this month. Baby MMD made it home after spending 74 days in the NICU. We are overjoyed. I welcomed the sleepless nights better than hospital stays.

Lack of Baby Shower

The Mr. and I also took majority of August off in preparation for baby MMD’s arrival. Majority of my spending was in preparation for baby MMD’s arrival. Since I gave birth prematurely, I didn’t have the chance to have a baby shower. I did not missed it at all. In fact, the absence of the shower caused me to focus on essential items. We also received majority of the big ticket items for free. The major items we bought are the swing that baby MMD used in the NICU and a stroller with a bassinet that he uses daily. Those 2 are definitely a luxury. The rest are for feeding. I also found a lot of baby’s clothes, which my sister happily picked up and paid for. It costs $50 for almost 24 months of wardrobe.

So here’s the month of August, clocking in under $5k

DESCRIPTIONAMOUNTWHAT ARE THESE?
Mortgage & Rent1800Mortgage & Rent
Baby Supplies1481.32The cost of the stroller is the majority of this
Doctor838.02More medical bills
Gift300Gift for my father
Utilities242.46Water, Sewer and Garbage which is on a high side since I'm using the water more to wash the pump parts every after use
Student Loan200Almost done here!
Internet66.22Internet
Mobile Phone34.03Phone bill
Entertainment16.5HBO Now for GOT. I will cancel this next month
Shopping10.55I got a selfie stick so I can be on a photo with baby MMD
Parking9.9Parking for work during the first week
Grand Total4999

 

Want to know more – just ask. If you have any recommendation where I can manage to decrease this, feel free to comment. I thank you in advance.

Tracking: I track my expenses using mint. I really like the app and made categorizing my expenses very easy. I enjoy looking at charts and the comparison feature is fantastic.

 

Monthly Spending – July 2017

Hello, medical bills

This is a very late post regarding my spending for July. Time is limited once you have a baby. I went back to work in July after giving birth in June. Baby MMD stayed in the hospital for that month. Juggling work, pumping and hospital visit were challenging. My mood to write was also affected by baby MMD’s progress in the hospital. It is hard to take my mind off the NICU. Because of that, this blog was essentially abandoned for the month of July and August.

Financial Independence have a new meaning now. I am thankful for the frugal lifestyle I had. Because of this, the unexpected expenses caused by the medical bills did not affected our family. Fast forward to this month, most of the bills were already paid. I am not expecting more copay for baby MMD. I am also very thankful for insurance. I can not imagine being in a situation without it. Overall, despite of all the roller coaster emotions that happened / happening, I am thankful that I don’t have to think of finances. I can focus on this tiny human, our family and our health.

I don’t have additional spending aside from the medical bills. Note that the grocery there is small because Mr. MMD purchased the grocery while I pay for the utilities and internet. My grocery was a snack here and there that I purchased on my own.

DESCRIPTIONAMOUNTWHAT ARE THESE?
Mortgage & Rent1800Monthly mortgage payment
Health & Fitness1489.53Medical expenses including doctor and hospital stay copays
Student Loan200
Internet66.21I've been paying this amount since I can remember. I really like this deal
Restaurants52.17A couple of brunch with friends
Parking45.44
Mobile Phone34.03My very low unlimited text and data from T-mobile
Clothing31.65I got a nursing bra
Baby Supplies27.04These are the pump parts
Entertainment16.5HBO subscription because we need to watch GOT
Groceries14.24Some snacks
Grand Total3776.81

Want to know more – just ask. If you have any recommendation where I can manage to decrease this, feel free to comment. I thank you in advance.

Tracking: I track my expenses using mint. I really like the app and made categorizing my expenses very easy. I enjoy looking at charts and the comparison feature is fantastic.

Monthly Spending – June 2017

Oh Baby, Baby, Baby

June was full of events. I had a preterm delivery and welcomed baby MMD. He was 28 weeks at that time. It was very surreal. I don’t have enough words to describe the feelings I have. It’s full of emotions. We’re trying to take this day by day. It’s been more than a month and I’m trying to get some sense of normalcy back in my life. It’s hard navigating parenting in the NICU. My life is now centered on pumping and NICU visit. At some point, I would like to be able to write about his birth, but not this time. This time, I’ll give you an update of my spending for June.

Cost I didn’t pay for

You’ll not see a spike on my spending for this month. The medical bills will not kick in until the next couple of months – and maybe even more, depending on the date of the claim. Mr. MMD also purchased most of the items we need. For June, we bought a freezer, meal preparation items and a lot of groceries. Mr. MMD has been cooking every weekend for us. These are not necessarily unexpected expense. We plan to buy a freezer so we can prepare meals in advance, just not on the month of June. Just like we didn’t plan for baby MMD’s arrival until August. The expense came early, but it is ok. I also purchased a breast pump which was not included below since I filed a claim from my insurance to get it reimbursed. Breast pump is consider preventative and I’m lucky enough that insurance covers the cost of it.

What I paid for

We bought a vacuum cleaner this June. I think its time for us to actually have a decent one instead of using our Roomba. This came from my account so you’ll see it as an expense.

So here’s my expenses. A tad late from posting, but then again, I just had a baby.

DESCRIPTIONAMOUNTWHAT ARE THESE?
Mortgage & Rent1800Monthly mortgage payment
Student Loan200This is going to be paid off this year
Utilities186.99
Home Supplies158.33We bought a vacuum cleaner
Gifts & Donations122.82This is a gift to a relative and my god daughter
Internet66.21
Shopping65.94Subscription to Le Tote and some batteries
Pharmacy63.84We got an equipment to check my blood pressure at home after giving birth
Shoes59.44My shoes is tearing apart after 1.5 years use everyday (seriously, everyday)
Restaurants37.36I like to eat out once in a while
Mobile Phone34.03Cheap unlimited text and data with 100 minutes from t-mobile
Groceries11.48Very small mainly because the Mr is the one paying and doing the groceries
Baby Supplies10.98A very cute hat that I got for baby MMD
Grand Total2817.42

 

Want to know more – just ask. If you have any recommendation where I can manage to decrease this, feel free to comment. I thank you in advance.

Tracking: I track my expenses using mint. I really like the app and made categorizing my expenses very easy. I enjoy looking at charts and the comparison feature is fantastic.

 

 

 

Maternity Clothes on a Budget

I am now officially on my third trimester and so far I only spent $82.09 on a couple of maternity jeans. I’m starting to grow out of my normal clothes, but I don’t want to purchase clothing that I will only use for 3 months. There comes the problem. I’ve been lucky to receive some tops from my sister but those were not maternity clothes. It is actually just bigger size shirts and I also started to grow out of them. I watched out for maternity clothes from my local buy nothing project, with no luck.

Renting Maternity Clothes

I talked to my friends and family about the concept of renting maternity clothes. So after a little search from google, I found Le Tote. I spent some time reading reviews and browsed through the site. I decided to sign up for it for a month and give it a try.

The concept is pretty simple. It’s like Netflix but only on clothes. Le Tote have three maternity plans. For $74 per month, you rent 4 clothes or 3 clothes with 2 accessories. For $54 per month, you can rent 2 clothes and 2 accessories. You can keep the item as long as you want or buy the items. To buy the items, all you have to do is keep it and they will automatically charge your credit card on file.

I signed up for $74 a month to receive 4 clothing items. After signing up, I select the styles I like. I received an e-mail 53 minutes later with my first tote with 4 clothes. I customized it before shipment and selected 2 different tops. Here is my first tote that was ordered on Friday night.

I received an e-mail on Saturday that my first tote was in transit. I received the tote on Monday. I was very impressed with the clothes. I returned it on Saturday using the prepaid postage  envelope via USPS. That same night I received my next notification that my next tote has been selected and ready for customization.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So far, I’m very happy with the clothes. The app and the site is also very user friendly. I’ll continue using this service for the rest of the month and I might even try the “classic”, which is non-maternity.

If you want to try Le Tote use this link to receive $25 off your first month. The link is a referral and I will receive $15 off my next subscription for if you sign up using the link.

Monthly Spending – May 2017

We welcome May with a lot of warm weather. I mean A LOT. For a pregnant women living in the northwest, this can be very uncomfortable. I needed 2 fans on me for a couple of nights to sleep. We also talk about buying an AC for the room. Usually, I won’t consider this, but I’m giving myself a break here. C’mon, I am going on my third trimester during the hottest months of the year.

Name Change, Furry baby and the Mr’s birthday

I changed my name this month. There were interesting trips to Social Security and DMV, but I managed to do it in 1 afternoon. I’ll call that a win. It took almost the full month to change it for everything else (I’m sure I’m not done yet).

The furry baby also needs to get her heartworm medication. We are walking distance to a pet store that host the Good Neighbor Vet 2 Saturdays of the month. I bought a full year’s worth of medicine which included a free heartworm test all for $46. I really like this clinic. They only perform preventative care at extremely affordable price, including preventative medications. The Furry baby still has a different doctor when she get sick.

And of course, this month, we also celebrated the Mr’s birthday. We had a simple celebration at home and invited our close friends. I definitely enjoyed hosting people at home instead of going out. It is easier to plan than calling a restaurant for reservation, it’s more relax and of course cost way less.

Here’s my expenses for May.

DESCRIPTIONAMOUNTWHAT ARE THESE?
Mortgage & Rent1800Monthly mortgage payment
Hotel785.54Our trip to LA in April
Student Loan200
Rental Car & Taxi126.22LA trip
Groceries77.94Cheap since the Mr is usually paying for the grocery while I pay for the utilities
Internet66.21
Lab Exams56.17Deductible for lab exams
Restaurants55.361 lunch, 1 brunch and cupcakes
Veterinary46Furry Baby's year's supply of heartworm medication
Gas & Fuel45.27
Mobile Phone34.03Cheap unlimited text and data with 100 minutes from t-mobile
Food & Dining30.83The Mr's birthday dinner
Name Change12DMV fee for my new license
Blog11.88Annual renewal of the website
Baby preparation10.33Elastics for the cloth diaper
Grand Total3357.78

Want to know more – just ask. If you have any recommendation where I can manage to decrease this, feel free to comment. I thank you in advance.

Tracking: I track my expenses using mint. I really like the app and made categorizing my expenses very easy. I enjoy looking at charts and the comparison feature is fantastic.

How to clean a wedding gown

According to this article, the average cost to clean and preserve a wedding gown range from $150 – $225. I bought my wedding gown used and I received it in a box with a receipt of the dry cleaning costing the previous owner about $250. I brought my wedding gown for $436, including shipping. If you do the math, the previous owner paid about 57% of my purchase price to clean and preserve the gown. Take note that the original price of this gown is $1,923.

I knew that I will sell my gown after my wedding. I thought about having the gown be professionally cleaned, but the cost is ridiculous. Even the cheapest is about $125. I decided to wash my own gown and here’s how I did it.

Steps

  1. Check the fabric and details of the gown. Make sure that your gown is NOT silk. Majority of the gowns are polyester. If the gown is beaded, check to make sure that there are no lose beading. Mine is made of organza and polyester.
  2. Spot clean the gown. Major things to look for are the train, armpits and neckline. I diluted a normal fabric detergent and water. Using a rag, I spot clean the gown. Do this more than once for heavy stains.
  3. Make sure that your washer is clean.
  4. Make sure that the gown zipper and buttons area all closed
  5. Turn the gown inside out
  6. Turn the washer to delicate and wash the gown. I used woolite for detergent. If you spot clean a lot of areas, you don’t need to put more detergent. I rinsed it twice to make sure that detergents were removed.
  7. After washing, check to make sure that stains are removed.
  8. Hang it dry.
  9. Turn it inside out, check to make sure that the stains were removed or any lose beading
  10. Store it back in the preservation box (if you have one).

Washing the gown is easier that I expected. I was really surprised with the result. It looks just like the way I bought it and it smells minty fresh!

The time I spent more

I’m not frugal all the time. This week, I received a notification from Mint that I exceeded my travel budget. I didn’t even know that I have a travel budget. I also don’t have a budget. I will continue to spend my money for things that brings me joy.

We recently went on a trip to sunny Los Angeles. The trip was not cheap. In total, I spent $1,025.26 in one weekend. This is a considerable amount given that the trip was short and domestic. I paid for the hotel overlooking the marina, rented a car and feast on seafood. This is my fifth visit to LA and I somewhat know the area.I specifically stay in the South Bay and didn’t bother visit to the “tourist” spot. About 7 years ago, I stayed in the same area, but stayed in a hostel. I was also there for work and I just extended the trip and my overall expense is minuscule compare to this. I’m doing a lot better now, but I do not mind staying in hostels. In fact, I stayed in a hostel when I was in Lisbon.

Overlooking Alfama, my last trip where I stayed in a Hostel

For this trip, I tried to listen to my body more. I can say that I am becoming more emotional. I can feel my baby move. It’s exciting and scary at the same time. I can never really prepare for what’s about to come, so I took a time off. For this trip, I relaxed, ate and took a lot of naps. This is not my typical travel style, where I’m usually on the go, but it is on purpose.

Local brunch by Redondo Marina, we walked here from our hotel

I am incredibly grateful that I can take these kind of trips without breaking the bank. The main reason I choose a frugal lifestyle is to have options like this.

 

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