Tuesday, January 1, 2008

This month’s net worth

Ah, the first of the month. Also know as Spreadsheet Day in the Fecundity household. You can see the results on my January NetworthIQ entry.

We were supposed to be having a party with all of my mom’s relatives today in celebration of my Gran’s 90th birthday; however the foot of snow we’ve been socked with put a damper on said family’s travelling plans. Downside: I’ll only get to see my almost 3-year-old Australian niece briefly for lunch tomorrow instead of for an entire evening and morning. Upside: We’ll save the $300+ that dinner, a hotel and a fancy brunch was going to cost. I’ll subtract what lunch tomorrow costs us from $300, and send it to the student loan.

The highlights...


  • The Emergency Fund is up significantly. We should be able to get this to $5000 by June without problems.
  • Cash is up due to generous Christmas cheques from our families.
  • Retirement funds are up slightly, mostly due to contributions rather than growth.
  • Stocks slipped a bit further.


  • The credit card is up due to pre-Christmas spending. As always, the balance will be paid in full before the due date.
  • Hubby’s remaining student loan is down significantly. We’re well on our way to paying it down by $5000 by Baby Day.

Current Net Worth:


So, we made the goal of $10,000 by January 1st. Just. Yay!

Clearly the flaw in calculating net worth for short-term goals is that you can’t account for market fluctuations. But, since short-term goals are merely surrogates for desired long-term outcomes, and were're definitely moving in the right direction, I’ll live with it.

Happy New Year everyone. All the best for all of your goals of 2008!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

How (not) to deal with pregnant people at Christmas...or really at any time.

A few things that were appreciated and not while we were away at Christmas. All of these things applied to our trip. The do’s were done well. The don’ts, well, weren’t. Most of them were amusing in retrospect, but irritating at the time.

Do try to have something appetizing for her to eat and drink. Most pregnant women will be avoiding alcohol, and many will also be avoiding caffeine, at least in high doses. Some may be avoiding other foods they previously enjoyed, either to reduce risks to her health and that of her baby, or because they currently can’t stomach them. Others will have decided that the risks are ridiculously low, and be eating everything they always have.

Don’t try to dictate what she’s eating. If she wants a Pepsi, some shrimp or some tuna salad, just accept it. It’s her body, and her decision. If you feel there’s a risk she’s unaware of, mention it once in a non-confrontational way, and then let it go.

Do ask questions if you’re curious about things she’s doing or how she’s feeling. Just try not to get overly personal if you don’t know her well, and accept that she won’t want to discuss certain things. You are not her doctor.

Don’t assume that what your doctor told you when you were pregnant 50 years ago still applies. Medical knowledge and guidelines change over time. She doesn’t want to hear your rant on why she’s an idiot for worrying about Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. After all, your kids were fine...

Do talk about your experiences while pregnant or while your partner was pregnant. She’ll be happy to know she is neither alone nor going insane. Cute stories of silly things you did, or minor issues you had will probably be amusing and relieving to her.

Don’t talk about your late-term miscarriage. If it happened recently and you’re still actively grieving, she’ll likely be willing to sympathize and help you get through it. But if it happened decades ago, it’s a story that can wait until after she’s given birth. This also applies to stories about 47-hour labours and 14-pound babies.

Do offer her a chair. She may not accept, but she’ll be grateful you thought of it. She may also pounce on the offer. Or just collapse into the chair.

Don’t just light up in front of her. Many pregnant women will be avoiding cigarette smoke, or at least trying to cut back if they’re smokers themselves. She will not appreciate your intentionally throwing toxins into the air around her. Unless you see her lighting up her own cigarette, assume she’s going to want you to go outside to have one yourself. This applies to anything illegal you might light as well.

Do tell her you won’t be offended if she wants to go have a nap. She may not feel comfortable abandoning you all mid-day, but she may wish she could.

Don’t make continuous comments about how much she’s eating, or how much weight she’s gained. If it’s not tactful to say to a non-pregnant person, assume a pregnant one doesn’t need to hear it either. No one will find it funny to be asked ‘What? Are you eating for four now?’ when they reach for a second helping of stuffing.

Above all, do remember that she’s still the same person you knew before. Apart a bit less emotional control, a few more idiosyncracies, and (hopefully) temporarily being a bit wider, of course.

Friday, December 28, 2007

And we’re back

Survived Christmas with the families, and all the chaos that ensues. Came home yesterday and promptly slept for 16 hours. Guess I overdid it a bit.

Christmas was a success. We managed to get everything and were only $15 over budget. Everyone seemed very pleased with their gifts, so either we did well, or the whole family has tremendous acting skills.

The bad news is the $75 we saved by not buying gifts for our friends was spent instead on our parents, but the good news is we didn’t spend any money we couldn’t afford to. The MasterCard will easily be paid in full in January. We also had some exceedingly generous family this year, so we actually came out ahead.

We were repeatedly congratulated, hugged and grinned at by everyone we hadn’t seen since we broke our pregnancy news. It was a fun an enjoyable experience. Also, it was no doubt our last chance to be the centre of attention. Junior will be taking on that role next Christmas.

I’ll be posting some dos and don’ts on dealing with pregnant people over the holidays in a day or two. Trust me when I say all of them directly applied to what we experienced.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Heading out for the holidays

I'll be taking a few days off of posting to head to my old home town to visit our families. I'd hoped to be able to squeak in a post or two while I was there, but it looks like Hubby may be spending some time getting my parents' computer working again, which doesn't bode well for me getting online.

So, Merry Christmas to all of you who celebrate it. To others, Happy Winter Solstice (that's today this year) or Kwanzaa. To still others, Happy Belated Hannukah, Diwali or Eid. And if you don't celebrate anything this time of year, happy few extra days off work, or at least happy stat holiday pay.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The joys of unexpected expenses

Hubby lifted his left foot as he stood beside the snow-covered car, bracing his calf on his opposite knee. He peered down at his sole. “Huh,” he said. “I think I need a new pair of boots.”

Fecundity followed his gaze and snorted aloud. “I’d say you’re right.” She poked at the crack clearly visible across the ball of his foot, easily touching sock with the end of her finger. “Why didn’t you say something earlier?”

“I hadn’t noticed.”

As tempting as it is for me to get into a diatribe on how it shouldn’t be possible to miss a three inch hole in your shoe when there’s literally four feet of snow on the ground, I’ll skip it and instead talk about unexpected expenses in general.

Sometimes, as in this case, we should have seen it coming. Sometimes bad luck just falls on you from the sky, or, more likely, rear-ends you on the way to work.

The boot incident isn’t bad luck. Hubby bought cheap boots last winter. They wore out earlier than expected, but still should have been foreseen. I figure if I drag him into a decent shoe store this time, it’ll set us back $150-$200 and he’ll have boots which should last at least two full seasons, preferably five.

Our last round of actual bad luck (or, rather, bad luck leading to an emotional response which lead to stupidity) happened about two years ago. We were still living in an apartment, and we didn’t own a car. We were borrowing my parents second vehicle (which they’ve since sold to us, as they no longer need two after retirement). We came down to the parking lot and discovered that some of the delightful kids of the neighbourhood (did I mention the cheap rent?) had egged the car overnight for something to do. Cheaper and healthier than doing drugs, I suppose.

After much scraping (and swearing) to make it possible to drive said car, we were late, and Hubby was Angry with a capital A. We made a quick stop at a local deli to get some bagels I needed to bring to work, which made us even later. Hubby fumed a bit more, put the car into reverse, and promptly backed into another vehicle. Crunch.

Not wanting to up my parents’ insurance premiums, we didn’t claim the expense of having the victim’s vehicle’s bumper replaced, we paid for it ourselves, to the tune of $797.43 (the faxed receipt is still on my hard drive). Delightful.

How did we pay for it? Back then, we weren’t doing so well financially. I was making significantly less, and Hubby was still in school. We didn’t have an savings to speak of. We put it on the MasterCard, then paid the MasterCard (18%) off with our line of credit (7%). It probably took us three months to get rid of it entirely.

How would we deal with it now? Well, the boots are a relatively minor expense and shouldn’t cause more than a ripple in the chequing account. Another bumper cruncher would set us back a bit, but no use of the line of credit would be necessary, as I could suck any needed amount out of our emergency fund. Since our standard of living has increased significantly in the past two years, we’d have some room to save a bit of money by dropping back down a glutton level for a couple of weeks, which would allow us to build the fund back up quickly.

It’s my plan to build our emergency fund up further in the future. Right now we’re concentrating on getting it to $5000. I hope to have that done by the time I go on mat leave. Once Hubby’s student loan is gone and I’ve returned to work (the latter will almost certainly happen before the former), we’ll start slowly building the fund up to three month’s net income, which right now would be about $17,000. That’ll prepare us for bigger emergencies than a bruised bumper or a dead pair of boots.