We’re Not ‘Thinking Pink’

Both Mr. Not-So-Frugal and I were firm in our belief that the baby I’m carrying was destined to be a boy. I mean, c’mon — we both desperately wanted a boy, and in my gut, I just *knew* it was a mini version of Mr. NSF.

Oh, how wrong we were — it’s a girl!

Surprise!

I should know by now that when I’m strongly convinced of one outcome, the opposite happens. In school, anytime I thought I aced a test, I did poorly. During our attempts to conceive, every month I would think, “Hey, THIS is the month I’ll get those little blue lines on the pee stick!” — and every month, I’d be terribly wrong and disappointed. Finally, the one time I didn’t think it was possible, we got a positive test. And we are so happy that we finally got pregnant because it took some doing beyond the usual method.

So when I convinced myself that we were having a boy, it finally hit me: “Hey, stupid — you know that’s not the way it’s going to happen!” So deep down, I knew our baby would be a girl.

However, I am not going to go the “pink” route. Some people have said “good luck with that,” but that doesn’t mean those are things I’m going to keep if given. Sounds harsh, but it’s our prerogative and my one request. I don’t push blue on boys. There are other pretty colors out there. Girls don’t have to be bubble-gum pink princesses. I sure wasn’t. I was the one playing in the dirt, picking up worms, riding my bike with the boys and playing rough outside. I was the one carrying a wallet and not a purse in high school. I was the one riding motorcycles (and not as a passenger), camping and hiking. And I turned out just fine.

Don’t get me wrong. We’ll let our daughter develop a personality — and a style — all her own. But I want her to know that she can do anything she wants to do — she doesn’t need to be pigeonholed. If that means going against the grain, so be it. Heaven knows I did.

So if you want to get our little girl anything, skip the tiaras and the pink dresses.

Work Hard Now, Relax Later?

I’ve been putting the pedal to the metal thanks to a renewed drive to bankroll as much cash in our savings account as I can before my maternity leave. Often this means taking on freelance writing gigs that require a lot of my time — working nights after getting home from my FT job, and usually the weekends, too. I’ve been fortunate that the freelance work is fairly steady, because I want to do it now while  I feel good and have minimal distractions.

I’m a natural-born hustler. I’m not sure where I got it from — all I know is that I’ve always worked more than one job from an early age. After high school, I worked full-time for a group of local weekly newspapers and delivered pizza on the side. When the pizza gig ended, I found a PT job at a Polish-American newspaper working 10 hours a week. Then, I tacked on an occasional gig working as a data entry person at college track meets on the weekends. It was crazy, but I enjoyed myself.

I did things a bit unconventionally. After a few years, I attended college full time, worked full time AND had an occasional PT gig. Had a full scholarship the last two years at college. I was no slouch in high school, either. I surely didn’t reach my full potential, but I didn’t break my back with heavy course loads, either — and I still graduated 18th in a class of 238 with a 4.1 weighted GPA.

Now, I still like to hustle for extra cash, but I go about it differently. I don’t work off-site except for my full-time job; any freelance work is writing or editing from home. While I’m still putting in the extra hours, I don’t have to leave the comfort of my home, and I can get the work done at any time of the day or night, as long as I meet my deadlines.

So it’s no surprise I’m getting as much done as possible to ensure our child will be well taken care of once s/he arrives. Because by then, I’ll finally want to have less on my plate in order to fully focus on the baby.

I’m still trying to determine how we will go about putting money aside for our child — immediately, we’ll have new expenses, such as daycare, which will likely run us $1,000/month or more. Will there be anything left to save? Probably not much at first, which means we’ll be looking for ways to cut our current expenses, although we’re pretty frugal with everything except our cable TVpackage. After daycare is paid, we’ll try to divert extra to padding our savings accounts and starting an account for the baby for college and general expenses.

It’ll be tough, as naturally I’ll be dropping a good portion of my freelance gigs in order to focus on taking care of our baby. Perhaps Mr. NSF can find a way to bring in some extra cash, too.

Another thing I need to do is mock up a budget to estimate what our finances will be like from March onward. I don’t include freelance payments, as they are variable. I pretend that the extra cash flow is “found money” — and it goes straight into our savings account.

Writing this down has made me realize I have a lot of financial planning to do.

Any PF moms out there have tips for how they adjusted their spending/budgets once little ones came into the picture?

Posts That Piqued My Interest: “Boy, Am I Steamed” Edition

Leslie over at the fabulous 27 and Frugal PF blog brought to my attention an incredibly ignorant, sexist post over at Dinks Finance. While I’m not going to give them the backlink, I’m sure you very smart readers will figure out which one it is.

The “writer” claimed to have Googled “Personal Financial Blogs” and all she got were male-run PF blogs. Let’s see, when *I* put in the same query, the first link that comes up is Wisebread’s comprehensive personal finance blogs list — and hey, a good portion of them are woman-run.

I’m not naive — I know the Internet isn’t all puppies and rainbows — but I expect a personal finance writer to do a little due diligence and properly research the topic s/he is writing about. I’m sure this was just a quick, one-off post, to write something for the sake of getting something up and getting a bit of a pop. Link bait, so to speak. It’s definitely stirred up attention, but for all the wrong reasons.

I think we ‘invisible’ female personal finance bloggers should make sure we spend a little more time checking out female-only blogs and promoting them. Maybe I’ll start a women-PF’ers-only blog carnival. Your thoughts, ladies?

In honor of that ridiculous post, I declare today’s Penny Frugalista round-up to be all about the women. There are so many more great female bloggers out there, but here’s just a taste. Cheers!

This Week’s Attention-Getters

Leslie at 27 and Frugal celebrates the blog’s 1st birthday

In the Throes of Unemployment at Girl With the Red Balloon

Life After the CPA Exam at Blonde and Balanced

How Will You Earn That Raise? at A Gai Shan Life

Being Your Own Boss is Not the Only Answer at Fabulously Broke in the City

Not So Anonymous Anymore at Give Me Back My Five Bucks

Splurge a Little On Yourself at Money Crush

Turn Your Clutter Into Cash at Couple Money

Calculating the College Graduate’s Course of Action at Funny About Money

Do Schools Have a Responsibility to Teach Us Personal Finance? at Well-Heeled Blog

Shopping for Fruit and Veg: 6 Money-Saving Tips at Miss Thrifty

Plastic Wars: Credit or Debit Card? at Money Funk

Should I Refinance My Mortgage? at Ultimate Money Blog

Penny Frugalista on the Web

Link love (Powered by nachos and simple human decency) at Musings of an Abstract Aucklander

Rolling With the Punches

Right now, the title says it all. I’m rolling with the punches… and kicks. This little life inside of me seems to be doing the can-can every once in a while, especially after dinner!

As we speak, I think I’ve got a foot in my pelvis. I went from feeling the ‘flutters’ that every pregnant woman talks about — and which I think is a misnomer, feels more like rolling or tingling — to little jabs. The rolling sensation started just last week, and I wasn’t even sure what I was feeling yet. It only happened about every other day. Today was the first time I felt little punches or kicks. It’s pretty amazing, if intermittent.

I didn’t expect to feel the ‘quickening’ this early, since this is my first pregnancy. But as my belly seems to have exploded outward in the past week, I can only assume this little one is growing even more quickly now and flexing his or her ever-strengthening extremities. I can’t imagine what this will feel like in another few weeks!

Another milestone: I somehow went from walking normally to gaining a little bit of a waddle. I suddenly feel off-kilter, gravity-wise. And I did have to spend some money on maternity clothes. Well, “some money” means about $280 worth of new clothes. I had first gone through all of my fall/winter clothes and realized that almost none of them were going to get me through this season. Therefore, the splurge. But I hardly spend money on myself, so I don’t feel TOO bad. I also got some maternity hand-me-downs from friends that I can work.

It was also an exciting weekend, as my BFF — the sister I never had — gave birth to a beautiful bouncing baby boy. It seems like yesterday we were 19 and driving around aimlessly, or going on 3 am diner runs. Now, she’s a mother and I will be soon. And one day, we’ll be hoping that our kids don’t do half the things that we did!

First Names: Do You Like Yours?

I did NOT make this name doodle.

We’re just one week away from finding out our little one’s gender, and then it’ll be time for the big “name that baby” exercise.

I was one of the many Nicoles, Jennifers, Jessicas and Danielles that cropped up during the late 1970s, and I distinctly remember having four girls named Nicole in one of my classes in grammar school, including me. Two or three of us were Nicole C., which was even more confusing for the teacher. When the poor teacher attempted to ‘change’ my name to Nikki for simplicity’s sake, I balked. I wanted to be known by my actual name. I won that round, but to this day, I’m hypersensitive to the fact that there are so many females named “Nicole” in the world. Heck, last week alone I had to share my name with a tropical storm that came up the East Coast and battered us here in New Jersey!

When I was in my early 20s, my friends started shortening my name to “Nic,” and it’s stuck for more than a decade. Even my brother calls me Nic now — I suppose I finally decided that the only way to provide some individuality was to accept this nickname. And it’s fits me 100% better than Nikki!

Mr. Not-So-Frugal’s name is not one of the most popular from our birth year, but it’s nowhere near uncommon, either, despite an alternate spelling.

That being said, I don’t want our child to go through life with one of the most common names out there today, but I find the names we do like are going to put our son or daughter in the same exact predicament. We’re not the type to come up with (or use) an exotic name, such as Sparrow, Pilot Inspektor or Moon Unit — let’s leave that to the brave — or insane — parents. So I’m in a quandry.

I don’t know that my name has helped or hindered me at all. It’s easy to remember and spelled in the ‘conventional’ way. But I feel lost in a sea of other Nicoles that came from my generation, making it no small wonder that I’ve managed to be the only one at my job with this first name for years on end. I suppose most women named Nicole don’t want to be journalists!

It’s be interesting to see if there’s a correlation between first names and career paths. Are more guys named Bob doctors, or are a majority of the Bobs engineers? Is there a majority of Marys in the writing business?

How do you feel about names? Would you give your child an uncommon name to make him or her stand out, or do you play it ‘safe’ with traditional or popular monikers?

Posts That Piqued My Interest: Now It Feels Like Fall!

We almost floated away this week, thanks to the massive rainstorm we got on Thursday and Friday, fueled by remnants of Tropical Storm Nicole. While we were lucky enough not to have any flooding, I think other folks in town had some problems. However, the storm cleared out and left us with more-seasonable temperatures — upper 60s and clear blue skies.

I’m also amazed that our car insurance company raised our premiums for the coming year — the first time they’ve had to “implement a general rate increase” in 14 YEARS. It’s a very good insurer and hard to get into, so I can’t complain too much. I’ve been with them for 8 or 9 years now. What I can complain about is the fact that it costs more to insure my 7-year-old Pontiac Grand Am GT sedan than it costs to cover Mr. NSF’s 1-year-old Ford Escape SUV. It seems my car is considered a sports car, which, at 6 cylinders and a whopping 170 horsepower, it certainly is not. But again, the insurance premiums are pretty darned reasonable for New Jersey — under $1000 for each car, full coverage (liability/theft/collision).

Posts That Piqued My Interest

Layering Your Deals at Frugal Confessions

Will 2012 Be the End of the World? at Saving Money Today

The Brightest Bulb at Joe Taxpayer

3 Tips for Buying Life Insurance for the First Time at Money Crashers

Considering Property Taxes When House Shopping at Consumerism Commentary

7 Frugal Moving Tips at My Dollar Plan

Can You Keep It Simple With a Newborn? at Simple Life in France

The Penny Frugalista on the Web

Sunday Link Love @ Ultimate Money Blog featured Hoarders Die in Their Piles of Crap

Online Bill Pay Changover Means… I Have to Write Checks!

Now here’s something I haven’t had to do in ages — write checks to pay our monthly bills.

Don’t get me wrong, I still write out checks once in a while, but usually only for gifts for birthdays, weddings or christenings. Other than that, I can’t remember the last time I filled out a check, put it in an envelope, wrote in my return address (or affixed an address label) and put a stamp on it. And THEN toss it in the mail and hope that it gets to its intended destination on time. How archaic!

I use online bill pay through our bank, which has notified us that it’s changing over the system in October. So there will be a 5-day blackout period from Oct. 8-12 when you can’t schedule payments. The bank claims you can schedule payments up until Oct. 8, but I’m a bit wary of doing that, since almost all of our monthly bills are due by Oct. 12.

Looks like I’ll be writing out the checks for those bills instead. Which means I’ll have to send them out Monday or Tuesday in order to be sure they arrive in time.

I’ll also have to re-input all of the payee information — name, address, account numbers — from scratch. But the upside is that our bank will be depositing $30 in our checking account for the trouble.

The bank also had Customer Appreciation Week this week, which I didn’t know until I went to make a deposit on Wednesday morning. I got a compact flashlight (with batteries!) in ‘appreciation’ for my loyalty. I actually needed one of those!

I figured I’d let a family member know that they’d get the free flashlight if they went to the bank branch through Saturday. And the family member responded, “How are you supposed to know it was Customer Appreciation Week?” Well, at least I relayed the information!

Someone might be making an unnecessary deposit or withdrawal to get their flashlight, methinks.