7.5 Weeks With No Pay, 4.5 to Go

When it came to maternity leave, I’ve always wanted to be able to spend as much time as I could with my newborn baby. That’s why, when I found out I was pregnant nearly one year ago, my husband and I decided that I should take 6 months, if possible. My employers amazingly agreed to the time period when I proposed it, for which I will be forever grateful. But I knew that I would only be getting disability and family leave pay for a total of 12 weeks – the other 12 weeks would be unpaid (I’ve taken 24 weeks off, rather than 6 straight months, a slightly longer time period).

That’s why, even while pregnant, I worked my ass off doing side gigs in order to further build up our savings. I also knew the baby would come around the time we’d be getting our tax refund. As much as I planned, the baby had other ideas, showing up 5 weeks early. Luckily, she was healthy as a horse, and the upside was that I could spend all of my maternity leave time with her, as opposed to going out of work at 38.5 weeks as scheduled, then waiting around for the baby to show.

For the past 7.5 weeks, we’ve only had Mr. Not-So-Frugal’s paycheck coming in. While I know many readers can make it work on one income — even with a mortgage — it’s something that’s almost impossible here in Northern New Jersey, in the shadow of New York City. We bought a home at a good price, put 20% down, and it’s still tough. It appears that I’ve planned out our cash flow perfectly, but now we’re getting down to the wire — there are just 4.5 weeks left until I return to work!

It’s difficult watching our checking account dwindle now that we’re in the sunset of my maternity leave. We’ve been watching our spending to a point, but now I’m going to be bringing the hammer down. It would be even easier if I could get Mr. NSF to stop smoking (he smokes outside, as he’s always done), as we’d save an easy $300/month right there. But if my calculations are correct, we won’t even have to dip into our savings account.

Although there’s one thing I didn’t consider — when I’ll get my first paycheck when I return. I think I’m going to have to wait two weeks for my pay when I go back, which really means it’ll be another 6.5 weeks without a paycheck coming in, not 4.5!

I’ve cherished this time home with my little one, and I can’t believe it’s coming to an end. Watching her grow from a teeny 4-pound preemie to the chunky baby she is now (13-plus-pounds at almost 5 months!) and hitting all of her milestones despite her early entrance into the world has been amazing. But as much as I love you, Baby Frugalista, I’m actually ready to go back to work! It’ll be hard, putting you in daycare, but we’ve got a great babysitter lined up, someone I’m comfortable with. I know you’ll be in good hands.

I’ve always believed I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, but I’m ready for a paycheck again! Unless we hit the lottery, I’ll be a working mom, just like most of the people I know. I know that despite being away from my baby during the day, I can still guide her, teach her and love her just as much.

Posts That Piqued My Interest: Long-Overdue Edition

Between pregnancy and taking care of a newborn, I haven’t had a whole lot of time to give this blog the attention it deserves — never mind all of the other fantastic personal finance blogs out there.

So now it’s time for a long-overdue “Posts That Piqued My Interest” post!

— One of my favorite PF blogs, Consumerism Commentary, discussed Reverse Foreclosure: Man Seizes Bank of America’s Assets. The short version: The bank went after a couple who it claimed hadn’t made payments on their mortgage, initiating the foreclosure process. But the husband and wife had PAID THE ENTIRE COST OF THEIR HOME IN CASH. There WAS no mortgage. Bank of America owed them their legal fees and refused to pay, so the husband showed up at a local Bank of America branch and turned the tables on them. Love it.

— A very belated – but just as hearty — congratulations to Death to the Mortgage. He and his wife paid off their mortgage far, far ahead of schedule, thanks to a final lump-sum payment in April. After refinancing their loan, they decided to pay off their 10-year mortgage within a five-year window. They SMASHED that goal, finishing up in just 3 years, 4 months, saving $28,431 in interest on their nearly $189,000 mortgage.

Frugal Dad has a very comprehensive list, 62 Money-Saving Tips to Help Survive Another Recession. There are some new gems in addition to the usual ways to cut expenses.

— A sobering story over at Funny About Money, Why Everyone Needs to Learn How to Manage Money. Ladies, especially, take (and keep) control of your finances!

Microfiber Cloth Uses at Ultimate Money Blog offers some great ideas for using these little fabric wonders. I’m going to try Mrs. Money’s glass cleaner recipe, too, now that I’m almost done with our bottle of Windex.

Saving Money on Prescriptions

Yes, another medical-related post today. Such is my life nowadays, unfortunately!

I went to my endocrinologist last week for my postpartum bloodwork and checkup, to monitor my Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and see if my dose needed adjusting. Most women find they become MORE hypothyroid after having a baby, but amazingly, my thyroid function has actually improved. This means I can take a lower dose of my prescription medicine, Synthroid.

Back in August, I wrote about how my endocrinologist really prefers his patients to be on the name-brand Synthroid. I explained that our insurance plan has a $30 monthly co-pay for name-brand prescriptions ($90 for a 90-day supply), but the out-of-pocket cost is only $80, so that’s what I pay. Our insurance co-pay is $10 for generics, which is a lot easier to swallow, especially now that we have a child and our budget is much tighter than it used to be.

Then I discovered that Target has a generic medications program where I could get my 90-day supply of thyroid medication for not $90, not $80, not $30 — just 10 BUCKS. $10!!!

Seems like a no-brainer, except I forgot to talk to the endocrinologist about allowing me to go back on the generic version of Synthroid, called levothyroxine. So my prescription, which I have yet to fill, says “no substitutions.”

I’ve left a message for the endocrinologist, and I really hope he lets me get the generic Synthroid in order to save money. His concern is that some studies showed that the generic version may have slightly varying amounts of the main drug in it. But I feel that since my Hashimoto’s is well-controlled, and I’m not pregnant anymore, I should be able to use the super-cheap levothyroxine.

I’ll keep you posted on that conversation after I speak to the doctor.

UPDATE: The doctor will let me take the generic — all I have to do is have the pharmacy call his office to confirm. Hooray!

Tenosyno-what? My First Time at the Chiropractor

My cool 'splint'

Turns out I have tenosynovitis.

From Wikipedia (that font of knowledge, ha):

Tenosynovitis is the inflammation of the fluid-filled sheath (called the synovium) that surrounds a tendon. Symptoms of tenosynovitis include pain, swelling and difficulty moving the particular joint where the inflammation occurs.

Not long after I started messing with the upstairs bathroom, my wrist began ‘snapping’ — an extremely unpleasant sensation that happened only if I turned my wrist a certain way.

Right before having Baby Frugalista, my right wrist started to hurt, and after her birth, I had some nasty carpal tunnel going on. That lasted until the majority of the swelling went down (now, if only I could get rid of the rest of this swelling — er, I mean, chub). I had about a 6-week reprieve before a new-but-similar pain started. I first noticed it during the night, when I woke up after feeling like a tendon in my wrist was ‘stuck’ – then, one I rotated the wrist some more, it snapped back into place.

It’s an extremely unpleasant, ugly feeling. And worsened by my sleeping position of choice — I wind up sleeping with my arm and hand behind my head.

My father-in-law suggested a visit to his longtime chiropractor. I’d never been to one before, so I was skeptical at first. But now that I’ve gone through two weeks of muscle stimulation and ultrasound treatment, the swelling and pain have started to dissipate. I’ve also had to wear a rigid splint at night, ice my wrist 2-3 times a day, and hold or feed the baby using my left hand.

The chiropractor, whom I see on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, always sends me off with a neato ‘splint’ made of kinesiology tape, which works pretty well for daytime support.

Hopefully, once this tenosynovitis heals, it won’t recur. Because I’ll be REALLY unhappy if it does.

Threats will keep it away — right?