Work and Family: It’s a Balancing Act

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I work a full-time job with a crazy schedule that allows me some extra time to do some freelancing writing and editing. I’m not a TV-watcher like my husband, who could spend every minute of the day (and night) in front of the boob tube, so in my free time, I hustle for a little extra money to offset any major expenses and pad our savings account.

Now that we have Baby Frugalista — who turned 1 year old on Groundhog Day, and will always be my “baby,” no matter her age — I’ve sought out fewer gigs so I can spend more time with her. It’s a no-brainer, but it gives me more pleasure to spend an hour at the park with her than to write an article. But with the costs associated with raising a child (CNN reports a 40% increase in the cost of raising a child in the past decade), such as food, clothing, daycare and saving for college, I find that we could use that extra money.

Compromise

After our daughter was born, I was on maternity leave for 6 months. So not only was I not getting my usual salary, I wasn’t freelancing, either. When I went back to work, I was able to find a balance — I’d only take on freelance assignments if I would be able to complete them in the evenings after the baby went to sleep. That meant not working on projects on my days off or weekends. As she settled into a bedtime routine, I found that this is what has worked for me. We still have family time, and I still get to keep my skills sharp and increase our cash flow.

The good thing is that I can accept most projects offered to me, but I’ve also turned down a few that didn’t fit into my self-imposed limitations.

It’s just one of the ways my life has changed since her birth. As parents, you’re supposed to make sacrifices for your children, and I do so willingly and lovingly.

Working parents — how have you sacrificed when it comes to balancing work and family?

Little Bites: Tax Filing Time & Other Chores

Holy crap, it’s March. The past month has been a blur of unexpectedly early motherhood and all the sleepless nights, diaper changes and constant feedings that come with it — and it’s been wonderful. We were caught fairly unprepared when Baby Frugalista arrived five weeks early, but thanks to family and friends, we were able to get our home ready for our new addition. They came through with meals, clothes, diapers and assorted little things that we had yet to pick up.

Now we’re settled into a routine — or as much of a routine as possible with a premature newborn. She’s gaining a lot of weight and growing at a good pace. One thing I’ve found is that our normal budget has been turned upside down. We have to factor in diapers and formula, and I’ve found that my $200 monthly grocery budget has increased to reflect that.

Now that I’m out of work on maternity leave for 6 months to spend as much time with my little girl as possible — and only getting disability and family leave payments for 3 of those — we really need to watch our spending. I’d prepared for the 3 months without income by amping up my freelance gigs while pregnant (because I’m nuts), but that doesn’t mean we should burn through that reserve. Gas prices are headed toward uncharted territory — again — and I’m happy I don’t have commuting costs for the next few months. I just filled up the gas tank the other day, and I’m sure I won’t have to refill it for a day or two. I only bought lunch at work maybe once or twice a month, but that’s a little bit of savings, too.

We’re going to do our taxes this weekend and we’re expecting a nice refund thanks to the mortgage interest and property tax deductions. I’d like to change our withholding status on our W-4 forms at work from “O” to “1” or “2” — it’s better that we get that money put back in our paychecks, rather than get it in a large tax refund.

Other things we’re working on:

Medical Coverage — We’ve added the baby to our health insurance, provided by Mr. NSF’s employer. The pre-tax cost has increased two-fold just to add one little person. Amazing, right? So instead of $220 per month in paycheck deductions, the cost will be $440 monthly.

Will — We do not have a will as of yet, and this is something I’m going to look into. There are advantages and disadvantages to wills (enough for a separate blog post), but there are other options, too, such as payable-on-death designations on accounts.

Life Insurance — Although we have some life insurance coverage through our employers, we’ll lose it if we change jobs. I’ll have to see if getting our own policies is advantageous, in case the unthinkable happens to one of us. We want to make sure our daughter is provided for and that we could keep our home in the event something happens to one of us.

I’m sure there are other things we need to consider, but I think this is a pretty good list to start with.