Little Bites: Yes, I’m Still Here

When I had our daughter — who is now 28 months old! — I knew this blog would become less and less of a priority. In addition to fewer blog posts, I’ve also been drifting away from personal finance-related topics. Sure, finances are a major consideration when you’re raising a family, and a lot of what goes on in our lives nowadays relates to money. But I’ve chosen to spent most of my free moments with Emily, who is an incredibly spirited toddler who keeps us on our toes and challenges us to whip out our best parenting skills, especially when she’s in public.

Refinancing the Mortgage = More Money Toward Debt Repayment

Our mortgage refinancing was completed in February, and our first payment came due April 1 — it felt great to pay $360 less than we had been on the old mortgage. Those extra funds have been going toward paying off our credit card debt, and we’ll be making the last payments on that in the next two weeks. It’s exciting, since we haven’t have zero balances on our credit cards since before Emily was born, back in early 2011.

Two-year-olds and Tantrums

In the parenting vein, holy terrible twos. Along with the language burst came explosions in the way of tantrums. Emily’s learned to express herself AND toss her little body on the floor like a wet noodle if we dare to tell her she can’t do something. There’s no holding back Miss Independent! Except, we have to hold her back, because she doesn’t know any better. So we’re working on teaching her limits. “No, you can’t play on the Nook again!”

Our First Post-Baby Weekend Away

Mr. Not-So-Frugal and I booked a weekend getaway for just the two of us — sans toddler. We’re not venturing too far, only an hour away, but it will be nice to spend time together as a couple without the parenting duties. I’m sure I’ll be a worrywart while we’re gone, but it will also be nice to partake in some cocktails at an oceanfront bar. It’s just a motel, but we’re paying for proximity to the ocean. So it’ll be worth is (as long as the weather cooperates!).

No, I *Don’t* Need to Buy Things for Vacation

We’re less than 6 weeks away from our first-ever vacation with Miss Frugalista, and it may be a crazy idea: We’ve decided to rent a house with 10 other friends and take a road trip from New Jersey down to North Carolina’s Outer Banks for a full week. Most likely, the bulk of the ride will feature a 18-month-old crying because she wants to get out of her carseat, but we’ll be stopping a few times on the way for bathroom breaks/diaper changes/meals, and, most importantly, to stretch our legs. It will be fun trying to pump our own gas. Maybe I should have someone explain how to do it before we leave!

I’ve had to rein myself in when it comes to picking up vacation “essentials.” The house we’re renting has a pool AND is on the beach, so there are some baby safety considerations. While I have my eye on a $50 beach shelter, I’m still unsure about flotation devices. We already have a large, foldable outdoor gate (formerly the “baby jail”) that may be useful for corralling purposes. I’ve already spent money on a backseat organizer for the car ride down and water shoes so the sand doesn’t burn her little feet. We’re going to use her old Pack ‘n’ Play for a crib, but I want to pick up a $25 playard mattress so she can rest more comfortably at night. We have some beach toys we got for her birthday in February, so that’s covered. She has plenty of sun hat that she won’t wear, and I don’t think I’ll bother with baby sunglasses for the same reason.

My husband believes he needs some T-shirts, and I desperately need a new bathing suit (or two), which is something I’d better buy sooner rather than later — I saw SWEATERS on the racks in Target the other day. I’ve stocked up on sunblock.

Making Our Own Meals to Save Money

What will be nice is that we’ll be buying our own food, with just one dinner planned for a local restaurant. Between the 12 of us, we’re renting a grill and propane tank for $60 a week – that’s just $5 per person — and the majority of our meals will involve BBQ. Breakfast can be a simple bowl of cereal or a “fancier” meal of eggs, bacon and toast, or even pancakes.

We’re all meeting up one day this month to talk about what food we’ll be bringing or buying once we’re in North Carolina and also set up a meal schedule — each of us will try our hand at cooking a meal for the group.

Sharing Resources

Another thing we’ll be planning is who will bring which items. Do we need 10 beach umbrellas when two pop-up canopies would do? So we’ll sort out things of that nature, too, so we’re not buying or bringing superfluous items — we’ll have enough to bring with us as it is! Since Miss Frugalista will be the only child there, we’re in charge of all of the baby stuff.

So besides food, gas for the car, and a few clothing necessities, we shouldn’t have to spend a lot of money — even the house rental was more than reasonable for a 7-day stay. We’re definitely looking forward to the trip, which we think will be a lot of fun.

Has anyone else taken a young toddler on a beach vacation? Is there anything else we should bring with us?