A Real Career to Support My Family

The new job is great. My boss respects me. My compensation structure makes sense (lower base than last job, but substantial room for bonus and stock appreciation.) The team works together well and everyone plays their part. Why, then, am I still so concerned about the future?

It’s not this job. It’s still this career. Being in a larger company is helping… but I’m still extremely stressed everyday, feeling like I don’t know what I’m doing. I know I need to hang on for four years in this job, to build that stability profile, to capture the value of the stock, to really add value to my company’s business. My objective is to be a wonderful employee. I don’t plan to ever ask for a raise, or anything more than what I have now. I just want to survive and be known as an asset to the business.

Even if I can survive those four years, what’s next? This role is special because my boss knows me from a prior company and that’s why he values my contributions and position. My actual communications skills are not vastly improving…. I’m not learning skills that are applicable to other workplaces… which is fine for now, but I don’t see where this is heading. Do I need to? I’m now 34, in a mid-level role, and to others probably look quite successful. But this type of job is not sustainable – not for the next 30 years until I retire.

So, as I embark on this pregnancy and having-kid journey, I also am trying to figure out how to set the foundation for a longer-term career change. I’m committed to this role for the next four years, and if I play my cards right this should give me time to build out my next life. The only question is – what is it?

Just Another Post of Sadness RE: Being Priced Out of Bay Area Housing

I really try to take life one day at a time, because thinking too far into the future puts me in a constant state of unproductive panic. Right now, I need to focus on the next four years of our lives:

  • 2018: baby #1 born (0 – 6 mo), I turn 35, 1 yr at job
  • 2019: baby #1 turns 1, I turn 36(!), 2 yr at job
  • 2020: baby #1 turns 2, preg w/ baby #2(!?!), I turn 37, 3 yr at job
  • 2021:  baby #1 turns 3, baby #2 turns 1, I turn 38, 4 yr at job

Then we… GTFO of the Bay Area. >Insert frown face and sad heart.<

I know we live in one of the most expensive places to live in the entire world. When I moved here 12 years ago, I knew that too. However, I didn’t really understand how the expensiveness of “San Francisco” wasn’t referring to just the city. It actually meant that one cannot afford to live anywhere within a 80 mile radius of the city.

While I didn’t grow up here, my husband did — but unlike many others who grew up here, unfortunately his parents never purchased real estate so there is no property in the family (other than the home his grandmother owns, which is a complete tear down once it needs to be sold.) His mother also has to figure out what to do — she, for better or worse, has been living (I think) rent free her entire life in her mother’s house. So she can buy something somewhere, but she won’t be able to buy out her siblings to purchase the entire property. We have no roots here as a family, financially anyway. Unless we somehow win the lottery, the reality is we are going to have to leave.

I’m seriously considering staying in the 1 bedroom until that point. Our rent control is helpful. We still have increases at inflation (it’s not like the SF 1% rent control or whatever that is), but it helps knowing our rent won’t go up $1000 a month in a year. Really, if we could get air conditioning to work in the living room / kitchen area, and I could get my husband to be open to the idea, I think we could make this work. At first, kid shares bedroom with us. Then, we move our bedroom into the living room and kid has the bedroom. When we have #2, perhaps we switch. Or something like that. But we have enough space here. I just can’t leave my kids in a hot room with no air conditioning, and while I could survive a few unhappy years without cooling my husband would not sleep and would be miserable.

My husband has tossed around the idea of moving to Seattle. I’m not a fan of this idea, namely because I don’t like cloudy skies and I don’t like constant rain. It’s also really not that much less expensive than it is here, as salaries would be lower and we’d have to deal with long commutes anyway. I’m not sure there’s any perfect city out there (we’re not moving to Austin, husband likes it grey and rainy, go figure.) Denver is a maybe but it doesn’t feel right for us – and we have absolutely no family or friends there. Really moving back east (for me) would make the most sense… perhaps to CT or NY, though prices are high there too… just within reach, with more options, better public schools, higher taxes, but lower cost real estate.

Then the crazy part of me starts to think – what if we could live in this one bedroom apartment forever. With one kid, and if we could figure out how to cool the other room, we could make it work. It wouldn’t be the life I had hoped for – but we wouldn’t be any worse off than other families who have no choice but to live in a one bedroom with multiple kids and other relatives. Is it really that bad? I value my privacy… but I can go for a walk and spend time in the park. So can my kids. It will force us to spend more time outdoors vs in our home, which is better anyway. We’d have more money to take trips. We could even rent an AirBnB for birthday parties. Maybe, at some point, we’d move into a two bedroom apartment. Or, whenever we reach that threshold of insanity, we’d move out and far away.

I’m angry at myself for not buying property in 2011, at the bottom of the last bubble. But how could I have known? And, the reality is I couldn’t afford much then either. Six years ago, my entire net worth was $145,000. After taxes and penalties, say that was $100k, with my 401k and everything. So, I’d have 20% down on a $500k home. Which. Still. Didn’t. Exist. Then.

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Even if there is another drop in housing prices here, that means that job security is also out the window – not the best time to buy. Unless you make $500k a year, I just don’t see buying a home here making any sense. The reality is a basic home will cost you $1.5M – that’s about $7600 a month in mortgage, insurance and taxes, not including any maintenance. We take home $9000 a month after tax… and that’s IF we both have our jobs with no periods of unemployment in the next 30 years. It’s not even like we can cut back on things like travel or going out and afford a house. It’s just… impossible.

I mean, maybe if I figure out how to become a VP and increase my base income to $250k a year with a bonus that gets me up to $500k… but even then that’s super risky on one high income. At that point, maybe I’d feel more comfortable staying in the area and renting a nicer property for $5k a month… but owning here is simply out of reach.

I’m not complaining – I’m just sad. Sad because after all of this investing and moving up the corporate ladder, it’s still impossible. It feels unfair – even though I know it’s not. It’s just how the game works. I had a few chances of striking it rich in startups. They did not pan out. They usually don’t. My RSUs now could support a percentage of a small downpayment in four years… but by then that $1.5M house will probably be $2M. I’m not sure it will ever come down again.

So, we say goodbye to the Bay Area, when the time comes. We pack up and move to who knows where. I work remote or get a new job or change careers. We find ourselves a house with a backyard for our kids to run through the sprinkler in during a hot summer day. We try to make new friends and rebuild our lives. I’m terrified of it, but that’s life. Had I known 15 years ago what I know now, perhaps I would have done it differently. But, then I would have never met my husband, never have this future child to be inside me, never have felt this, well, happy. Yes, this is about as happy as I get. 🙂

 

There’s SO MUCH Baby — STUFF.

Baby stuff is inherently awwwwww-inducing cute because it’s small and therefore it’s adorable. Old me would be spending my entire paycheck already buying random baby things I see along the journey of pregnancy that capture my heart. Slightly less bad-with-money me knows that not only do I not need to buy a bunch of crap for my embryo/soon-to-be-fetus today, I don’t need that crap – ever. 

My preliminary research into “baby shit” (not the literal shit, I’ll deal with that soon enough) — is that there are, not surprisingly, a zillion options for every item you may want to buy. Stroller? How about a foldable one so it fits in your tiny apartment? Or one you can jog with because – while you don’t jog much today, the visual of you jogging with your baby at the local park in the Tesla of Strollers is such a glorious thought? Maybe you should get an expandable stroller (possibly a good idea) so when you have a second kid, you can add a seat easily and not have to buy an entire new stroller in 2-3 years. But, of course, you’re then betting on having a second kid while the other one still wants to be in a stroller (that is the game plan, but with infertility and then maternal age issues, who knows if it will happen.) Get the expandable stroller and it’s heavier than necessary for one kid… why bother? Those jogging strollers sure look nice…

And how about where the baby sleeps? I want my baby to be comfortable — but is it just me or is it ridiculous to spend $200+ on a sleep situation that will last approximately 3 months of your babies life? Even $50 on a bassinet that lasts 3 months may be a poor financial choice if you can invest in a $200 crib that will last at least 2 years.

The good and bad news is that having baby in a one bedroom apartment means that we don’t have a lot of space for baby things. It surely limits us on how much money we’ll waste on nursery stuff… there won’t be much of a nursery to speak of. Luckily our 1 bedroom is quite large and the bedroom itself is huge. We selected the apartment a few years back because it was the only one we found with sizable rooms and a crap-ton of storage space (still no where to put my bike other than the living room, but plenty of shelving and closets.) The bedroom itself is large enough to fit our California King-sized bed, the clunkiest, ugliest in-room air conditioner you’ve ever seen (necessary in the summer, used by my husband year round, brrrr), a random exercise bike, and my husband’s office (desk, printer stand, etc.) It’s a big room.

My thought as of now is that we’ll move the bed out a bit more into the center of the room (against one wall) and turn the corner the bed is against now into the “nursery nook.” We’ll get some kind of side-sleeper arrangement or a crib (I’d prefer something that will scale with age and not last just 6 months or a year.) Some options I’m considering are The Baby Bay Bedside Sleeper ($365) and the Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper (~$200).

The other issue / positive thing is that all of these items will make their way to our baby registry, and some family members may contribute to our needs for baby. I hate to say it this way – but in the case of showers, you want to make sure you’re asking for things you really want and need. I kind of failed at this at our wedding (hello five sets of fancy Kate Spade China still sitting in their pretty hot pink boxes on our living room floor.) But, and this is going to sound horrible, you want to get the most out of the registry as well. For instance, your parents may decide to splurge on one really nice item for you — vs thinking about it as a total dollar amount. So they decide to buy your crib. Well, you can ask for a $50 bassinet that will last 3 months, or a $300 crib that will last much longer.

What I don’t want to do is ask for or get a lot of crap. I’m strongly leaning towards not finding out baby’s gender until birth (husband wants to know like, yesterday so he may find out early and taunt me until baby pops out)… but not knowing baby’s gender, besides making it a fun surprise at birth in that magical moment, also makes it much harder for people to buy you stupid gender-specific crap that you don’t need, like one too many light pink onesies.

In any case, my objective is to purchase (or request) as many items that will scale with age, and ideally last for baby #2. I say all this just 5w7d into my gestation and… miscarriage chances are still quite high, so I’m trying to not get too baby-crazed yet. But, y’all can tell, I’m a bit baby-crazed. My husband is too – in a different way. I’ve always teased him that he was “born a dad trying to be cool” and I have to hand it to him, he’s going to be an incredible father. Between just having a natural parental instinct and loving kids in all of their crazy, he’ll be a wonderful dad. And he’s been giddy like a school girl ever since finding out we’re pregnant. It’s totes cute.

Anyway, I guess this blog is transitioning into a mommy blog of sorts by default. I’ll still write about other stuff but right now I have to figure out family / baby finances. Given this blog is anonymous (I hope) I might start another public blog on raising a baby (those mommy bloggers can make some serious bank… this blog isn’t designed for making money, it’s designed for saving money — less visits to therapist, more ranting on HECC!)

So, in terms of what we actually need, there are lots of little items (bottles and such) but I think the primary things are:

  • somewhere to sleep (ideally that scales with age)
  • somewhere to eat (high chair)
  • super safe seat for the car (car seat)
  • stoller (ideally a small one that is portable)
  • changing pads (in lieu of a changing table)
  • baby carry thing (for doing baby yoga. haha. not.) 
  • pack & play w/ basinet (for bringing baby to places other than the living room)
  • swing or jumping thing (I liked to jump as a kid – apparently I was given the name Mexican Jumping Bean. Is that racist? Eh, it was the 80s. Anyway, I want to see if my kid likes to jump too.)
  • Baby bath tub – not sure this is necessary, but super scared of baby drowning so having a smaller tub in the larger tub would be helpful.

I think that’s it? Other than the smaller items like the bottles and bibs and baby spoons and diapers and thermometer and such. Moms/Dads out there, what am I forgetting? Any advice on “must have” baby stuff? And what seems like a must-have but should be avoided?

 

To Move or Not To Move… That is the Question

7 months, 3 weeks in counting until the arrival of baby “E” (we have two names picked out for girl or boy child, both start with E, so calling it baby E .) 7 months, 3 weeks is not that much time before our lives change forever.

Outside of finally figuring out how to keep my apartment clean, focusing on obtaining stability at my job, and trying to eat healthy and exercise and such, I’m perturbed  by our housing situation and whether or not we should move or stay put. The general consensus until my anxiety attack of this last week was stay put until kid is 1, then figure it out / move to a two bedroom / etc.

But then I started thinking about how I will be going back to work after 3 months (maybe sooner) and my baby will be 45 minutes from my office. What if something went wrong? What if I just want to go home to breast feed at lunch time? What if we are both sick and need a separate guest room for his dad or mom to stay overnight to watch the baby (assuming they’d be willing to do so?)

Our options are as follows:

  • A. Stay put. Live in our 825 square feet, 1 bedroom, 2nd floor, $2400 a month apartment for the first year of Baby E’s life.  Possibly husband’s father comes to watch baby a few days a week… he doesn’t drive but can take the train down to us and my husband would pick him up and drive him back. We haven’t asked him yet but hubby thinks he’ll be interested in helping.
  • A2. Same as above, but find a daycare close to my office to put young baby in, vs having husband’s dad watch kid. Then I can visit the child at lunch to nurse. I’ll still have to pump at work, but I’ve been reading a lot about breastfeeding and I’d like to have the option to breastfeed during my lunch hour. This won’t be possible if it takes 1-1.5 hr to get home and back.
  • B. Move closer to my office into a 2 bedroom apartment, likely $3500-$4000. Options include moving really close to the office (I’m not in love with the area) or back to the town that we DO love where my husband’s parents both live (neither drive, so this would make it super easy for them to get to us if needed)
  • C. Buy a house / condo closer to work. Ok, this isn’t really a very feasible option, but it’s on the list because maybe we could make it work. My monthly take-home income after tax is about $7500. My husband, for now, makes about $3000 after tax. When he starts teaching that will be more like $2000? (*who knows what will happen w/ the new tax plan, but we’ll be making even less if we can’t deduct state income tax.) So we’re looking at about $9000 a month after taxes – if we keep our jobs for the next 30 years and all…

More on option C… I’ve always said (and still believe) buying a house is a bad financial move. Yes, where I live, in the past 5 years houses that were selling for $800k are now worth $1.3M… $500k increases in a very short time. They may go up forever, but probably not at that rate. Even if they do, all the other houses nearby are going up at the same rate… so it still won’t be possible to trade in and move into a nicer place (unless you leave the area.) To stay in this area long term, renting seems like the most financially-wise option.

However… now I’m having a child (knock on wood) I’d really like to have stability for Baby E. I grew up in a nice middle class development where generally you could walk into the street and not get hit by a car. It was very family friendly and just felt like a permanent home, not an apartment where I don’t know any of my neighbors and everyone is so transient. There’s benefits to that as well (with my social anxiety, it’s not like we’re going to be bringing jello molds to our neighbor’s house anyway) — but it would be very nice to be part of a community and live in an area where I’d love to push a stroller down the street. Not that where I live now is horrible… there is a nice park around the corner… it’s just, fine for us as DINKs, not for + kids. I really would like a private backyard, even a little tiny one.

So… I keep coming back to the house buying thing. It would certainly be easier to house buy now before baby comes vs after (I think?) Especially given how we like to look at a billion options for everything and houses here tend to get overbid and snapped up fast.

In reality, though, we probably can’t afford a house. I don’t want to buy a condo but I’d be open to a townhouse (with no one above or below.) A townhouse might not be a horrible idea since the outside of the home would be fixed by the HOA and we could focus on upkeep of the inside only. I’d prefer no shared walls at all, but given our income, we’re going to have to compromise somewhere. I don’t want to be on the bottom floor in a condo, though, with people walking upstairs. Right now I’m in a 2 floor apartment and we’re on the second floor. The walls are thin and we can still hear things through them, but it’s not too bad…

For buying property, according to the Smart Asset calculator, we can afford a $1,000,000 home (with a $200k down payment.)

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The problem is, we can’t get a heck of a lot for $1M here. I did include a $700 a month HOA (which is high but reasonable for some of the communities I’ve been looking at closer to work) — we’re not going to get a house for $1M.  And this assumes I’ll be keeping my job of at least $160k income and my husband $55k income for 30 years consistently starting at the beginning of the mortgage. So much for early retirement.

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So, we could go that route. Find a $1M 2br, 2ba townhouse (still very hard to do around here) and hope that we keep our jobs for the next 30 years. If our total monthly payment is $6000, and I paid $3000 a month and hubby paid $3000, then… I’d be ok with $4000 left in post tax money a month… but he’d be using his entire salary on the mortgage. It would be very tight. Maybe in 20 years we’ll have a lower monthly payment then a comparable mortgage. But we’ll also be stuck if prices go down or we need to move for a job. It’s probably not a good time to buy… and it wouldn’t be horrible to wait one more year anyway and stay in the 1 bedroom to save up money for a downpayment… but it seems silly to move closer to work and pay $3500-$4000 a month for a two bedroom… at that point, shouldn’t we just bite the bullet and buy a home?

 

So how does this whole working mother thing work again?

I have no idea what I’m in for this summer, but I do know it’s going to be the hardest year of my life. With the reality of maternity leave (and lack there of) settling in, I’m starting to play for 4-6 weeks off from work (4 weeks are fully paid, 2 would be at ~25% of my salary.)

Today I ran the numbers of taking 4 weeks off prior to my due date and 3 months off after (12 weeks.) Even with some paid leave, I’ll be losing $20,000 worth of salary…. enough to put the baby IN DAYCARE for the entire year. As much as I’d love to stay home with baby, it just doesn’t make sense.

I’m in a bit of a dream world right now… I have absolutely no idea how this all works in a logical, survivable fashion. My husband will be going to school full time this summer and throughout next year in order to get his teaching degree, and I’m due Aug 6. We think his dad will help out with the baby if asked, but I hate to put that on him (he’s not a young guy) – though I think if we pay him a fair rate he’ll at least appreciate the extra income.

Still, I don’t have a clear picture of this working. I really can’t lose my job… and I’m hoping my boss still likes me enough this summer to be flexible with remote working and I can be productive without any sleep. Hah. That’s not possible right? I guess I’ll make it possible. Or I just front load a lot of work by working weekends leading up to birth and try to make it look like I did it all remote?

In all seriousness, though, I’m terrified. I’m 34, I can’t exactly wait any longer to have a baby… but how am I going to make this work? Yes, I have $500k in savings as a cushion, but if we have any hope of affording a house around here (I’m looking at 2br, 2ba houses for $1.3M or $4000 a month in rent) then I cannot give up the salary beyond what’s absolutely necessary. We may not go broke immediately, but all of the work saving and trying to prepare for a not-so-horrible retirement will be ruined – not to mention we have to start saving for baby’s college fund, future wedding, et al.

Is it so absolutely ridiculous to plan to work up until a week or so before my due date, and then go back to work (2-3 days a week working from home) about 6 months after labor (assuming a non surgical birth?)  Some people out there do it because they have no choice – though while it might suck, it’s clearly doable. I’m pretty sure my coworkers and boss would appreciate my commitment to work, especially since I’ll be nine months into the new job when I have to take maternity leave.

Part of me wants to take a lot more leave. I read all these posts about women who wish they took more. I’d really love to take six months off to bond with baby and get used to not sleeping and all of that. I’d be bored, sure, but I think six months is how long a mother should be able to take off when they have a child. It seems to be this much in other countries as par for course.

Six months is definitely not possible with our $2500 1 bedroom rent, insurance costs and baby costs. Is three months something I should just do and hope it all works out in the end? I feel like even if I’m home on maternity leave I’m going to end up working anyway… my job is just so easy to do away from the office… easier to do vs not do. It’s the going to the office bit that’s going to be rough…

I wish we lived closer to my office. It’s only 30 minutes away in no traffic but the times I travel for work hours it’s 45-50 minutes. Not horrible… but I don’t want to spend an extra hour-and-a-half a day traveling when I could be with my baby. I also wish we were closer so I could go home and nurse on lunch breaks. We talked a little bit about moving today, but it just doesn’t make a ton of sense. Our 1 bedroom apartment — while a one bedroom – is quite large… and we have rent control which keeps our rates down a bit. The in-apartment washer and dryer is amazing now and a must-have for baby IMO. The commute is not great, but it could be worse. It will be doable if I only have to go in three days a week…

Even with all of that, I’m just paranoid now because I know I have to go above and beyond at work to secure my position. I’d be doing this now anyway because I want my boss to be happy with my work and I want to help him succeed… but beyond that it’s so important that I connect with other senior leaders in the organization and become not just a disposable employee but someone known for doing great things for the org. I’m taking baby steps towards that… but it’s something I have to fully invest in over the next… seven months. I mean, I really only have seven months before I take leave, if I go on leave four weeks before my due date. That’s so crazy – that’s just over two quarters of work.

Anything can happen in seven months. I could lose my job. I could get sick and need to take more time off. Morning sickness can kick in… as early as next week… and I could be vomiting all day, unable to focus on work at all. So many what ifs…. and this is before the kid is born.

This all makes me long for the olden days when women stayed home and took care of baby and the guy went to work. Scratch that. I don’t really want that. I think I’ll appreciate my job even more when it’s an excuse to get away from a screaming baby and an exhausted cranky husband. 🙂 BUT… the body wants to be near baby. Pumping seems so damn unnatural (because it is.) Yes, there is a mother’s room at work and I’m sure I’ll figure it all out… but pumping takes a lot of time too… I’ll leak and stuff like women do and be embarrassed and it’s all so horrible. My company is like 80%? male like most tech companies so it’s just not a place where there are tons of young mothers. Maybe that’s a good thing because I won’t have to compete for the mom room?

Anyway, I’m probably hallucinating when I think I’ll be able to go back to work at 4-6 weeks, but that’s currently the plan. Without any protected leave I worry for my job. With my stock grant I really need to stay employed and do an amazing job for the full four years… if I do that, and the economy doesn’t totally collapse, I can hit my $1M networth goal and perhaps then start thinking about taking some real time off to spend with my kids. That’s the dream. And I’ll only get there if I succeed in this job and become as irreplaceable as one can in a corporate environment.

Till next time,

HECC

 

The Cost of Childcare: Year 1

As our “being pregnant-ness” sinks in, hubs and I are starting to discuss childcare – you know, keeping our child alive when we’re at work. My husband plans to be going back to school during our kid’s first year of life, being in class from early morning and not getting home until after 7:30pm. I’ll be working 8-7. We definitely need a plan for baby watching.

At the moment, I plan to take 12 weeks off from work. I believe 4 weeks of that will be fully paid, and another 8 weeks will be covered in some part by short term disability. I’m still not sure how that works. But then once those 12 weeks are up, I’m back to work.

My hope is that I can work from home for two days a week, which some people do currently anyway. It will certainly be challenging to work home alone for those two days while also managing a newborn (not quite sure how possible it is) but hoping my boss will be understanding should a baby scream in the background when I forget to put myself on mute in an important meeting.

That, then, leaves 3 days a week for childcare (and possibly a solution to not be alone at home for the other 2 days while I’m working.) I’m having trouble finding out how much non FT (5 days a week) daycare is, but it looks like for the 5 days a week options that’s about $2000 a month here.

I knew it was going to be expensive, but still, yikes.

My husband is considering asking his dad to help. I feel bad about that as I’d like to be self sufficient, but at this rate I’d rather we pay his dad $2,000 a month vs a random daycare facility. Then again, the daycare facility would theoretically know about child psychology and safety, whereas his dad would be grandpa watching the kid while mom and dad are at work.

Either way, I feel ill thinking about how hard we’ve tried to have a kid, and now that we’re pregnant, I have to after 4-12 weeks put my baby in a daycare with strangers for most of the day. It just doesn’t sit right with me… although I know a lot of parents do it. Maybe when the kid is 2, when they can socialize and being around other kids and playing is part of their standard day…. but at 12 weeks they don’t know what’s going on, and I want to be close to them for that first year. Maybe the first six months at least. It’s just not financially possible for us, so unless my boss gives me the green light to work from home full time (and come in for select meetings/projects as needed), we’re going to have to figure this out.

It’s Official: I’m Making a (One) Baby

The silent drumroll of my 5w4d ultrasound this morning might have revealed more than one yolk sack, but the grande reveal was one sack and one beautiful progesterone-producing cyst. In other news, so far I have a very healthy pregnancy with one darling little blob starting to develop into a human being.

I know pregnancy is a normal thing… but it’s still crazy to think there’s a person growing INSIDE of me. I’m sure it will be equally crazy yet more conceivable when it gets really big and starts to kick. I’m absolutely terrified of childbirth but, I guess I’m on the rollercoaster and there’s no turning back now! Baby is going to grow and come out of me, whether I like it or not.

Today, I started to really freak out about maternity leave. I talked to HR and got very little information… nothing to calm my fears.  Given I’ll be 9 months into the job when my little one is born, I won’t be eligible for FLMA. We did not go into this in my meeting because I didn’t actually tell them I’m pregnant… I just said I’m researching for future family planning. But without FLMA, I have to rely on the kindness of my boss to not fire me for having to take leave 9 months into my job.

I still don’t understand how short term disability works. I think I get 4 weeks paid fully via work, then I go on STD. I’m unclear if I can take STD and SDI (state) at the same time, and if the concept is that this is supposed to add up to my full paycheck (or close to it) for 6-8 weeks? But without FLMA, does it even matter if I lose my job? And, even if I keep my job, what are my financial responsibilities for health insurance when I’m on leave — do I have to pay the entire amount? I know (now) that I can’t take any PTO (since I don’t get PTO) as part of maternity leave, but it’s purposefully vague regarding if I can take it the second I get back from maternity leave or not… so, can I? Should I “save up” my “unlimited” PTO so I can take a few extra weeks off to bond with my baby — or should I go on vacation now because no matter what, I won’t be eligible to use it once I’ve been out on maternity leave? Who knows.

I just wish I could get some straight answers at this point. Is my job at risk? What % of my salary will I receive and for how long? I know with 4 weeks paid I’m way better off than most people in this country. I can’t imagine not having any paid leave, especially without savings. It’s all sorts of ridiculous that this country that claims to be so “family first” and “anti abortion” and such doesn’t give a shit about what happens once the baby is born.

I’m just hopeful I can keep my job. My goal is to stay in this job for 4 years… and I can’t lose it 9 months in!

 

 

T-15 hours to our first ultrasound: one baby? Two babies? Or more?

It’s a little crazy to think that in 15 hours I’ll be looking at a picture of my uterus and a yolk sack that holds my future child. It’s even more crazy to think that there’s a chance, albeit a small one, that I’ll be looking at two — or more — yolk sacks, and my future “children.”

As much as I dreamt of having twins when I was a little girl, I think I will scream if I’m pregnant with more than one. Long term, having two at once might be ideal – but short team I have no idea how we’ll manage it. I’m already in denial about having one.

It’s probably just one — hopefully one healthy baby. But, two is also a real possibility – since there were two mature follicles when we triggered this cycle… and I just felt like, oh boy, this is a strong one and this is going to be an interesting month. Plus, I saw a double rainbow last week… so I think that might be a sign. 🙂

2018 Budget Planning

It’s time to plan for a baby. And 2018. I’m aiming to put together a realistic budget, and determine how – with baby I can accomplish my goal of $650k networth by the end of the year (*personal networth) en route to my major next goal of $1M by 40, or sooner. I’m bumping that up to 38 because after that I’d like to save for the down payment of a house. This gives me 4 years to hit this goal.

Principal (estimated as of Jan 1)

Retirement: $265k
Investments: $260k
Owed: -$10k

=$515k + 5% annual goal (goal) = $540,750 ($459k to goal over 3 years, or ~$153k growth per year or $12k per month)

This may not be do-able, but it also may be… if I budget smartly, keep my job, kick ass (get close to full bonuses, if that’s possible) and don’t go crazy spending on baby (and we stay in cheaper housing until baby is 3.)

Lots of variables, so here’s what is more concrete:

Start: $515k
End Goal:  $650k

$110k to be made in savings, investment income, bonus, etc.

  • $25,000 in interest (at 5%, could also be negative, of course)
  • ($85,000 remaining to save or $7083 per month)
  • $4000 monthly savings w/ exception of 2 months 401k contrib. ($40k)
  • ($41,000 remaining)
  • Bonus (after tax) = $10k (*half bonus, conservative estimate)
  • $31,000 remaining
  • Potential value of co stock/ $32k
  • 401k contributions: $24k

= end year at ~$675,000

So, if I keep my job, and kick ass, realistically I can increase my networth by ~$130k in one year, or around 30%.

Or, the stock market can go down, I can lose my job (or not get any bonus), or my child born in August could have early medical issues requiring me to leave my job to take care of it — so this is all a hypothetical, but it’s nice to have goals.

Ending the year at $675,000 is actually a great goal, because that makes it so for the following 3 years I only need $108k increases per year to hit the $1M by 38 goal. Anything excess above the $1M will be saved for a down payment. I’d like to own a house by 39, when my child is 5 and entering kindergarten. I can dip into the $1M investments if I have to then, and the downpayment will be split between myself and my husband so if I can save an extra $150k (and he does two) we can buy a house. Yes, I’ll need to keep my job, but with the $1M cushion I’ll feel a lot better about everything (as long as stock market doesn’t totally crash, which could also happen.)

MONTHLY BUDGET 2018

*note items like health, baby, home are split 50% w/ hubby. This is after split costs.

Income: $7500
Home: $1500
Health: $500
Baby: $800 avg (*includes childcare for 3 months)
Travel: $300
Bills: $200
Shop: $200
Ent: $50
==========
$4000 remaining (***not taking ANY unpaid time off, this plan expects I will be returning to work after 4 weeks of maternity leave. Hopefully I can work from home during this time.)

 

To go to the doctor, or not go to the doctor – that is the question

High deductible health plans are great when you hit your deductible – except when they’re not. Specifically, they’re not great when over the course of the year you have to start over paying your deductible due to company health plan changes and/or changing companies. Thus, this leads me to move away from my former infatuation with the HSA-enabled HDHP.

In November, my $2600 deductible restarted. I figured I could survive until the end of the year without seeing a doctor. Then, I got pregnant. And then, I got sick. Sick with a cold / sore throat / lost voice that’s likely a virus that has no cure anyway… not worth a doctor’s visit and certainly not worth spending $300 on. I already made that mistake a few times this year when I didn’t realize my deductible had not only reset, but doubled (thanks to my former company who didn’t notify me that as of Aug 1 they switched plans and the $1500 deductible was now $2600 and reset *cough*bullshit*cough.*) Yes, that cost me $1000 in medical fees that I expected to be covered due to a series of “fuck I lost my job and I’m incredibly depressed” psychologist appointments (nothing like a surprise $1000 bill you fix your mental health!)

But now, I’m going back and forth on whether to go to the doctor. Being pregnant changes things. I’m five weeks, two days pregnant… and, 3 weeks, 6 days away from a brand new year of health insurance and deductibles. Since I’m switching to Kaiser, my medical costs are going to go way down next year (it’s a $1500 out of pocket max, no deductible,  no more surprise charges PPO BS. I hope I do not regret this decision.) Can’t I just stop talking for a few weeks (who needs a voice anyway) and hold out?

I do get to see my reproductive endocrinologist tomorrow – or at least the nurse – and perhaps they’ll be able to advise if I should do anything about this stupid cold. Luckily, my follow up appointments for my pregnancy at my RE are “free” (well, covered by my monthly $800 cycle fee) until I’m handed off to an ObGyn… so I’m hoping they can help at least provide some medical advice of what to do if I’m super sick and cannot talk.

The good news is I haven’t had a fever yet. I know fevers can be dangerous to baby and the second I get a high fever I’m paying that $300 and going to the doctor. For now, I think I just need to figure out how to get some rest and eat a lot of chicken soup.

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