I meant to write this post awhile back, like back when it happened, but then the baby arrived and then the no sleep thing set in and then the lack of being good at balancing it all came into play. And then, wouldn’t you know it, a chunk of time had passed and this post was still on my list of things to do that just didn’t get done… Until now;)
Back at the end of October, before the baby arrived, I was able to leave my job at the state that I had for 8 years. It was a big decision for us and it was bittersweet too. I worked for a Judge that I had/have a lot of respect for and I really admire him.
When I became pregnant I started researching my options about what to do when the baby arrived. Normally, I would’ve just taken my three-month maternity leave and been back to work full-time probably putting the baby in daycare. But, since I made the switch to a part-time employee for the last year and a half at my position I wasn’t protected by the state’s Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that full-time employees benefit from. For those of you who aren’t familiar with FMLA it essentially protects your job for you so that you can go have a baby (or deal with another family issue), have time off after the birth, and still have your job when you return. FMLA protects your job. Of course, there are other details about how it works but that’s a quick, truncated version of it.
Since I wouldn’t have the option of taking maternity leave we had to decide if I would take my vacation days plus medical leave which would only add up to about 3 to 4 weeks. If 3 to 4 weeks wasn’t enough time we’d have to come up with another plan. I had a feeling that 3-4 weeks wouldn’t be enough time and I’m glad I stuck to that hunch because I didn’t start feeling like myself again until closer to 10 weeks postpartum.
We decided that even though it would be a stretch financially and that we would be stepping out of our financial safe zone that I would quit my job with the state and that we would re-assess the situation when the baby got to be closer to 3 months. I figured I could always apply for a different position with the state, if needed, and go back full-time.
Since we were going down to an official “one-income” family it meant that we had to re-evaluate all of our expenses and all of our income streams. So that’s what we did.
Time to Evaluate
We do have our wedding photography business and that has become even more important to our family as a means of survival and income. I also do freelance writing for Babble and they give bonuses if you have a certain number of visitors and that really helps out (that’s why I do those compilation posts of my favorite Babble posts from the month. I need your help in getting the bonuses so we can eat! You know, no biggie;) I also am a Staff Writer for Wise Bread but I’ve had a little bit of a dry spell over there. This blog does generate a small amount of money through Google Ads and sometimes I will do sponsored posts (I try to only work with brands and products that are a good fit with the site’s message). I’m trying to make it all work; I’m trying to find that elusive “right” mix of everything. Sometimes it all comes together better than other times and I always try to take what works and leave the rest. Because really, what other option is there?
Since I evaluated all of the income streams I also had to look at what money was going out. On the chopping block were the ol’ cell phone data plan and gym membership. I did some research and found a pre-pay plan that was somehow $30 less a month then what I was currently paying AND it offered more. What the –?! So I called up my phone company (Verizon) and politely told them that I wanted to have the plan that was $30 less a month. I mean, duh. They told me that I had one month left on my contract so I was all set to call back in a month and just get the lower plan. Then, miraculously, they were able to access a “loyalty plan” and give me the lower price if I was just willing to extend my contract. I am happy with the coverage and service and know that I would most likely be sticking with that company anyway so I decided to go for it. Just like that, $30 saved!
(Oh, and this doesn’t really go with the story but I have to tell you, I traded in my old iPhone4s and they gave me $299 credit for it. I was then able to get the new iPhone 5s for free. Might be something worth looking into if you are looking to upgrade. I wouldn’t have upgraded if it was going to cost me anything but since it was free I didn’t pass it up!).
Next, I called my gym. I asked to talk with the membership coordinator since they would be the one with the string-pulling power and I explained how I wouldn’t be able to go to the gym consistently for a while. I asked if they could work with me on the monthly membership price. They said they could give me $20 off per month.
For 10 minutes worth of phone calls I was able to cut out $50 a month in expenses! That adds up too. Over a year, that will be $600 saved for a couple of minutes of work.
Having this experience reminds me how important it is to regularly evaluate what income is coming in and what expenses are going out. It’s so easy to get in a routine of just paying for what you’re paying when really, you might be leaving money on the table. Let’s not leave money on the table!;)
Also, this experience makes me even more grateful that I took action with deciding to do the Spending Fast, suffered through it, and got out of debt. If I still had that $23,605.10 in debt (I don’t even want to think about how much more it would’ve been at this point with interest and accruing even more debt) I wouldn’t have the freedom to even consider staying home with the baby and piecing together the different freelance incomes. I am so grateful that I have that choice today.
When was the last time you evaluated your expenses? Is it time for another look? What would your life look like if you didn’t have debt and would you make different choices if you were debt-free?