Saturday, February 18, 2006

Baby Calculator

When it comes to having a baby, creating a financial plan and budgeting are a huge issue. A new survey from VISA finds that 76% of expectant parents considered themselves financially prepared without realizing what being financial prepared entailed. More than half of all new parents overspent on baby items. They also claimed that tension in their relationships created more stress for both parents.

One of the most costly aspects of having a child was for the actual delivery. Over a quarter of new parents shelled out over $2000 out of their own pockets for the delivery.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that an average American family will spend $184,000 raising a child and this doesn't include college costs. There is a new Baby Budgeting Calculator that can help parents predict the true cost of raising a baby.

Having a good financial plan and one that reflects reality is an important part of being able to put aside some extra money for your kids' education.

Friday, February 17, 2006


Today is my mom's birthday and I just wanted to take a moment to say Happy Birthday and to say how thankful I am to have been born into such a wonderful family. Even on my worst days when I'm cranking and crying, it's unbelievable how patient she is with me. I really do appreaciate that. I can't think of a better person to have as my mom. So here's to you, mom, hoping that you have a wonderful day!

Happy birthday to you
happy birthday to you
Happy birthday dear mom
Happy birthday to you!



Moms With Babies - Another Sign-Up Link

I expect that the pinecone research link below will expire fairly soon, but I found another specifically for moms with babies. Now, this is just an assumption on my part, but I'm guessing that a few of the visitors here fir that description. Here is the information:

PineCone Research is ready to expand and we need your help.

We have immediate openings for MOMS OF BABIES 12 MONTHS OF AGE OR YOUNGER.

Do you know of households that meet this description that would like to join the PineCone Research Panel? If so, please FORWARD A COPY of this e-mail to each household you would like to refer so that they may click on the registration link shown below. That household should complete the registration form themselves and submit it. REMEMBER THAT ONLY ONE PERSON PER HOUSEHOLD MAY REGISTER.

Multiple registrations of the same Household will void all registrations.

Here is the link to the registration:

Sign Up Here

Remember to place any earnings in to the college fund!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

New Sponsor

Woo hoo! I'm a happy baby this morning (all smiles and giggles even without touching my nose - I like it when my parents do that). I just found out that I have another sponsor that has come aboard for 3 months and added $29.85 to my net worth. I hope that I can continue to find more that will be willing to sponsor to build the college fund. If I can keep a minimum of three sponsors (what I have now) at the current rates, that will add up to over $5500 by the time I'm ready to go to college. I like the sound of that (^_^)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

How Parents Can Save Money With A New Baby

I came across this article titled 32 Ways to Save Money When You Have A Baby over at What does saving have to do with investing for my college future? Well, if I can teach my parents to save money, maybe they will take a portion of the savings and donate that to my college fund. I'd much rather it go there than being spent on something that I could get for less.

If you have a newborn, you're probably panicked too. No wonder: Depending on your spending habits and child-care needs, you'll likely shell out $7,000 to $14,600 annually between now and your little one's second birthday. But there's hope. Through trial and error, I learned a lot about raising a daughter on a budget. Now that my second girl is here, I've gotten even savvier. Here are ways you, too, can cut your baby expenses by half—or even more.

Here is a summary of the ways you can save according to the article:

At the hospital

1. Say no to add-ons.
2. Don't turn on the TV.
3. Ask for coupons and samples.
4. Take the toiletries.

Budget Breastfeeding

5. Nurse if you possibly can.
6. Borrow a breast pump (**be sure to read comments**)
7. Find out in advance where you can get free breastfeeding advice.
8. Don't rush to buy a breastfeeding wardrobe.


9. Don't buy baby clothes far in advance.
10. Scrimp on all-in-ones.
11. Choose unisex shades and styles.
12. Lose the shoes.
13. Buy secondhand special-occasion clothes.

Baby gear

14. Look for furniture and accessories that do double duty.
15. Return unwanted gifts promptly.
16. Don't buy crib pillows.
17. Buy just one or two bottles before your baby is born.
18. Set up a photo Website.
19. When it comes to diapers, buy in bulk.
20. Test-drive a stroller before you buy it.
21. Turn to your local library for classes and games.
22. Keep a baby-care bag in your car.

Health Care

23. Ask your pediatrician for free product samples.
24. Call your pediatrician to talk over a problem before setting up an appointment.
25. Don't buy an ear thermometer. .

Baby Food

26. Hold on to free formula samples and coupons.
27. Sign up for baby-food company newsletters and coupon offers.
28. Make some baby food.
29. Package crunchy toddler snacks in individual airtight containers as soon as you buy them.

Remember to place a little of any money you save into the college savings account!

Pinecone Survey Link

Hurry - They don't last long. if you're not familiar, Pinecone is one of the few survey sites that pays on a regular basis ($5 per survey), but it is very hard to find their links (you can't sign up on their main page, only through advertised links they change often)

Take the money you earn from their surveys and put it into your college savings. Only one person per family can sign up and if you have a choice, have the man of the house do so (less men in their system means more surveys). Good luck!!

Survey Link

Right side: Top Live Surveys - last one "Pinecone Sign-up Link 1"

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Negotiation College Aid Is An Option

I talked a bit about how prepaid college plans might be an option worth looking at again die to the recent changes in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 signed into law last week by President Bush.

I came across an article titled A little help for families trying to pay college expenses which has some good basic information in it and some of the pros and cons with different college saving plans.

Toward the end of the article is a great little piece of advice that I haven't seen often thus far when looking at ways to save money on college costs:

A further option, Harrington says, is to negotiate a package with college-aid offices that includes tax-free loans and grants. "Too few people know that negotiating is an option," Harrington says.

My uncle is big into negotiating and feels it is one of the best ways to keep your hard earned money so he perked up when he came across this little tidbit (and made me look at it twice even though I can't even read yet).

Don't simply accept the college aid that is given, but go back and try to negotiate for more. The worst they can say is "no" and if you can negotiate a better deal, it could mean hundreds to thousands of dollars saved. I'm not remembering a lot yet, but that is one tip I will keep in my mind.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Two Behind The Finances

Here is a photo of my uncle and I in my early days (a few months ago). He's a pretty good guy and we share some memorable moments together including him being the first to almost drop me on my head shortly after the photo was taken. Luckily those years of basketball practice came in handy and the honor of that distinction couldn't officially be given to him.

Me getting in the Xmas spirit. I even let my eyes turn a Xmas red and my hair is coming in a reddish blond. Of course, those have nothing to do with my finances which are not even close to being in the red (^_^)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Kids and Saving Money

I came across this article about the positive aspects of helping children to save money:

When we give children the opportunity to experience for themselves what it means to save, to have goals for saving, to have their own savings account and to watch the amount of money in their account grow due to their decision (with encouragement and guidance from their parents) to save, they learn what it means to save and about delayed gratification.

One of the most important lessons you will teach your children will be how to handle money. If you don't do it proactively, you'll do it by default by not teaching them the skills you wished that your parents and teachers had taught you (pretty deep thinking for a 6 month old, don't you think?)

Don't only save for your children's education and college, but also involve them in it so they learn the importance themselves. I know my parents and uncle will be doing so.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Prepaid College Saving Programs Looking Better

I'm trying to learn how to look on the bright side of all situations even when they don't seem to look very good. In that light, here is a little ray of sunshine in the new deficit reduction bill.

The new deficit reduction bill that is waiting for President Bush to sign (he is expected to do so) has a lot of nasty little provisions that will increase the cost of borrowing money for college including cutting $12 billion from student loans and increasing and making fixed (they are currently variable) the current rate of Federal Stafford loans. Among these, however, is one provision that may help those going to college who select to save through prepaid college saving programs.

Prepaid college saving programs allow you to lock in the current tuition rate for a college. There are 12 states that run these programs: Alabama, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington. There is also a consortium of some 250 private colleges (which include the colleges both my parents went to as well as my uncle) that run a prepaid program called Independent 529 college saving program. The program has been popular with parents that want to know the exact rate they will pay for college tuition and are afraid that college tuition will be beyond their means when their children are ready to attend college. There has been a big drawback, however, with how financial aid is calculated with these prepaid programs.

The current problem is that money placed into the prepaid college saving programs is considered the student's money. Under the Federal formula for giving financial aid, this means that the aid available is reduced dollar for dollar with prepaid college savings plans. The new law, however, will treat prepaid college savings plans as they currently treat 529 college savings plans - the money invested in the plan will be considered the parent's money. Since the Federal aid formula for 529 college savings plans states that only 5.64% of the parent's assets should be counted toward college aid, this new designation makes the prepaid college savings plans look a lot more attractive.

There continue to be a number of aspects to the prepaid college saving programs that it's necessary to understand in order to decide if this would be a good plan for your child. Most of the state run programs are restricted to residents living in that state and the tuition is only good toward colleges and universities within that state. Still, as soon as the bill becomes law, it will definitely be worth the time to take a closure look at these programs.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Shop Around For Your College

I am learning in my early age that one way to save money on college is to shop around. It's similar to shopping for brand named merchandise. If I have my heart set on a single college it's likely to cost me a lot more money. If I have several in mind that I like, then I can also take into account any aid they are willing to give to lower the cost. This seems to be a growing trend as this article shows

Lindsey Mackney's choice of colleges came down to two very different places: Boston University, with its urban appeal and lively youth culture, or Allegheny College, a small, friendly liberal arts institution here in the rolling hills of northwest Pennsylvania.

In the end, Mackney said, the decision was simple. Boston, where tuition is $31,530 a year, offered her no financial aid, while Allegheny awarded her a $50,000 merit scholarship, or $12,500 a year. That's nearly a 50 percent discount of Allegheny's $26,650 tuition.

Squeezed on one side by state universities, whose tuition is a tiny fraction of what private colleges charge, and on the other by elite private institutions like Yale, Princeton or Amherst, private liberal arts colleges like Allegheny are routinely offering merit aid to students these days. Such scholarships are particularly pervasive in the Midwest, where many liberal arts colleges award them to as much as half or three-quarters of their students.

The grants are not based on the traditional rationale of a family's financial need, but on academic achievement and the desire of colleges that are not among the nation's most prestigious to recruit high-achieving students. Sometimes, too, less-elite colleges award merit aid simply to fill their freshman classes.

Although I plan to have saved up enough to attend any college I want, I also plan to shop smart. I hope I can find a number of good colleges I want to attend and then choose on a variety of factors to go to the one that best suits me. Starting to save early, however, will give me a lot more choices so that money doesn't have to be the only factor I consider.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

January Net Worth

January was a busy month. I've started to learn how to crawl although I'm much better at going backward than forward. That's fine with me as I like doing things a bit differently. How many other 7 month olds do you know blogging and saving money? (^_^)

January didn't turn out to be a wonderful month for increasing my net worth. The one bright spot was Upromise that unexpectedly added $25 this past month. The only other real income I had was getting another sponsor that paid for 6 months in advance. Other advertising was not too good this month mainly because I didn't post enough (hint, hint uncle) which meant I didn't have as many visitors as I have in the past. With only an increase of $81.70 this month I came in well below the $3000 mark I had set as a goal. Still, my net worth increased 2.79% and I'm quickly closing in on the $3000 mark and I should be able to surpass it this month.

With my net worth currently standing at $2926.55 I'll shoot again for a 5% increase in February or $146.33 for a total of $3072.88. My uncle has assured me that he'll spend a bit more time working on my net worth this month.

In looking at my asset allocation, I have way too much money in cash not earning anything. I'm waiting to see what the I-bond does at the next switch. My parents and uncle will also be getting together in May when they can make some decisions together on the best place to put the extra money.