L realized she was pregnant around Week 7. (Late is better than never.) Before pregnancy, L’s hobbies were gardening outside the house she shares with her husband and being frugal. Now, her hobbies are eating pickles, sleeping, and being frugal.
S is a scientist, writer, and entrepreneur. His expertise in the field of human reproduction does not extend beyond the point of conception, so he anticipates learning some new things as he writes about L’s pregnancy.
As of 10/2/2009 (Week 11)
COST OF BABY
Happy new year to anyone remembering to come back here :-P Yeah, xmas break, our real jobs, spending time with our families… such awful distractions from updating this site.
Here’s a great write-up from Slate on saving money with coupons (which I’d bookmarked months ago and misplaced under a pile of laundry). Excerpt:
When every item was scanned, Rea’s total was $174.55. But after each coupon was validated, the number dropped—to $36.89, including $6.08 in taxes. She handed over $30 worth of store credits and charged the remaining 81 cents plus tax—which couponers must pay out of pocket—on her debit card. She’d saved $167.66. Not bad at all.
The machine rewarded my $8.59 purchase of three cans of Progresso soup and six 10-ounce boxes of Green Giant frozen vegetables with $7 worth of Catalinas. Kelsie moved the rubber divider bar and we did it again with three more cans of soup and six more boxes of vegetables. I paid for them with the Catalinas and $3 on my credit card and got $7 worth of Catalinas back. The groceries weren’t quite free, but they cost much less than the $44 they would have at regular prices. I felt elated. But it wasn’t the frozen peas or reduced sodium vegetable soup I was excited about. Like eBay, couponing made shopping feel like gambling.
With love and a promise to update more frequently,
L sent her 13-week ultrasound, prompting this conversation…
S: crazy how its head is as big as the rest of the body
L: yeah as big as the belly :-D
L: the belleeeehh
S: too early to tell if it will get round eyes or asian eyes [L’s husband is of eastern descent]
Look for a post on the “retail cost” of pregnancy next week. (If you subscribe to alerts over to the left, we will send you an email when it’s posted.)
And now, rabbits the size of people:
I stopped reading CNN a long time ago because I felt stupider each time I left the site, but I’m glad other people still check in there occasionally. Slate’s Double X blog mentions this story about a new iPhone app that tracks the location of sex offenders.
The story starts off with Tracy Rodriguez, a mother in Houston, who uses her iPhone to get “information revealing the sex offenders who live within a 10-mile radius of where her children practice sports or watch movies.” Apparently this mom feels that the app makes her make more informed choices, and she checks it several times daily. I thought this was just a punch line in the movie Knocked Up, not an actual trend.
Does this strike anyone else as absurd? It’s good to be concerned about the health and well-being of your children, but restricting your movements, hour by hour, based on an exaggerated perceived threat, sounds like a personal prison.
What is the cost of this degree of helicopter parenting? The Double X blogger suggests the cost of her time and the restrictions imposed on her family’s day-to-day habits. Sounds like this person would also have trouble giving up the (at a minimum) $69.99 monthly expense of the iPhone, even with lower-cost smartphones and plans available.
Here is the original CNN article.
First, the scenario:
L: I’ve been craving baked potato for days, like really plain food, and yesterday I get an email from wendy’s with a new promo: their chili and baked potatoes are 99 cents for a limited time :-D
L: so M [husband] stopped by on his way home and picked up two potatoes and a chili that we shared. Dinner for 2 for $3!
Now, the question: ** Is $1.50 for this meal a good value? **
MyMoneyBlog presents a graphic comparing the cost of calories as function of their source. For example: $1 buys 875 calories of soda but only 250 calories of vegetables. If the objective only were to maximize calories, then $1.50 for baked potato and chili is a poor value; a large soda would be more effective. Obviously, we don’t want all our calories from soda. Eating healthy requires using fresher ingredients, which in turn requires (gasp!) cooking those ingredients into meals.
Go to any worthwhile personal finance site, and they will advise you to save money by preparing your lunch instead of eating at restaurants. Certainly, this approach will save you dollars, but does it consider the time cost of preparing your meal from scratch? I was about to calculate this myself, but then I googled “time cost of cooking” and found Macheesmo, who performs a nifty exercise on the cost of making burritos at home vs. buying them at Chipotle. The meticulous calculation includes the cost of consumables like aluminum foil. The findings?
-Burrito at home: $13.75
-Burrito at Chipotle: $15.04
(The calculation assumes you shop for your ingredients at Whole Foods, so with a regular grocery store that $13.75 would be lower.)
You may be wondering about utility costs: gas and/or electricity to power the equipment? I investigated: an hour of oven usage costs roughly 20 cents.
** Conclusion (so far): cooking your own meals is better for your health and in one case we examined, it costs less than eating out even when time is counted. Also, using the Macheesmo formula, the price of the Wendy’s meal is $1.50 plus the value we assign to the time spent visiting the restaurant. **
Why do we go to restaurants *despite* these findings?
1. Ordering at a restaurant guarantees that our food will be edible when we want to eat it. Unexpected late night at work? The quick takeout order helps prevent the distraction of hunger so we can wrap up work sooner and get home to maximize our sleep (or seeing families, or whatever is important outside of work).
2. We need the social interaction. Restaurants facilitate social interaction, whether it is gathering with friends, flirting with the cutie behind the counter, or simply some people watching with the change of scenery. If we wanted to bring friends over to our house, we have to add in the time cost of tidying up the place for company, preparing dishes and silverware for the additional diners, and cleaning up afterward.
Now, back to our pregnant friend: She could prepare baked potatoes at home for less than $1.50+ of her time and money. But really, being on her feet tending the hearth is probably not how she will want to use her time after work, especially as the baby gets heavier. And if her food preferences change on short notice, the ingredients for the desired dish might not even be at home, requiring additional thought and an additional trip to the grocery store.
Last thoughts: The interaction of how we use our time and our money when we eat is complex. Accounting for different tastes, snacking habits, and eating frequency is beyond the scope of this post. We may have to return to this topic in the future. But I leave you with these suggestions on eating and spending, which can be applied in many different fashions:
-Limit your intake of sodium (for the sake of your heart) and of empty sugar calories (for the sake of your waistline).
-No matter what you eat, get at least four hours of vigorous exercise each week.
-And always look out for excellent deals like L’s $0.99 Wendy’s items or the get-a-burrito-with-purchase-of-soda that Baja Fresh has offered in the past.