Friday, January 29, 2010

FRUGAL FRIDAY - planning for baby

Bringing baby home without the bacon
by Christy Laverty

As printed in the Fall 2008 issue of Urbanbaby & Toddler magazine

Having a baby is a big life change. It is a time of excitement and anticipation. There is so much to do: shopping, taking folic acid, prepping the nursery. But many forget to plan financially for the arrival of your bundle of joy.

Children are expensive. Statistics show the first 12 months of a baby’s life can cost more than $10,000. What about all those years after?

Gayla Cook, branch manager at Coast Capital Savings Credit Union, and mom to 13-month-old Evan, says planning ahead is the key. “It’s the best advice but it’s hard to follow. If you can plan ahead, if you can make some small decisions ahead of time, it will eliminate the extra stress, the financial stress.”

Cook admits money is the last thing any new parent wants to worry about when baby gets home.

The first thing to do, says Cook, is find out if you qualify for Employment Insurance (EI). There are a lot of people who just don’t know the requirements. It’s a good idea to do this when you are thinking about getting pregnant, or at least early on so you can make a financial plan. “If you are eligible for employment insurance, the basic benefit rate is 55 percent of your average insured earnings up to a yearly maximum insurable amount of $41,100. This means you can receive a taxable maximum payment of $435 per week,” says Cook.

Then it’s time to get a budget together. Cook says it’s important to first find out what you are spending before baby arrives, where the money goes and what are the discretionary things that maybe you can live without. Remember, you could be living on a lot less than you are used to. You also need to start factoring in all those additional baby costs, like diapers, wipes and clothes.

That is exactly what Krista Boyak and her husband did before their 13-month-old daughter Sophia arrived. “We kept track of our receipts for a month to see where our money was really going. We even kept track of parking meters, coffee, and all the little stuff.” Boyak, who is home with her daughter, says they try to stick to a budget and, every once in a while, they monitor their spending to see if they are really on track.

Cook says when you are planning a budget remember that EI payments are usually issued within 28 days from the claiming filing day. That means there will be a two-week unpaid waiting period before the benefits kick in. There is a relatively easy and painless way to start stashing away cash for your maternity or parental leave, she says. “I set up an automatic special term deposit. Only on my payday, every two weeks, $100 or $50 went into this term deposit and it made a little bit of interest, more interest than if it were in a savings account. I just knew in the back of my mind that was there and that would help me.”

Automatic deposits were key for Brad Scott and his wife Tracey before six-month-old daughter Imogen arrived. Scott says using automatic deposits into a savings account really helped. Scott has some advice for would-be parents: “Use automatic payments to pay down your debt and put some money aside so you’re prepared for the drastic cut in pay.”

Mike Dezell, and his wife Jennifer, did start stashing away money before their son Samuel arrived. “During Jennifer’s pregnancy she began to put a portion of her pay cheque aside each month in a ‘For Baby Only’ account,” says Dezell. He and his wife wanted their son to be cared for at home until he turns two and that is why Dezell is now a stay-at-home Dad. “Jennifer took a full-year leave from her work and after then it was up to me.” Dezell has his own landscape construction business, so he closed up shop this past January to begin his year at home with Sam. He admits that while having a child was the best thing they have ever done, it was much more than they thought it would be, in every way, including expenses. “We’ve actually begun to operate within a budget for the first time in our lives, in the last two months,” Dezell says.

Finally Gayla Cook says parents should buy life and/or disability insurance. “Disability in particular,” says Cook. “The chance of you being killed is very slim, but the chance of you getting into a car accident and hurting your back are quite high and then now you are off work.” She says it’s all about protecting your family. “No one wants to talk about it, no one wants to spend the money, but it could be absolutely the most critical thing that you do.”

A little financial planning can go a long way.


So this week I was doing my best to curb my spending. I am making coffee at home instead of buy a coffee and treat every day. I am also trying harder to plan our dinners and making sure that we go to the grocery store instead of the fast food joint.  These are small steps that I think will add up in the long run. It is about changing habits.


Monday, January 25, 2010


So as part of my renewed effort this year to be a better writer and live a better life I have decided to start a weekly companion post to Frugal Friday. Motivation Monday is going to give me a chance to talk about new ideas, new efforts and motivation. I hope to offer up some of my own personal thoughts, tips and advice but also I hope to have tips and tricks from experts, friends and even family.

I want to work toward living a better, healthier and happier life. In that life I hope to be writing more, saving more and making more and spending more time doing the things that I love. I hope to talk about books I am reading, articles that I am reading and writing and anything else that I come across that helps all of us live better lives.

I will add a new post on Motivation Monday every week, obviously on Mondays!
See ya next Monday and please, add your own ideas, tips and tricks,

Friday, January 22, 2010


So I think I am like a lot of people out there, I am hoping to cut my debt and start saving this year. I am hoping to track my progress and look for tips, advice and ways to have a healthier financial life this year. So I decided that every Friday I would publish a post called Frugal Fridays. I hope bring you some of my own ideas but also some ideas from friends, family and readers.

So for my first post I am going to touch on food. Since starting the new year I have consciously been preparing lunches to bring to work and trying to make sure that we are cooking and eating dinners at home. So last weekend we had friends over for dinner. It was a full turkey dinner with all the fixings. It is a dinner that we do with friends every year. This year was our turn to host and cook. It's great fun and we had some nice leftovers for the next day. Normally I would cut off the turkey and toss the rest. This year I am trying to be mindful of what we spend, eat and waste so I decided to get everything I could off that turkey. I cut as much meat off the bones and then I used the rest to make stock. I tossed the bones in a pot with onions, carrots and celery and a bunch of spices. I am a novice when it comes to doing something like that. It was an experiment that turned out pretty good. I got some great turkey stock out of it, stock that I used when I took all the leftover turkey and veggies to make a turkey pot pie for the next nights dinner. It was a success. I managed to use all the leftovers and the kids loved it too!

It didn't take much effort. We limited our waste and stretched our food dollars.

I plan to keep it up for the entire year. Look for more stories, tips and advice. I hope to post expert advice, articles and other news that you can use to help you cut your debt and save your hard earned money.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


About 1.5 million Graco strollers sold at Wal-Mart, Target and other major retailers are being recalled after some children's fingertips were amputated by hinges on the products.  Approximately 28,430 were sold in Canada.

This is the second major recall in recent months of strollers that led to fingertip amputations and injuries.
In November 2009, about one-million Maclaren strollers were recalled after there were 12 reports of children's fingertips being amputated by a hinge mechanism.Strollers


(information copy from Graco website

2010 Passage™, Alano™ and Spree™ Stroller Recall Potential Problem:

The hinges on the stroller’s canopy pose a fingertip amputation and laceration hazard to the child when the consumer is opening or closing the canopy.

Injuries Reported: 7

Number of Units Affected: 1,500,000

Dates Produced: October 2004 through Feb 2008

MSRP: $80 to $90

Models Affected: 6303MYC, 6303MYC3, 6320IVY, 6320LAU, 6330CAP, 6330THR, 6330THR3, 6F00QIN3, 6F00RRY3, 6F03GLN3, 6G10CSE3, 7235GGA, 7235GGA2, 7236CDR2, 7237HOL2, 7237HOL3, 7240DNB, 7240DNB2, 7240MKL2, 7240MKL3, 7241DDH2, 7241DHO3, 7255CLP, 7255CLP2, 7255CRA2, 7255CRA3, 7255CSA3, 7255GPK3, 7255GRN, 7255GRN2, 7255JJB3, 7255ORC2, 7255WLO2, 7255WLO3, 7256CLO2, 7256SPM2, 7256SPM3, 7260BAN, 7260BAN2, 7260BAN3, 7260MRA2, 7260MRA3, 7260PKR, 7260PKR2, 7270BIA, 7270BIA2, 7E01JON2, 7E01JON3, 7F00LPE3, 7F00RSH3, 7F01FOR3, 7F02GLM3, 7F04TAY3, 7F07EMA3, 7F08DSW3, 7F08LAN3, 7G00DLS3, 7G00DLS4, 7G01CRL3, 7G04KRA3, 7G05GPR3, 7G06WSR3, 7G07ABB3, 7G07BAT3

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled strollers and contact Graco to receive a free protective cover repair kit.

To order the free protective cover repair kit, click here.

A video demonstration for how to apply the hinge cover can be found here
For more information on this announcement,  contact us at (800) 345-4109.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Heads up for parents tonight if you own a Dorel crib. Thousands of drop side cribs are being recalled after the death of a baby in Iowa.

 In the U-S, the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the recall of 635,000 Dorel Asia cribs  after the death of a six-month-old boy and multiple reports of injuries.  Nearly 7,600 drop side cribs are also being voluntarily recalled in Canada. The concern is the drop-side can detach, creating a space where a child can be trapped.

The infant from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, strangled after getting trapped in the crib when the drop-side hardware broke. In a  statement from Dorel Asia, the company described the circumstances leading to this death as ``highly unusual,'' because the crib was known to be broken and had been held together with duct tape.
The cribs were manufactured by Barbados-based Dorel Asia in China and Vietnam, and sold in Canada at Sears, Babies R Us and various other retailers.

Dorel Distribution Canada said today it had received three reports of the drop-side detaching from the crib and four other incidents were the slats on the crib broke. No injuries were reported. Health Canada said it had received two reports of incidents with no injuries.

A free repair kit can be obtained from Dorel Distribution that converts the drop-side of the crib to a fixed side.
For more information, contact Dorel Distribution Canada at 1-800-295-1980 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. EST,

To receive a free repair kit to prevent this hazard, contact Dorel Asia at 866-762-2304. More information is available online at

Wednesday, January 13, 2010



Ok, so I am a few days late. Ok, so almost two weeks late.  I feel like I have been time challenged lately and so have not been posting on the blog. I know, no excuse. Well this year I am pledging to be better about updating. I am also going to try to put more news you can use on the blog, and less personal stuff.

I am planning to make some changes this year. I decided not to make any New Year resolutions this year, but rather life changes.

Read my article at about tips and advice to make lasting changes