At the end of May 2013, we found out I was pregnant (unplanned). At the end of July – just two months later – we got married.
Here’s what our financial situation looks like.
We live in a 1-bedroom apartment rent-free.
When I first moved to my husband’s town, we lived with his parents in a 3-bedroom + kitchen apartment. It was okay, for now, but we wanted to be on our own eventually. We had made our peace with the fact that this was probably not going to happen soon. I had a vague plan idea that we could live with them for about 6 months, and re-evaluate our options then. Maybe we could rent a place or buy one with a mortgage?
Then just after a month later, we got really lucky. My mother-in-law suggested we switch places with my grandmother-in-law (her mother), who was living in a separate 1-bedroom + kitchen apartment. The apartment was in my mother-in-law’s name.
We were of course very happy to have a place just to ourselves; that way we could also be more precise with our finances. While we lived with his parents, we split all bills and tried to pay for about half the food, drinks, toiletries and so on. But we only had a rough idea of how much we should contribute, and also most decisions were made jointly, considering all four of us. Now we only had to consider the two of us. We could now decide what to buy and also how much we want to pay for it. We buy the cheaper soap but not the cheaper beer, and we buy the more expencive fruit but not the more expensive toilet paper.
We expect our baby in late January
So it’s great to be on our own and pay neither rent nor mortgage. But, of course, there are also drawbacks. The place is smallish even when it’s just the two of us, and how’s that gonna be when the baby comes?
Our apartment needed some fixing before we could bring the baby in. Just for keeping the right temperature, we needed to replace the windows for better insulation, buy an AC unit, and also get a furnace that burns on wood. We want the furnace to help the AC unit in the coldest days, because wood is cheaper than electricity. The other big reason for getting a furnace is, what if the AC breaks or there’s a power shortage? With a newborn, we can’t risk any drop in temperature.
I find that pregnancy by itself does not bring much financial costs. The folic acid I was taking during the first trimester costs only a few bucks, medical appointments are covered by my state health insurance, and most of my regular clothes still fit. I haven’t bought “maternity” clothes yet – at 18 weeks, I barely show, – but I did buy some cheap second-hand clothes that were looser and baggier than my regulars.
My total expenses actually went down when I got pregnant because as soon as I found out, I quit smoking. That alone saves me about 75€ a month just because I don’t buy the cigarettes, and I’m sure I am also saving myself lots of future healthcare costs. It’s great! Now I only have to wean my husband off the habit.
We’ve only had one bigger cost related to my pregnancy, and that was the blood screening we did at three months. The test itself was 20 €, and the travel expences were maybe 20-30 €.
Remodeling the apartment
Even though my grandmother-in-law is a very neat woman, her apartment had kind of a funny smell to it. It wasn’t coming from anywhere in particular, but seemed to be everywhere. We kept the windows and doors open so we could get the fresh air in, and that worked really well, but if we were away for a day and the windows stayed close, the smell was back.
We checked everything – the canal, our shoes, the garbage cans – but that wasn’t it.
“You know what?,” my husband said. “I think it’s just the place itself.”
“Well, it still has the original wallpaper from twenty years ago. The carpet, too. The linoleum in the kitchen. There are years’ worth of smells soaked up in the walls and everything.”
I leaned towards a wall and sniffed. Sniff-sniff, sniiiiiiff. “Hmm, the wall doesn’t smell in any particular way. You sure?”
“It’s gotta be that. If we change the windows, tear down the wallpaper and put fresh paint on the walls… I’m sure that “old” smell will go away.”
Well, we had planned on doing some remodeling anyway, so why not just make the project bigger and really freshen up the old place? We had money from the cash gifts we got for our wedding, and we were going to live here for the next few years, so it really made sense to do it.
We rolled up our sleeves. Apart from replacing windows and buying AC unit + furnace, we followed through with our plan to tear down the old wallpapers in the bedroom. That opened up a lot of work – the wallpapers were so well-glued that we couldn’t tear them down; we had to scrape them inch by inch. Then we had to prime the walls and smooth them out, and then we had to put at least two coats of paint. It was really slow, even with four people working on it.
We also tore down the wall between the kitchen and the terrace, so we gained about one meter in width. This was also slow, because just tearing down this wall + loading the remains and driving them to the designated wasteland + cleaning up = a day’s worth of work. And then we have to paint the ceiling and the walls. And then there’s the kitchen floor…
It has been almost three weeks since we started and it looks like the remodeling project has another good week in it.
The reason why it’s slow is because we’re doing it ourselves. My father-in-law is the engineer in chief with my husband bringing muscle to the picture. My mother-in-law helps them with the lighter work. I myself am only allowed to do painting (boy did I have to fight for that right!) and some miscelanious tasks, because I’m pregnant.
Another reason it takes so long is because all four of us have different schedules. That’s a big problem especially because our two men – my husband and my father-in-law – are not easily available at the same time. If I weren’t pregnant, maybe my mother-in-law and I could help one man with the lifting and stuff, but now that’s not possible.
(Not to mention how much time our men waste because they never have all the supplies they need. They will start working and right in the middle of it, they’ll be out of cement because it didn’t occur to them to buy an extra bag the day before. Men.)
Still, there are two good things about doing it ourselves: 1) it’s a lot cheaper that paying somebody a wage, and 2) we get to know the work. Next time we do a remodel, we want to hire someone. By getting to know the work now, we’ll know how much each job takes, if it’s done well, and what it’s worth.
Of course right now I just want all of it to be over so we can get back to living on our own.
My best friend’s getting married!
My best friend and his girl invited us to their wedding, and I screamed a loud “YES!!!” over the phone. (Later they sent printed invitations, which are really nice. I still think they could have gone without them, like we did, but it’s their choice.) However, that was before we found out I was pregnant and before doing our “shotgun” wedding. We ended up having our wedding before theirs.
Anyway, now my husband was worried about the 5-hour drive with me being five months pregnant, and with all the reckless drivers on the road. So what could I do? I begged and pleaded and begged some more until he finally caved.
Our trip will involve gas money, hotel money, gift money, and spending money, and I am thrilled that we can afford all that. Again, thanks to the cash gifts from our wedding.
We haven’t actually saved much
You’ve probably noticed that the cash fund from our wedding is our go-to place when we need money. That’s because we hadn’t really had a chance to start saving!
First we were dating, and that involved us spending some money. (I’m glad we did it! We have wonderful memories from that period of our relationship. I don’t regret a signle penny.)
Then we moved in together (How to manage money as a couple), and soon after I quit this horrible new job that I had. I didn’t get full pay for the two weeks I wasted there, and then I was unemployed for 4 weeks. Then I worked at another place for a week and didn’t get any pay. So that’s 2 months with no pay, and when I winally settled in a good company, I had to wait one more month to get my first paycheck. Job-hunting during recession is a bitch!
Meanwhile we paid off a car loan, using all the cash we had + whatever meager savings we had tried to scrape together.
Before I even got my first full paycheck, we found out I was pregnant. Then we started planning our wedding and while our parents paid the most of it, we again used whatever meager savings we had accumulated.
And now we’re fixing up the apartment and planning to go to a wedding and maybe do another trip for a pregnancy-related test.
…but we don’t spend much, either
We’re not worried because we have the money from our wedding to cover all that… for now. But we have decided there’s a minimum of 500 € from our wedding “fund” that we won’t touch. That will be our buffer.
I wanted us to save another 500 € from the wedding fund and buy some stocks as long-term savings, but I’m not sure if we’d be able to.
I’m eager for us to be done with the remodel and finally get in a routine for spending and saving. Ever since we got together, there’s something new happening – new place, new job, baby, wedding, remodel – and we just haven’t had a chance to put some power down into our savings.
But I’m not too worried, because I understand that we have a lot on our plate right now. We have to be patient. We’re covering all of our expences and even though our savings are not building up, it’s not because we’re spending a lot. We’re not wasting money. And we don’t have any debt.
For more details into our finances, stay tuned ;)