14 January 2013, by Tan Yi Lin
HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!
I hope that you all had a good start to 2013. It’s going to be an exciting year for our family, with many things to look forward to over the coming months.
The whole of December and the first half of January seem to have flown by in a whirlwind of activity. Except for the Christmas and New Year celebrations, coupled with Dan’s and my sister’s boyfriend’s birthdays in the midst of the festivities, we didn’t do anything particularly special — so I’m not really sure where all the time went! Maybe it’s because we got swept up in the daily busyness of childcare and household chores when our family’s helper went home for three weeks. Or because I had a particularly fast-paced and exciting project to oversee at work all the way to early January. This year-end was definitely a far cry from 2011’s relaxed, lazy, slow-moving December.
The radio silence on this blog is also because we spent the whole of last week in Chiang Mai on holiday with my family — the biggest family holiday to date involving seven adults, one child and one more in-utero. More on that in another entry.
Despite feeling rather all-over-the-place over the past few weeks, we did manage to buckle down and schedule appointments for two very important things:
First up, our monthly prenatal appointment with Dr G to check how Claire is doing (yups, now that Dan has revealed her name, she’s not longer known as Obiwan or Kenobi or Kenobette). At the 20-weeks detailed scan in November, we found out that Claire has a malformation of the umbilical cord whereby the cord contains only two out of the usual three blood vessels. Dr G had reassured us that while babies with this condition tend to be smaller, it would not affect her physical development and that we would track her intrauterine growth more closely with an additional detailed scan at 28 weeks, scheduled for the end of this month.
True enough, the recent scan on 31 December showed that Claire’s a lightweight. In fact, she’s a real featherweight – weighing in at an estimated 450 grams at 24 weeks. While her head measurements are in accordance with her gestational age, her body’s pretty skinny. I did a quick mental calculation: with only a little more than three months till her estimated due date, if she puts on an average of 500 grams per month, she would barely tip the scales at 2 kilos! Furthermore, my medical records showed that I weighed 63 kg when I was six months pregnant with Coco but with Claire, I was only just touching 59 kg. I’m either not eating as much or ALOT of what I’m eating is going towards running after Coco instead of helping Claire grow. Upon Dr G’s advice, I stepped up my intake of carbs and proteins (hello ice-cream, milk, eggs, cheese, cream-sauce pasta, meat and endless snacking) and managed to pile on an additional kilogram in ten days. Talk about eating for the sake of eating. Hopefully Claire’s benefiting from the 24/7 buffet.
The second important task that we got down to doing was to meet our financial planner for a much-needed wealth (or lack thereof) management review. The last time that we did a comprehensive stock take of our personal and family finances was in 2011 after Coco was born. We felt that it was timely to relook our cash flow, given the changes in our lifestyle now that Coco is older and we have another baby on the way. For one, Coco is no longer feeding for free at my boobs and come March, we’ll be forking out $750 every month for playschool.
So after the recent review, here’s a snapshot of my cash flow. I’m not sure if it’s of much help to readers given that everyone’s personal situation is unique, but hey, it’s just to show how useful (and incredibly important) to know where your money is going every month, especially if you have little ones depending on you for Just. About. Everything.
Do note that this isn’t a complete picture of our family expenditure as Dan also picks up a lot of the family tabs, such as the driving and vehicle expenses, and most of the meals when we dine out.
(Percentages reflected refer to % of gross income)
Insurance and Investments (30%) (includes life/illness/hospitalisation insurance for myself and Coco, education/endowment fund for Coco; and investments in the form of unit trusts and property)
Family Expenses (20%) (e.g. meals, domestic help, child care arrangements, child’s education/enrichment, child’s diapers/milk powder/clothes/toys, family outings)
Personal Expenses (10%) (e.g. meals, public transport, medical check-ups, health and well-being, hand phone bills, shopping, etc.)
Luxuries (5%) (e.g. vacations… that’s all for us, really. We don’t really splurge on anything else.)
The thing is, after deducting all these expenses from my income, I SHOULD be saving about 35% of my monthly earnings. BUT WHY IS IT THAT I ALWAYS FEEL SO BROKE?! Just one of life’s little mysteries, eh?
In any case, given how much debate there is over the cost of raising children, fuelled by the anticipation towards the release of The White Paper on population growth, the Budget, and the new marriage and parenthood package over the coming months, I really think that now is a good time to do a stock take of your personal and family finances (if you haven’t already done so) in preparation for 2013 and beyond. And if you’re a dud at figures like I am, I strongly recommend engaging a financial planner to help you ease the pain of crunching those numbers!
I have so much more to write about, such as my thoughts (and not just updates) on my second pregnancy and our Chiang Mai trip, but it’s hard to find the time, energy and willpower to do it (okay, maybe I’m just lazy). Plus, we’re going away again this Friday to one of our favourite places on Earth. Yes, cramming in two vacations within a month is really a huge luxury but this is the only window between the uber-expensive December travel peak and Lunar New Year in February. Beyond that, I’ll be in my third trimester (already!) and don’t really want to squeeze my big immobile pregnant ass into an aeroplane seat.
So, catch up again when we’re back!