Reader Mailbag: Renewal

What’s inside? Here are the questions answered in today’s reader mailbag, boiled down to five word summaries. Click on the number to jump straight down to the question.
1. Foreign country move
2. Is car replacement necessary?
3. Cell phone discount question
4. Collection sell-off
5. Car buying question with debt
6. Challenging home buying question
7. Hobbies and marriage
8. Helping mother-in-law
9. Books for economics
10. How children alter free time

Who are the ten closest friends you’ve ever had in your life?

Are you still in touch with these people?

Why not? Why not get in touch with them today? Why not break down the barriers in your life and tell them that they were truly important to you?

Q1: Foreign country move
My husband and I are contemplating a move to Honduras around February of next year. We are working on paying off our debt, and will have about $8500 left to pay off in February. We will also have a savings of about $3000. We are planning to sell our cars before we move, which will give us about $8000. I would like to have a large fund for emergencies and such while we are gone, as we will be living on a tight $1100/mo and won’t be able to pay for any doctor/hospital visits that come up. I could use the $11k to pay off debt and still have $2500 left for Honduras, or I could use the money to pay $300/mo while we are gone and $7400 left for emergencies or expenses when we come back to the States. This would also put our debt down to $4900.

Which option do you think is better? With the uncertainties of moving to a foreign country, would it be better to have no debt or to save money for the unexpected?
- Rachel

It would depend heavily on my knowledge of the country I was moving to and my confidence in being able to navigate the culture there effectively.

Are one of you originally from Honduras? Do you have a strong social network there? Are you familiar with the culture and the language there?

The less certain I was about the culture I was moving to and the social network I would have when I went there, the more important I would consider having an emergency fund to be.

Q2: Is car replacement necessary?
My question is one that many of your readers have asked before. But I believe mine has a unique twist to it. My question is – Should I buy a new (second hand) car? I currently own a 2002 BMW 325i bought second hand from a friend. I’ve had this car for four years now. The car looks brand new but has 150K+ miles on it. The car runs fine, except for one major flaw – there is a leak in the head gasket that causes the car to go through oil faster than normal. I’ve shown it to a few mechanics and have got quotes for $1000-$1500 to fix it. All of them have told me that I can drive the car without worries as long as I regularly fill it with oil. I really only use the car to buy groceries and perhaps go somewhere over the weekends. My car insurance minus collision is around $650 a year. I’ve been using the car with this problem for over a year now and the only money I’ve spent on it was to get 4 new tires last month ($450). It gives out a white non-smelly smoke every once in a while but other than that it looks brand new. So my question was, should I sell this car (perhaps get ~$2500 off it) and look for a new one? I have a well paying job and am currently debt free. I am single, 29 years old and am saving up to buy my own house before the end of next year. I can afford to buy a new (second hand) car for ~$10,000 but I feel for my needs, that is useless. I *do need* the car for groceries though.

- Chris

Given that it’s such a low-use car, I probably wouldn’t replace it. I’d just keep a container of oil in the trunk and fill it when it needs filled.

If this were a high-use car with a wide variety of essential functions, I would lean toward replacing it. However, in your own words, the one function you really need it for is groceries, which is something that can typically wait a day or two if necessary.

From what you describe, a replacement car doesn’t add enough value to your life to be worth the expense.

Q3: Cell phone discount question
My husband qualifies for a 23% discount off of our cell phone bill through his work. When we went to the carrier to apply it, however, they said that only the primary account holder can apply a discount to the account. I am the primary account holder, and I don’t qualify for a discount through my work. Naturally, we asked if we could just switch and let him be the primary (After all, we are married!) They said in order to do this, we would be charged a “transfer service fee” of $18 per line (totalling $36) and it would essentially start a new account with the carrier. Our cell phone bill is only $100.89 a month, so we would be saving approximately $23.20 a month. Would it be worth it to pay $36 for the discount? We are struggling financially right now and every dollar matters. $36 seems like an awful lot to change the account holder, but the $23 extra a month would really be helpful.

- Christine

Yes. You should do this, absolutely, without hesitation.

You will repay the initial payment in a month and a half. Everything after that is pure savings. You will have $23.20 a month that you didn’t have.

If this door is open to you, it’s a spectacular investment, one that you should jump on immediately.

Q4: Collection sell-off
I have a large collection of baseball cards. Many of them are from the late 1980s and early 1990s, but I also have a nearly complete set of 1968 Topps cards, many individual cards from the 1950s and 1960s, and a few cards from the 1930s. I don’t watch baseball much any more and my connection to these cards is basically gone. I would like to sell them but I don’t know where to start.

- Thomas

I’ll be frank: virtually all baseball cards from the late 1980s and early 1990s are worth more as kindling than as baseball cards. There are a few exceptions, like the 1989 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr., but those exceptions are few and far between.

The vintage ones, on the other hand, have held their value quite nicely. However, vintage baseball cards have really moved into an era of professional grading, where a handful of companies certify the condition of cards and package them in sealed containers that state that condition.

If I were you, I’d ask around your social network for a trusted card appraiser and find out if it’s worth it for you to get your vintage (pre-1970) cards professionally graded.

Q5: Car buying question with debt
I have bad credit. Always have. I am making an attempt to improve it and could use your advise on a price of the puzzle. I am debt free except for my student loans, which I’m paying monthly, and only have one credit card, which I pay off fully each month. My question is about my car. It probably won’t last more than another year. I have about $5000 in savings but not really contributing to it right now because on a very tight budget. When it is time to buy a car, should I take out a loan (if I can get one), buy a car, and use the savings to make payments to improve my credit score or just pay cash for a car out right? I would like to buy a house in the next few years, that’s why I’m interested in improving my score.

- Dave

If you have a credit card that you’re paying off every month, your credit is already solid. Any slight benefit you might get from a car loan is not worth the interest you’d have to pay on it.

It’s always a good thing to have something establishing good credit for you because it does affect things like your insurance rates. However, a single credit card with a regularly paid off balance will take care of establishing pretty good credit for you.

I would just pay cash for that replacement car.

Q6: Challenging home buying question
My husband and I were recently married in October 2010. Before we were even engaged, we started working with a financial planner to get our money in order. We knew that in the next 10 years, we wanted to get married, buy a house, and start a family. That was a few years ago, but our goals are the same. We rented an apartment in the town adjacent to our hometown and were happy there, though it was a bit tough to pay rent and utilities and try to sock money away for a down payment at the same time. We’ve done some job flip-flopping in the past few years, but now we’re holding steady: he’s a firefighter and owns a small landscaping company and I work in marketing at a small environmental services company in our area, supplementing with some occasional freelance writing/marketing work.

Then, we more or less hit the lottery. A historic house in our hometown was in need of resident caretakers, and we were approached to take on the role. Basically, “earn our keep” by maintaining the property and organizing all the rentals and in return don’t have to pay rent or utilities, just the landline. It’s a 3-year lease. We’re thrilled, because it affords us an amazing opportunity to save like mad for a down payment on a home a few years down the line. We’ve started putting away $2,000 per month for that, effectively paying ourselves rent.

Today, I got an email from a real estate agent I do some work for with a few listings. One was in our hometown, in the neighborhood we both grew up in, for only $129,900. For where we live just north of Boston, that is a STEAL. The house needs a lot of work, though, and was described as a “complete rehab, likely tear-down.” We want to rehab it. I started poking around, doing a little research, and found that there’s an FHA loan called a 203k that provides for a fixer-upper property. From what I understand, you itemize all the renovations required and get an estimate for them and bundle that in with the cost of the home. The red flag is that the septic system may not pass inspection and could have to be repaired/replaced. After a little more digging, I found that Massachusetts has a septic system repair assistance loan that we’d likely qualify for based on our income that would run at 5%. The agent who sent me the email mentioned septic repair/replacement can run $15,000-$25,000.

It’s worth noting that we would not break our lease to purchase this house. Our idea is to buy it and start the renovations once we have a little more built up in our savings, with the intention of moving in in about 3 years. We’d be making mortgage payments while we were living in our historic property rent-free and taking care of the renovations without having to worry about living in the middle of them. We’d also try to do a lot of DIY– we’re both handy and so are our families.

My question is two-fold: one, is it advisable to buy the house even though we don’t plan on living in it for a few years (we can afford it), and two, have you heard of a 203k loan / what are the odds of being eligible for the 203k and assistance loans at the same time? Would reducing the amount of the 203k loan based on receiving the septic assistance loan help us at all? Or hurt us?
- Carrie

A 203(k) loan is just as you described it. It’s a loan program for home repairs. The assistance loan that you describe is a program I’m unfamiliar with, but from what I could find, it seems to be fairly similar to a 203(k) loan – a loan program for a specific type of home repair.

If I were you, I would make sure exactly what you were borrowing for before worrying about borrowing money. Will you need the septic loan at all? If so, can it be bundled into the 203(k)? Will it prevent you from getting the house at all?

You seem excited. The best move to make is to sit down and look at your situation one piece at a time. I would probably start by finding a credit union that you trust that handles these loans and talking to a loan counselor there.

Q7: Hobbies and marriage
My wife is an avid player of World of Warcraft. I play a little bit, but it is her main hobby. I am frustrated sometimes because it takes up many of her evenings but I have a difficult time making it clear to her how really frustrated I am. I don’t like sitting around doing nothing while she’s in a raid. What can I do?

- Donny

To an extent, you need to accept that your wife has a hobby she’s passionate about. That’s a good and healthy thing for her to an extent.

The issue arises when that hobby begins to interfere with relationships, which it seems to be doing here. This should not be a choice between you and World of Warcraft, as that will simply create resentment. Instead, it should be in the form that a healthy life includes all things in moderation.

My wife and I have some different hobbies and we engage in them in the evenings. Sometimes this means we do our own thing, sometimes we do things together. In either case, though, we make sure that there is some time for each other doing something we have in common.

Q8: Helping mother-in-law
About 2 years ago, my dad (in and out of employment, constantly late on all bills, had a bankruptcy years back) was able to refinance his mortgage with the HAMP program. He had a terrible ARM that adjusted every few months, and the HAMP helped him save significantly on the mortgage payment.

Based on that success, I suggested my mother in law apply for HAMP. My mother in law (who works her butt off 7 days a week, 12 hour days from 4:30am, has never been late on any of her payments, has perfect credit, etc) was declined for HAMP. The bank offered her a refinance (or adjustment, not sure) that lowered her Interest Rate from 6.75 to 5.75 (about 6 months ago) but it was not enough. With my dad’s HAMP adjustment, they lowered monthly payments to 33% of monthly income. My mom in law’s right now is more around 60%.

The bank also told her that she would not have to pay ANYTHING and that the refi was free, but after it processed she saw her principle amount owed on the mortgage raise 3k. There was a language barrier there (she speaks mostly spanish) so I guess there was a miscommunication)

My mother in law is STRUGGLING working so much to pay the mortgage. Even her Doctor said she needs to cut back hours (down to a normal 40 hrs per week) because of her health, but thats impossible because the majority of her money is made in overtime (time + 1/2) hours.

She currently rents a furnished room to her brother (I believe $125-$150 per week) to help supplement, but she still works the terrible amount of hours. My wife and I have suggested she redo her basement as an income property as many people do in her neighborhood (it’s 1/2 finished now and has a full bath, no kitchen). But that is hard because of the up front cost of renovation (I’m guessing around $10-$20k), but that may be offset by a rise in home equity. My guess is she would be able to get at least $1000 per month for the income property, and there is a strong market for renters where she lives.

Any ideas how we can help her? I don’t know much about mortgages and refinancing. Can she try to refinance her mortgage again to take advantage of the the 4%-ish rates that are around now. Would she have to shop around to another bank? Would the refinance cost (another 3k) be worth it? Should we really try to get the income property done, even if it means taking out an additional loan? Any insight would be appreciated.
- Ronald

The first thing I would do is attempt to appeal the declined HAMP application. Examine the notice that she received declining her application and seek out how to appeal it.

You should get involved as your speaking skills are much stronger than hers. It is much easier for a bank or a program to decline someone who can’t protest.

If this doesn’t work, I would suggest visiting her bank. If they won’t offer her a fixed rate loan, I would suggest visiting a competing bank for a refinance. A refinance out of an adjustable rate is well worth it, and if she can drop her interest rate by 3%, it will make a world of difference to her.

Q9: Books for economics
I’m trying to gain a basic understanding of how the economy of the United States works. Do you have any book recommendations?

- Kevin

Probably the best single volume for a beginner on economics today is Naked Economics by Wheelan and Malkiel. It’s very easy to read and spells out the big ideas in economics very well.

The problem with a lot of economics books is that they’re tied heavily to the viewpoints of the author and inevitably end up prescribing political solutions. Although there are a lot of great books you can follow up Naked Economics with, be very wary of viewpoints from the author.

Naked Economics isn’t perfect, but it’s a great starting point and much less biased than many other starting books on economics.

Q10: How children alter free time
My husband and I are thinking about trying to have a baby. I have heard a lot of accounts about how having a baby will change your life and you’ll not really have free time any more. I understand that you’ll have to stay home with the baby a lot but my husband and I don’t go out anyway. I don’t understand what will really change when we have a baby.

- Angie

We felt the same way as you did. Trust me – it does change your life.

The biggest impact is that sleep is no longer a reliable thing for several months (at least). The baby’s cries will wake you both up, even if you don’t recall it the next morning. These wakings will happen every hour or two at first and gradually slow down to two or three times a night. In other words, good sleep will become a thing of the past for a while.

You’re also going to have a tiny living person there with you. This person will need your help with everything. Eating and drinking. Pooping and peeing (get used to it). Entertainment and stimulation. Hugging and cuddling and love. This takes time – a lot of it. Most of the time, it’ll be just one of you involved in this, but unless you want other marital issues to arise, you’ll have to balance who’s on “baby duty.” This will drastically reduce the time you have to do things together – and even if you did have that time, you’d be dead tired from the lack of sleep.

This all sounds horrible, but it’s worth it.

Got any questions? Email them to me or leave them in the comments and I’ll attempt to answer them in a future mailbag (which, by way of full disclosure, may also get re-posted on other websites that pick up my blog). However, I do receive hundreds of questions per week, so I may not necessarily be able to answer yours.

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55 thoughts on “Reader Mailbag: Renewal

  1. Johanna says:

    Q3: You’re struggling and every dollar matters, but you’re paying $100 a month for your cell phones? That seems like a lot, even after the discount. I’m not going to try to tell you to cut them out entirely, but isn’t there a cheaper plan that will meet your needs here?

    Q4: Come on, Trent, use some common sense. If Thomas had a “trusted card appraiser” in his social network, do you think he would have asked you this question in the first place?

  2. Jonathan says:

    Q7 – It sounds like Donnie needs to find a hobby for himself. The wording makes it seem as though either he’s relying on his wife to keep him occupied, or his only entertainment involves things he would do with her. While I agree that it isn’t healthy for a relationship for one partner to be overly involved in a hobby at the expense of the relationship, it is also not healthy for one partner to rely so heavily on the other that they sit around doing nothing while their partner is engaged in his/her hobby.

  3. Adam P says:

    Q7- Donny – It’s been my experience when people are addicted to their online worlds (like WoW) that they are getting something in there that they don’t get in real life.

    My cousin’s long term girlfriend became addicted when she lost her job. In the game, she was a beautiful, high level night elf with a killer body, tons of online friends, a position in her guild and money/power. In real life, she was unemployed, broke, overweight, and didn’t maintain her hygeine. The more of the game she played, the more the disparity between her real life and her avatar in the game was. Eventually he had to break up with her after 4 years because she didn’t want to do anything but play the game. Her animals were taken away by the humane society. I don’t know where she is now.

    Talk to her, if she’s blowing off real life (and her husband!) for the game find out what she gets from the game that she isn’t getting in her real life. Hopefully she’ll realize this is just a game and it will end, all her hours in there will be for nothing. The hours she spends bettering her real life are there for the rest of her life.

    Good luck! I have played a lot of EQ and WoW over the years but one day just realized that the time sink was too detrimenatl to my health/job/relationships.

  4. Bill says:

    Q3 and Trent: What most people don’t realize is those employee discounts typically only apply to the phone service. So, taxes, text message packages, data services, and any other fees won’t see the benefit of the 23% discount.

    Nevertheless, you should probably switch it over, even if it takes a few months longer to recoup.

  5. Jonathan says:

    Johanna, I actually don’t think that Trent’s suggestion for Q4 is out of line at all. I was an avid collector (of various things) during my late teens and early 20s. If I were needing to find a appraiser for my collectibles I would definitely start by checking my social network, as I have friends who are still involved in the hobbies. One note of clarification, Trent isn’t suggesting that Thomas has an appraiser in his social network, just that someone in his network may be able to suggest someone trustworthy he could use.

  6. Johanna says:

    @Jonathan: You misunderstand me. I’m not saying that checking your social network isn’t a good thing to do. But the fact that Thomas is asking Trent, a stranger on the internet, for help in selling his baseball cards suggests that either (1) he has reasons for not wanting to ask his real-life friends for help in selling his baseball cards or (2) he’s already asked and nobody’s been able to help.

    But even if neither of those things is true, it’s still possible that Thomas will ask around in his social network and nobody will have any leads for him. Then what? How do you find a “trusted card appraiser” when you don’t already know one, and when nobody you know does either? That’s an interesting question that deserves an answer. “Just check your social network” is a lazy answer.

  7. Riki says:

    Chris (Q2)

    If you like the car and plan to keep it, why don’t you just spend the money to fix it? It solves the problem for significantly less than buying a new car.

  8. Riki says:

    Q3: I agree with Johanna. $100 for cell phones does seem to be high for somebody who worries about a one-time $36 fee. I don’t know why Trent didn’t address that fact.

    Cut your plan. AND make the switch. You’ll save money 2x over.

  9. Jonathan says:

    Johanna, you’re right, I did misunderstand you.It sounded as though you thought that Trent was suggesting Thomas might have an appraiser in his social network, rather than suggesting that someone in his network might be able to recommend a reputable appraiser.

    Still, I would argue that Trent’s answer was not lazy. His answer wasn’t “Just check your social network”. His answer was 1) late 80s and early 90s cards are generally not valuable enough to both with and 2) since Thomas was collecting the hobby has changed. In the days before professional grading one would simply take the cards to a local shop or list them on eBay. Had Thomas listed the cards on eBay without knowing about the professional grading he likely would have received much less for his vintage cards than he might otherwise have. Trent’s information about that change in the hobby was helpful, as was his suggestion that he locate an appraiser to determine if his vintage cards are worth having appraised before attempting to sell.

  10. valleycat1 says:

    Q4 – you might check on ebay for baseball card sales to see what yours are going for on the open market. You could also auction them off on ebay (& set a reserve price on the more valuable ones). Many larger cities have businesses that specialize in sports memorabilia – if you’ve gotten an idea via ebay on retail prices, that would help you decide whether other offers from a buyer is reasonable or not.

    If you have any you think are of particular value, you could check the PBS antiques roadshow website for archived footage of some of their baseball card valuations to see if they discuss some you have. Their experts usually offer helpful side comments as well.

  11. Jonathan says:

    I also agree with others in thinking that the $100 cell phone plan seems a bit high for someone stressing over a one time $36 fee. This is a symptom of a larger issue in general, though. It wasn’t that long ago that paying $100 for cell service would have seemed like a big luxury. Cell phone companies have done a good job marketing their services, though, so now most people seem to think they have to have a cell phone, many with unlimited text and data. So now you have people like Christine whose “…cell phone bill is only $100.89 a month…”.

  12. Baley says:

    Q2 – Why not just spend the money to fix your otherwise “like new” car? $1500 is a lot less than $10,000, and you’ll probably have a better car than one you could buy for that much.

    Q10 – You know in the evenings when you can sit down and watch TV or read a book or check the internet or… ? That doesn’t happen much once the baby comes. There are always interruptions. Like Trent mentioned you have to feed baby (at first, about 8 times a day around the clock), change diapers, do extra laundry (at least 2 loads a week extra, usually, maybe more), bathe baby, snuggle with baby (look! Free time to watch TV – oh wait, babies aren’t supposed to watch TV), figure out why baby’s crying, try to get baby to sleep, etc. If you do decide to go out, then you have to pack the baby’s bag and plan on feeding baby while out. It’s amazing that we find time to do all of these things and still go to work, feed and clothe ourselves, clean the house (every once in a while), etc. I am still amazed at how much time my baby sucks up. Worth it? Definitely. Baby smiles and giggles are the best things in life. Btw, my first baby is 4.5 months old, so I’m hoping someone can tell you and me that it gets better. :)

  13. valleycat1 says:

    #10 – In addition to Trent’s warning about sleep distruption: Children alter your free time to the extent you wouldn’t be able to take them places you frequent. So, if you normally go out to eat at less child-friendly places or like to spend evenings at sports bars or night clubs, you’re in for some changes (or babysitter fees).

    Since you’re basically home bodies, and if you prefer to picnic, camp, or do other more family-friendly activities (including less chichi restaurants), just take the kids along – recognizing your responsibility to others in the venue to remove a squalling baby and to teach the kids what acceptable behavior is. The earlier you start including them in activities, the more quickly they learn to behave in public. We started taking our kids out to eat in restaurants as babies & by the time they could talk they were quite capable of amusing themselves appropriately at the table & not being disruptive.

  14. lurker carl says:

    Q2 Chris – Fix problems as they occur, don’t wait for them to grow to outlandish proportions.

    The assumption is a broken gasket, not a cracked head or block. Your BMW has an aluminum cylinder head and block. The soft alloy will erode where the gasket is broken, this will eventually render both the head and block unrepairable. Far more expensive to replace the engine than a gasket.

    The oil is going where oil doesn’t belong, like into the cooling system, which means the oil is getting contaminated with coolant. When vital fluids are not kept separate, expensive repairs will ensue.

    Spend the money to fix it now, it’s cheaper than replacing an otherwise good automobile.

  15. Charlotte says:

    Q3: On AT&T you can apply the employee discount online and it doesn’t matter who the account holder is. Just enter their employee email, AT&T sends a confirmation email, and then click a link on the email to activate the discount. This proves to them that you work at the company.

    I don’t know about the other carriers, but I expect they work the same way.

  16. Charlotte says:

    Also, do you have any advice on the steps to take and the amount of money to save prior to purchasing a first home?

  17. Kevin says:

    Q1: You’re asking the wrong question. The question isn’t “Do I keep filling it with oil, or do I buy a new car?”

    The question is, “Do I keep filling it with oil, or do I fix it?”

    You yourself admit you rarely drive it, but you’re ready to drop $10,000 to replace it? You also said it runs perfectly and is in pristine condition, aside from this minor flaw. It almost seems like you’re looking for validation to replace a car that doesn’t excite you anymore.

    Get the head gasket fixed and drive the thing into the ground.

  18. kristine says:

    @luker carl-spoken like a responsible car owner! Ignoring the prob is definitely penny-wise, pound foolish.

  19. Carole says:

    It amazes me how long and detailed some of these questions are. Sometimes I think if the writers would just get to the jist of things they could figure out the answers themselves.

  20. Kevin says:

    @Q8: Why is your mother-in-law killing herself to keep a house she clearly can’t afford? The solution is obvious: She should sell the house immediately.

  21. lurker carl says:

    kristine – My 24 year old Suburban turned over 300K miles a few months ago. Not bad for a vehicle that I paid $2K for 14 years and a quarter million miles ago. Getting this amount of service from a cheap used vehicle didn’t happen by chance. Scheduled maintenance and repairing problems as they occur makes it reliable transportation and a desirable antique. “Big Blue” is currently worth more than I orginally paid for it.

    Chris’ BMW should provide the same level of service if repairs and maintenance are kept up to date.

  22. Des says:

    Q3 – This is one of the weirdest questions I’ve ever read. Is it worth it to spend $36 one time to save $23 a month. I don’t mean this to be rude, I am genuinely asking: Can you do math? This would pay for itself in 2 billing cycles. Do you plan on keeping the phone for more than two months?

    The answer to this question is confusingly obvious, so I can’t help but feel like some key piece of information is missing. Or, maybe it was really meant to just vent about the fact that the cell company charges a fee for this?

    $23 savings x 2 months = $46 savings. $46 savings – $36 fee = $10 surplus in the second month. Every month thereafter is $23 savings. :S

  23. KateandWillsMom says:

    @Q7 re: WoW. a real life simulation game can easily go beyond ‘having a hobby’ and it is good that you expressing this concern. Do not let anyone talk you down from your concern or convince you that you need a hobby of your own — until you and your wife work this out. My experience with a WoW player is as such: he worked full time (as did I), did more than his share of household stuff (as did I) and more than his share of child care/assistance (as did I). He only played after the children went to bed. Here is the issue: Because he had to ‘meet up with people’ in the game and didn’t want to let them down to leave a raid before they did, he stayed up until 12, 1, 2 every night. Then he was so wound up, he would think about the game and dream about it -tossing and turning. He was exhausted all day, every day. Every Tuesday, WoW provides a patch that players can download to fix small issues. When the download didn’t work properly he became frustrated and angry. He felt such a connection to his ‘friends’ online that all he wanted to talk about (when we did talk) was about the game. He could not see that his constant exhaustion, frustration, one topic of conversation was slowly chewing into our relationship. So, in short, if you are unhappy with this, keep digging for a solution. Google “world of warcraft widows” and you will find good support groups. The stories people share about this will shock you. My situation never got that bad and today we are WoW free, much happier, more relaxed. My husband just got a huge promotion/raise at work. I think he is a different person. He still plays computer games, not simulation games where he takes on a persona, has money etc. He plays something that he enjoys for 30 minutes to an hour and then walks away from. Good luck with this and don’t back down!

  24. Gretchen says:

    In PA, the septic system loan is only for a primary resisdence.

    I wouldn’t be too “red flag!” about it needing to be replaced, though. Most houses of a certain age will not go to settlement without at least something being done to the septic system.

  25. liz says:

    Q10: Babies *do* change your life, but it isn’t nearly as hard and gloom and doom as many people will have you believe! Yes, there are a lot of interuptions in my day due to caring for my son, (I swear I have not had a hot meal in 3 years!), but he is also at an age now where he will play happily on his own, and I can read a book, play video games, watch tv, sew, cook, etc. There was a period of time where it was harder to do those things. If my son was sleeping, I tried to sleep, too. For me, that period of time was short, as he started sleeping through the night at 7.5 weeks old, (yes, he really did!)

    Some babies insist on you interacting with them every waking minute of the day. Other babies are perfectly happy playing with toys and books by themselves for extended periods of time.

    At age with my son, I can still do whatever I want, but the timing of those things is dictated by my son’s schedule. I want to read my book, but I can’t do it right *now*, because he needs me. That’s fine; I will read later when he is playng or sleeping.

    Maybe that is what gets to people, that they aren’t the ones setting the schedule, the child is?

  26. almost there says:

    Q2: Trent shouldn’t be giving out car repair advice other than he doesn’t know enough about cars to give any advice. White smoke every once in a while is most likely anti freeze getting into the combustion system. Spend the little money now to fix the car. Or, get some more quotes on the fix and go with the one you are most comfortable with (not just lowest price. Tell you what, if it’s an automatic I would consider buying it for that much and fixing it myself. Put it on ebay:)

  27. Baley says:

    @Liz: Good point about the timing. I think that really is part of it. It’s just harder to do things spontaneously. For instance, my husband and I would sometimes go out for a late meal at Steak and Shake or IHOP (like, after 9:30 or so), but now that’s impossible. I’d either have to find someone to come over while the baby is sleeping (yeah, right) or wake her up to take her with us (really bad idea). So, in a way it’s good because we can’t spend that money spontaneously, but on the other hand, we’re tied to the house once she’s in bed for the night. We do go out and see friends and family, but we leave earlier now, or we have to struggle to get her to sleep in someone else’s house. She already does self-entertain some, and that will only increase as she gets older, so that’s a good thing. Thanks for the encouragement, Liz! :)

  28. Courtney20 says:

    Q2 – money aside, do you really think it’s a good idea environmentally to be driving a car that leaks oil constantly when you can clearly afford to do something about it? All that oil running into the groundwater, all that wasted fossil fuel – yeesh.

  29. Amy K says:

    Q10: I actually think Trent didn’t paint it in dark enough tones. We went into parenthood thinking “Aww, babies are so cute and they sleep all the time” and assurances from friends and family that “you are so mellow, your baby is sure to be mellow too.” Thanks to her acid reflux, dairy intolerance (pased via breastmilk in mom’s diet), and possibly some colic the first 6 weeks were horrible. I slept in 45 minute chunks, no more than 3 hours/day, that whole time. It was Hellish to never know when I could sleep, eat, or go to the bathroom next; all with a near-constant sountrack of screaming. And when she wasn’t screaming, it was because she was nursing for comfort or had finally passed out from exhaustion. We only left the house 3 or 4 times, fearing a meltdown.

    After 6 weeks we had a diagnosis of GERD, a prescription for Zantac, and had eliminated dairy. Things got much smoother, but I was still afraid of meltdowns and we seldom left the house. At 7 months I’ve finally realized that she loves going out; I’m the one cramping our style because I was so scarred at the beginning.

    At this point we are definitely more home bound than pre-baby, but it’s getting better. We order more takeout, but go out to restaurants less. We don’t go hiking, but we take walks around the neighborhood with the stroller. The dishwasher is always full and the floor needs to be vacuumed, but we’re dancing to the Black Eyed Peas and banging on the exersaucer. A different kind of fun than pre-baby.

  30. Nate says:

    Q10: People are right when they say babies change everything. But there’s really no way for you to know in advance how your baby will change your life. As you can tell by other comments, babies temperments can run all over the map.

    You will get less sleep at night because all babies wake up frequently for at least a couple months. This will cause you to want to go to bed earlier reducing your free time in the evenings.

    You will find that things that used to be important to you become much less important. And things that you never gave a second thought to will become hugely important parts of your day.

    The most useless but true statement about babies is that you’ll never understand what it’s like until you have one of your own. Every couple without kids thinks that they can imagine what it will be like, but once they have them they’ll admit they didn’t have a clue.

    Don’t sweat the specifics, just know that there will be changes to your lifestyle even if you are homebodies.

  31. bogart says:

    Q10 — Very grateful to be a mom, here. But. I found babyhood exhausting — the lack of sleep, the never-ending-ness of nursing. Now 4 years in what I wouldn’t give to have back those days when my son had to rely on me to move him from place to place :) ! Last night I changed the oil in my car and then dragged DS out to a spot where, for reasons not worth going into, I had to build a temporary enclosure to shelter an injured animal. As much as I love him and the zany conversations he & I have, it’s difficult precisely to quantify just how much the extra hassle of having a 4-year old “help” me with these tasks (all the while chattering constantly, discussing the whole oil-change process point by point — why it’s important, what tools are involved, the difference between oil & water; pointing out the rising moon, discussing how suns and stars are different if at all) wears me down! The shelter-building took longer than I’d hoped (leaving us pressed to make a reasonable bedtime) and he spent it (a) playing with a hose and (b) digging in sandy/dusty soil. I was tired enough when I got home that I just insisted that he pull off all his clothes at the front of the house (later dumped straight into the washing machine), then scooped him up onto the bathroom sink (he was resisting the idea of taking a bath) and washed the worst of the muck off him before we did our usual brush teeth/read books bedtime routine. Hope that description may shed some light on the issue, and that you’ll be blessed with as many kids as you want when you want them and that they’ll bring you much joy!

  32. Josh says:

    @Q4, Thomas: As Trent said, your stuff from the ’80s and ’90s isn’t worth anything unless you’ve got Griffey Jr. rookies.

    You should go through your ’50s and ’60s stuff. Look for the big names, like Mantle, Mays, Aaron, etc. Look for rookie cards. Look for the rarer issues, like ’52 Topps and any Bowman. If you find several and don’t have someone to look at them, buy a one month subscription to the PSA online Sports Market Report for 5 bucks. This will give you access for a month to look up any card you want. This is the big go-to for avid vintage card collectors. Cards that are possibly valuable should be graded.

    In the ’30s stuff, look for 1933 and 1934 Goudey, 1939 Play Ball, 1934-36 Diamond Stars, 1938 Goudey, Goudey Sports Kings, and DeLongs. There are lots of automatic grades in this bunch.

  33. valleycat1 says:

    Q10 – One other point – babies grow up (& yes, at some point you’ll realize how fast that stage passes) into preschoolers, preteens, teens, etc. Some parents cope better with some stages than others. I’ve known people who are naturals at tiny infant care but are at a loss with a teen, and vice versa.

  34. jim says:

    Q7 Donny: 1st, I’m an engineer not a therapist, so take this with a grain o’ salt. … We don’t know how much your wife plays WoW. We also don’t know how healthy her relationship with the game is. So its hard to know whats really oging on there. Maybe she’s a hardcore addict who really needs help and its ruining your marriage, maybe she just enjoys a fun hobby. I’m sure you can find information on WoW addiction online by google search for “world of warcraft addiction”. I’d look over that stuff and see if you can find information that will help you tell if your wife has a real addiction. It can be a serious problem. But from what info. you have given we don’t know if she has a problem or if you just feel bored.
    You said : “I don’t like sitting around doing nothing while she’s in a raid.” Why would you just be “sitting around” when she’s doing a raid? Don’t you have other things you can do in your life when your wife is busy? Honestly this kinda makes it seem like you want to be together a lot more than she needs or expects. Thats not bad at all, don’t get me wrong. But the problem could just be unequal expectations for ‘together time’ between you and her.

    Here’s my idea: You and your wife both write down 2 numbers on a piece of paper. One is how many hours you two should spend each week doing things actively together. The 2nd number is how many hours you should spend playing WoW. Then compare notes. If you think you should be together 30 hours and play Wow 10 hours and she thinks 10 hours together and 30 hours playing WoW then you have a serious disconnect in expectations. But if you have similar numbers… then maybe you just need to get yourself a hobby.

    Q8 : Really sounds like your mother in law can not afford that house. I mean is this a woman with a $12/hr job and a $500k house or something??? Why not sell it? I don’t see any reason to kill oneself working 80+ hours a week just to keep a house you really can’t afford.

    I seriously doubt a bank will just reverse their HAMP denial like Trent suggests. I guess worst case you can do is waste your time to try and ask but I doubt its worth the effort.

    If the bank was willing to refinance once then that implies theres some equity in the home and she is reasonably good chance of refinancing again.

    I would recommend she shop around for a refinance to get down to 4.x% range. Also ask about doing a cash out refinance to get the $10-20k to remodel the basement. Combined these two could potentially slash her payments considerably.

    Lets guess she has a $300k loan today and her payments including tax is $2200 a month with the 5.75% rate. If she refinances to 4.2% and wraps $25k more into principal to cover remodel and refinance costs that would give her a payment of $1900 and then a tenant paying $1000 rent. Thats a net change of $1300 per month which is a lot of overtime hours she won’t have to work.

    So yes, refinancing and getting a tenant is probably a good idea for her if she really really has to keep this house.

    But I think she’d be better just selling the house and stop killing herself trying to keep a home she can not afford.

  35. Tara C says:

    Q1: you need to delay this move to Honduras… you do not have anywhere near the amount of money in emergency funds to make such a move. No funds for medical treatments? I would not consider such a move without at least $20,000 in the bank, and NO debts.

  36. ChrisD says:

    Q10 I don’t understand what will really change when we have a baby.

    I read a great book about this, ‘what mothers do; especially when it looks like nothing’ by Naomi Stadlen (herself a mother and a counselor for mothers groups).

    The gist is that a young mother is working IMMENSELY hard but all the work is invisible and can only be seen months or years later when you have a well brought up child with no mental traumas. If you have not been a mother you have no idea of what goes into bring up a baby and this book explains some of it. The main idea is that without words to describe the HUGE amount of work done even the mother, never mind bystanders, may completely underestimate what is required. When the mother underestimates the work she is doing it is easier to get depressed because you feel like you are spending the whole day getting nothing done, when really you are working harder than you ever have in your life.

    Another author described a hypothetical job where you have to work 24/7 for a year and then you get $1million. Obviously you would turn down that job as no one can work that hard, yet every mother does work (very nearly) that hard. By that argument $1million worth of man hours goes in to making a one year old.

  37. kristine says:

    valleycat- what a great point! My hubby is useless with small children but has strong, deep, loving, and intellectually charged relationship with both of my teen children. It is so true- you will relate better or worse at different ages.

    One other thing- do not discount the possibility of post- partum depression. It is real, and devastating to the mom, and dangerous. If you think it is more than mild baby blues and sleep deprivation, seek help, immediately.

  38. Henry says:

    Q7- Donny – I don’t really have any useful information for you because I’ve never been in that situation, but I recommend that you both watch “The Guild” (web show about members of a MMO Guild). Perhaps that could be a starting point for you to do something with her to relate and help relate more to her hobby and I’m sure as a gamer she will enjoy the jokes. Perhaps you could use that common ground to bring up concerns you have. Be sure not to attack her for her game playing, phrase the conversation about how it is affecting you and the relationship (use more “me” and “our” words rather than “you”).

  39. Kevin says:

    The common observation here seems to be that “babies change everything.” Personally, I don’t *want* to change anything. I really like my life the way it is right now. We get tons of sleep, we can go out and do whatever we want, whenever we want, we both have jobs so we have a ton of disposable income, we get to travel (did Hawaii last fall, leaving for a Mediterannean cruise in 2 weeks), our house stays tidy – why would I want to change any of that and be at the beck and call of some screaming, smelly, helpless being?

    To those of you who say having a baby changes your life completely: were you unhappy with your life BEFORE you had the baby? Why did you WANT to “change your life completely?” Do you think it might have been possible to change your life and find happiness in some other way, besides making an 18-year commitment to living in service to another human?

  40. Baley says:

    @Kevin #39: Why would you want to change the life you love? You don’t have to, if that’s the way you feel about it. :) Nobody’s forcing you to have a baby. If those are the things you love, then a baby is going to get in the way.

    I liked my life before I had my baby, but that didn’t stop me from wanting children. Children bring other joys, other great things, and yes, a lot of extra work. Can you not grasp the concept that some people want to have children? Why should we “change our life and find happiness in some other way”? I guess I’m not sure what you’re asking. No, some people won’t want to give up their current lifestyle, but others feel like the change (even the negative parts) is worth it. I suppose we could all just be happy where we are, but then no one would procreate. :)

  41. lurker carl says:

    Kevin, life in an orderly society is all about living in service to others. If it wasn’t, you’d never get to travel or acquire tons of disposable income or have a tidy house to live in or have food to eat. Think Mad Max or Somolia – everyone for themselves.

    And if everyone stopped having children, well, I think you know the eventual outcome. You may love your life as it is right now but I guarantee it won’t last. Both you and your life will change, having a small army of loving helpers one, two and three generations younger is a blessing as you age. Family is highly underrated.

  42. Jonathan says:

    Kevin brings up a very good point here. I don’t think that he is trying to convince others not to have babies, but he is asking a very good question. The type of question that should start a useful discussion on the topic.

    I am in the same situation as Kevin in that I am happy with my current life and have no desire to turn it upside down by doing something that “changes everything”.

    Do most people who have kids think about it in the terms that Kevin proposes? From what I have observed, most people are more likely to say something along the lines of “I am happy with my life. I want kids” rather than “I am happy with my life. Kids change everything. I want to change everything about my life, even though I am happy with how it is now”.

    I would love to hear some input from parents who were happy with their life before having kids, yet made the decision to have kids, knowing it would change the happy life they had created. Did you think it would make you happier with your life? Or did you suspect it would make you less happy, but you felt there were benefits to having kids that outweighed that change?

  43. Kevin says:

    Thanks, Jonathan, you’re exactly right. I’m not trying to convince people not to have kids, but rather I’m trying to understand the motivation for having them in the first place.

    I sincerely do not understand why anyone would want to put themselves through that. Moreover, I’m convinced that deep down, most parents regret having kids. I believe they were “sold” on the idea of parenthood by other parents, because misery loves company. They bought into the propaganda, and by the time they realized what a bad deal it was, it was too late. So they can either complain, or try to convince themselves that they never really liked being well-rested anyway.

    I think parenthood is one of the greatest marketing snow-jobs in history. Obviously, SOMEONE has to have kids, but I think a huge portion of people go into parenthood expecting it to be something it’s not. Not every kid is an obedient, loving, thoughtful productive member of society. Every homeless drug addict out there is someone’s kid. Everyone in prison is someone’s kid. Every “problem child,” every Autistic/Turette’s/ADHD high-maintenance person is someone’s kid. It’s not all rainbows and lollipops.

    I just don’t get it.

  44. Jonathan says:

    I posted a link a day or two ago to a recent NPR story, but of course it is stuck in moderation, and likely will be forever. The story was about the unwillingness of many parents to admit how hard caring for a baby can be. The implication is that those preparing to have a child are misinformed and make the decision based on false expectations because their friends are unwilling to be honest about what parenthood is really like. One of the points that was made is that admitting that parenting is hard is perceived as not loving the child, so parents tend to act like everything is great.

  45. RobinH says:

    @Kevin #39:
    The answer to why people want kids is basically neurochemisty. People want kids because they are wired to reproduce. A majority of people want kids because the kind of people who want kids tend to have them, and the kind of people who don’t want kids don’t pass on their genes. If you (as it sounds) are lacking the emotional ‘need to reproduce’–well it’s easy to see why it looks like a crazy thing to do.

    And it’s quite true that if nobody had kids, society would be in trouble. But. The idea that ‘if everyone stopped’ = ‘if one couple chooses not to have kids’ is completely bogus. Some people have more than two, some don’t have any.

    My husband and I are happily childfree. We will not be contributing our genes to posterity, it’s true, but we are socially responsible in other ways. That’s our choice, and we don’t regret it. And we are not alone–google ‘childfree’ and you’ll find there are a lot of other people out there.

    That having been said- if you had kids anyway, you’d likely find that your feelings had changed. That’s because the act of having children triggers all sorts of neurochemical reactions that affect emotion and bonding. My mother always told me, ‘you’d feel differently about children if you had them’, and I don’t doubt her for a moment. Personally, I find the idea of hormones screwing with my head so drastically rather creepy, but hey, that’s me.

  46. Patsy says:

    I was not married until nearly 40, and though many women are having their first child in their 40s, my husband and I felt we did not want to start a family that late in life. Ours was the first marriage for each of us, neither of us had a child previously. But, he has 11 brothers and sisters, I have 4, so lots of nieces and nephews and greats to love and play with and then send home. Would I like to have had my own? Yes, if I had married younger, but I did not and did not want to be a single parent. We have poured our time and money into my husband finishing his bachelor’s and master’s degrees and spending 18 years as a drug and alcohol counselor, which he would not have been able to do if we had children. We have also been able to help many of both his and my nieces and nephews financially and emotionally during their growing up years since we have room in our lives and hearts for other kids. We did miss out on our own kids, but love having others in our lives.

  47. liz says:

    See, and I think that the media overplays the idea that parenting young children is SO HARD. (I know that some people have sick infants, and their experience is going to be different.) Young babies sleep most of the time. It’s not a constant cycle of eating, barfing, pooping, and sleep deprivation for 18 years.

    I think if you follow all the contemporary advice on parenting, yeah, it is going to be way harder than necessary. Your kids don’t need to be actively engaged in something “enriching” 24/7. They don’t need to be hauled to a dozen different activities. You don’t need all the crap that the stores insist you “need for baby!”. Yes, you will spend more money on the baby than before you had a kid. No, it will not be nearly as expensive as the media likes to make it out to be, unless you really insist on only paying top-dollar for everything.

    Most of the parents I meet just need to flippin’ relax and not take it all so seriously!

    True, your kid could grow up to be a drug addict. Or, he could grow up to be a doctor. More than likely, he’ll grow up to be a regular guy that works in one of those big, anonymous office complexes you pass driving down the highway.

    As far as why I wanted to change my life completely, I really don’t have a good answer other than “I just wanted a kid”. I wanted a family of my own. I had a good partner, we had an ok amount of money, we seemed to be on the same page as far as values, so we had a kid. I had my son the week before my 36th birthday, so I spent a long time as a childless person, and knew what that life had to offer. It was nice, but I wanted something different. I have changed a lot as a person since having my child, and I think those changes are positive. I am more patient, I don’t take myself so seriously. I am better at stepping outside myself and considering some one else’s view point now. I am not saying you can only accomplish that by having a child; of course not! But these were pleasant “side effects” of raising my son.

    Overall, the experience so far is great. Yes, I know, whatever stage is coming next is always ominously called “the hard stage!”. We’ll figure it out; it will be ok. I’ve certainly put in more effort for less worthwhile endeavors in life!

  48. Baley says:

    Kevin and Jonathan, you’re right in that some people go into parenthood not understanding what’s involved (actually, probably 100% of parents don’t know beforehand exactly how much work/trouble/headache having children will be). But people who choose to become parents accept that responsibility and change because of what they get in return. I knew it would be hard, but boy was it a lot harder than I thought it would be (and I have a lot more to learn, since my baby is only 4.5 months old!!). BUT I also didn’t realize how AMAZING having a child can be. I love my daughter more than anyone in the world. (My husband and I agree that we love her more than each other – we can’t help it – and we love each other a lot!!) Even though she’s only 4 months old, she brings such joy into our lives. And I would guess that people with special needs kids feel the same way about their children, as well. Until you have them, you wouldn’t understand.

    I chose to have kids, not because I was unhappy with my life, but because I wanted to share my happy life with children. I did anticipate some of the benefits as well as some of the hardships, but I just knew I wanted to do it. I think parents are allowed to regret their decision from time to time, too, but for me at least it is a blessing over all.

    Kevin, it’s very cynical of you to say that “deep down, most parents regret having children.” Where do you get your information? Are you just assuming that because you would regret it? I really don’t think you’re right. But we’ll never know, because no matter how much I say, “Ask parents and they’ll tell you they don’t regret it,” you’ll come back with, “They’re just not admitting what they feel deep down,” and neither of us will be able to prove what parents feel “deep down,” so I guess it an un-winnable argument. :)

  49. cherie says:

    I just wanted to make an observation – for the reader with a struggling mother-in-law: in many areas zoning forbids the kind of rental that he is considering. Particularly in basements [here it is illegal regardless of zoning because it is dangerous].

    I know many people do these things. I also know that folks generally look the other way . . . HOWEVER if someone does report the apartment [more likely because it would be a new rental - people will notice and maybe not like it!] if it were here she would be required to take out many of the improvements she just spent money to put in, as well as pay fines and lose the tenant etc.

    It may be perfectly fine where you are, but you need to check!

  50. jim says:

    Liz, You say your baby slept through the night before 2 months. That is definitely NOT average.

    From Babycenter website : “Some infants as young as 3 months old can snooze for six to eight hours at a stretch. Others won’t sleep this long until they’re 12 months. But most babies (70 percent) do sleep through the night by the time they hit 9 months, according to the National Sleep Foundation.”

    So you can see that a full 30% of babies don’t even sleep through the night by 9 months and only “some” infants do so by 3 months. If your child did so by 2 months they were certainly in a small minority.

    10% of babies have colic which means they cry (scream) for 3 or more hours daily for 2-4 months.

    No, the whole world is not lying about how hard babies are. It seems that your baby is not as hard as most at least in this respect and I am guessing they may be easier in many other ways too. Its also not about how great of a parent someone is. I know people who have one baby who has colic and the other baby is quiet and content. You can even have twins that are different that way.

    Your experience is different and that doesn’t mean everyone is lying about how hard it is.

  51. Liz says:

    @Jim, of course, every baby is different, you are right.

    I never said, and certainly did not intend to imply that my outstanding parenting skills have created a miracle child. :). Like most kids, he is ahead of the curve in some ways, behind the curve in others.

    But by your own statistics, 90% of babies AREN’T collicky, and arent gong to scream nn-stop for months. Because 10% of parents have a really hard experience doesnt mean the other 90% are necessarily going to have a hard time as well. And agan, by your statistics, 70% of babies are sleeping through the night by 9 months. The sleepness nights are finite. My beef with the media that only talks about the hard aspects of parenting is that it is overly cynical, and acts as if you will never, ever sleep again, as long as you live, and you will be covered in vomit and excrement the whole zombie like time, for 18 bankrupt years, the end! There is a whole range of experience between “parenting is a breeze!” and “parenting is a regrettable nightmare!”.

  52. bogart says:

    @Kevin I definitely don’t think people who don’t want kids should have them, and I thought yours was a reasonable question. I desperately wanted kids, am phenomenally grateful I got to have one, and still find he turns my life rather topsy-turvy, not necessarily in good ways. I think the thing is this — being a parent is 24/7 and you’ve got to deal with all the ages. You don’t just get to say, “Geez, we’ve been at this for 50 weeks, can I have a couple off?” or “I’m not really good with preschoolers — come back in junior high,” or whatever. And most of us (parents) really aren’t equally great/enthusiastic about all ages and phases and moments. But on the other hand while I don’t deny there are significant parts of it that vary from tedious to maddening, I really wouldn’t give up the opportunity to be a parent for, well, anything.

    I see parents posting on message boards who say that they “don’t want to miss a single moment” of their kid’s childhood and I think, “Really? Because I can name 5 in my kid’s morning I’d have happily missed.” And for the record, I’ve got a pretty happy, healthy (touch wood) easy-going kid.

    But I did reach a point in my life where I’d travel (to pick up on something you’d mention) and think, “Eh. Another breathtakingly beautiful [fill in the blank -- waterfall, gothic cathedral].” Having a child to share and explore with has for me brought a novel and exciting joy to even otherwise mundane spots. But that’s not to say you’ll experience either the boredness I was nor that you’d find the same joy — just that that’s where I was. There was plenty I didn’t want to change, but important ways in which I did.

  53. Georgia says:

    I married at 26 and did not care if I had children or not. I had been raised in a large family and had babysat a lot. So, I knew the good and bad of childhood. I knew I would be a good mother if I became pregnant, but just wasn’t into the idea. However, my husband was deeply into have children.

    As luck would have it, I looked at the preacher, said “I do” and got pregnant. Just kidding. But it was that quick. I even came 3 weeks early per the doctor. Had to prove it for insurance back in the 60′s. 2 1/2 years later, same thing. Stopped bc and got pregnant immediately.

    I was right. I was a good mother. I was extremely lucky with my children, though I often teased my son and said if he had been born first, we wouldn’t have had a second one. He was that hard headed. Later I even wanted 2 more, but by then my husband knew he did not want more than our two.

    I was also lucky in that both my children slept all night long by the time they were one month old. My daughter would wake up an hour later than normal (3 a.m. instead of 2 a.m.) and the doctor said to let her wait 15 minutes or half an hour for her feeding. Worked like a charm. So I did the same thing with my son. No problems.

    My children are now 47 and 44 and the most loving people I know, especially to me. And I have trouble believing that I actually raised 2 such smart, wise cracking kids. Must have taken after their father – smart, funny and hard headed.

  54. jim says:

    Liz, OK. My point is that you’re at one end of the spectrum in your experience with an apparently exceptionally mellow baby. So you really have no reason to don’t be judgmental and annoyed that other people say that the experience isn’t as easy as you had it. Many more people have a much harder time. Don’t dismiss that as ‘the media’ exaggerating things. Just be thankful your baby has been so easy. Nobody is saying babies scream and poop for 18 years straight either.

  55. Robin S says:

    Q3 – Be careful with your math. Your service provider may only apply the discount to the primary account holder’s phone/account as well. So if your bill is $100 together, then his is $50 and you’ll only realize a savings of $13 a month. Probably still worth it, but don’t be surprised if the savings doesn’t affect the whole bill (it doesn’t with my service provider).

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