Updated on 08.15.11

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: School Days Edition

Trent Hamm

My oldest child starts kindergarten tomorrow. Our next child starts formal preschool tomorrow, too.

They were babies just a short time ago, but they’re now progressing into the world, moving into their own independence. Frankly, it’s awesome.

How We Didn’t Save Money with Our Babies The real story is that breastfeeding doesn’t work for everyone, even though it is a strong money-saving (and healthy) tactic. (@ minting nickels)

How to Donate a Car I donated the first car I ever owned. Well, actually, I gave it to my uncle for spare parts as he ran a junkyard. (@ bargaineering)

Why Tracking Your Net Worth Is So Overrated The real issue is why you are tracking your net worth. What’s the purpose of it? What does it gain you? For me, it’s simply a reminder that I’m spending less than I earn every interval. (@ len penzo)

How to Make Cleaning a Habit: 10 Tips I like that the principles here don’t just apply to cleaning. They apply to any positive habit one might want to build. (@ pick the brain)

Exercises for the Terminally Busy For my birthday, I received a copy of You Are Your Own Gym, which focuses on the same idea of using just your own body (and the weight of it) as complete body exercise equipment. This makes it very easy to work out pretty much wherever you are. A similar idea can be seen in this video of Mike Rowe doing “burpees.” (@ zen habits)

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  1. Johanna says:

    Don’t understand the net worth article. “Paper millionaires” struggling to make ends meet? Who are these people? I guess if you’re counting a ton of imaginary home equity in your net worth, you could be in trouble, but I don’t think so many people are doing that anymore. And “financial freedom requires minimal net worth”? Not if you want to retire someday.

    I can think of a couple of real reasons why tracking your net worth could lead to problems. There’s the aforementioned point about imaginary home equity. And there’s the danger that you could freak out over temporary swings in stock prices, and do something stupid like sell at the bottom and miss the recovery rally.

  2. Emma Skinner says:

    Well done Trent and the young man – I have been reading this blog on and off since he was small and enjoy seeing the family progress. Best of luck to you all and may the boy have half your wisdom Trent, he will be well off.

  3. Joanna says:

    The other real story is that unless breastfeeding goes well and you’re planning on staying at home w/ baby (e.g. don’t need an expensive double electric pump & all its supplies), breastfeeding actually isn’t cheaper than formula. Don’t get me wrong, I wholeheartedly support it as formula has proven increased health risks for both baby and mom and breastmilk is what God intended baby to eat. BUT, I’d estimate we’ve spent at least $800 between pump, pumping supplies, bottles, mothers milk tea to improve supply, and lactation consultant and doctor visits (to fix tongue tie as well as upcoming speech pathologist visits to help LO open wide enough to latch). And that’s in the first 6 weeks of life. Granted most of the costs are fixed so from here on out we should have limited costs but breastfeeding is anything but “free”.

  4. Daina says:

    I have a little girl who will be two in a few weeks. When she was born, if you’d have told me she’d be a walking, talking little spirit of a child someday, I’d have said, “What, MY tiny babe? Never!” But here she is and I LOVE watching her grow!

  5. Brian Carr says:

    I’m one of those people who constantly track their net worth, but I’m also someone who likes to see progress in very small, measured steps. By checking up on things every week or so, I get to see my incremental progress. Some people may thing this is annoying, I find it to be encouraging.

  6. Adam P says:

    I think the danger of looking at net worth is indeed tied to looking at illiquid assets like home equity and retirement accounts.

    If you look at these and they go up because of the markets or housing booms etc (in Toronto, the housing market never crashed and is in a huge bubble according to most people); your overall net worth could go up every month even if you are spending more than you are earning at your job.

    Over time, you may start buildilng considerable consumer debt but have an over all net worth that is positive. Suddenly the bubble bursts or the market crashes, and you’re struggling to make ends meet.

    Of course, even if it never crashes you could have a cashflow problem in the short and medium turn because your debt payments require too much of your income to service and you can’t sell your house or your retirement funds easily.

  7. Johanna says:

    I like to track my net worth too. But I’m at the point where most of the week-to-week changes are due to things beyond my control. If the stock market goes down 10% in a week, or even 1%, then my net worth goes down, no matter how much of my income I save. I’m at the point where I can keep my cool when things like that happen, but I wasn’t always, and that’s now stupid investing mistakes get made.

    I’m not saying don’t track your net worth, just be careful.

  8. ben says:

    I like to track our net worth using the method that Trent has outlined before where I count our mortgage as a debt, but I don’t consider my home an asset at all. I know this isn’t the strict definition of net worth, but its a more realistic snapshot of how we’re doing with saving and debt reduction.

    I’ve done it for nearly two years now and it’s really cool to scroll in the spreadsheet from left to right to watch the progress, as Brian mentioned, it’s motivating to see the progress on a regular basis.

  9. Roberta says:

    I am concerned that all this bad press about the difficulties and expenses of breastfeeding are just going to make more women reluctant to even think about doing it. The article you linked to and the previous comment here left me flabbergasted, and saddened, in a way.

    My mother breastfed the five of us (1950’s and 60’s) in a day and age when “modern” women had all gone to formula because it was free, and she never had a single problem with it. I just assumed that I would breastfeed my children and I did (four boys born 1989 – 1999)for nine months or more. I had to go back to work after six weeks maternity leave with each of them and had one job where I traveled regularly, but it didn’t stop me. I didn’t buy some high speed electric pump, dozens of fancy bottles, special foods, or consult with any special doctors either. I just fed them on demand when I wasn’t at work, took a good multivitamin and drank lots of water and used a hand pump – in some pretty yucky places, too (mostly the bathroom at work), and froze milk for when I had to travel. Being a breastfeeding (Army officer) professional was just too much information for my male counterparts at the time, many of whom had trouble dealing with a female contemporary, let alone one who procreated. I swear, I’m starting to feel like a cranky old geezer or something, but you young people with all your fancy stuff… You’re just making this way too hard, and expensive, and complicated. It’s really not. I guess I should have seen it coming when the three women who worked for me (all 10 years younger than me too) and I all had babies the same year and none of them breastfed because it was gross, or too hard, or you couldn’t be sure the babies got enough to eat, and they couldn’t understand how I could do it. Mine were all over 8 pounds at birth, are all over 6 feet tall now, and sure don’t look malnourished to me. And my OBs and their staff were never surprised when I was back down to prepregnant weight and into prepregnant clothes at that first 6 week postpartum checkup – mine all ate like little hogs and the weight just fell off. It does help to have a supportive partner – mine always thought it was pretty cool to watch, and wasn’t jealous at all (which some husbands are) and really liked the fact that he got to sleep while I did all those nighttime feedings.

    I don’t understand the issues some parents have had with it, and certainly don’t mean to offend anyone. I do suggest that while you are pregnant you read one good book like the one put out by the La Leche League, and find one mom and ask her to show you how to get the baby to latch on. A little patience helps too – after all, it’s a new skill for both mother and baby.

  10. Cortney says:

    Roberta, THANK YOU. I don’t have children, but I have to say, the excuses people come up with to not breastfeed are legion, and often petty. I’m not talking about single moms that have no paid maternity leave and have to go back to work, I’m talking about so many SAHM’s I know who flat out didn’t even try, or tried for a week or two and gave up, mostly for petty reasons about being so inconvenience- um, you’re a SAHM. Part of your JOB is taking care of/feeding your children. People complain constantly about the cost of formula, but so many of those same people don’t even try to breast feed, or quit a week or two in.

    I’m of the opinion that where there is an option for something easier, most people will take it. And if something is a priority to you, you should commit to making it happen. I guarantee you that all of these women who say that “breastfeeding was too hard” would probably have found a way to work it out if they didn’t have the option of formula.

    Formula is absolutely necessary for some women who cannot produce milk, or for babies with allergies, or, as I said, for extreme situations where there is 0 support. But all of the “oh, I had to give up cheese and that was hard, so, you know, I just quit breastfeeding” is pretty silly to me.

  11. Cortney says:

    *being so inconvenienced

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