Author Topic: House issues, baby, and the stash  (Read 3243 times)

Shooter_D

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House issues, baby, and the stash
« on: March 08, 2017, 09:14:29 AM »
Hi mustachians,

Background: I'm looking for some ideas and some help with a plan of action for addressing some issues that the next year will bring. My SO and I are in our early 30s, with a baby in the making, due in September. We are building our stash, saving about 40-50% per year. We are also stashing some cash to help with baby costs when I am on a year of maternity leave (starting Sept '07). Our savings rate next year will decline because my income will be reduced due to receiving maternity benefits instead of my regular paycheck. We bought a house last year as well, and have been doing some lump sum and increased accelerated payments. We haven't done major renovations, just some aesthetic updates. The house was built in '42 and while it was well cared for and maintained, it has presented us with some issues.

Main Problem: We had a sewer backup last weekend which damaged some of the walls and subfloor and helped us discover some plumbing issues we should take care of. Some issues will hopefully be fixed by insurance (we are hoping for a sufficient settlement), which will include replacing the walls in half the basement, and replacing the subfloor and flooring throughout the basement. Things that won't be covered: replacing wall in other half of basement (currently it's fake wood paneling circa 1970), replacing shower, toilet and a cabinet. We will probably pay some extra cash to up the quality of the carpet and have drywall installed instead of paneling. Since the subfloor was removed, another issue came up which was a flood that insurance won't cover, likely having to do with an old window or weeping tile/foundation issue. It is currently hidden by the only part of the basement that hasn't been removed, the stairs. To access and figure out what is going on here, we will likely have to remove the stairs, the last bit of subfloor, and paneling in this area. My SO and his dad could likely do this work, but to actually fix the problem we may have to bring in professionals to address the leaking/replace windows/etc.

Things I'm thinking will bring the basement back to service, hopefully in time for baby, but will be our expense:
- replacing shower, toilet, and re-plumbing the shower so it drains to waste sewer line instead of our sump hole (where the first flood originated) (not sure of the cost on this)
- upgrades to carpeting/flooring (~$1300), and wall (drywall instead of paneling in damaged half of basement)
- fixing the foundation issue (I need to first know what is causing this...window, foundation crack, weeping tile issues, etc.) (Thinking of having a few companies come in to check this out and provide some quotes)
- replacing paneling in relatively un-damaged half the basement with drywall (though this is the basement half with the newly discovered leak)
- further updates to basement (e.g., lighting, adding exhaust fan in bathroom, replacing old windows)
- fix other house issues... We have an insulation issue that needs to be fixed, and since baby will be sleeping upstairs, I was thinking of trying to do this this year. We could likely qualify for some discounts from our natural gas company.

Why I'm posting about this...
- I'm looking for advice from people who may have had issues like this?
- Would you put off some of these things to keep building up the stash the year before your income will be cut drastically, or take care of all these issues while you're both still making good money and likely have the cash accessible to do all this stuff?
- Is there a mustachian way to go about this? We may be able to get help from my FIL, and put in some of our own work to cut down some of the costs, but there will still be big ticket items like some plumbing and foundation/weeping tile help.
- Does anyone have experience with below floor drains in a basement vs. new weeping tile along the outside of the foundation?

Thanks for getting through it if you've been reading, and I appreciate any feedback!

Cheers!

PJ

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Re: House issues, baby, and the stash
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2017, 07:21:29 PM »
Hi Shooter_D,

I see lots of people have read your post, but no comments yet.  This will bump it back up to the top and we'll see if anyone else chimes in.  If you haven't already, you might want to think about taking specific questions about the DIY aspect of the work that needs to be done over into the DIY section of the forums.

Anyway, I've not been in your position, either in terms of the sewer/plumbing stuff, or having a baby.  Congratulations, by the way! 

But I'm wondering whether you guys have started to plan out what your mat leave budget will look like?  Are there economies that you'll be able to implement (gas, insurance because of driving less, cooking more at home, etc.)?  If you want to stay within your reduced income, do you need to make any other sacrifices (cutting cable, eliminating lawn care)?  With your saving level, it sounds like you've probably got things pretty well optimized, but there may still be some things that haven't been examined from the "reduced income" perspective!

Have you also started to plan your budget for baby needs?  There have been multiple forum threads about what you really need for babies, that would be a good resource, and the general gist seems to be that babies don't have to be as expensive as some people seem to think.  You can even post a question in Mini Money Mustaches section for help.  Also, start thinking through what you will say when people ask about what you want as baby or baby shower gifts.  I know I've seen a few people post talking about returning cute newborn outfits they've received as gifts, to get the store credit to buy diapers and other more practical items.

Anyway, I bring up the budgeting and pre-planning for the upcoming time when baby arrives, because it's difficult to know how to answer your specific questions (should we go ahead with the work now or preserve cash for when baby arrives) without knowing more about your financial situation.  My instinct, with sewage/plumbing/leaky basements is to get it done, because of how insidious water damage can be, and how mold issues can affect health, especially in a fragile newborn.  But to what extent you take that (simply finding and fixing the source of the old water damage, versus nicely re-finishing your basement) requires, I think, more information about your financial situation than you've shared.

Hope some more folks will weigh in with their thoughts now that I've got the ball rolling, and good luck!

chemistk

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Re: House issues, baby, and the stash
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2017, 06:04:34 AM »
I can't speak for the actual advice on how to deal with some of those issues - I'll leave that to someone handier than I. I will say that from my limited experience, you might want to take care of the weeping tile/floor drain issue professionally unless whomever will be working on it actually knows what they're doing (even if it just means taking some time to properly research it & become comfortable with what needs to be done). If you end up doing the work yourself, you should establish a cutoff point where you would bring in a professional if the task is too overwhelming.

As for the rest of the renovations - I would highly recommend doing them now, before the baby, if they are renovations that you truly want to do. When I was very young, my parents had great ambitions for fixing/renovating areas of their house. My brothers and I were infants/toddlers and it was a lot of work for them. As we got older, free time became scarcer, and now decades later those unfinished projects are still waiting to be completed. Having a child of my own, I can say that when he was an infant I preferred spending time with him over doing chores around the house.

I bet you could come up with an effective budget/timeline for the work that would minimally affect your 'stash.

Laura33

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Re: House issues, baby, and the stash
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2017, 06:37:09 AM »
My instinct, with sewage/plumbing/leaky basements is to get it done, because of how insidious water damage can be, and how mold issues can affect health, especially in a fragile newborn.  But to what extent you take that (simply finding and fixing the source of the old water damage, versus nicely re-finishing your basement) requires, I think, more information about your financial situation than you've shared.

What PJ said.  If you have an active leak, that is continuing to damage your home and will only make it less safe to live in and more costly to fix.  I would put finding and fixing the leak as an immediate "need."  I would also strongly recommend figuring out any foundation issues before you put any money into cosmetic fixes -- that is also a need, although if the foundation is generally sound, it is not as immediate as the leak.

Fixing up the basement otherwise is a "want."  So the real question is where it falls in your list of other wants, and only you can decide that.  Do you actually need to use the basement as a playroom or guestroom, because you have a small house and will truly need to use that space when baby comes?  In that event, I think chemistk has it right -- get it done now, if that will leave you sufficient savings to make you feel comfortable with your upcoming decreased budget.  If it's just a "while we're at it" thing, though ("well, we have this damage and this insurance payout, so while we're at it let's get rid of the wood paneling and get this thing fixed up"), then I'd probably postpone it entirely -- if you haven't minded the basement until this point, then you probably won't mind it going forward. 

But, again, YMMV -- this is all personal.  For me, I was scared of the budget when I had my first baby -- DH had just been laid off and we had moved for another job, I had just gone to part-time telecommuting from a different state, and I had no idea how any of that was going to work out just with those change, much less how much I'd really be able to work after the baby arrived!  So I naturally wanted to clamp down on any unnecessary spending until I had more certainty about what our budget was really going to be.  That may sound similar to how you are feeling, or you may be in a completely different place -- maybe for you the nesting feeling is kicking in, and you really feel compelled to get your house in order (literally).  You have had a healthy savings rate, so you can probably afford to indulge that feeling to some extent if that is what is driving you.  The key is to figure out what level of "getting stuff done" vs. "savings" is going to make you feel comfortable going into this big life change.  So do what PJ said and figure out a reasonable post-baby budget, which will tell you what your cash flow and savings will be.  And that will then give you actual facts to base your decision on.

In terms of doing it, there is nothing better than figuring out how to do as much as possible yourself.  Yes, hire experts as the engineers and for the things that can kill you.  :-)  But otherwise, learn from relatives with experience, watch YouTube instructionals, etc. -- there's no secret formula, you just have to jump in and start figuring it out.  Every skill you build now is an investment that will pay dividends your entire life. 

And congratulations!

Shooter_D

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Re: House issues, baby, and the stash
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2017, 09:21:01 AM »
Hi Shooter_D,

I see lots of people have read your post, but no comments yet.  This will bump it back up to the top and we'll see if anyone else chimes in.  If you haven't already, you might want to think about taking specific questions about the DIY aspect of the work that needs to be done over into the DIY section of the forums.

Anyway, I've not been in your position, either in terms of the sewer/plumbing stuff, or having a baby.  Congratulations, by the way!

Thanks so much! 


But I'm wondering whether you guys have started to plan out what your mat leave budget will look like?  Are there economies that you'll be able to implement (gas, insurance because of driving less, cooking more at home, etc.)?  If you want to stay within your reduced income, do you need to make any other sacrifices (cutting cable, eliminating lawn care)?  With your saving level, it sounds like you've probably got things pretty well optimized, but there may still be some things that haven't been examined from the "reduced income" perspective!

Have you also started to plan your budget for baby needs?  There have been multiple forum threads about what you really need for babies, that would be a good resource, and the general gist seems to be that babies don't have to be as expensive as some people seem to think.  You can even post a question in Mini Money Mustaches section for help.  Also, start thinking through what you will say when people ask about what you want as baby or baby shower gifts.  I know I've seen a few people post talking about returning cute newborn outfits they've received as gifts, to get the store credit to buy diapers and other more practical items.


We have started thinking about budgeting for baby. We are each saving enough monthly so that we have about $500 toward baby expenses each month of maternity leave. This includes things like formula (though I'm hoping to breast feed), clothes or miscellaneous things, diapers and wipes, contributions toward education savings, etc. I'm hoping I will be able to reduce grocery bills a bit when I have more time to plan for meals and cook. Food is one of my indulgences, or eat least not holding too close to my grocery list sometimes results in a big of spendyness. My DH works out of town weekly so I will still be using a vehicle, but I think my car use will be similar to what it is now, possibly less. Right now we are also putting some extra money toward our mortgage, so that can stop for next year.

Anyway, I bring up the budgeting and pre-planning for the upcoming time when baby arrives, because it's difficult to know how to answer your specific questions (should we go ahead with the work now or preserve cash for when baby arrives) without knowing more about your financial situation.  My instinct, with sewage/plumbing/leaky basements is to get it done, because of how insidious water damage can be, and how mold issues can affect health, especially in a fragile newborn.  But to what extent you take that (simply finding and fixing the source of the old water damage, versus nicely re-finishing your basement) requires, I think, more information about your financial situation than you've shared.

Hope some more folks will weigh in with their thoughts now that I've got the ball rolling, and good luck!

This definitely makes a lot of sense. These basement issues are keeping me up at night (or is that hormones???), but I think with some help from family and some work by contractors in the summer we will be able to resolve most of them and not take too giant a financial hit. I would take a hit though to know things are going to be fixed properly.

Shooter_D

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Re: House issues, baby, and the stash
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2017, 09:25:54 AM »
I can't speak for the actual advice on how to deal with some of those issues - I'll leave that to someone handier than I. I will say that from my limited experience, you might want to take care of the weeping tile/floor drain issue professionally unless whomever will be working on it actually knows what they're doing (even if it just means taking some time to properly research it & become comfortable with what needs to be done). If you end up doing the work yourself, you should establish a cutoff point where you would bring in a professional if the task is too overwhelming.

Thanks so much for your comment! This is very good advice. DH does not have much experience with big house DIY things... We do have some family that does though and they are interested in helping out. The weeping tile issues (which are contributing to the floor drain issues) are definitely something we want to have done professionally with excavating, weeping tile updating, and some kind of blue wrap I keep hearing about...

As for the rest of the renovations - I would highly recommend doing them now, before the baby, if they are renovations that you truly want to do. When I was very young, my parents had great ambitions for fixing/renovating areas of their house. My brothers and I were infants/toddlers and it was a lot of work for them. As we got older, free time became scarcer, and now decades later those unfinished projects are still waiting to be completed. Having a child of my own, I can say that when he was an infant I preferred spending time with him over doing chores around the house.

I bet you could come up with an effective budget/timeline for the work that would minimally affect your 'stash.

These really got started last weekend with some demolition work to get half of the basement finished. We have a pretty solid commitment from my FIL to help with the subfloor, drywall and the help would be amazing. I am somewhat prepared for things to take longer than planned though, and I could conceivably close the door on the basement and still get most of my neccessary tasks done upstairs.

Shooter_D

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Re: House issues, baby, and the stash
« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2017, 02:41:19 PM »

Fixing up the basement otherwise is a "want."  So the real question is where it falls in your list of other wants, and only you can decide that.  Do you actually need to use the basement as a playroom or guestroom, because you have a small house and will truly need to use that space when baby comes?  In that event, I think chemistk has it right -- get it done now, if that will leave you sufficient savings to make you feel comfortable with your upcoming decreased budget.  If it's just a "while we're at it" thing, though ("well, we have this damage and this insurance payout, so while we're at it let's get rid of the wood paneling and get this thing fixed up"), then I'd probably postpone it entirely -- if you haven't minded the basement until this point, then you probably won't mind it going forward. 


This is true, basement update is a want but I would have lived with the old basement for a long time (I did like it's 70s charm). When the subfloor was removed though, it led to thinking that if we are going to get a new floor, carpet and baseboards and all that, let's brighten it up and put in new drywall. After having my FIL volunteer to help, it became a much more manageable prospect.

But, again, YMMV -- this is all personal.  For me, I was scared of the budget when I had my first baby -- DH had just been laid off and we had moved for another job, I had just gone to part-time telecommuting from a different state, and I had no idea how any of that was going to work out just with those change, much less how much I'd really be able to work after the baby arrived!  So I naturally wanted to clamp down on any unnecessary spending until I had more certainty about what our budget was really going to be.  That may sound similar to how you are feeling, or you may be in a completely different place -- maybe for you the nesting feeling is kicking in, and you really feel compelled to get your house in order (literally).  You have had a healthy savings rate, so you can probably afford to indulge that feeling to some extent if that is what is driving you.  The key is to figure out what level of "getting stuff done" vs. "savings" is going to make you feel comfortable going into this big life change.  So do what PJ said and figure out a reasonable post-baby budget, which will tell you what your cash flow and savings will be.  And that will then give you actual facts to base your decision on.


I'm always curious to hear about baby budgeting and how it has worked for others, but I guess that discussion might be in some other parts of the forum. We have a budget for baby expenses, but DH's income will shift from being the smaller salary to being the big one, and he will have to foot most of the bills. It will be a transition for us as we keep most of our account separate except for joint accounts. I'm also hoping we can get a good chunk of change into our investments this year, despite house issues, so it can continue to chug away and compound for the next year. I think I'm feeling both the nesting instinct and the need to clamp down. I"m very lucky to have family support nearby, and some maternity benefits that will come my way.


In terms of doing it, there is nothing better than figuring out how to do as much as possible yourself.  Yes, hire experts as the engineers and for the things that can kill you.  :-)  But otherwise, learn from relatives with experience, watch YouTube instructionals, etc. -- there's no secret formula, you just have to jump in and start figuring it out.  Every skill you build now is an investment that will pay dividends your entire life. 

And congratulations!

I think we'll be learning a lot, and also learning about our limitations. It's one thing to try and DIY and learn, but you're right it's important to know when to call in the pros.

Thanks very much for the comment and the congrats!

Prairie Stash

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Re: House issues, baby, and the stash
« Reply #7 on: March 14, 2017, 03:16:42 PM »
MrRichMoose (formerly known as Tuxedo Eagle) writes a blog http://therichmoose.com/about/   He has some thoughts about spousal RRSP contributions well laid out on his blog. Primarily his thoughts on what to do after having a baby, those may apply to you. He's just starting his blog, its got some good investment advice.

I'm on the finishing side of the second Maternity leave (my wife stayed home). The first one was early 30's, similar to you.

When getting advice it helps to know province (different tax rates), income of both you and spouse (tax brackets), projected date of returning to work (immediately or 5 years later), RESP or not, and more. Everyone has slightly different scenarios, the more information provided the better the results will be tailored to you.

You mentioned mortgage acceleration, you may want to look at other options than extra payments. For myself I found getting 20% equity which allowed me to get a HELOC very helpful, after that extra payments were less useful. I still did them, but the math said it was an emotional response and not the fastest wealth building strategy.





Shooter_D

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Re: House issues, baby, and the stash
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2017, 10:51:43 AM »
MrRichMoose (formerly known as Tuxedo Eagle) writes a blog http://therichmoose.com/about/   He has some thoughts about spousal RRSP contributions well laid out on his blog. Primarily his thoughts on what to do after having a baby, those may apply to you. He's just starting his blog, its got some good investment advice.

I'm on the finishing side of the second Maternity leave (my wife stayed home). The first one was early 30's, similar to you.

When getting advice it helps to know province (different tax rates), income of both you and spouse (tax brackets), projected date of returning to work (immediately or 5 years later), RESP or not, and more. Everyone has slightly different scenarios, the more information provided the better the results will be tailored to you.

You mentioned mortgage acceleration, you may want to look at other options than extra payments. For myself I found getting 20% equity which allowed me to get a HELOC very helpful, after that extra payments were less useful. I still did them, but the math said it was an emotional response and not the fastest wealth building strategy.

Thanks Prairie Stash! I will check out the Rich Moose blog. I like Cancon when I can find it!

I have looked into what level of mortgage acceleration is a good idea or if it is at all. My DH and I both want to take care of the mortgage sooner than later. The way we are now it looks like we will have the mortgage paid of when we are FI, in about 13 yrs. This is based on our current spending and saving, without considering a change in expenses or income due to the addition of family members.

As for a bit more information here is some:
-we are in Ontario
-I expect to take a year off work
-we make about $120,000 together which will be reduced to about $50,000  plus mat leave benefits (I think about $20,000 for the year, take home)
- we would probably want to add another kid to the mix after this one comes, so I would be back to work for a while and then likely back on leave.
- we are saving now to have a reserve of $500 per month for the year I am off to cover baby expenses and $240 per month for RESPs.
- our base expenses during my mat leave, not counting baby stuff, will likely be around $1,800 (mortgage, taxes, food, heat, hydro, car, phone, Internet, insurance). This will probably be a bit over half of DH's take home pay.

Might that information help?

WinterSkies

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Re: House issues, baby, and the stash
« Reply #9 on: March 21, 2017, 10:52:14 AM »
I thought I'd chime in here, as there are a couple of other things you might want to take into account for your maternity/parental leave.  I have two young children (4.5, 2.5), and took a year off with each of them (in Manitoba).  I too am the breadwinner.  I'll let other people speak to your reno situation :)  I apologize in advance, as this is likely to be a bit long.

Taxes - when you go on leave, keep a close eye on how much tax is being deducted from your cheques.  You do have to pay tax on EI income (seems not everyone is aware of this), and between myself and my "mommy" friends, we've seen deductions that range from 4.5-10%, with no rhyme or reason as to the difference.  Just be aware that they likely will not deduct enough, and you may end up owing at tax time.  My strategy was to continue contributing to an RRSP while I was on leave and use that to offset the taxes owing.  I know of several of my co-workers who have been dinged with tax bills into the thousands of dollars because of this, so be aware!

Canada Child Benefit - you will start receiving the Canada Child Benefit once your baby arrives.  It is net income-based, and the cycle runs July-June (much like the GST credit).  CRA has a calculator here: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/bnfts/ccb/clcltyrccb-eng.html.  It is non-taxable, and is paid monthly. 

RESPs - If you are not already aware, it is possible to catch up on previous years of RESP contributions.  So don't feel the need to stretch yourself thin to start making RESP contributions straight away (http://www.canadiancapitalist.com/quick-tip-catch-up-on-resp-contributions/).  That being said, we have found the easiest way to max out the RESP every year is to just toss our Canada Child Benefit amount into the RESP every month.  Why not use the government's own money to get that 20% grant?  This assumes that you don't need to save the Canada Child Benefit to pay for day care costs.  I know that those are significantly higher in Ontario :( 

RRSPs - assuming that you are contributing regularly, look into carrying forward your RRSP deductions for the next several years.  It sounds like you will be in a similar situation to mine, where I had 4 years of reduced income due to my leaves crossing tax years (Aug 2012- Aug 2013, Sep 2014-Aug 2015).  I knew that my first full tax year (2016) would have a much higher income than those 4 years, so I have carried forward my deductions for those years (less what was needed to offset taxes while on leave).  We will receive a very tidy return this year, and will also substantially reduce our net family income, which will boost our Canada Child Benefit amount for the next annual cycle.

I am by no means a tax expert, but these are things that I have learned so far and hope that others can benefit from. 

As for baby stuff - check out consignment shops (we have a couple of Once Upon a Child franchises here).  Babies go through clothing so quickly, it's barely worn at all, and even now we buy all of our shoes, rubber boots, and most clothing at those stores.  We've been lucky to receive a lot of hand-me-downs, but we're getting to the ages where kids start wearing stuff out, so we're having to buy more.  You could also consider cloth diapering (there are arguments about whether it costs less, but I sewed a bunch of the inserts we use, so for us it did). 

One other thing to look into - can you change the type of car insurance coverage you have while you're off?  My experience is all with Manitoba Public Insurance, so I'm not sure if this is relevant, but I was able to change my coverage type to "pleasure" rather than "regular" while I was off.  It saved us about $30 a month, and covered everything normal insurance covered, except that you can only drive to work 4 times per month.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2017, 11:14:32 AM by WinterSkies »

meerkat

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Re: House issues, baby, and the stash
« Reply #10 on: March 21, 2017, 12:50:23 PM »
I'm not much help on the financial stuff but one thing I wished for a lot (and still do sometimes) is an area to sleep that's far away from the crying baby. Our kid was not a good sleeper for the first months of his life and in order for us parents to get enough sleep to function one of us frequently sleeps on the living room couch with all the door shut in between the other end of the house (our house is really open and the doors are cheap hollow-core doors, so this only helps a little bit). Do you have a space in your house already that can serve as an alternate sleeping space or would the basement be better for that?

Overall my vote is to get your house in shape before the baby arrives, and to expect construction/repairs to take longer than expected and for baby to arrive early.

Shooter_D

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Re: House issues, baby, and the stash
« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2017, 04:21:55 PM »
I thought I'd chime in here, as there are a couple of other things you might want to take into account for your maternity/parental leave.  I have two young children (4.5, 2.5), and took a year off with each of them (in Manitoba).  I too am the breadwinner.  I'll let other people speak to your reno situation :)  I apologize in advance, as this is likely to be a bit long.

Taxes - when you go on leave, keep a close eye on how much tax is being deducted from your cheques.  You do have to pay tax on EI income (seems not everyone is aware of this), and between myself and my "mommy" friends, we've seen deductions that range from 4.5-10%, with no rhyme or reason as to the difference.  Just be aware that they likely will not deduct enough, and you may end up owing at tax time.  My strategy was to continue contributing to an RRSP while I was on leave and use that to offset the taxes owing.  I know of several of my co-workers who have been dinged with tax bills into the thousands of dollars because of this, so be aware!

Canada Child Benefit - you will start receiving the Canada Child Benefit once your baby arrives.  It is net income-based, and the cycle runs July-June (much like the GST credit).  CRA has a calculator here: http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/bnfts/ccb/clcltyrccb-eng.html.  It is non-taxable, and is paid monthly. 

RESPs - If you are not already aware, it is possible to catch up on previous years of RESP contributions.  So don't feel the need to stretch yourself thin to start making RESP contributions straight away (http://www.canadiancapitalist.com/quick-tip-catch-up-on-resp-contributions/).  That being said, we have found the easiest way to max out the RESP every year is to just toss our Canada Child Benefit amount into the RESP every month.  Why not use the government's own money to get that 20% grant?  This assumes that you don't need to save the Canada Child Benefit to pay for day care costs.  I know that those are significantly higher in Ontario :( 

RRSPs - assuming that you are contributing regularly, look into carrying forward your RRSP deductions for the next several years.  It sounds like you will be in a similar situation to mine, where I had 4 years of reduced income due to my leaves crossing tax years (Aug 2012- Aug 2013, Sep 2014-Aug 2015).  I knew that my first full tax year (2016) would have a much higher income than those 4 years, so I have carried forward my deductions for those years (less what was needed to offset taxes while on leave).  We will receive a very tidy return this year, and will also substantially reduce our net family income, which will boost our Canada Child Benefit amount for the next annual cycle.

I am by no means a tax expert, but these are things that I have learned so far and hope that others can benefit from. 

As for baby stuff - check out consignment shops (we have a couple of Once Upon a Child franchises here).  Babies go through clothing so quickly, it's barely worn at all, and even now we buy all of our shoes, rubber boots, and most clothing at those stores.  We've been lucky to receive a lot of hand-me-downs, but we're getting to the ages where kids start wearing stuff out, so we're having to buy more.  You could also consider cloth diapering (there are arguments about whether it costs less, but I sewed a bunch of the inserts we use, so for us it did). 

One other thing to look into - can you change the type of car insurance coverage you have while you're off?  My experience is all with Manitoba Public Insurance, so I'm not sure if this is relevant, but I was able to change my coverage type to "pleasure" rather than "regular" while I was off.  It saved us about $30 a month, and covered everything normal insurance covered, except that you can only drive to work 4 times per month.

These are really great points WinterSkies. I'm hoping our Child Care Benefit is a good amount, and it's a great idea to send it into the RESP.

I also checked out a consignment shop today and will keep it in mind for my future child-related purchases. I saw a BabyBjorn for 12.99 today. I will be going there again!

Shooter_D

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Re: House issues, baby, and the stash
« Reply #12 on: March 25, 2017, 04:26:09 PM »
I'm not much help on the financial stuff but one thing I wished for a lot (and still do sometimes) is an area to sleep that's far away from the crying baby. Our kid was not a good sleeper for the first months of his life and in order for us parents to get enough sleep to function one of us frequently sleeps on the living room couch with all the door shut in between the other end of the house (our house is really open and the doors are cheap hollow-core doors, so this only helps a little bit). Do you have a space in your house already that can serve as an alternate sleeping space or would the basement be better for that?

Overall my vote is to get your house in shape before the baby arrives, and to expect construction/repairs to take longer than expected and for baby to arrive early.

Thanks meerkat!The house is getting in good shape in our rec room pretty soon. The other room is more of a laundry/utility room, so not a huge worry if it take a bit longer.

We have a small 1.75 storey house and were planning for one of the upstairs rooms to be for the baby. It would be above our room, but might provide enough separation to have the baby a bit farther away if it is fussy at night. How old are yours now?

meerkat

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Re: House issues, baby, and the stash
« Reply #13 on: March 25, 2017, 05:09:04 PM »
I'm not much help on the financial stuff but one thing I wished for a lot (and still do sometimes) is an area to sleep that's far away from the crying baby. Our kid was not a good sleeper for the first months of his life and in order for us parents to get enough sleep to function one of us frequently sleeps on the living room couch with all the door shut in between the other end of the house (our house is really open and the doors are cheap hollow-core doors, so this only helps a little bit). Do you have a space in your house already that can serve as an alternate sleeping space or would the basement be better for that?

Overall my vote is to get your house in shape before the baby arrives, and to expect construction/repairs to take longer than expected and for baby to arrive early.

Thanks meerkat!The house is getting in good shape in our rec room pretty soon. The other room is more of a laundry/utility room, so not a huge worry if it take a bit longer.

We have a small 1.75 storey house and were planning for one of the upstairs rooms to be for the baby. It would be above our room, but might provide enough separation to have the baby a bit farther away if it is fussy at night. How old are yours now?

Mine is currently 21 months and currently screaming in his crib because he doesn't want to go to bed, he wants to stay up and party. And yes you can hear him everywhere in the house.

One benefit of having his room right next to ours is we don't really need to use the sound on the monitor, I just use the video function to see if he's rolling around or actually asleep during the times he's actually quiet.

Shooter_D

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Re: House issues, baby, and the stash
« Reply #14 on: March 26, 2017, 11:37:27 AM »
Mine is currently 21 months and currently screaming in his crib because he doesn't want to go to bed, he wants to stay up and party. And yes you can hear him everywhere in the house.

One benefit of having his room right next to ours is we don't really need to use the sound on the monitor, I just use the video function to see if he's rolling around or actually asleep during the times he's actually quiet.

Ha ha, I imagine our house will be much the same. And I imagine we will soon face much the same struggles with a party animal baby...

Shooter_D

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Re: House issues, baby, and the stash
« Reply #15 on: March 26, 2017, 11:48:42 AM »
The initial worries I had about not knowing how to allocate funds to savings/renos/baby are not as bad as they once were. For starters, my FIL is being extremely helpful and has done a huge amount of work in our rec room by laying the sub floor, patching some of the concrete cracks, fixing the studs (had to be cut to patch the concrete), and hanging drywall. We bought some LED light fixtures from Costco and some new tamper-proof outlets and new light switches, which my husband wired up, and I think they will update the room nicely. We received a settlement from the insurance company which should help us with the costs of supplies, and we will probably put some money toward my FIL's labour if he lets us. The rest of the basement is going to be our work room (I enjoy wood working, and it's nice to have a space to do it) and our second bathroom/laundry room/furnace room. There are still some question marks about this area, mainly how we are going to properly plumb our shower, but we will have a plumber come in too look at it. This might be expensive, but with all we have saved on the actual reno costs so far, it will not be too much of a worry. As for our foundation issues, the water seems to seep in from the surface water, and not from the weeping tile/groundwater. We (meaning DH) will likely put some time in this summer digging up around the foundation in the problem areas and using some sealer and maybe some heavy duty plastic to re-direct water away from the foundation. We will also make sure we insulate the roof to prevent future ice damming issues and allow the gutter to do its thing. Overall this isn't causing too much stress, which is a relief!