God's Child, Our Joy

An adoptive family's journey in faith and life

Prepping for Number Two: Costs us an arm and our cable

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You make the nursery and prepare the crib. The new clothes gets get hung in the closet, and you prepare a sitting area. You open your arms and your heart for the new addition to your family. These are the things your mind’s eye pictures when adding a child to your family, adoption or otherwise. There are certain elements you don’t want to think about for this event. Some you forget and some you actively put out of mind. For me, the one element I wish I never had to ponder would be finances.

I don’t know why it is that way with me, but I never like to discuss personal finances with anyone. I prefer that every thought that we made exactly the same amount of money as you did. That way you’d never think of us as any better or worse off than yourself, and probably never have to ponder it again. The same thing happens with having people over to our home. I can simultaneous worry that someone thinks our lifestyle lavish or rather dull. I would rather run away than discuss how much we paid for our vehicle. So understand, I hate discussing finances, but understand that this topic is too important to ignore.

Finances are a big part of the process. With any family, the addition of a new member always brings costs. Traditionally you would have the hospital costs, but that really isn’t what we have. Adoption costs can include a number of things, such as home study, in home evaluations by a social worker, court costs, agency costs and some living expenses. According to an Adoptive Families study, the average cost of a newborn domestic adoption is $34,012. Luckily, our costs will not reach that threshold. We enjoy the benefits of having local birth parents so travel expenses are not really big. We are still in the window of our home study being valid, so we do not have to pay for a new one. Yet…

We just finalized Eva’s adoption last year. While not completely paid off yet, we had planned on finishing paying off the loans once we received our adoption tax credit this year. The only thing that could stop it would be an act (or lack) of action by history’s least productive and lowest rated congress ever.

The debate on the Bush tax cuts that ended the year 2012 was a winner for Democrats on raising rates on high earners, a winner for Republicans on voting semantics*, and the losers as usual were the American tax payers. The changes in the tax code and possibly the looming debates on debt ceiling and budgets may slow tax returns. On top of that, we won’t be able to e-file with the adoption tax credit which will further delay our refund.

* By letting the Bush rates expire on the 1st of January, the Republican caucus was able to vote exclusively on tax cuts for those making under $400,000 ($450,000 for couples). They could have had this same deal a month early, but voting on that would have required them to vote for a tax INCREASE for those over the threshold.

[Update from when I first wrote this. Any tax return that includes the adoption tax credit cannot be filed until February, but will not be processed until March. The tax return cannot be e-filed, so this will delay the refund even further. Plus, using this tax credit increases the chances of an audit.]

Now I may have spent the last paragraph bashing congress, but there was light at the end of their discussions. The tax credit for adoptions was extended in the discussions in a bill that had bi-partisan (oh, you haven’t seen that word in a while) sponsorship, so kudos to them for that. Also the tax credit has been made permanent, so double kudos.

All this means that once the boy arrives it will bring us great joy and great bills. The timing means that there won’t be much time to build the coffers in between our two adoptions. What this means is that we really need to evaluate our budget.

The first cutback was restaurants. We like to eat out, but now need to start making more meals at home. I think this change would have gradually happened anyway, as Eva makes outings more difficult. She has a controlled diet, which is easier to maintain at home. We have already discovered the deficiencies of the school lunch menu at daycare with potatoes and pizza sauce being the vegetables of the day.

The cutback that I’ve fought the longest is our cable. Dropping cable will save us $75 a month. You’ve got the cable subscription, the DVR service, the remote rental, the digital box rental, and the “We didn’t raise the cost of your cable subscription” fee. If you’ve thought about dropping cable, I’d recommend these posts from a friend of ours.

Most tv can be watched through the internet from station sites like ABC.com or through Hulu Plus. We get excellent signal from our antenna for the local stations. The problem you run into, which is the same with every blog who writes about this topic is live sports. The options are; Illegal streaming, a friend’s house or sports bar, or paying for the streaming service for each team/sport. This bothered me for a long time until I realized that I haven’t watched an entire game for over a year. Last Super Bowl I was washing bottles. Last Vikings game I went to bed before it ended because I had to get up early for Eva. Last Iowa basketball game I had on in the background as I stacked cups and Eva knocked them down and laughed. I just don’t get to watch like I used to.

So once we clear our DVR, it’s off to Time Warner to drop it off and start our cable free life. No more random basketball games on a Saturday afternoon, no more House Hunters to cap our suppers, and no more complaining that there is nothing to watch on our 200 channels.

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