I want to make clear that we are lucky enough that we can easily afford everything we actually need; Kavi is in no danger of not having a roof over her head. This is all about the stuff I want, rather than need. Apparently, I can't just have everything I want. Who knew? :-) The point being, I want to have a better sense of money myself, and have the ability to live within my means. But boy, I hate budgeting.
We need to be on a slightly tight budget this fall, and Kevin suggested that I try thinking in terms of the babysitting, which costs us $10/hr. We're budgeted for ten hours of babysitting a week -- if I want more, it comes out of our discretionary budget (for books, clothes, movies, Xmas and birthday presents, travel over the holidays, eating out, etc.)
I am finding it startlingly effective. I go out to look at clothes. I would very much like some new clothes, as all my maternity stuff is too big, but I don't quite fit into my normal clothes yet. (Soon, hopefully, as I am teetering on the border between XL and L currently, but there are a few months to live through until I'm back to my normal M/L.) One top I consider is $60, from a chic little boutique store. It is lovely, with a vibrant pattern in brown and orange and gold. It is also six hours of babysitting -- six blessed hours of me handing Kavi over to Mya and going away away away. (You are going to think I do not love my baby, and I do, but lord, being with her (24 hrs/day * 7 days/week - 10 hrs budgeted babysitting = ) 158 hrs/week is too much. Even if you subtract the time when she's sleeping and the time when Kev can watch her, it is just barely something I can cope with.) So six more hours is worth more than the cute top, which honestly, is trendy and distinctive enough that I will probably only wear it a few times in the next few months.
On the other hand, the $20 t-shirt from Gap is two hours of babysitting and is totally worth it, because it is soft and dark forest green and has a nice shape to it (so it's not just a generic t-shirt) and I suspect I will wear it to death, as is so often the case with Gap's basic items, even if they don't seem so exciting up front. So I buy it with no regrets.
On the third hand, the $50 dress (five hours of babysitting) from the boutique store I'm not nearly so clear about. On the one hand, beautiful dress, good color for me, fits great -- it isn't too tight in the chest, does go in at the waist, and then flares out beautifully to a full skirt. (It does have spaghetti straps, which is to laugh, given the industrial size bra I have to wear these days, but I have a cute tiny brown sweater that should handle that issue nicely.) Plus, I do need something to wear for a reading that's coming up in a few weeks, and I will be very sad if I feel like I look like crap. And it's not so often that I find a beautiful dress that I love and that fits well. On the downside, I will probably only wear it a few times a year, because I just don't need to dress up that often. So in the end I buy it, but I feel a bit uneasy about the five hours of babysitting I have said goodbye to. I think it's probably worth it, but ask me again later today when Kavi is screaming for no good reason, and I may rethink that decision.
The point of all this is not actually my recent wardrobe choices, but that it's surprisingly easier to be budget-conscious this way. Weird. I wonder if there's something I could have used for a similar comparison before I needed babysitting. I'm having a hard time coming up with something, though.
MINOR SIDE QUESTION: If you have a kid, how do you get a haircut or your eyebrows done? Do you just need someone else to watch the kid then? I take Kavi along to the grocery store or Target, but I don't think I can really take care of her while I'm in a stylist's chair. But if I let my hair and eyebrows grow any longer in their current untamed fashion, I will start scaring other peoples' children.