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Nothing like a party to motivate you to finish a long procrastinated project!

Over a year ago, I took down the few photos we had hanging over our dining room table to paint the wall a fun accent color.  Well, a full year later and I hadn’t gotten around to rehanging any of the pictures or updating the photos in the frame to include our newest family member.

SO for her first birthday party last Saturday, I was determined to get them hung!

Here is the step by step directions on what I did:

Step 1: The blank wall

Step 2: Layout the frames

Step 3: Make Paper Templates

Step 4: Arrange the templates on the wall

Step 4: Hang the Hardware (with a great helper!)

Step 5: The finished product!

I love, love, love how it looks and so glad I can cross another house project off my list!

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Do Your Finances Need a Check-Up?

Welcome to this week’s guest blogger; Marin Financial Planner- Katy Song.  Katy talks about what we should all be doing to make sure our finances are in tip top health.  Read her tips below and contact her for more personal advice.

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As moms, we are diligent about taking our children to the doctor for their check-ups, benchmarking their progress on weight and height charts, and listening to the doctor when it comes to development progress.  I recommend conducting a Family Financial Health check-up! You can do this yourself by following the simple steps below or consult a professional financial planner for advice.

Inoculations = Emergency Fund. Just like getting inoculated against polio or chicken pox, you can prevent succumbing to a devastating financial situation if you are prepared. The rule of thumb is to keep between three to six months of liquidity (cash or CD) in a separate account to cover expenses in the event of an unforeseen job loss or true emergency.  If you don’t have this account set up yet because you do not have the cash to spare, I recommend that you open a high yield savings account anyway and put $50 in it. By opening this account, you are at least setting the intention that you will build the account up over time when you have the resources.

Benchmarking weight & height = Spending Plan. How are you doing with your average monthly spending compared to other families in your area? There are a few rules of thumb when it comes to spending. First, spending on housing should be 28-31% of your gross income. This includes principal, interest, property taxes and homeowner’s insurance (PITI). This is hard for most families in the Bay Area given real estate prices, but it is important to look at ways of keeping your largest expense as low as possible. Rates are still at historic lows. Have you tried to refinance to lower your payments or improve your terms? Second, auto & transportation should be less than 10% of your gross income. This includes car payments, gas, repairs, etc. Third, food expenses typically rank 2nd or 3rd as a percentage of total expenses. Nationally, families spend between $500-1,200 on groceries each month.

Developmental Progress.  While this can be a more subjective category that depends on your personal financial situation, it is still important to not neglect your progress when it comes to your longer term goals such as retirement savings. For example, if you are 35 years old and plan to retire at 65 (and live until you are 90), have $150,000 already saved for retirement and need $6,000 of net income per month in retirement for living expenses, you will need to have saved $4.5million by the time you retire. This equates to saving $46,000 per year for retirement (assuming you can earn 6%) or earning between 7-9% on your retirement savings and maximizing annual contributions every year until retirement. While lots of variables go into the analysis of how you are progressing towards retirement, it is better to know where you stand now than to wait another 10 years and let the power of compounding slip by!

There are numerous online calculators that can help you assess your family’s financial health, including many onwww.bankrate.com. However, having a professional give you a check-up is the best way to get a comprehensive assessment of your family’s financial health.

Katy Song, CFP®,is a fee-only Marin financial planner and owner of Katy Song Financial Planning in Mill Valley. She specializes in objective and customized financial plans for families with young children and couples starting their lives together. Katy lives with her husband and two children in Mill Valley. You can reach Katy at katy@katysong.com or www.katysong.com.


 Welcome to Meghan Hardin, Bump Life’s FIRST guest blogger!!  Read what she has to say about bras below!

Hey Gals: Want to look 10lbs. lighter, a few years younger, and feel more confident? Hoist ‘em up! Did you know that as many as 8 in 10 women wear the wrong bra size? Wearing an incorrectly sized or old bra can contribute to breast tissue damage (and once it’s damaged, it’s not going to be fixed lest by the hand of a skilled surgeon…), backache, head/neck aches, not to mention the dreadfully dowdy saggy boobs. If you have any of those things, or if there’s bounce in your bust when you walk, chances are it’s time for some new bras. And for the new moms out there, don’t just assume that you’ll go back to your old bras once you’ve finished nursing and/or the pregnancy weight’s gone back off; you’ll likely go through several different sizes throughout the course of maternity/postpartum/nursing.

You can have your measurements taken just about anywhere bras are sold – certainly major retailers like Nordstrom’s, Saks, Gap and Victoria’s Secret. The salesclerks are trained to fit you, so don’t be bashful about asking. You might be surprised to find you’ve been wearing the wrong size (most women go too small in the cup and too big in the band). Not o.k. with another lady sticking a measuring tape around your lady lumps? DIY: 1) Measure your band size by pulling a measuring tape around the top of your chest (under the pits). If the number is even, that’s your band size – odd, add 1” to find your band size. 2) Measure around your chest and across the fullest part of your breast. Subtract your band size from this measurement to find cup size – every inch is a letter (so if your band size is 34” and your second measurement is 38”, then you wear a D cup).

Now that you’ve gotten the right size, try some bras on. A properly-fitting bra should feel right; you shouldn’t feel the cups digging into your breast tissue (cups too small), the band should be level all the way around (if it’s creeping up in the back, go down a band size), and the bra should perfectly form to your breast (if there’s gaping, creasing, pinching, or your cups runneth over, you’ve got the wrong size).

About four years ago, I mustered up the courage to have my measurements taken at Gap. I was shocked to learn that I’d been wearing the wrong size for years! After buying a grip of new bras, I noticed that my shirts looked better, I felt more confident walking around in fitted clothing (no movement there), and the bras just felt good. It’s important to get measured annually for two reasons: 1) Weight and hormone fluctuations regularly cause changes in size, and 2) Elastic doesn’t last forever – you’ve got to replace bras frequently. But really, what girl needs an excuse to shop for new underthings?!

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More about Meghan:

Having recently returned to my home state of Colorado from Marin County, California, my family and I are enjoying a return to John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High.” As a full-time working toddler mama and wife, I work to squeeze all of the good stuff into every day (did I mention we’ll have another in early 2012?). It’s hectic but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

Through my job with HealthGrades, I work to share my company’s mission of “Guiding Americans to Their Best Health.” By consulting with hospitals nationwide, my goal is to have a firsthand impact on improving the future of healthcare in this country. As a collegiate athlete and now a group fitness instructor, I enjoy the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle and sharing that lifestyle with my family, classes and coworkers.

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About Bump Life

Bump Life is a place to support moms and families across all aspects of our lives. A place for tips, expert advice, parenting resources and entertainment. A great place to come for information, support or just a break from our crazy lives. From fitness to finance, from diaper bags to diaper duty, for everything bump, babies and beyond, you'll find it all here at BUMP Life!