The costs of fertility treatments to create a miracle

Time for kids fertilityA  STORY OF A COUPLES STRUGGLE

 

Fertility treatment centers across Canada are visited every day from couples who are struggling to conceive.

Each week I find that someone is coming to the blog looking for answers on the costs of fertility treatments, ovulation tests, what infertility is, fertility calendars, fertility calculators and so on.

The reality is there are not always any real answers and the doctors will put you through a series of tests and medications that will cost you out-of-pocket if you don’t have the benefits coverage to pay.

Many couples will go into debt or use their life savings for an ounce of hope and stop at nothing from re-mortgaging their homes, borrowing money or using credit cards to fund fertility treatments.

Sadly, not every treatment has a happy ending and costs can mount up month after month, year after year.

If both your fallopian tubes are blocked In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is not covered under OHIP but the province of Ontario will cover a portion of the costs of IVF but when they say a portion it’s a small portion.

Costs can run you upwards of $12,000-$14,000  including medications depending on where you go.

A full-price list of costs from the fertility clinic at The London Health Science Centre will give you an idea of what types of expenses you will be looking at. Something is better than nothing though.

If you’ve been a long time reader of Canadian Budget Binder then today’s guest writer Jen P is no stranger to you. Jen and her husband came to me almost 2 years ago now asking for help with their budget.

I worked hard with Jen for hours on end, days on end but we finally worked out a budget that worked for them. Oddly enough she did most of the work. Sometimes we believe we can’t achieve something until we get in and do it ourselves.

Thankfully the budget was put in place because over the past year they have had their ups and downs with conception and Jen is here to share her story of tears, hope, miracles and inspire you to believe and never give up. What is meant to be, will be.

Hi Mr.CBB and Fans,

As you already know from the introduction above my name is Jen and I hope that if I can inspire any of you who read this today that miracles do happen and when they don’t we must find ways to cope with our emotions.

I was married in my early 20’s and during that time I was adamant that I didn’t want children. I was divorced in my late 20’s and then met my current husband.

Within one week of my 30th birthday I suddenly realized that I was now with the right man and I wanted to have a family. I made an appointment with my family doctor and got a referral to a genetic counsellor.

I have a family history of spina bifida so I wanted to make sure it wouldn’t be a great concern for us and a prescription for high dose folic acid prenatal vitamins. I started tracking my cycle with and ovulation calendar/calculator.

We tried to conceive for almost a year when I thought that I should seek out help (and I was tired of month after month of disappointment) and looked for answers.

My family doctor referred me to an OB-GYN. She tracked my cycle for a few months and when I still hadn’t conceived she referred me to a fertility clinic that she also worked for.

 

Fertility clinic

 

I went to the fertility clinic where they explained that they had to complete a month of several tests and cycle monitoring.

This consisted of:

  • On day one of my cycle I had to call the clinic.  At this time they book:
  • A full bladder ultrasound and a transvaginal ultrasound for either day 2, 3, 4 or 5 of my cycle.
  • 3D ultrasound between days 20 to 25 of your cycle
  • A Saline Sonohysterogram test that investigates the inside of your uterus to look for any abnormalities done between day 5 to day 11 of your cycle (I found this test extremely painful- way more so than being in labour)
  • A Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) test done in a hospital where a colourless dye is injected through your cervix and uterus.  It investigates your fallopian tubes and your uterus (I also found this test very painful).
  • Cycle monitoring – involves serial ultrasounds to assess the endometrium (lining of the uterus) and to determine how the follicles (eggs) in your ovaries are developing.  Blood work is also required to help them determine when you are most likely to ovulate.  After each ultrasound you see a doctor and are advised when to come back for follow-up ultrasounds.  This is usually done daily between day 10 to 16 of your cycle.

 

Cost of fertility

 

They also do female blood work testing hormones (including a $85 fee for a test that looks at basically whether you have enough eggs left to try to conceive) at the beginning of your cycle and infectious screening blood work (testing for Hepatitis B and C, as well as HIV). Cultures for Gonorrhea and Chlamydia are also done.

The male patient must have the infectious screening blood work and a semen analysis to make sure that everything is ok on his end something that most people put out of their minds. They always seem to think it’s the woman but in many cases it’s the man. Don’t rule it out on your own.

We were diagnosed with “unknown infertility” (basically all of my tests came out fine and all of my husband’s tests came out fine). My doctor said she would like to perform laparoscopic surgery on my uterus to see if they could find any problems and remove a polyp they found during the Saline Sonohysterogram test.

They performed the surgery and removed a polyp and I went home to recover I had a horrible reaction to the pain medication they gave me so my recovery was a little more difficult. I was in a lot of pain.

It felt like the worst cramps a woman could ever have and I vomited the whole drive home. Up to this point everything had been free (or covered under the provincial health plan).

The doctor suggested that the following month I try a cycle of Serophene AKA Clomid (a drug) and IUI (intrauterine insemination AKA artificial insemination – cost $350).

What is IUI/Artificial Insemination?

IUI/Artificial Insemination is where they have the male provide a semen sample early in the morning. It is then sent to the lab where they “wash” it, getting rid of any “defective” sperm.

They analyze what is left to make sure it is a good count with good motility. Later in the morning the female patient is inseminated in an examination room with a syringe with a tube at the end.

I felt like I wanted to try using the drug but hold off on the IUI. It was at this point that we had to pay a $300/year cycle monitoring fee that covers your ultrasounds, blood work, doctors, etc.

We just put in on our credit card and figured we’d pay that off with our credit line. The drug they prescribed was covered under my drug benefit plan at work.

So that month we decided upon using Serophene and just having regular intercourse. I went through the daily cycle monitoring and one afternoon they called and said that my hormone levels had spiked and it was time to have intercourse for the next 3 days.

We obliged and then played the waiting game.

 

Our miracle

 

ultra sound Jen

One Saturday night we went to a stag and doe for my cousin. I had a beer and some munchies and it didn’t taste that great so I left it and went on with the night while my hubby drank the night away.

I woke up around 7am and for some reason I felt compelled to do a pregnancy test (even though the fertility clinic does them for free they said I couldn’t have the test for 5 more days and I had purchased a double pack of “First Response” tests previously).

I did the test, put it on my nightstand and rolled back over to go back to sleep. I tossed and turned so I decided to check the test. It was positive! I couldn’t believe it. I rechecked the instructions to confirm. I woke my poor extremely hung over hubby up to tell him.

Obviously he didn’t react very well. We got up and drove to the fertility clinic to confirm with a blood test. They told me they’d call me in the afternoon with the results.

I couldn’t contain myself. I received the most disappointing call in the afternoon…their machine for doing blood work had broken down and I wouldn’t get my results until the next morning.

I went to a baby shower that afternoon and on my way home I picked up another pregnancy test (this one was digital with a $20 price tag but I just didn’t care at the time).

Money is no object I guess when you’re dealing with finding out you are pregnant. I know many women who have used all sorts of tests just to make sure that they weren’t seeing things or other tests were accurate.

That pregnancy test came out positive as well!

The next morning we were thrilled to receive confirmation from the clinic that I was indeed pregnant! A few days later I was in Dollarama and noticed they sold pregnancy tests. I got a little chuckle out of it and decided I try one to see how accurate they were, knowing that I was already pregnant.

Shockingly it came out positive as well and we knew it was time to get the baby budget in order or any budget for that matter. We were thrilled to conceive that very first month after the surgery. There were no more costs involved. They monitored my pregnancy until I could find a local OB-GYN.

Adam when born

Fast forward three years later…

We wanted to expand our family and started trying to conceive once again. We were feeling a little more positive this time as so many people said getting pregnant the second time around was always easier.

My naturopath referred me to a fertility doctor at another clinic she works at that specializes in thyroid conditions (which I have) to see if that was posing a problem.

He checked me out and said all looked well and he felt I’d have no trouble getting pregnant but he prescribed me a drug (Letrozole – that is known as a breast cancer drug) that could help out a little.

We tried a few months on our own and when that didn’t work I started the medication he prescribed. It had awful side effects. I had aches and pains, I was emotional, quick-tempered and just not myself.

I hated it and after 4 months of using that medication I asked that doctor to refer me back to the fertility clinic I previously used as it was a much shorter drive.

We once again went through a month of horrible tests and cycle monitoring. This time we were diagnosed with “second degree unknown infertility” (the same as before but a second time).

This time my doctor didn’t suggest surgery but did suggest IUI and Serophene again. We once again opted to use Serophene which is covered under my drug plan and hold off on the IUI.

We had to pay the $300/year cycle monitoring fee again at this time (which we once again paid for with our credit card, but this time it was just to get the rewards points.

We had the money in our savings account to pay for it. We were also told that it’s tax-deductible so we’ll try claiming it this time around).

We were unsuccessful at conceiving that month and we decided that we would try a few more months the same way. After a few more disappointing months we decided that we weren’t getting any younger so we opted for the cycle of IUI and Serophene.

This was no different from what I was used to with regular cycle monitoring however when I got to a certain point in my cycle (near ovulation).

They told me I’d have to pay $85 and go see a nurse to receive an injection pen that I would have to use that night on myself to trigger ovulation since my egg and lining had reached the size that is ideal.

I paid the $85 and went home only to receive a call that afternoon from the clinic that I did not need to use that injection that night and to put it away perhaps for another cycle (I was a little angry at that suggestion seeming as it didn’t offer a very positive outcome).

A few days later I had to go in for the IUI (which took only a few minutes) and pay $350 (paid for on credit as well for the rewards points but had the savings).

Then the waiting began. That cycle ended up being extremely disappointing to me. Not only was I not pregnant, I felt like I literally threw away $350. That was very emotional for me.

During this time I had also been regularly seeing my naturopath for acupuncture related to back pain. She also specializes in fertility so she began doing acupuncture for fertility and kept track of my results from tests at the clinic. A naturopath is also something that is covered by my benefit plan.

 

Preparing for surgery

 

I decided I’d speak to my doctor about the possibility of surgery again to see if it would help like it did last time. My doctor thought it would be a great idea to do exploratory surgery. I booked my surgery for November (we were in September at that time) and in the meantime kept trying.

November came and it was time for surgery. My sick time at work had been reduced this year so I only booked off 3 days for the surgery and recovery (plus I had Saturday and Sunday in there).

I was pretty nervous and hungry waiting for my surgery as I wasn’t allowed to eat. An emergency ended up taking over our operating room so my surgery ended up being delayed almost 8 hours!

What a nightmare.

My surgery went well and they found nothing wrong with me so we venture on. The following month the doctor once again suggested going with IUI and Serophene.

Because it was December and such an expensive month already with Christmas we decided to wait until January as Ken had lots of overtime pay coming to him.

I put a lot of hope into December’s cycle as I got pregnant following surgery last time. I went through the cycle and once again was very disappointed.

I found out on New Year’s Eve that I wasn’t pregnant (the clinic had called to tell me my test was negative). I was devastated. I had a pretty awful evening filled with tears.

I met with my doctor a few days later and we decided to try a new medication. This would be an injectable medication (Gonal F) that I would administer myself daily for 5-10 days (it is injected into the stomach every night before bed).

Price tag on this fertility medication: $998.

Thank goodness it was covered by my works benefits plan. On day 9 of my cycle I received a very disappointing call that my body was ovulating on its own and it was way too early.

They (in a roundabout way) told me to not waste my money on IUI this month, especially when I told them that Ken told me he only wanted to pay for one IUI….no more after that.

So we had to try getting pregnant with no fertility meds and that meant doing it the good old-fashioned way in January 2014. Once again, it was a very disappointing month. We decided to try it all over again in February with some minor changes to the fertility cycle.

February had to have been one of the hardest months yet. Starting on day 3 of my cycle I had to inject myself in the stomach with the medication until ovulation.

Ovulation was being delayed this cycle by another injection I had to give it to myself daily into the stomach but this time in the morning. When my egg and lining reached the size they find optimal I was given yet another medication to inject into my stomach to trigger ovulation.

The side effects of these medications at this point had really begun to take a toll on me and our relationship. All of the medications I had taken for the last year had similar side effects but they seemed to be getting worse.

At this point I had gained 17lbs and was incredibly bloated. Nothing fit. I was buying new clothes weekly so I could be more comfortable at work.

After a heart to heart with Ken he in a roundabout way told me that if I stayed on these drugs I wouldn’t get pregnant because we’d be divorced before then.

These drugs changed my personality. They made me extremely emotional and I felt like I had bi-polar disorder. The “big day” came and I did another round of IUI with another price tag of $350.

The cost of the medications and IUI this fertility cycle cost over $2000. Thank goodness for my benefits covering all but the $350 for IUI (which will be claimed on my taxes as a medical expense).

I was sure, that with this much intervention and everything working in my favour that this would be the month. The month I conceived. Unfortunately I was wrong.

I had been more devastated this month than any other month in the last year since we started trying (February had marked one year of trying).

Jen ken and AdamI thought about quitting but I paid for a year of cycle monitoring at the clinic which would take me to June.

I decided that I would quit the fertility drugs but keep monitoring my cycle at the clinic and try naturally to conceive.

I also decided that I needed a distraction from everything so I rejoined Weight Watchers to lose the 17lbs I had gained in the last year.

Budgeting made a difference this time around as we actually had savings in the bank to pay for our treatment outright.

If you remember back almost 2 years ago now we started to budget with Mr.CBB.

I’m so thankful that we did because it’s helped us throughout the savings process for our fertility treatments.

What a difference it made in so many ways. It was great to not have to stress about where the money was going to come from this time around.

It just meant using some savings and having to pass on some home improvements we had wanted to do this summer (new deck furniture and an awning or something.

In the meantime we will continue to try to conceive until June and see where it takes us. For all of you couples out there don’t give up because you never know when a miracle might happen.

I tuck my little miracle into bed every night and he wakes me up every morning to say he loves me and I love him.

-Jen P

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Life Events: Preparing your baby budget

baby-budget-heart-shape-pregnantBUDGETING FOR YOUR NEW BABY

 

First time parents are not going to be shocked to learn that bringing their baby into this world is going to cost them some money. Think of everything that you use to care for yourself in a day, then keep adding to that list diapers, formula and so on. 

Having worked these costs into your budget and possibly adding some new categories to your baby budget such as baby categories will help to ease some of the stress of just how much of money you will spend.

If you don’t have a budget you can download Mr.CBB’s free excel budget spreadsheet which has a sheet for every month of the year and you can customize categories as you need.

As a mom of two children I can safely say that I’ve learned what I need to buy and what I don’t need to buy over the years but the final call is up to you. Being informed is the first step in preparing for the arrival of your baby.

How to save money when having a baby?

That’s a good question because the expenses of having a baby can grow exponentially if you aren’t careful, although it doesn’t have to be all frills and bling. The simple answers are to budget your money, prepare in advance as much as you can and spend less than you earn OR make more money.

I don’t believe there is any baby budget calculator that will give you the definite answers you need but preparing a baby checklist might help smooth out the budgeting process. All you need is to figure out what baby essentials you need and factor them into your budget accordingly which I will share a few of with you today.

Couple this with watching your flyer deals, using coupons, stockpiling, rewards programs, make homemade, garage sales, mother-child sales, freecycle, Kijiji, friends and family hand me downs etc… the rest really is up to you in order to sort out your finances.

 

How a baby can impact your finances

 

It is not very common that both parents will return back to work immediately after the arrival of their newborn baby. Maternity or parental leave in Canada provides you with one full year of Employment Insurance payments that are calculated based on your income of the year prior to when your child is born.

Our government will provide up to 55% of your weekly income, yes that’s just over half of what you were used to making while you were working everyday.

It is a good idea during your pregnancy to learn to live on less by using a baby budget and to figure out what 55% of your weekly income would be and then save the rest.

Not only will living on less not be new to you once the baby arrives but having the extra money in savings can be used towards purchasing things that will be a necessity for you baby once they are born.

 

Preparing for your baby

 

Nesting is something that is commonly experienced by expecting parents as we want to be prepared for when the big day arrives. Like everything else when it comes to budgeting and being prepared making a baby checklist will be a good way for you to decide what you need to purchase and also when you need to make these purchases, before or after your child is born.

While it is nice to be well prepared keep in mind that you do not need to purchase every single thing that your child will need prior to them being born.

For example, if your newborn will be sleeping in your room for the first few months and a crib set including a fitted sheet and bumper pad is not something you can afford you are not likely going to need it right away. Budgeting in the cost of a crib set knowing that you will need in it 3-6 months will make that purchase easier on your wallet. This gives you time to add it to your baby budget so you can save it as a projected expense as something you know you will need in a set amount of time.

When making your baby list of things you will need don’t forget about the cost associated with taking care of yourself as a new mom. If you plan to breastfeed remember to budget for things like nursing pads a breast pump and nursing clothes.

As a new mom you will require some after care such as pain medication which may be something you will need and comfortable clothing is a must.

 

Baby Clubs

 

During your pregnancy taking advantage of all the different programs that some companies offer can provide you some money-saving tools. Companies such as Similac, Nestle and Enfamil all have programs that once you have registered they will send you samples of formula, baby cereal and baby coupons to save you money in the future.

Not only are the formula samples good to have to save a little on the cost of formula but if you are planning to exclusively breastfeed some of these samples can be handy to have if you are struggling with breastfeeding and need to supplement with some formula to ensure your baby is receiving adequate nutrition.

If you provide these companies with your expected due date or your baby’s birthdate they will also often send out age-related information and tips throughout their first year.

What do you need to buy to prepare for the arrival of your baby?

While it is fun to go out shopping and pick out all the things you will need it is easy to spend a lot more money than you can afford buying things that you think you need or falling into the ‘cuteness’ trap. Baby clothes are so darn cute and you think you may need every cute outfit you see, when in reality you won’t.

Although it may be hard to walk past a great sale on size 2 diapers while you are pregnant stocking up on them isn’t likely in your best interest. Babies grow so fast and  you really don’t know how many size 2 diapers you will use. Instead, make a category for diapers in your monthly budget unless you choose to use cloth diapers so the money is available when you need to purchase your diapers.

I wrote an earlier post detailing the pros and cons of using disposable diaper vs cloth diapers so learning about what might work for you and fit in your budget might make the diaper days a bit easier for you.

 

New Vs. Used

 

Online sites such as Kijiji and Freecycle can be utilized to obtain some free or cheaper new or used baby items. While these sites are great for saving money on items such as clothing, bedding and toys there are a few items that you should not obtain second-hand.

 

Car Seats

 

In Canada you are required to have a CSA (Canadian Standards Association) approved car seat before you will be allowed to leave the hospital with your newborn child. The manufacture date is present on all car seats and due to constantly changing safety standards the car seat expires 5 years from this date.

While you may find a car seat on Kijiji or garage sales for a fraction of the cost of buying a brand new one you risk not knowing the accurate history of that seat.

There are also certain items according to health Canada that can’t be re-sold at a garage sale and that includes many baby items. A car seat that has been involved in a car accident should never be resold or given to a friend or family member.

Unless the person giving you the car seat is someone you hold a lot of trust in to provide you all this information skip the used car seat and buy one brand new. Jeopardizing your child’s safety isn’t worth the risk.

 

Breast pumps

 

While some people may decide to buy a used breast pump I would recommend to keep this on your baby checklist of things to buy new. These pumps may not always be the easiest to clean so for sanitary reasons I would buy new.

 

Bottle Accessories

 

While using second-hand bottles whether they are glass or plastic may be fine, bottle nipples and soothers are best to buy new.

 

Stroller

 

Again unless you are very trusting of the person giving you a used stroller buying new will likely be the best option. There have been many safety recalls on strollers and when you buy it used you again are risking not knowing the history of the stroller.

Buying new allows you to register your stroller to be notified for future recalls, which is an option you will not having buying it used. Buying used items such as clothing, bedding, toys, and even maternity clothing will be a great way to save you money in your baby budget.

As I mentioned above while Kijiji and Freecycle are great online resources don’t forget to check out local consignment and thrift stores and don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family if they have items that they will no longer use.

 

Daycare

 

Once your maternity leave is over it’s now time for you to make the decision of whether or not you will return to work. A major factor in making this decision is the cost of child care for your child while you and or your spouse are away earning money to care for yourself and your children.

In some cases individuals will find that their daycare cost whether it’s a home daycare or a daycare centre are not worth paying for in order to return to work depending on your income. Some people find they are working just to pay child care when they could just stay home and spend that time with their children.

Thinking about returning to work and daycare arrangements are things you do not want to leave until last-minute. You may find many daycare centres have waiting lists so if you choose to use a daycare it’s best to start looking early so you aren’t left with no child care.

Not leaving this until last-minute will also give you the time needed to figure out how you are going to work this cost into your budget. If you are a low-income family or a single parent remember that subsidized child care may be an option for you but again keep in mind they programs will also likely have waiting lists so not waiting until last-minute will be in your best interest.

The birth of a child is an exciting, memorable life event that will overwhelm you with feelings of joy, happiness and honestly in many cases stress. With the lack of sleep that comes with the addition of a newborn some days may seem like they are never going to end.

Like any big event or major purchase in our lives they are always easier to get through when you are prepared. Making your baby budget well before the day your newborn arrives should be one of the first tools you use to prepare for this time in your life.

  • Do you have a baby budget and when did you start preparing for the arrival of your baby?
  • What other advice can you give to new parents to prepare in advance and what else should they buy?

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The cost of the big O…ovulation tests that is!

ovulation-test-photos

TIMING IS CRITICAL WHEN PLANNING A FAMILY

 

Knowing when you ovulate is exciting but later finding out you are pregnant is an overwhelming feeling of excitement and is something that many women look forward to in life.

For some conceiving a child is easier than it is for others who may require a little extra effort, planning and some money invested.

Timing is everything when planning to start a family and though for some more extreme measures may be required in order to kick-start the process beginning with a fertility calendar and knowing when you ovulate.

Knowing when a woman is ovulating is one piece of information that may help to ease or prevent some of the worry that may be associated when reading a negative pregnancy test.

 

What is ovulation?

 

Ovulation simply means the release of one or many eggs from your ovaries waiting to get fertilized by healthy waiting sperm. This is the time where it is critical that you make sure there is sperm waiting for the egg in order to get pregnant although this doesn’t always happen for everyone.

When a woman ovulates and releases an egg it has now been separated from its follicle waiting patiently to be fertilized.

OK, maybe not so patiently as the window of opportunity for fertilization to take place is generally around 12-24 hours.  Our bodies produce luteinizing hormone (LH) which aids in the separation of the egg from the follicle, an ovulation test detects the presence of Luteinizing hormone also known as LH.

The ovaries don’t both release eggs and one month it could be from the left ovary and the next the right and only testing will be able to help you determine if eggs are being released especially if you are struggling to get pregnant or have one tube blocked or clamped shut from surgery.

There are many brands of ovulation tests available on the market and the cost of these tests can vary significantly.

 

When to use an ovulation test

 

Predicting ovulation can be tricky but it doesn’t have to be difficult with all of the tests readily available to the everyday consumer. There is no science to calculate ovulation but there are statistics that your doctor will tell you about that have worked for their patients.

Understanding your menstrual cycle is important for knowing when to use an ovulation test. If you are planning to conceive using a calendar to track your menstrual cycle for a few months prior to the time you plan to try to conceive will be a very useful tool if you are planning to use ovulation tests.

The length of your cycle may affect when you ovulate, typically women with a longer menstrual cycle will ovulate later in their cycle than women who have a shorter cycle.

Ovulation time can vary from one week after the first day of your last period to three weeks. Many women typically ovulate around the 14th day of their cycle. If you have an irregular menstrual cycle figuring out when you are ovulating may take a few months and many ovulation tests.

Comparing ovulation test brands

Dollar Store brand ovulation test vs. Well known brand names ovulation tests

Are ovulation tests accurate?

Well that all depends but for the most part the manufacturers of the ovulation test products say they are 99% accurate so I’m going to say, yes they are although there is always that 1% chance they are not.

In a previous post, Mr. CBB talked about dollar store pregnancy tests and asked if people would consider using them since they are a fraction of the cost of say the Clear Blue Pregnancy test.  After one pregnancy and paying $18.99 for a pregnancy test, I went the dollar store route when it came to confirming my second pregnancy with my daughter.

I paid $1.00 (this was before the prices on everything went up) for the pregnancy test and low and behold it confirmed that I was indeed pregnant. I was 6 weeks pregnant at this point and 9 months later my daughter was born.

Dollarama also sells an ovulation test for $1.25 for one single test and for many the ovulation test accuracy seems to have worked out well for them as the test is highly popular. Don’t go ahead and mix up the ovulation test for the pregnancy test either as you will not get the results you were looking for. Always read the package and instructions on how to use the test and the best time to do the ovulation test so you don’t waste your money.

The dollar store ovulation test is much cheaper than what I have seen at Wal-Mart, the name brands they sell such as the First Response Digital ovulation test and the Clear Blue ovulation test range from 7- 20 tests per box and vary in price from $35.97-$64.97 each box.

After a little math I have figured out that the average price per one single ovulation test from Wal-Mart is approximately $4.56 with the cheapest being $2.99 for 1 single test, before tax.

Though I have not used an ovulation test myself trying the dollar store ovulation test may be just as effective and may put a significantly smaller hole in your pocket and your budget.

Effective use

Conceiving should be an exciting, stress free time in your life, though unfortunately for some this is not the case. If you are investing money into the process by purchasing ovulation tests then using them effectively is important, after all you want to get your money’s worth.

Unlike a pregnancy test which is most accurately used first thing in the morning, this is not the case for an ovulation test. Luteinizing hormone is produced in our bodies in the morning and is undetectable until later in the day. Between 10 am and 7 pm are the most recommended times to use them and is also a good idea to use them at the same time everyday.

It is also recommended to reduce the amount of fluids you take in 2 hours prior to using the test as an excessive amount of fluid may dilute the amount of luteinizing hormone present in your urine.

Signs of ovulation

Some women may not experience or be able to detect signs of ovulation while others may. A common sign of ovulation is a drop in your basal temperature.

According to my doctor most women ovulate anywhere from 10-14 days after the start of their period. You count the first day of your period as day 1 up until day 10-17 depending on if you are on a regular 28 day cycle.

Some women are on a 30 day cycle which means ovulation times will differ for them and to be honest I don’t think there is any number or science that can accurately predict ovulation other than taking an ovulation test.

This may also differ for those that have an irregular period but it also is just a ball park number and really it’s your body that will tell you when the right time to conceive is going to be. Some people have sex in the ovulation window for years and nothing happens until they take an ovulation test only to find out that they were ovulating at a different time.

To use temperature as an indicator of ovulation a basal thermometer needs to be used as the drop in temperature will be only slight and a regular thermometer will not be able to detect it. Take your temperature first thing in the morning and record it at the same time everyday, a drop in temperature may indicate that you are about to ovulate.

Other signs of ovulation are increase in cervical mucus, pains in your stomach over the ovaries and an increased desire for sex.

Don’t waste time

 

You have a positive ovulation test result now what?

Once you have received a positive ovulation test result when using an ovulation test it is time to get to work, remember the window of opportunity for the egg to survive and be fertilized is not very big so don’t waste too much time.

I was told by my doctor to make sure we are having sex at least 2-3 times a week or every few days so there is enough sperm waiting for the egg when it is released. You don’t have to have sex everyday but you do need to make sure you have sex regularly although having the accurate ovulation test detection is key to the entire process. Have some fun and good luck may just be on your side.

Have you used an ovulation test and did it work for you?

Would you consider using the considerably cheaper  ones from the dollar store?

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Kids: Healthy lunches and a happy budget

lunch-bag-and-water-bottle

Making Healthy Choices and Minimizing Food Waste

 

Trying to balance healthy lunches and the grocery budget is much easier than you think if you eliminate the convenience.

Having a picky eater in your house can certainly present some challenges when it comes to ensuring healthy lunches at school for your son or daughter.

I swear my son has been a picky eater since the minute he was born so when it came time for him to go to school the thought of him not eating his lunch or not having enough to eat while at school had me worried.

 

Time for change

 

My son’s first year of school was a tricky one as it seemed that whatever I sent to school for lunch with him ended up coming home.

Looking back on his first year I realized there was a lot of food waste and wasted money in our grocery budget.

At this point I was not only concerned about him not eating enough but this also made me realize that I needed to change my approach to cut down on money being thrown away.

Pizza day is by far still my favourite day of the month, it’s the one day every month I do not have to make a lunch.

My son loves pizza and as much as I love not having to make a lunch. Pizza is one of those foods that is a treat for him and  it’s not something that he can have everyday if I am going to ensure he is eating healthy lunches while at school.

 

Involving kids

 

Meal planning and making a grocery list are two tools used by many to ensure they are getting the most for their money while eating  healthy, affordable meals from day to day.

I have started to include my kids in this process, I am not the only one who eats the food so why should I get to make all the choices?

While still offering healthy choices, giving the kids the power to choose some of what they will eat has made getting them to eat it a lot easier.

The little reminder that ‘hey you chose this’ seems to help, being involved in the decision making process is exciting for him.

 

Offering Choices

 

chopped-vegetables

While letting your child choose what they eat you need still need to be the parent and make sure they are making good, healthy choices.

Let your child pick multiple foods from a custom list that you have provided and find ways to work those foods into your grocery list each week before heading out to the grocery store.

You will soon see that making lunches day after day will start to become a less daunting task knowing that you have food on hand your child will eat.

While some people believe that a child should eat what is put in front of them, I believe giving them the power to choose makes for happier, healthier stress free meals for all three of us in our home.

 

Skip the processed foods

 

lunch-mate-lunchables-schneiders

Too much salt is not good for anyone.

Sure buying pre-made products like Schneider’s Lunchables are great because they cover it all, you get meat, cheese and crackers or mini-pizzas that are lots of fun for the kids to make.

The lunchmate convenience lunch even come with a treat of some kind usually a mini chocolate bar and even now a fruit cup.

While Lunchables are certainly convenient the sodium content in one of those packages is unreal almost 2/3 if not more of my son’s recommended daily intake and too expensive.

With lunchables ringing in at a cost of approximately $3.49 that is too much to pay for something with that much salt and simply not feasible for the grocery budget!

You can make a homemade lunchable for far cheaper than $3.49 even if you get the lunchable on sale for dollar days I still wouldn’t buy them.

Salt is only used for baking in our house, I don’t even own a salt shaker as there is enough salt in everything these days.

Making your kid’s lunch at night makes for a less stressful morning but I will admit it just doesn’t always happen.

While it is easy to throw in processed, packaged snacks from the pantry we all know that they are not always the healthiest or cheapest option.

I like to keep some cut up celery and carrots in a container in the fridge so it is always readily available to my kids for a quick snack.

The best part is that it only takes a second to grab a few and throw them in a container for lunch instead of scrambling around to find something to go along side with his sandwich, wrap or whatever else he chooses to have for lunch that day.

I also enjoy baking and make muffins, cookies and quick breads like pumpkin bread and zucchini bread quite often.

 

Kids need variety

 

homemade-cookies-chocolate-chip

I’m sure my kids are not the only ones who get bored eating the same things over and over again, even I get bored easily with food sometimes.

One way to combat this food boredom is by making sure I have a variety of food options on hand.

What this does is it also eliminates those words of ‘not again’ coming from out of their mouths and more food going in!

It makes me a happy mother knowing my kids are happy.

Baking a few different recipes and freezing them gives him a variety of things to choose from and avoids me hearing those dreaded words.

Keep in mind when freezing that you want easy access to these frozen snacks.

When freezing cookies I like to put them in a container with layers of wax paper in between so the cookies do not freeze together , I can then easily grab one or two out to add in his lunch and by lunch time they have thawed in his lunch bag.

I also cut up my loaves of pumpkin and zucchini bread prior to freezing, also layering wax paper in between,  so I do not have to thaw a whole loaf at a time to send a slice as a yummy, homemade snack to school.

 

Plan for leftovers

 

I like to eat to most of my food warm but my son could care less if his sausages or baked fish fillets are cold.

When planning our meals for dinners throughout the week we like to include some foods which he can take any leftovers for lunch the next day.

 

A little creativity goes a long way

 

sandwich-cutouts

Cutting my son’s sandwiches into dinosaurs makes for a fun lunchtime, making him want to eat them.

I often add in a post-it note with a smiley face or a ‘hope you’re having a good day’ as it adds a positive to start to him sitting down to eat his lunch, making him excited to eat what’s in his lunch bag.

 

 

Skipping the juice boxes

 

I am lucky that both of my kids when given a choice will 99.9% of the time choose water to drink over anything else.

Making juice from frozen concentrate and putting it in a reusable bottle is not only cheaper than buying juice boxes but along with using containers versus Ziploc bags for sandwiches and other snacks, it cuts down on the amount of garbage you send with your child to school.

Though we do have some juice boxes in the cupboard to drink up, my son rarely chooses to take one and is more than happy with just his water bottle, a much healthier choice and better for his teeth.

Once the juice boxes are gone we will not stock up again.

 

Giving a rundown

 

Even with having my son involved in planning our meals involving him in the daily choices of what he is going to eat that particular day by going over these choices every morning with him assures me that he is happy with what he has to eat that day.

This process with my son promotes him to likely eat it his lunch and bring less food home which is what the aim is for or should be for any parent who wants their kids to eat a healthy lunch.

We quickly go over what he has chosen to take in his lunch bag and which snack is for his morning snack and which snack is for his afternoon snack.

This school year has been more successful with him eating healthier foods with less food coming home needing to be thrown out after sitting in his backpack all day.

Ensuring my child was eating a healthy lunch every day was a battle I didn’t think I could win, though including my son’s lunches in my meal plan, a little creativity and some frequent food preparation has been the key in making this a success.

My kids are young but some of these practices can be applied to older kids as well, at this point though they may be able to make their own lunch taking some of the stress off you.

A teenager may be a little upset with you if you sent a dinosaur sandwich to school but having things prepared and healthy yet fun options to choose from will make making their own healthy lunches easier for them as well.

How do you ensure your kids are eating healthy lunches while at school without breaking your grocery budget?

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How to kung fu your way out of money manipulation

toys on the shelf at the store

The Master Manipulator Gets What They Want

I don’t know how true that is about a master manipulator but you can bet they started their mental manipulative techniques from a young age even if they didn’t realize they were doing it.

Most people have no idea the way they come across to other people which can make them seem as if they are manipulators who always want something for nothing. They may also try to make someone feel awful if they don’t give in to the psychological manipulation that some people bestow upon them because they think they can.

Manipulators

Some of us are used to being taken advantage of at work when co-workers or even management rely on them so heavily that you feel guilty when you say no or they almost manipulate you into feeling that you are the only one to get the job done.

That’s a tough spot to be in but so is when people especially loved ones use manipulators to get what they want from you including your money. While my friend a single-parent was visiting with his daughter recently I wanted to work with them both to show his daughter that not everything has to be bought to bring happiness into her life.

I failed miserably from one perspective but I also think that she walked away from the day with a sense of understanding about money and that it doesn’t grow on trees.

Parenting skills

Besides teaching her how to bake homemade chocolate chip cookies instead of buying them in a bag which costs more and can’t compare to homemade this little girl wanted us to take her shopping. My wife and I have no kids so I thought, what the heck.

I have no parenting skills whatsoever but I do know there are things I would teach my child right from the beginning. My understanding is it can become a bit more challenging when the parents are split up and the child goes from home to home especially if values are different on each side.

The child almost has to learn to live 2 lives one with her father and the other with her mother and try to make sense of it all. If the child gets what he/she wants with one parent and not the other he/she will work hard to keep that ‘happy feeling’ going when he/she visits. I’ve already heard her say that her mother makes her clean her room. I’m unsure if she is emphasizing the word ‘makes’ but it seems to me that she finds it controlling rather than having the reasoning explained to her.

There must be a right way and a wrong way to talk to children.  My mother explained to me that a clean room helps me to stay organized and focused and that cleaning is just a part of life. I never felt as if I ‘had’ to do it because my mum explained it to me without any pressures.

Manipulative child behaviour

Her father said I would be in for the time of my life and he wasn’t kidding. I’m not used to how kids can easily try to manipulate their parents into getting what they want when they are shopping at the mall or better yet in the toy section of a department store. We already know that he lives only one pay ahead or at times pay to pay so money is not at his disposal yet he continues to allow the manipulations to overcome his emotions of love.

Children will eventually feel self-entitled to everything if that money mindset is not put in place from a young age.

I’ll be honest and say I had no idea about most of the toys she would pick up and go nutty over. I was interested in what she had to say but it was clear that what kids watch on television, internet and generally have surrounding them influence what they want in their lives.

There was not one time when she picked up a toy and was jumping up and down that she looked her dad or even me in the eyes to say how much she needed or wanted the toy or how important it was in some form or another.

It was clear that we were going to have our work cut out for us but I also took the time to teach her about money and finance because daddy was struggling in this area. It seems as if it might be tough for a parent to get a point across to a child when the child has been a manipulator for so long and used to getting their way using a controlling behaviour.

She also knows that she can’t get what she wants from her mother this way so when she is at her father’s house she works him only because she now knows how.

I think he feels guilty if he doesn’t give in but deep inside he wants it to stop but doesn’t know how. He seems very frustrated not only about his daughter but everyone around him. He’s a good guy and people take advantage of him all the time. He’s tired of it and sometimes I hear his anger and I speak up and hope he hears my words.

I’ve seen some improvements in how he deals with certain situations but he still struggles with a controlling ex who is manipulative in her own ways using the child and his lack of self-worth to get what she wants even if that means pissing him off.

Sometimes when a trusted friend talks to a child the child will listen because they don’t have that control over the person like she would with her father. He does do his best to say no when needed but he also doesn’t like to see his only daughter sad. He doesn’t give in to her every cry for something because he has told her that she can’t have it all.

It’s those puppy eyes that she uses and the ‘but dad’ with the reasoning behind why she ‘needs’ something where she tries to use the psychological manipulation tactics on him. Most times I gather she does it because she knows it works. I think she also thinks that you don’t need paper money to pay for things that putting money on credit is just as easy to pay for things.

Kids today see adults swiping credit cards left, right and center so as long as they see a wallet full of plastic they see dollar signs. Teaching kids about money from a young age is critical for this reason and hopefully will teach them the difference about wants and needs and why instant gratification is only temporary.

despicable me 2

Media manipulators

The media manipulates us time and time again and it’s not just the kids, adults as well. No matter if you go to the grocery store, the movies, the department store or watch TV, read billboards, internet advertisements we can’t get away from the media wanting us to ‘spend money’.

I remember sitting in the movie theater waiting for the movie to start and the opening advertisements on the big screen encouraged those with smart phones to text in but in small wording it read that text and long distance charges may apply along with a fee.

This is marketing at its best and they use the audience mostly filled with young kids and adults to draw them in and you know what, it works. I believe that people who are manipulative when it comes to getting what they want learn this behaviour at some point in their life and it continues on into adulthood depending on their values and beliefs. If you have to ask yourself “Am I manipulative” chances are that you are and you should really think about why you do and say what you do in order to get your own way.

Manipulative relationships

I’m not talking just about your spouse or partner but also your adult children and even their friends. My friend he gets it from every direction only because he is a nice guy. I don’t think there is anything wrong with being a nice guy, heck I am but I also know when to draw the line. His step children are always asking for rides all over town to work and ask him to lend them money for car repairs and that they would pay him back if he put it on his credit card.

It made him feel awful that he didn’t help out but at the same time she needs to learn that we all have to work hard for our money and putting stuff on credit cards only makes matters worse especially if it takes months or even years to pay back.

Friends of his step kids also crash at his place when they want to which is bad enough because it’s costing him money that he doesn’t have but they also ask him to borrow money. He gets upset and wonders why they can’t ask their own parents who seem to be well off. I don’t understand why kids do that but if we look at the big picture he’s probably lent her money before and/or she knows he’s a nice guy and will likely give her the money. Being taken advantage of time and time again is wearing on the heart, the mind and the soul and I feel for him.

I’m working with him to teach him how to recognize the manipulative signs of people who are only out for themselves and lean on him way too much, so much that his own life is lost in the chaos of those around him. I can tell just by the way he talks to me that he wants his life back and he wants everyone to just do their own thing so he can focus on his own priorities, his daughter and his girlfriend and finding the career that he really wants while pursuing his life-long dream hobby in hopes of earning extra cash on the side and building a business from it.

Manipulation in love

If you have ever been in a relationship and your partner constantly nags at you to go shopping to spend money or tells you they need something when they don’t and gets angry at you or tries other ways to get you to agree that is a form of manipulation as well.

When in a relationship when one partner feels they have the control over another especially if one is a nice guy like my friend that manipulation has the potential to grow and get worse over time and not just with money.

They want to control your entire life and if you allow it, they will. It’s the main reason he is single today but since they have a child she still haunts him and always feels the need to know where he is, who he is with and asks him to fix things around the house often.

When I asked him if he she wants money from him she most often would say their daughter needs something so he doesn’t let her go without. She knows that if she tells him to buy something for their daughter, he will.

Sometimes… but if she says it’s for my daughter I get what she needs

It’s an emotional manipulation that he allows to happen because he loves so much and doesn’t like confrontation. Not so much about buying for his daughter but you can easily see how that can get out of hand but more so about her letting him go. I can’t imagine what it feels like to be stuck like that and the stress he must have in his daily life because of it. It almost seems as if he is still with her but he’s not and they live in two different houses.

My wife and I talk about everything but she never tells me what to do or when to do it nor does she question my every move. We talk about money all the time and although we are smart with our money we know that money does not buy happiness nor will it work to try and manipulate each other with it to get what we want.

This all boils down to two things in my mind. One she knows he’s a nice guy, two she’s manipulating him into doing these things for her so she doesn’t have to pay someone to do it . It’s a money manipulation and it’s not his problem any longer.

There are both controlling manipulative men and women in some relationships and it can range anywhere from finances to life in general and it’s an evil that will always crush a relationship in two. Love in relationships is built on two people who work together, trust each other and want to grow together.

When control and manipulation become a factor the relationship becomes one-sided and whether it’s for money or other reasons eventually the union will fail. Even the master manipulator can fail at their own match when we don’t allow them to continue with the emotional roller coaster game they play to get what they want, especially when it comes to the hard-earned money that we all work for. In the end his daughter got the best of me and even I allowed her pretty eyes and smile to buy a toy for her at Target her new favourite store.

Another one of my friends his wife when she want something says “baby, you want me to look good don’t you?” so he gives in and lets her spend the money. It’s these little manipulations that will eventually backfire. They may work once or twice but if they continue because it works it will come crashing down at one point or another.

The lesson I learned

The interesting part was that I told his daughter that she would have to wash dishes and complete chores if she wanted the more expensive toy because I had to work hard to earn that money that I would spend on the toy so she opted for the less expensive toy saying she didn’t want to wash dishes.

I told her that she would have to earn money in order to spend money on what she wanted when her dad was off sourcing out his Big Bang Theory series DVD set leaving me to deal with her which was perfectly fine as I don’t mind talking to children about money. It was quite the experience for me since she is such a vibrant child who really knows what she wants.

I’m hoping that small lesson taught her that although we may see something that costs $50 that a comparable item for $25 might be a better choice depending on actual needs and to save up her money to pay cash. If she understands that the higher priced item may come with consequences such as paying interest if it was put on a credit card instead of paying cash or working more hours to earn more she may understand how much work it takes to earn money. I didn’t get into quality with her as it was more about choices.

If anything, I was hoping that she would question the pricing and from the sounds of it she understood what I was trying to say to her.

In the end there are no easy ways to kung fu your way out of money manipulation and other emotional ties to people but the best place to start is to practice the art of saying, “no’.

Have you ever allowed yourself to be manipulated by someone for money or other things?

What advice do you have for my friend as a parent who is struggling to teach his child about money?

What advice do you have for my friend about his ex who won’t leave him alone and mind her own business about his life?

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