First Year Baby Costs Versus a Water Leak (Part 2)

When people share both the good and the bad in their lives, a relatable environment can be created where people learn not only from one another's experiences but also from their reactions to those experiences.

Ideally, the wins and the losses can be communicated without sounding like boasting or ranting - whether the issues are communicated in person or online (and whether the issues concern money or do not concern money).

Social Rules: Silence and Safety

When it comes to sharing successes and failures, I’ve been a deeply private person most of my life in an attempt to stay away from bragging or complaining. But what actually happens is I end up not talking at all around certain people.


My self-imposed shyness has been an attempt to stay safe and follow social rules while learning from others (and while in situations where I'm not sure what my role is).

“You were given two ears and one mouth for a reason.”  Rules. Like. That.

I have found I can stay safe while silent but my creativity eventually atrophies.  

In order to break out of my safe but boring mode of being, I’ve turned to creating brief content online while communicating with others about a topic everyone has good and bad experiences with (money).

This Post: An Experiment

With this two-part post, I have attempted to share a win and a loss with strangers. Maybe I can exist in this space and feel comfortable speaking out as long as I speak out in balance?  Maybe I can relate to others by acknowledging unexpected generosity (Post 1) and sneaky insidious disasters (this post)?  Maybe I can share both the good and the bad in life instead of nothing at all?  

(Explanation over).

The Good: A Recap

In Post 1, we discovered our baby cost around $10,500 in our first year as parents.  

He's starting to choose the tunes... and his outfits.

We had no issues allocating this money specifically for him because our son is at the center of our lives. “Hard-core-hustle-logic” went out the window on this one.

Even though we are incredibly frugal in most areas solely related to us, I saw the total number spent on him and didn’t flinch. Establishing time with him was more important than endlessly searching for the best deal on baby gear.   

I'd like to note, the number was surprisingly higher than I thought it would be.  However, we beat the baby-cost calculator prediction (with the help of others) while recycling perfectly good used-materials along the way (and staying true to the tune of minimalist baby gear).


*As a reminder, because we were gifted items, the previous post is an individual experience and certainly not a financial plan or example for anyone else.

*Up next is another non-example of a financial strategy!

The Bad

Why is it only 45 degrees in here?

Why is there a low constant hum in the basement?


We all know houses are not cheap, but many of us hope for them to be a good investment in the long-run.  Browsing the personal finance community, I’ve found some people don’t think of a house as an investment. In fact, some people don’t count their house in their net-worth at all because they need a place to live anyway...  

Are these extreme opinions logical? 

While on a mission to be brutally honest with ourselves, we're still forming our thoughts about the role of housing in our finances.

My husband completely remodeled and customized the two homes we’ve had.  He knows how to do tactful carpentry work in the safest and most affordable way possible. As a result, we absolutely LOVE our current home.

But it has held quite a few surprises over the past three and half years.  I would like to total these surprises here and see if they cost more than our first year with our child.  

Why? TO FACE THE MUSIC ABOUT HOUSING before we even think about buying a rental.

Here comes Adam’s first written work on the blog.  And such an exciting topic too! Take it away Adam!

Furnace Troubles

Early one morning, we woke up and discovered the temperature of our house had dropped down to 45 degrees because the furnace hadn’t run for hours.

We called a plumber around six in the morning. Luckily, they let us know if we waited until 7:30 am we could be billed for normal work hours as opposed to a higher emergency rate.

The tech came, cleaned the burners, and replaced the ignitor.

Technical Furnace Lingo

We have a furnace that doesn’t use a perpetual pilot light. As I understand it, when the furnace receives the signal to run, a current is sent to a main ignitor that heats up and creates a flame which is then passed on to light the three burners.

The main ignitor was creating a flame but was unable to make the pass to the burners due to moisture buildup and rust. After a second plumber visit, we didn’t experience the problem again (that season).

Holiday Surprise

Two winters went by.  This year the furnace stopped working again (and on a holiday)!  The plumber informed us he wouldn’t be able to get to our house until later that day. This time, we were on the hook for the lovely off-hours rate ($160 an hour).

We really needed to get to the bottom of the problem so I watched him work and asked a lot of questions. The plumber did the same thing to get the furnace running. He cleaned the burners and replaced an ignitor. But about a week later we still had issues. Obviously, we had a moisture problem inside our furnace, even though our basement is very dry.

I discovered the furnace ran without issue if I left a couple of covers off. Meaning, at times, the furnace is open, and flaming burners are exposed. No moisture issue, just a little nerve-wracking to have torches burning away uncovered in the basement.


Ultimately, the real problem is some wiz decided to run the exhaust vent and intake pipe in parallel to the outside world. This approach can work if you add fittings at the ends of the pipes to route the moist exhausted air away from the fresh air intake pipe. This was not done properly so the air is just cycling around.

With our house, the pipes run out through a west wall where we have more wind (which just exasperates the venting issue further).

This summer when we redo the deck we need to address the furnace vents. It may involve routing them out the east side of the house instead.

Total Spent on Furnace (So Far): 121.71 + 375.01 +117.64 + 363.96 = $978.32

Water Leak and New Posh Looking Street

A few months after moving in and dealing with the furnace for the first time, we heard a lot of sound coming from the water lines in the basement (like what you’d hear if someone was taking a shower).

Ugly street with an ugly pipe hiding underneath it.

For some reason, water was running in pipes when no faucets or toilets were running at all. We couldn’t find any leaks in the house.

We finally gave up and called a plumber who immediately identified it as a leak at the water main. A crew had to come out, dig a huge 12’ x 8’ hole in the street and remove the broken pipe which turned out to be on our side of the city water main.

This meant we were responsible for the entire cost. One positive is now we can guarantee there are no lead pipes going into our house.

Nice street with a new pipe hiding underneath it.

Brief Silver Lining

The whole thing would have cost even more if it hadn’t been for the fact the city was already planning to repave our street.

We still had to pay for the excavation, refilling the hole with gravel, and applying a sub-layer. We weren’t charged for the top two layers of black-top.  The rocks alone were $947.11.  Also, removing the pipe messed up the neighbor's water line so we paid them $65.

Total Spent on Water Leak/Pipe/Street: $6,012.11

Total Surprises: $6,990.43

Obviously, spending thousands of dollars on something other than our child is completely annoying.  Similar amounts of money can come with completely different emotions.  To our surprise, our baby certainly did cost more (by $3,413.57), but he was waaaaay more enjoyable.

So he wins.

And I hope we never have to never write about a lead pipe again.

How about you? Do you have a financial win and a financial loss from the past few years?  

5 Replies to “First Year Baby Costs Versus a Water Leak (Part 2)”

  1. Wow, ouch. The only real nasty surprise we had is when I finally (after years of my ex-husband pleading) replaced our dishwasher (the tines were breaking off from rust, but I’m a cheap bastard and there were still plenty left!) and three days later the water heater died. Luckily, it didn’t flood anything important. Just about everything dried or was in plastic containers. But it was still $800+ right after we spent $500 on a new dishwasher.

    That’s not to say this house hasn’t had its fair share of repairs, but they’re considerate enough to come at random intervals rather than all at once at least. And they’ve never been in the thousands until this past week when I had the kitchen door replaced, a ceiling fan installed and a new bathroom counter/bathroom sink put in. That was $1,893 (but who’s counting?) which hurt — especially since these were more upgrades than repairs — but I’m very happy with the results. And the back of the house no longer has an easy access point if someone gets into the back yard. (The old kitchen door was hollow and had a single pane window in it, which also meant it was probably leaking a ton of cool air in the summer.)

  2. Ugh. That’s right. We are due for a new dishwasher too (thanks for the reminder).

    And thanks for sharing and dropping by the blog Abigail! I’m glad it’s gone pretty well for you as a homeowner (although, it looks like you are counting and $1893 still sounds frustrating)!

    Our story above made me glad we have an emergency fund. It’s just harder now after learning what I’ve learned in the PF community because I think of what it would have been like to be able to invest it and watch it double every 10 years (hypothetically).

    Sigh. Good luck this next week in finishing up those projects and enjoying the updates and repairs.

  3. How timely is this post as we are dealing with water issues in our basement. It will cost low five figures to fix, which is definitely more than we spent on our baby in year one. Like you say, houses are expensive even mortgage free. I still wouldn’t trade it for the world!

  4. I hope it’s a quick and easy fix for you. Good luck! As you can see, our story kept unraveling. It’s longer than what we typed above!

    I agree with you though. We love owning our home and wouldn’t change it!

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