Better early than late: join college 529 plan

I was thinking about this for a few days, and I took the plunge today. The kicker is the referral bonus from Ohio College Advantage 529 plan, as I read from my friend theSunsFinancialDiary.

As to investment choice, I picked the Vanguard Winsor II (which I got to know from my 401k plan), because its relative out performance over S&P 500. But the investment choice probably is not as important as “start early” (snowball or compound interest effect). Similar things can be said for state tax deduction from 529 plan contribution.

In case you are interested, please use my number 2568778 as referral code when you open account at Ohio 529 Plan, that way you will get the $25 bonus, and I will also receive some bonus money (provided you open and fund at least $25 to the account, by June 30, 2010). A rare win-win situation in the financial world 😀

(Update) PBS NBR Paying for college: the 529 plan. It also suggests “open an account as soon as the baby is born”. Another interesting thing is, 529 can be used for graduate school and re-training.

(Update 2) Comparing the fund options between Missouri 529 (MOST) and Ohio College Advantage plan, it seems to me Show Me State does not have much to show on this. Here is Morningstar’s best and worst 529 plans. One thing to note is while Ohio CollegeAdvantage 529 Savings Plan is among the best, Ohio Putnam CollegeAdvantage (broker-sold) is among the worst. So keep this in mind: a state could have multiple plans. Choose the winner, not the loser.

(Update 3) I wrote the 529 plan in more detail at stlplace, and I will give additional $25 to those who use my reference code 2568778. So the total bonus for you will be $50.

(Update 4: 6-17-2010) I found this Kiplinger’s Find the Best 529 Plan to be interesting. One interesting point I noticed is the Show Me State (Missouri) offers state tax credit/deduction for any plan. In other words, we got lucky that we don’t have to enroll in the Missouri plan (which is not that good in my personal opinion), while get the same tax benefits. You can read the tax benefits of 529 plan at

Little face, big face

These days because we paid much attention to our new born baby, both my wife and I did not have much time to look at each other carefully. This leads to an interesting point: both of us felt our faces are so big compared to our baby’s little face. 😀

Guess that’s all relative. When I first met my wife 3.5 years ago, I felt her face is small and lovely at the time. Now of course all the attention are reserved for our baby. But I think it’s would be good we reserve some time for us.

Diapers, diapers, diapers

One of the main job for daddies is to change diapers. From my limited observations ladies are usually more sensitive to smells than men. I mean they don’t like that smell. For me smell is not a big problem. My only worry is sometimes during the change, when the new diaper has not been in place, she pees again (messed up the wrapping clothes etc.). In one case, when we just got back from hospital, she did both pee and poo, right on my T-shirt. After that, I am more cautious.

Another reason dads do this diaper thing more often, is they are more fearless. My wife is a little worried hurting the baby, not that I am not worried, but I learned the process quickly in hospital. Much faster then the “new parenting” class at St . John’s with the faked baby 😀

Last but not least, the cost of diaper. This thing is expensive, initially we bought some from wal-mart, but soon I realized that we need to buy bulk at Sam’s club or Costco. I just did that yesterday. Nice thing a friend who have the baby experience sent us a large box of diapers. Very thoughtful gifts indeed :-)

Baby grows fast

Serenity is more than 3 weeks old. I still remember the exhausting, exciting and unsure feeling when we got back from hospital: we got to take care of her alone. Without professional help from the nice people St. John’s Mercy’s childbirth center.

The initial few days are a bit chaotic, both for myself and my wife. Then things settle down a bit, as baby eats well, and sleeps well: except she mixed up day with night. In other words, she sleeps well in afternoon and evening, but she wakes up very often (every hour or so) and needs her mom’s feed and attention.

In last few days, we tried to train her sleep better in the night (this is also advice from our Pediatrician). So far so good. Now the longest stretch is about 4 hours in the night. She continues to gain weight, and have more activities on her hand. Besides holding the feeding bottle, she tries to hold me or my wife when we hold her sometime. More interaction between us.

Financial considerations: health insurance

Ever since the birth of our baby Serenity (Youyang),she has seen doctors, pediatricians to be precise.This is common in the US, as each baby (supposely) has a pediatrician look after her/him. Of course, this is assume the baby has health insurance coverage. In the US it usually means she/he will be covered under one of the parent ‘s plan, or in the case of no plan for parents, there are some government plans for low income family kids.

I was a bit nervous on the health insurance thing, both for my wife’s labor and the baby, because I changed my employer recently, which also means I am enrolling in a new plan (unknow factors). The new plan is slightly expensive than my old plan, understandably because my new employer is a smaller organization (compared to the old one), resulting in less negotiation power. Health insurance (excuse me healthcare) reform has being a hot topic in the US because of year long debate, and the dramatic ending (house passed the bill on Sunday). Hopefully when my baby has her kid, she need not worry too much about that?

Continue reading Financial considerations: health insurance

Youyang starts to feed herself

This evening, when I got back home, my wife was bottle feeding the baby, and the baby started to hold the bottle using both her hands. After a while, my wife let her hand loose, and Serenity (Youyang) continued to hold the bottle, and feeding herself. I will post a picture tomorrow. Her feeding self act made all of us laugh for a while.


(hosted on Flickr)

Burp, gas

Baby grows very fast, these days she eats a lot, and sometimes just cannot wait to eat when her mom starts to feed her. She probably swallow quite a bit gas in the process. But due to her size (2 weeks old tomorrow), she cannot get rid of the gas easily. Thus we can hear her colic from time to time (refer to Baby Colic from Wiki).

I was pretty nervous initially. As I learn more facts, think about it, and learn how to burping, I became more confident.

Other than that, she is doing well. Tomorrow, we will take her to see doctor (2 weeks scheduled visit).

Daddy’s responsibility

We took the “new parents” class at St. John’s before delivery. That’s quite informative, the topics ranges from preparation for labor, to feed the baby, to home safety, there is even a short presentation by a pediatrician: on the basics of baby healthcare matters. I also remember the instructor asked us (the future dads) two tasks: put the cribs together; install the infant car seats.

Life would be too easier if that’s the only tasks for dads. From emotional support when the pregnant wife have cramps and/or difficulty to sleep due to growing belly size, house chores, to big picture issues like child development and education. I am not saying this to make myself and other new dads to worry, I think the important thing is we have a game plan. It’s hard to predict which college our kid will go, which major will she pick, but we can think about the college funds, put away some while building our nest eggs, etc.

Grandpa fix

Continue reading Daddy’s responsibility

Why this blog (website)?

Our daughter Serenity Youyang was born a week ago, as 悠揚 in Chinese. Her arrival obviously has changed our lives, forever. As I quote one of my former coworker, I will not have a dull day for sure.

A lot of emotions, anticipations, before March 5, when she actually came to the world, I was a bit intimated, after the sleepless night at St. John’s Mercy Medical Center. Obviously my wife has been through much more.

This past week, last 7 days, we went from panic parents to more-at-ease parents. One interesting thing I noticed our baby girl has some new change everyday, esp. her facial expressions (like smile). Upon further examination like this article “First Signs of Intelligent Life“, it appears our baby is not at the stage of sophistication.

Why this blog/website?

Continue reading Why this blog (website)?