Cheap Mother-in-law Birthday Gift

by

In keeping with the cheap gift ideas of late, here’s another one to add to the mix.

My mother-in-law’s birthday was last Thursday. She’s actually flying into town today for the long weekend (yay!), so we’ll be taking her out to dinner one night while she’s here. But we also wanted to do something on her actual birthday, so I had the girls make another super cheap craft that we mailed to her last week.

This was actually an idea I saw when I was in Michael’s craft store for something totally unrelated. This was right before Mother’s Day and they had a whole display of crafts for kids to do for/with their Moms. One of the crafts was a coffee mug/paint set. They were on sale 2 more $3, which seemed like an excellent deal (came with the mug and the ceramic paints). I bought two and had the girls make 1 for me to keep and 1 for my MIL’s birthday.

IMG_1517

IMG_1518

IMG_1519

We (heart) You!

If I were to do it again, I probably would have done the palms at the bottom, overlapping, and done fingers up (we had a hard time keeping the thumb tucked in, so the heart has some little “wings” hanging off the side). But the imperfection just makes it that much more special and precious. Maybe not worthy of any fine art awards, but definitely worthy of a grandma’s love! <3

 
Hope you all have a great weekend! A good long weekend to those in the states! Be safe and have fun and let’s remember what the holiday is really all about : )


An Update on our School Plan

by

My homeschooling seems to rub lots of people the wrong way, especially those that have no personal experience with it.  And earlier this year, I wrote about how the cost of our co op really had me re-thinking my plans.  So I wanted to give everyone an update from both a schooling and financial update on this topic.

First, as I have kind of mentioned around, I am happy to announce that I will be teaching two classes at our local homeschool co op.  And currently the classes are almost half full – yeah!  They are both high school classes for high school credit and each student pays $140 per semester.  I have high hopes that the classes will fill.

Second, my children have each selected and registered for their courses through the co op for next year (with a few nudges from me.)  And after reviewing what they have chosen and what everyone “needs” to stay on course, I will only be teaching math and Spanish here at home.  Everything else will be taken at the co op.  This is a good compromise allowing me to take on the additional “work” hours of teaching a few hours a week.

In reviewing these two, the monies I make from teaching at co op will just cover the costs of their co op classes – woot, woot!!!

Third, schedule wise this is going to work out fantastic!  I have already consulted with my largest client for whom I have dedicated work hours, and the two hours a week I will be teaching are outside of my work hours for them…so no conflicts.  AND even better, since the kids are taking so much more at the co op, that will free me up approximately 10 hours a week to work on other stuff.

For those of you that are uncomfortable with the thought of homeschooling, think of this like college.  They will go to class two days a week and then have the remaining days to complete homework.  It is very much like that, and the test results (we test at a local private school so there is no manipulation on my part) continue to show that they are all on or above grade level in almost every subject.

Fourth, I haven’t set up a teaching schedule for my online classes for the fall yet, but they are willing to work around whatever my availability is…awesome!  And I will be teaching some of the same classes at both places so only one set of lesson plans, etc. for me to design.

So essentially school costs will be minimal this coming year…I will still have to buy books and supplies.  But essentially I am knocking $5,000 off my yearly budget by teaching for 2 hours a week for 6 months.  I am okay with that, and even the better, the kids are super excited that they are getting to take more classes.  And if I had my druthers…math and Spanish are the two classes I enjoy teaching to them so I anticipate lots of good times!


Starting to Review the Next Step

by

Within 8 weeks of this post, I will be consumer debt free.  I will also have saved approximately $5,000 from new jobs, odd jobs and selling a few odds and ends here and there over the last few months.  Now I have to plan the next step.

If I kept going at the rate I’m going with no other changes, paying $2,400 per month towards debt, my student loan debt would be wiped out by the fall of next year.  Isn’t that amazing!

However, we are going to need a car especially by September when school starts back, not to mention the idea of traveling in our sardine can is starting to give me and the kids hives.  Just a quick trip up to one of Little Gymnast meets had us all saying “never again.”  And since I’ve taken on new work with teaching both in person and online, I am definitely going to need some help in getting everyone everywhere.  Not to mention, both the twins are ready for a bit more independence.

We have already established that the twins will be paying 50% of their car insurance, plus gas and maintenance on their car.  (It’s in great shape so other than routine stuff, not anticipating any big bills for the time being.)  That means I will up my insurance payments a bit to help them out (anticipating $100 monthly increase on my part.)

So my thought at this point is to find a family car, obviously older that gets relatively good gas mileage which would be comfortable for us to travel in a bit (remember two trips to GA to see family over the next 5 months.)

I know there are going to be lots of opinions on this.  So the facts are…when this happens my only debt payments will be to my student loan currently right at $300 per month.  I will have $5K saved from recent odd jobs (this does not include approx $3K in my EF.)  So tell me what you think…

 


Weekly Debt Update #15- One More Paid Off and Support Groups

by

Sorry for the late posting today, but it’s been a very busy couple of days at home- lots to do now that the weather has turned for good!

I’ll start this post with a debt update because I have some wonderful news to share- I paid off Sallie Mae 05!! That’s right- gone!! Another one bites the dust, lol.

So here’s what the numbers look like now:

Loan NameInterest RateOriginal Balance- May '09Current BalanceTotal Paid Off+/- Since Last Week
Sallie Mae 015.25$27,837.24$23,985.23$3,852.01$0.00
Sallie Mae 024.75$22,197.02$18,820.44$3,376.58$0.00
Sallie Mae 037.75$20,692.10$0.00
$20,692.10$0.00
Sallie Mae 045.75$10,350.18$7,407.64$2,942.54$0.00
Sallie Mae 055.25$6,096.03$0.00$4,840.64$1,255.39
Sallie Mae 06 and 074.75$6,415.09$0.00$6,415.09$0.00
Sallie Mae- DOE 015.25$5,000.00$0.00$5,000.00$0.00
Sallie Mae- DOE 025.25$3,000.00$0.00$3,000.00$0.00
AES6.8$9,000.00$0.00$9,000.00$0.00
TOTALS$110,587.66$50,213.31$60,374.35$1,255.39

I’m also super close to another milestone (a milestone that felt like an eternity away only a year ago)- below $50,000. I think seeing a 4 as the first number is going to have a very big impact on my psyche moving forward.

I also want to talk about something that can very much make or break a debt payoff- the support of your family and friends. I’m extremely blessed in the sense that for the most part, I have this support, with most of my blessings aimed towards my parents and my GF. BUT, it hasn’t always been this way for me. When I originally told my parents, I got a lot of “why’s?” and “don’t you make enough money not to worry?”. They still make jokes at my expense about it, but I take it in stride, since they really do support me. It took some convincing that I’m on the right path FOR ME, but I finally got them to agree that I’m making the right choice.

When I graduated from college (with a butt load of debt and 40K/year in pay) I had a girlfriend of a year. When my student loans were coming due and I had to make cuts (which included, dates, gifts and the like), we did NOT see eye to eye and was one of the big reasons for our eventual breakup.

I even went on a date a couple of years ago where the girl spent the whole date asking me about my personal financial situation. After I told her I was an engineer, but I didn’t have much money to spend, she couldn’t believe that I chose to live my life in such a frugal manner. There was no 2nd date.

As for my close friends, I don’t remember having many issues. They supported since we were, and some of us still are, all in the same predicament, being as we all graduated from the same, very expensive, school. Some of us still talk financials on a regular basis.

This is a hard subject for me to bring up, because I’ve haven’t been on the other side of the fence too often. I had the one breakup many moons ago, but other than that I haven’t found any of my friends or family to be roadblocks. To me, it seems like such a crapshoot, which boils down to: are you lucky enough to have people around you, particularly family members (as you can’t pick your family, like you can friends) that got your back? Since I really feel we’re all in this together, I’d like to open a discussion on the topic in the comments section for anyone willing to share. I have a couple of questions:

  1. During your debt payoff, do you feel like you did or didn’t have the support of those around you?
  2. How do you think it affected your debt paydown?
  3. Did any of you NOT reach your goal from lack of support?
  4. Did any of you reach your goal IN SPITE OF the lack of support?

Thanks, and have a great week!


“Free” Swim Lessons & A Preschool Update

by

Remember when I put out the question of whether it would be a worthwhile expense to pay for swim lessons for my girls this summer? As a reminder, they have never been in any paid activity (ballet, soccer, swim, etc.) in their entire lives with the exception of childcare.

Well we just got letters sent home from our girls’ preschool (they attend the Jewish Community Center). We signed permission slips for the girls to go to the pool over the summer months where they will be receiving swim lessons from certified water safety instructors! This is “free” to us (in quotations because we pay a lot for the childcare, itself, but we are not required to pay any additional money for the swim lesson services). So YAY!!! I was super excited about this because I had NO IDEA this was going to happen! What a selling point/benefit for parents! I’m surprised they didn’t make a big deal about this when we first enrolled our kids here (they didn’t even mention that over the summer they do swim lessons!) To be fair, it’s surely not as in-depth as paid lessons (they go for 30 minutes twice per week for a few weeks in the summer), but it will teach them the basics and won’t cost us additional money out of pocket. Win-win!!

So that’s the free swim lesson update. Onto the preschool update…

Currently we pay a TON for very high quality care (see our budget where these costs are outlined here). Finding care for children aged 2 and under is challenging in our area. There were cheaper options available, but the quality wasn’t nearly as good. You can read about one of our experiences here. So we were willing to pay extra for really high quality care. There were two main issues related to this when we chose to go to the JCC. 1. Cost, and 2. Distance. Our current childcare facility is a full 30-40 minutes away. And since I work from home, that’s a 60-80 minute round-trip twice per day (once for drop-off and once for pick-up).

When the girls first started I was pretty diligent about staying at the JCC the whole day. I’d work in the library, then move to the patio, out to the commons area, etc. But there were lots of distractions and across time I found myself simply driving home more and more often. This, of course, meant less work-time since I was spending more time driving. In the past month or two all this driving has really become burdensome for me professionally speaking. I’ve had difficulty getting my work done in the limited hours available to me. The girls are in preschool 21 hours per week, but I easily have 30 hours worth of work. Not to mention the driving time means that the 21 preschool hours really only equals about 17-ish hours of actual work time. Less when you factor in other miscellaneous errands or activities (e.g., I’d often go to the gym at the JCC for 30-45 minutes when I’d drop off the girls. This reduces my work hours even more…now down to about 15-ish per week). The point is that I ended up working more and more late in the evenings and/or on weekends and felt my overall productivity waning. Toward the end of the Spring semester I was barely hanging on by a thread. Still taking care of my responsibilities, but just barely.

So we knew it was time to move the girls to a new preschool facility. They turn 3 in June and a ton of new options will become available to them (many preschools are only for potty-trained kids age 3 and up, so they weren’t options last summer). I found one place I really like (I spoke about it here). Last Friday I went to the preschool office and paid the enrollment fee ($75 per child) so starting this Fall (the preschool year is the same as the academic year in our area – starting in August and running through May), our girls will officially be starting a new preschool!!!

I’m super excited because both of our big issues with the JCC (price and distance) will be resolved to some extent. Instead of a 30-40 minute drive, our new preschool is about a 10-15 minute drive. And we’ll be saving some money, too. I ended up deciding to enroll the girls in 5 half-days instead of 3 full-days. The difference is 21 hours (for 3 full days) versus 25 hours (for 5 half days). The price is going to be about $800/month for both kids. We’re currently paying over $1,000/month so we’ll be saving a couple hundred a month (not to mention gasoline and having more work-able hours since I won’t be driving as far). I wish we’d be saving more, but I think this was a good compromise and I’m happy with the trade-off.

We do have to be officially “accepted” to the program (I had to fill out a huge application packet and they’ll notify me within 2 weeks if we’re accepted or not), but the woman at the front desk didn’t seem worried about it. My guess is its more of a formality to make sure there aren’t glaring red flags about the family or children somehow. I think we’ll be okay (fingers crossed).

So now let’s just hope that the transition is a smooth one. The new preschool has fabulous reviews and I coincidentally met a mom at the park whose kids go to the preschool and she just raved about it. So I’ve got high hopes!

Do you pay for summertime activities for your kids (if you want to share, just out of curiosity, I’d love to know how much you pay and what the activity is)?

How much do you pay for childcare?


Ashley’s May 2015 Debt Update

by

It’s that time again. Time for another debt update. Here you go:

PlaceCurrent BalanceAPRLast Payment MadeLast Payment Date Original debt, March 2014
Capital One CC-17.9%-Paid off in March 2014$413
Mattress Firm-0%-Paid off in May 2014$1381
Wells Fargo CC-13.65%-Paid off in May 2014$7697
BoA CC-7.24%-Paid off in June 2014$2220
License Fees-2.5%-Paid off in April 2015$5808
Navient - Federal Student Loan$39838.25%$116May$4687
ACS Student Loans$210407.24%$77April$21035
Navient - Dept of Education student loans$665436.55%$240May$63254
PenFed Car Loan$147012.49%$750May$24040
Balance Transfer student loan (Former Navient 1-01)$54370% (through April 2016)$500May$5937
Medical Bills$61110%$25May$9000
Totals$117,815 (Last month = 119,170)$1708Starting Debt = $145,472

I’ve rearranged my debts (compare to last month) to be in order of APR (highest-to-lowest). From this re-ordering, it’s interesting to see that the highest APR debt is also currently my lowest balance. Certainly provides a bit of a “hmmmmmmm” experience. Though at the moment I remain steadfast with my current repayment plan:  paying aggressively toward the balance transfer student loan, only an extra $100/month toward the Navient Federal student loan, and all extra monies thrown at the car loan.

Of course, I’m notorious for changing up my order of debt-repayment. So who knows what the future holds? I know this drives people crazy (the opinion being that when a person keeps splitting priorities that nothing ends up getting done). But I’m more of the opinion that any progress is good progress. So for now its progress on the car loan. In the future….more of a student loan focus? Again – who knows?

But, I gotta say, I really can’t wait to be holding my car title in my hands!

What debt are you currently working on?


A Small Setback – Property Taxes

by

A tiny set back that I just realized that I forgot to plan for in my Hardcore Budget : Personal Property Taxes (essentially car ownership tax.)  They will be due in June and while I haven’t received the bill yet, but I anticipate it will be somewhere around $300.  I didn’t account for them in my budget for these tighter months.  So how to deal…

I have decided that since I have brought in several new clients and monies that were not in play when I made the budget that I am going to just use some of that income to pay the bill.  That way it will not affect my Consumer Debt Free date or budget.

Problem solved…what a change from when I couldn’t buy toilet paper, eh?  We’ve come a long way this year!

 


Pages:1234567...416