Question of the Week – Long Term Goals

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This is our Sunday series where we all respond to reader questions. If you want to submit a question, please go to this post.

Question of the Week

Beyond paying debt, what are your long-term goals? posted by TPol

Stephannie

First, I want to say Happy Easter!!  I am so thankful that I can spend this day with my family, celebrating Jesus and the sacrifice He made for me. I hope ya’ll are with your loved ones, as well!  Ok, so our primary long term goal is to be prepared for retirement as early as possible.  I don’t necessarily mean full on, staying home retirement. My husband has a great job that takes care of our needs but it’s not what he loves to do.  Cars are his passion and we hope that with a few years of hard work, and getting our debt down, that he can leave his job and do what he loves. This is also the reason we have an investment property and may add more as we go.

Jim

Beyond paying off debt, there are many goals I have for the long-term.  I like to break them into three sections, financial, business, and personal.  Funny thing is though, a lot of them still have something to do with financial.  Financially I would like to start planning for my retirement and put money away for my children’s future education.  I thought I was going to be able to pass down my GI Bill to my children, but for some reason I think I only have 10 years to start this.  I have to ask someone at the VA.  Business goals – I want a real living breathing lifestyle business.  At one time I thought this would be getting into the food truck/vendor arena.  I had a dream to sell homemade italian ice at festivals and fairs, especially music fairs.  And I would still love to do this at sometime, especially once my children are old enough to help me run this business.  But my current long-term goal, is to make use of all this internet marketing education I have been learning since 2007, to make even more money than I do now.

Personally I would love to be able to remarry my wife, I feel as I ripped her off and getting a quick marriage. She was very unhappy with her dress, and we were both unhappy with how our pictures came out.

Hope

My ULTIMATE long term goal and by that I mean 10 years…would be to have my home paid for and be in a position that I could either 1) work far less and/or 2) be in a position to help my children as my parents have helped me over the young adult years.  I have that time frame in mind as that is the year my youngest will graduate from high school and hopefully, head to college.
Other than that, I would like to be able to travel, not huge trips so much, as just be able to get in the car and go when the travel bug hits.

Ashley

I’m not sure if this is supposed to be “financial” goals or otherwise, so I’ll give a bit of both. Financially, I’d love to be stable enough to be able to “retire” early. I enjoy working so I imagine I’d probably continue working for fun rather than necessity, but probably only a part-time job that allows me some freedom and flexibility. Instead of having to work to survive, I’d love to be able to develop some hobbies I’ve always wanted to cultivate. I would love to garden, for example. Hard to do when we don’t own a home and have been moving about every year or so. I’ve been making more food products home-made for health and financial reasons (cheaper and no “gross” unnatural ingredients), but I would love to get into this more and in additional avenues (beyond food). A friend of my mom’s makes beautiful soaps, for example – I’d love to learn to do that! Having more time to do my scrapbooking/crafting would be fabulous. And being able to spoil my friends and families with little trips or thoughtful gifts! Basically, I’d just like to be able to do what I want without feeling like a slave to a job out of necessity. 

Jim’s Weekly Update 4/19

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First I wanted to apologize to everyone for this weeks worth of posts from me.  I am so used to writing those kinds of posts on all of my blogs that it seemed right.  One thing I am not used to is writing about myself personally.  I did tidbits here and there, but nothing on a regular basis.  Hopefully you will accept my apologies and we will go from there.

Today is my son’s actual birthday party.  What we do is on their actual birthday, we have the grandparents come over and we just have cake and ice cream.  Then a few weeks later we have a birthday party for the child, on a weekend that we have both.  We are going to be changing this up starting next year though, and on their actual birthday, it will just be the four of us doing something special.  For both of my son’s birthday parties, my in-laws decided that camping was more important then their grandson’s birthday party.  Last year was forgivable, because they had the trip planned for a few months.  This year however they decided on either Monday or Tuesday that they were going.  This totally gets me rattled up.  Besides knowing the fact it was also Easter and on Monday my mother-in-law was supposed to take my wife to a doctor’s appointment.  I had to switch around my schedule to be able to take my wife now, which isn’t that much of a problem.  But when we went there two weeks ago, the doctor’s kicked both my son and I out of the office, because my son was being “too loud.”

Ok sorry rant over, I will be posting an update on my son’s birthday party on Tuesday.  I have some juicy frugal details, plus some not so frugal moments, that deserve a whole post to itself.

As everyone knows Sunday is Easter, and I am a little sad this holiday.  We didn’t get my children anything, besides a few pieces of candy.  This is a first for us.  Here is what their baskets looked like last year.

Easter 2013

I feel bad about this, but know that they really don’t need anything this year, and it seems that they both are becoming a little ungrateful.  The daughter, she is always like is this it?  Then she doesn’t even play with anything.  The son will play with everything he gets which is a good thing, and he is too young to really understand gratefulness.  But what makes me really sad, is that we didn’t get them new easter outfits and they didn’t sit a get their pictures taken with the easter bunny.  We have a picture of every season with either Santa or the Easter Bunny.  But the wife and I made the decision that no pictures till the family picture in November.

A few people asked how the Amazon business is going, I am happy to say that I am in the black.  I sold six of my multipacks for a gross profit of almost $99.  Now it did cost me $85 to buy the product and ship it off to three different Amazon Fulfillment Centers.  So I technically only netted about $14 so far.  But there is still tons of product at Amazon and it is nothing but profit from here on out.  This tells me this is a viable option to make money, so I might throw more business income at this and see where it goes.

Some other people don’t feel like I am that committed to getting out of debt enough.  Haters are going to hate, and I am used to that.  Every time I posted something about my debt this happened, and well I am not going to let it get me down.  I will do my budget the way I want to and what works for me.  I am always open for discussion on everything, but to tell someone they are doing it wrong and become a little nasty about it, well is there a right or wrong way to get out of debt?  In my mind there isn’t.  Yes, I am not looking to picking up a full time job, for I rather spend time with my family.  Yes, I am not going to tell my wife she has to quit smoking, for that is up to her to make.  But is it the wrong way to get out of debt?  Not at all, it might take longer, but I will still make headway.

With that said, I have taken on somethings.  I actually applied to two long term contracts, that will contract me out for two days for about a month and a half.  One would start in two weeks and contract me out Friday and Saturday.  Then the other would start right after that and contract me out for a Saturday and Sunday.  I don’t see a reason for me not to get these positions, for I contracted myself with this company a few times in the past.  But what I am really excited about is that a big time internet marketer posted that he is looking to hire some people under him for about 12-20 hours a weeks.  The pay is average for this kind of entry level position, but to be honest I would have done this for free, to be able to study under him.

I also realize that I have a S#!t ton of stuff again, so I will probably be hosting another yard sale again.  Someone here asked me to give a link to one of my current blogs, as I don’t feel comfortable doing this, I want to point everyone to a blog that I no longer do, but had somethings that deal with what I currently do to save money, and sometimes even make money.  I will be linking to the kind of money I made in 2012 from a yard sale.  Maybe read it and come back here and comment if you have some tips.

Well I think that is about it.


Free Park Entrance!!

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Hi friends!!

What are you up to this weekend? Spending time with the family? Celebrating the Easter holiday, or just the nice Spring weekend??

I hope most of you have started to warm up a little and are getting a few peeks of Spring. Here, in Tucson, it already feels more like summer! Either way, I wanted to give you a heads up about a little FREE fun you might be able to have with your family this weekend!

Free Entrance to U.S. National Parks!

A handful of weekends each year offer FREE entrance to U.S. national parks and this weekend is one of them!

On April 19-20, you can enjoy free entrance in honor of the “opening weekend of National Park Week” (who knew “National Park Week” was a thing???)

Anyway, if its nice weather – get out and enjoy it! And take advantage of this free offer. Why not?

Here’s the deets and a list of other free days, too!

Happy Weekend!


Homemade Easter Cards

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Does your family celebrate Easter?

If so, I’ve got a fun little craft to share and it’s not too late for you to join in the fun with your kiddos!

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Since we don’t live close to any family, it has been very important to me to make conscious efforts to stay connected to our out-of-town relatives. Part of this is including them in our kids’ lives in big ways (trips to see each other) and small (sharing pictures/crafts/etc.). I’m thankful for technology that allows us to send emails with pictures, FaceTime on the phone, and stay connected that way. But sometimes nothing beats a good, old fashioned card in the mail. Add a personal touch (a child’s creativity), and you’ve got something special. Even better – its a Cheap (or Free, if you have the supplies) activity you can do together with your kids!

Step 1:  Buy Envelopes

My first step was to buy envelopes. Last time I did a kid craft that I had planned to mail to family (around Christmas time), I made the craft too large and had to buy special, large envelopes and pay extra for postage. Doh! This time the FIRST thing I did was go to the envelope aisle at the grocery store and find a box of envelopes. I paid $4.50 for a box of 50 envelopes. They’re pastel colors (10 each of 5 different colors), and larger than regular envelopes, but still only require “normal” postage.

Step 2: Raid Your Craft-Supplies

Aside from the envelopes and postage, I didn’t want to pay anything for these crafts so that meant using stuff we already had on-hand. I dug out some crayons and Crayola kid-paint from the girls’ closet (I’ve had these supplies for a long time), then I went to my scrapbooking box (I’ve scrapbooked for years and have a huge supply of card stock) to pick out the papers. I selected solid yellow, green, and purple paper, and pretty Spring-themed paper. Then I was on my way!

Step 3:  Let the Kiddos Get Busy (While YOU get busy, too!)

First, I cut the solid yellow papers into egg-shapes. I stripped my kiddos down to their diapers (learned this one the hard way when the “washable” kid paint stained my girls’ clothes during a previous crafting session) and put big bibs on them. Then I let them sit at the table and offered a variety of options:  various colored paint and crayons. I would’ve loved to use Spring-colored paint (pastels), but the paint we had on-hand was “normal” (red, blue, green), so that would have to do.

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For the record – I drew the squiggly lines on the eggs. The girls much preferred the paint (though they liked using the crayons as paint-brushes! Perhaps I need to put some “real” paint brushes on the 30 Day Want List??)

While they painted, I cut the Spring-themed card stock down to size so it would fit in my envelopes. It was basically like a half-sheet of card stock (if you fold in half like a hamburger, not a hot dog). I also cut the solid green card stock down to size and cut small slits in the top to mimic the look of “grass.”

Step 4:  Assembly

We had a break while the paint dried on the Easter-eggs (during which time I was giving the girls a bath), then it was their nap time. Perfect time for some adult assembly! I have a mini-glue gun (believe I bought it from Dollar Tree) and I used that to glue the grass onto the card stock. I only glued along the sides and bottom of the grass because I wanted the top to be open, creating a little “pocket” in the grass. With the solid purple card stock, I cut those down (I got 4 purple cards out of each piece of paper) and glued to the back of the Spring card. At this point, things were looking like so…

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If I were really being meticulous, I would have covered the entire back of the Spring paper so you couldn’t see the grid lines. But by this point I was over it and ain’t nobody got time for that! Plus, this is a card for family, not a fine art project for a grade or some prize. Family is going to love it regardless.

I was trying to play up the “Easter” theme, so instead of writing “Happy” Easter, I wrote “Hoppy” Easter. Har har har. I also added a little personal message to the specific person the card was intended for.

Next I wrote on the “back” side of the eggs (I say “back” in quotations because the girls really ended up painting BOTH sides, so….yeah.) It’s silly and cheesy, but I wanted to think of a saying that had 3 elements:  Something to do with Easter, some type of play on the word “egg” (egg-cellent), and something to do with an easter egg hunt/find/search. I did some brainstorming and the best I could come up with was, “This Easter we hope you’ll find……YOURSELF, having an egg-cellent time!” – Hey, I never claimed to be a poet!

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Then I tucked the egg into the envelope, and voila!

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Step 5:  Add pictures and mail!

Okay, so I guess I lied because I did pay for one additional thing…

I forced coerced the girls into a little “modeling” session while wearing some big bunny ears their Mamaw sent them. I found a coupon code online for printing photos at Walgreens for .15 cents per print, so I printed up enough of these pictures to stuff one in each envelope.

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Clearly I’m no photographer either. But at least I try!

Then I addressed them, added postage, and mailed out!

Easy-peasy and I’m sure our family will love and appreciate the homemade craft and new photo of the girls! We don’t get to see each other nearly enough and they grow FAST at this age! They’ll be two in just a couple of months! (tear!)

So there you have it!

Whether you want to make this as a card to give to family, or just let your kids have some fun crafting, I’m sure it will be a hit!

Have a great weekend!


The Tax Man Taketh

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Ugh, taxes.  We have never owed before, but this year Uncle Sam held his hand out for about $2,300. It hurt, ya’ll. I can’t say that I didn’t have an inkling that this would happen.  For the last couple of years we have adjusted our withholding so that we would not get a refund at the end of the year.  I’d rather have that money year round than let the government hold on to it interest free for a year. Well, last year I did not figure it correctly and it kind of came back and bit me.  Luckily, we had what we needed to cover it.  It impacted our debt repayment plan a bit but I’m thankful that we had enough in savings to cover it. Hopefully this year I’ll do a better job with my figures!


Lesson Learned

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Before I get into this post I want to say thank you.  Ya’ll just don’t know how much your thoughts, prayers, and stories have helped me. I can’t say it enough, thank you all!

Ok, onward and upward!

When my husband and I were first married we lived in a teeny tiny apartment.  It couldn’t hold much furniture but the few pieces we did have were hand me downs from various family members. We lived there for a year and then moved into a rent house that was a little bit bigger so, we inherited a few more second hand items.  We always felt like we weren’t really fully functioning adults until we had bought brand new furniture.  I hope you read that in Bob Barker’s voice, cuz that’s how I hear it in my head.  Anyway, a couple of years ago a local furniture store was having a sale and if you qualified you could get 0% financing for a few years. We decided that it would be a good time for us to replace some of the hand me downs that were junkin’ up our house (not really but, we thought newer must be better!).  We had the money in savings but thought it was a great idea to finance the purchase since there would not be any interest. Soooooo, that’s what we did.  We bought new bedroom furniture for the master which consists of a bed, night stands, and a dresser.  We also purchased two new couches and three end tables for our living room. This all added up to about $7,200.

Now, you may be thinking that the point of this post is that financing the furniture was a bad move.  While that is true, my main reason for posting is that the quality of the furniture we acquired more debt for is far inferior to the old furniture we’d been given.

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This picture isn’t great, but you can see how the edge of the drawer is kind of splintering.  I’m not sure how else to describe it. The really aggravating part is that we don’t really use the dresser that often.  Most of our clothes that we wear on a daily basis are in our closet. I will never ever buy new furniture again. Did ya’ll know new furniture functions the same as the old stuff?  You sit on it, lay on it, and put stuff in it whether it’s new or not. I’ve learned my lesson.  From now on I will only buy (or maybe find) reused, 100% wood furniture and I can refinish it my dang self if I don’t like how it looks.

So what do ya’ll think?  Anyone ever buy new furniture that they felt was worth the money spent?


Striking Out on Your Own

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Several years ago, I wrote an article on my personal blog about Striking Out on Your Own. I was forced to start my own business because of my priority in staying home with my children.  I have absolutely no regrets about that decision. BUT…

My natural tendency is not be the #1 when it comes to business, I am much more comfortable as a #2.  I tried explaining this to my twins as they start feeling out what they may want to do with their lives.  It came out a little bit like this…typically, the head of a company is the visionary, has great ideas, is great with networking and people and can influence people.  That’s not how I see myself.  I see myself at the support staff…you give me the idea and I can make it happen.  I am smart, determined and know how to find good resources. I am really not good at social situations and my visionary abilities stop at planning a great vacation.

So with that being said, as I am Exploring Making more Money, I have been looking for ways to streamline what I do so that I can do more.  My business is just me, no subcontractors, no staff, just me.  I do all the work: the marketing, the management, the sales, the customer service, the administration and the actual technical work.  I have been focusing on tracking my work and free time to see if there is anywhere that would be the most economical items to contract out to free me up some.

I know I then have to weigh the benefits and cost of subcontracting versus doing it myself, but this is where my mind is heading right now.  So my question is for you entrepreneurs out there, what tasks have you found to be most effective and efficient to contract out versus doing it yourself?


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