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Posts tagged with: making good choices

The End of a Decade plus

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Hello BAD Community, I apologize for my long absence. I’ve visited often, with the thought to write an update, but never seem to focus on something to write about.  We are fully settled into small town life in Georgia, our lives in Virginia settling into mostly fond memories.  I think Gymnast still struggles the most.  Change is hard for everyone, but I know the kids are resilient and in time will find their groove here.

Not much has changed as far as busy-ness from my last update (you can read it here .) I’m still working all my jobs and continuing to pick up odd jobs (primarily from previous customers – websites, etc.) Since we had gotten rid of EVERYTHING over the last couple of years, it took a little while to fully furnish our home.  The last big purchase was a used washer and dryer with a one year warranty for just at $500 for the set delivered.

It’s been nice to be in our own home again after 2 1/2 years of tiny living and then glamping. I certainly do not miss either of these living spaces, but there are a number of things that linger.  First, we are still very much minimalist.  There is  nothing in our home that is not used every day.  As a result, our approx 1200 square foot home feels large because it is not cluttered.

We spend a great deal of time in one room – our eat in kitchen. I know it’s always called the heart of the home, but I think we take that to the extreme.  We school in there, eat in there, I work in there and we hang out in there doing crafts and playing lots of board games.  So much so that I’ve decided to divide the boys (Sea Cadet and Gymnast) from the bedroom they are sharing and move Sea Cadet into the living room (it has a door) when Sea Cadet returns from his summer away working at summer camp.

The frugal habits that we were forced into because of being completely broke are now in our nature.  While I do grocery shop once a week, I typically spend less than $100 and just purchase fresh produce and milk, etc.  (We buy meat in bulk at Sams Club and keep it in the freezer. The 20lbs of frozen chicken breast, 2 family packs of pork chops, 1 roast and 10 lbs of ground beef I purchased in April have lasted us and we will probably go another month or so before we need to restock.)

We are spending our “free” time visiting small towns around us, free festivals and lots of live music. I say free time loosely as I still work the bulk of every day between my full time job and my part time jobs.  The kids are asking more frequently when I will slow down, but as of now, I haven’t made definitive plans.  I keep thinking/saying the end of the summer, but I’m not certain I will.  I just don’t ever, ever want to go through what we’ve been through again – ever!  The money is nice but even moreso, the security of knowing if one jobs fails, I have the others.

I still have not sat down and come up with a budget…I keep saying I’m going too.  And I am. Soon. I’m continuing to save 10% of all income in a hard to reach account. And I guess  most impressive to myself, is that I’ve continued to control my travel bug.  I think fear more than anything is guiding my financial decisions.  Which I’m sure is not healthy, but right now, it’s working.

I promise to write a more finance oriented post soon.  We are doing well. Sea Cadet leaves this week for the summer (returning to the camp in VA where he will work as a Senior Camp Counselor through August.)  When he returns, he will be attending the local community college under the GA MOWR program for his last year of high school, focused on pursuing an EMS certificate.  Princess continues to work hard at her academics, and is ready for collegiate classes in some subjects, but not old enough to attend the local community college.  I will have to address that soon.  Gymnast continues to train and will move up another level this fall.  The two littles are looking forward to going to camp this month for two weeks.  I am looking forward to that as well, no kids, two weeks.  I may even treat myself to a day off, but have made no plans for that yet.

 


Money Philosophy

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I am very smart and educated. I’m not saying that to brag, it’s just a fact.  I have plenty of things that I am terrible at too and I will readily admit them as well. But back to my being smart and educated.

My parents taught me from a very young age to manage my money – 10% to savings, 10% giving and the rest for me was a weekly mantra from the time I was old enough to get an allowance.  And they lived frugally, so frugally, it was painful even for me as I always felt like we were broke and didn’t have enough money to make ends meet.  I remember the 12 different stores mom would go to every week with coupons in hand to get the best deals on the healthy food.  And I remember, the heated discussions from behind closed doors.

I also worked from a young age, as soon as I could babysit, referee soccer games, work at fast food restaurants, I worked.  In fact, I don’t think I had more than a month of not working from the time I was 13 until I lost my corporate job a year after my youngest was born.  Then I tried the SAHM thing and knew it was not for me.

Despite all my parents’ efforts, somehow I missed the lesson on credit, so in college, like many that we hear about, I got into trouble with credit cards.  Lucky for me, the amount I owed was less than my car was worth so when I graduated and decided to move to Chicago to ‘save the world’ with my social work degree, I left my car behind which my parents sold for me and it paid off my credit card debt. (It really did cover the debt, they did not help me on that one.)

When I was married, I managed our money, paid the bills and a lot like Ashley’s Financial Relationship my husband was also self employed and he gave me the money we needed for our budget and kept the rest. We were relatively well off for a while, but in the end it was not a good situation, and obviously ended in divorce. (The finances were not a reason for the divorce, but did end up leading to a lot of resentment on both sides.)

So I’m getting to the point…all my God given smarts, all my education and all these life lessons, making and managing my money for so many years now and I’m still really horrible at it!  Really horrible!  I need a keeper, someone to put me on an allowance and take control of my accounts.  My self control is ….ugh!  I just keep hoping that getting out of debt is kind of similar to the tenets of AA (not comparing or belittling AA at all) – I hope the first step to recovery is admitting I have a problem.  I have a problem, a repetitive problem that just sabotages myself!

I’ve been reading a bunch of financial books and a few blogs and my continued favorite is Get Rich Slowly and this week I read this post: http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2014/04/15/8-years-of-get-rich-slowly/. Did you read tenet #1? (Since reading this article I’ve been putting some thought into my own tenet’s, and wrote them out on my personal blog if you are interested.)

I’m focused and I’m determined but I’m still really, really weak.  This is why I’m always broke, always!  As soon as I get money I spend it…not on junk anymore, well, most of the time.  But I know like a dollar burning a hole in a child’s pocket that if I don’t get the bills and debt payments made, I will find somewhere else to spend it.  So it’s good for now, I have a goal and plenty of debt to keep my money occupied, but what about after?

How do you develop the self control to say no?  I’d love to hear your ideas on this one and in the next couple of months I will share what I have in mind especially since I plan to start saving with my new part time job that I wrote about earlier today.


Ask the Reader: Frugal Kid’s Birthday Party Ideas

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My younger two share a birthday party every year, and that time is coming up in just a couple of months.  We’ve had combinations of paid party locations: Chuck E Cheese, local inflatables, Paint on Pottery, etc. as well as at home in the back yard type parties over the years.  I am definitely guilty of going overboard, but I have always rationalized and said that since it’s for two kids, it’s okay to spend a little more.

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This year, that is NOT happening.  Both kids have been told we are cutting back and I’ve asked them to start thinking of ideas for their party this year.  Here are the possibilities I’ve come up with:

  1. Homemade pinata – paper mache project we could do as school project for pretty much nothing so the only cost would be to fill it with goodies.
  2. Homemade water slide – big tarp laid down in our slightly sloping front yard with an adult spraying a water hose.
  3. Homemade cup cakes which everyone gets to decorate themselves – saves the cost of a “professional” cake/cupcake, but would require several frosting and some sprinkles
  4. Meet at the local park, invite the friends and just have a big playdate
  5. Invite one friend each to go to Rebounderz or Bounce House or a movie
  6. Buy a small canvas for each friend and having a  painting party in the back yard with snacks (kids weren’t keen on this one at all)

I guess the birthday party is the one part of their lives I have not let go of the “magical” childhood thing and it’s cost me plenty over the years.  I am determined to no only be frugal this time around but even CHEAP!  I have made it clear to both of them that I want to hear their input and desires, but I have to balance that with a very tight budget.  So I’m here asking for your help….

What frugal, yet magical ideas do you have for a child’s birthday party?  Any and all help would be greatly appreciated.