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New Priorities

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As you’ve heard the last couple of weeks, I’ve kind been through the fire these past couple of months and just now am beginning to feel like I’m coming out the other side. Not saying that a majority of what I’ve been through isn’t of my own making, but it certainly all wasn’t. So now I’m starting to process the lessons learned, especially financially and personally and just now starting to think of a new life plan.

Notice I did not say, financial plan, because frankly I’m way past that now. I not only need a financial plan, but a whole life plan. So that’s where we begin today…with a complete tear down and reconstruction of my life goals so I can build a plan, with your help, of course. Just pretend that you all, together are my spouse, partner, guidance counselor, and let me have it. I want all your perspectives, all your input.

So here’s my I’m at…my “big” goals in life in no particular order. I figure once I prioritize them, I can start the plan making.

  1. Three month emergency fund (approx $10,000) <-obviously a savings goal, so should I break it into pieces?
  2. Get rid of car payment <-car is listed for sale
  3. Build house that will not only accommodate current family but 1) allow me to take in additional foster kids, preferably sibling groups and 2) allow me to assist those in transition as I have been that don’t have the support/assistance of others ie single moms (thinking 6 bedrooms, 4 baths)
  4. Evaluate current business model and revise to more consultant rather than assistant for more marketable and economy OR
  5. Evaluate corporate possibilities
  6. Establish retirement plan
  7. Become financially independent of both younger kid’s dad sporadic child support and adoption assistance that is available for foster/adoptive kids (ties strongly to 4 and 4 on this list)
  8. Learn car maintenance skills (this has been a big hang up for me in regards to buying used cars. I figure if I can tackle it, I can feel most comfortable with 2.)
  9. Learn basic house maintenance skills (I’m well on my way with this one, but would like to find a way to learn more especially in light of 3.)

Ok, I think that’s it.  So hit me with your best shot here. Are these achievable, realistic, good goals?  What type of priority order would you put them? Any suggestions on achieving them?


46 Comments

  • Reply Walnut |

    With regards to the emergency fund, a good first step might be to save enough to live on last months income.

    • Reply Hope |

      Walnut,
      This is exactly the kind of baby step idea I needed. So once I prioritize I outline with substeps, etc. And this is a great one!

  • Reply Theresa |

    You have been busy! I suggest you think of these goals and short, medium and long term. Short term – sell the van, medium term job evaluation, long term new home, 10K savings, financial independence. etc…. You could start by putting actionable steps underneath each goal. Car repair – could be research and then register at Community Ed or Tech college for car repair course. Job situation could be read Good to Great by Jim Collins, or talk to mentor about work environment (I don’t know much about your work so maybe there are better steps.) 10K- like Walnut said save enough to live on last months income. You should tackle simultaneously. Many of the goals will obviously hinge on your financial plan. I know your Dad is coming next week and there will be closure on the financial part of the house, maybe before then you could read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. It is pretty short, probably available at the library and the stories in the book can be inspiring. Just a few ideas. I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving.

    • Reply Hope |

      Theresa,
      Thank you for the detailed and thought out response. I will definitely check out the books from the library tomorrow. I’ve definitely considered contacting our local SCORE chapter to talk business.
      Like Walnut, you two have recommended breaking the tasks down into baby steps which I was having trouble getting to so thanks for the push!

  • Reply Scooze |

    I think that this is a good exercise to do – good luck in this process, it can be really liberating. Once you have a realistic, workable plan you will feel much better. I think the first thing you need to do is figure out where you are right now.

    Do you have a budget? Does your budget work for your current income? That is where you need to start. If your current income does not cover your current needs, then you need to re-evaluate the job right now. Just make your budget work as soon as possible.

    I think you’re putting the cart before the horse with plans to foster/adopt more kids while your financial plan is not in good shape. That is a great goal, but get your finances in order first. It seems to me that it’s an income issue – get training/education or whatever you need to achieve your goals. You can do it.

    • Reply Hope |

      Scooze,
      You are right. I have put my plan to help more children on hold until I have my own financial house in order, but must say that without those “lofty” goals, the race to get out of debt just wouldn’t be as important to me.
      I will have to live here for a couple more months to see if my budget is in synch. But again, this is not a rush list, this is a “life plan” I’m working on.

  • Reply Angie |

    Although its great to learn to do things on your own. I’m hesitant to say learning car maintenance isn’t worth it if all you have is one vehicle. Main reason is repairs (at least in the beginning) will take you way longer than a mechanic and may be more stress than its worth. This is with the disclaimer that you should look up things first to see how easy they are then judge whether you should pay a mechanic first. Also, you shouldn’t be doing repairs often enough that you need to take a course. Maybe 1-2 times a year.

    I hate to tell people they shouldn’t learn things for themselves but finding a reliable and honest mechanic might be more worth your while. You can even pay mechanics a nominal fee to check out used cars on craigslist for you before buying.

    • Reply Hope |

      Angie,
      I guess my reason for this is that one of my greatest fears is being stuck somewhere and having a kid waiting on me. When I was married our car broke down on me and I had a 1 year and a newborn. We were stuck on the side of the road. I was in tears, it was so hot and traffic was whizzing around us. At least my kids were with me that time. I ended up walking down the road for about 2 miles with two children in car seats…carrying them and the diaper bag, etc. Luckily, I had a husband who eventually picked us up and we got rid of that car immediately. That is my fear and why since then I have only driven newer cars.
      Thus I think I need to learn more so I can feel more confident driving a used/older car and avoiding a car payment, make sense?

      • Reply Walnut |

        Have you thought about AAA to help with piece of mind? Mine is $59 per year and almost always pays for itself in discounts alone.

        • Reply Jean |

          I second Walnut’s suggestion to get AAA. OR, check with your auto insurance and see if you can add roadside assistance to your policy.

          • Mrs. H |

            Also, presumably, the incident you described happened in a pre-cell phone world. If you have a cell phone now, that would greatly alter the scenario and make it much less stressful.

  • Reply Connie |

    I agree with all the others. You are putting the cart before the horse if you try to tackle a 6BR 4BA house simultaneously with some of these other goals. While more fostering might be tops on your list of things you want to do, it may have to slip a couple of notches while you get your financial house in better order. As I recall your most recent budget didn’t include paying off debt. Where is that in your priority list?
    As much as it feel great to help out kids, and as many kids as possible, I think you really need to decide about getting totally serious with debt payoff first. When you discipline yourself and have done that, it will be easy to put all that previously spoken for money into saving for a down payment. You may also qualify for self-help programs to build your dream house. It’s similar to Habitat for Humanity. You give sweat equity in exchange for help from others to build a home. They’re not fancy, but you won’t have a 6-figure mortgage either. Just a thought.
    In the meantime, get the whole family involved in your finances. Explain to them where you think you made big mistakes and try to teach from your experiences what you would do differently. You have a really level head and I enjoy reading about your choices. You have some big ones to make right now. Use this as a teaching tool for all your kids.
    Happy Thanksgiving to you.

    • Reply Hope |

      Connie,
      So true, the house would definitely not be first on the list, by a long shot, but it is an important part of my “life plan” which is what this exercise to leading too. Then once prioritized I will break things down into bite size chunks. Make sense?
      If I had chosen any other career, it would have been architect so I have been working on larger house design for almost two years now (at first it was just an addition to the home and then it evolved.) I believe I could build a passive energy home, the size that would work for about $150,000…as you say lots of sweat equity. But I am blessed to 1) have a really committed group of talented girlfriends and 2) have skills that I am able to barter for skills I don’t have.
      So we’ll see, this is the exercise to prioritize and then break things into baby steps with reasonable and achievable goals and timelines.

      • Reply Mia |

        The way I’ve always managed my life plan was to make the list (and re-evaluate yearly) of everything I want to accomplish or that is a priority. Then I chose 5. Only 5 at a time. 100% focus on those 5 and leave the rest for later. Sometimes this means breaking large goals into smaller ones, but still only 5 at a time. It saves my sanity and guilt because I can stop worrying (mostly) about all the rest. Also, once something is established or a habit, it can be removed from the list. Maybe that’s homeschooling for you – it’s very important to you but you’ve got it running smoothly now so something else can take it’s place on your priority list.

  • Reply Anon |

    I cringed when I read this post. A 6 bedroom, 4 bath house is not realistic by any stretch of the imagination. Getting rid of your debt and figuring out your job situation should top your priorities outside of your family. You continue to avoid reality.

    • Reply Financial Fan |

      I cringed too. You cannot possibly take care of more children until your financial house is in order. What kind of life can you give kids if you cannot afford them?

      • Reply Hope |

        Financial Fan,
        You are right, at this very moment I cannot take in more kids. I have to do better. I caved to that with this move because I assure you I could have found a rental house and continued down that track despite the debt load. I am working at making better decisions.
        However, with that being said…a child, especially a child who has lived through what many foster kids have lived through does not need alot of “money.” They need time, attention and unconditional love. Yes, you have to clothe them, feed them and educate them, but that’s not the hard part. So don’t get confused with what raising a child entails, it does not require a six figure income or lots of spare money. It does require a big heart, lots of patience and the ability to listen and bite ones tongue, sometimes to the point of painfulness.
        Sorry, am a bit passionate about this.

    • Reply AT |

      Why are you bashing Hope? She didn’t say these goals came before debt. Her decision to down-size into a 2 bedroom apartment is speaks volumes about her commitment to debt reduction. It’s her life’s purpose, obviously, to care for abandoned children. Planning for her life beyond debt may be extremely motivating for her in the short term. I’d need to be dreaming a lot about a better future to survive today in those tight quarters.

      • Reply ginsue |

        neither of these responses contained any “hope bashing”. hope asked whether these were “achievable, realistic, good goals” and these people answered her. i don’t believe she was asking for sugar-coated advice here.
        her decision to down size to a 2 bedroom apartment was not done by her choice at all, she in fact had no choice.
        the 6 bedroom 4 bath house could maybe be a possibility years down the road but even considering it now seems silly.

        • Reply Hope |

          Actually, the 2 bedroom apartment was completely my choice. I could have spent more time and probably more money on a month to month basis and rented a house or even found a for sale by owner with owner financing. We are in this tiny space by choice. It serves several purposes:
          1. Teaches us to live with less
          2. Forces me to stop taking in “strays”…whether it be animals or people
          3. Cuts down on our monthly outlay for living expenses so I can put that money to EF or debt payoff, etc.
          And so much more…
          I’m definitely not asking for sugar coat, I’m also not asking for emotional advice. I am asking for educated opinions and advice.
          And I don’t think having a dream is silly…if you don’t have a dream of something better, what’s the purpose of the struggle?

          • ginsue |

            hope i really did not mean to sound so harsh. i really thought that you didn’t have any choice because of the very short time frame you had in which to make the move.
            there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a dream to improve your living situation but in your november 12th post you stated that you would be meeting with “architects/designers” the following week. this gave me the impression that you were already moving forward with the plan for the custom built dream home.

      • Reply Liliana |

        Nope, I don’t think these people are bashing Hope at all. On some of these financial sites online, it seems to be perfectly acceptable to encourage people to go down roads that are completely unrealistic and fantastic. Why is it “bashing” to point this out to people? Isn’t that why they are at “Blogging Away Debt?” Yes, it is okay to have hopes and dreams, but it all must be tempered with reality.

        Another finance blog shows a family with crippling credit card debt, yet they live on a hobby farm with at least two expensive HORSES. If one has the audacity to point this out, he/she is soundly reprimanded. Well, we don’t all get to live our dream life, whether it is a life on a hobby farm in the country or a household of children.

        • Reply Hope |

          Liliana,
          You are right, we may not all get to live our dream…but how sad would it be if we gave up on our dreams. I am certainly not at the point in my life where I think I cannot achieve each and every one of these and I am prepared to work for it.

      • Reply Hope |

        AT,
        Thank you for understanding. I understand that this priorities are not over-night or “just going to happen.” But that’s why I’m putting this together so I can prioritize and plan. And I certainly need the goals else what’s the point of the struggle every month to get ahead and get rid of debt.

    • Reply Hope |

      My job situation is stable, has been for years…but I know to achieve my “life plan” as this exercise is to lead me too, I need to look for ways to make more money and not just a $10 per hour part time job.
      And considering during a year of research I have determined that I could build such a home for around $150,000 I don’t think it’s that far fetched.
      Believe me I am extremely grounded in reality, I can’t avoid it with every time I take a step I run into a wall and my children are accomplishing more than I can imagine every day. Reality is what drives this life plan. And I think that anyone can achieve anything if they put their mind to it and work hard.

  • Reply SAK |

    Great to have a list of goals – short, medium and long term. First priorities should be establishing two EF’s – one for “life happens” – appliance replacement, new tires, etc – 1K or 2K there AND a real EF – 3 months of ALL expenses (will stretch to longer if you really need to touch it because you would cut back). That is for real emergencies – layoff, lost income, etc. And you need to pay off your debt. This provides the foundation for the house/future adoptions/support of others – and those *future* goals should be what motivates you to pay off debt and save.

    Job obviously plays into all of this and so I see that as less a goal and more of gating decision.

    With regards to child support/adoption support – start by using that money to save. You will quickly see how much of it you really need to support your life – and that is the first gap you have to fill. If you can cover life (w/o debt repayment) on your income – then put the extra income plus a portion of child/adoption support (say 50%) into savings. I know lots say throw all the excess at debt – but be realistic – you are a single parent and self employed – you NEED a cushion. If you switch to a corporate job/steady paycheck – I think you should still save while you pay off debt – but the ratio can change – 75% debt/25% savings. *Even steady jobs have payroll glitches – I worked for the government and one time paychecks were delayed – they usually showed up Friday although the official day was Tuesday – a number of people I know were in trouble because they were counting on the money on Friday and had no way to cover bills being paid automatically or that were due before Tuesday. We have almost a week’s warning so they had time to move money/change payments – if they could. Many couldn’t. One friend ended up with $300 in bank fees – but at least they paid the bills.

    Good luck!

    • Reply Hope |

      SAK,
      This is EXACTLY the type of guidance I was looking for. One thing I have definitely learned in my 10 years of self employment is do not catch the chickens before they hatch. As much I would love to schedule payments…well, payments don’t always come, let alone when I want them too. That lesson has saved me thousands in overdraft fees over the years…thousands.
      As I continue to work on this life plan I will definitely refer back to this guidance, so thank you AND keep it coming.

  • Reply AT |

    WRT car repairs, unless you already have the tools and a space to work on a car, it’s probably not worth jumping into that game to save money. On the other hand, being knowledgeable about how they are done might make you feel better able to evaluate whether you are getting a raw deal from a mechanic. Would taking a basic car repair class from an adult ed program with the two older kids be a fun family activity? It’s probably something they should do anyway before they start driving. And then they can practice on the family car 🙂

    • Reply Hope |

      AT,
      Yes, a class with the boys would be good. It’s no so much that I want to work on cars, I just don’t want to be scared of them breaking down while I’m driving them and learning some basics would go along way to assuage that fear for me, at least I hope.

      • Reply Mia |

        You can also teach your children (if you haven’t already) what to do should you not arrive on time because of car troubles. Or purchase AAA service and save a car repair fund. Or stock your car with water, blankets, etc. Walk and talk yourself through the fears and come up with a solution for each scenario that makes you feel more comfortable. Getting stranded is scary for everyone!

  • Reply Kerry |

    Your priorities need to be taking care of yourself and the children you currently have, and not dreaming about saving other people. Find a way to make more money or establish a steady income that doesn’t rely on part-time MLM schemes like Do-Terra oils. Support your children. Get out of the 2 bedroom apartment. Don’t get any more animals. Establish an emergency fund. Get disability insurance. Get a retirement fund going (the fact you don’t have one is rather appalling). Do the work. THEN, then, you can think about taking in more foster children or starting a commune or having a big house to house mothers and children in trouble. And if that’s 10-20 years in the future, so what? You have pissed off your dad who has until now been your safety net. You’re 40 or so. Your life is a mess. You need to get things in order and put on your own oxygen mask and those of your children before you help the stranger 6 aisles over.

    • Reply Hope |

      Kerry,
      I am sorry you think my life is a mess. It’s certainly not from my perspective. It is filled daily with wonderful moments with my children, work that I actually love doing and I am in the enviable position that I get to choose whatever happens next.
      Yes, the last few months have been hard, I’ve been thrown some curve balls that I didn’t see coming.
      But let’s be clear…I’m not even 40 yet so please don’t age me. I am trying to make a life plan not an overnight wish list. A plan insinuates that this is long term. I have never made any money on oils…that’s never been part of my career path, in fact I SUCK at sales, royally and hate crowds and house parties so not even on the horizon.
      I don’t think your life has to be perfect to help someone, I’m sorry, I just don’t and on that we will have to agree to disagree.

    • Reply Hope |

      Kerry,
      I wanted to make one more thing clear…my dad did help me get into the house. I have discussed that ad nauseum. And frankly, I should have known better back then. That was my mistake.
      But other than the initial down payment, I paid all the bills, made all the improvements, bought all the appliances. He was not my safety net. I had two rental homes before this home that I paid for and he never provided for me financially. He offered to purchase this home to help give the kids and I stability. At the time we looked at home, he had a say in what we purchased as he evaluated each as an investment property, some even having guest quarters which he mused over renting out. Four years ago, this was an investment to him, and while I loved our home, there was always that chance that I would not/count not purchase it.
      I in no way shape or form want to bash my dad, I know his heart, but be very clear…since my marriage fell apart a little over 6 years ago when I was dependent on my husband and my own business was just taking off…I have supported us, no dad, no aid, no hand outs. This is not a matter of pride, just fact, I have worked my tail off to support us. I didn’t sign up to be a single mom, I didn’t sign up to have an abusive husband but I have taken everything that has come in stride and continue to do my very best to do the best for my children. So please don’t take what I have worked for and tell me my life is a mess, because it’s not.
      My kids are happy, healthy, avid learners, super involved with our community, committed to giving back, and frankly there’s no amount of debt or anything else that can take that away. So my life is blessed beyond measure of my bank account.

  • Reply Sue |

    You took the first step by writing down the issues you want to deal with and now you can start putting them into practice – good luck, you will do great 🙂

  • Reply CanadianKate |

    You need to put time frames on the goals. Some of your list looks like dreams. The difference between a goal and a dream is that a goal is a dream with timeline and a plan.

    Once you have a timeline, some things will become clear. For example, the house is probably 5+ years away (after you’ve paid off all your debt and got back on your feet solidly) and at that time your oldest kids will be on their own so such a large home may not be necessary.

    When I drew up my financial plan, I used 5, 10 & 15 year goals. The 10 year goal was to pay off the mortgage, 15 was a trip to Australia. Those got flipped because we had a chance to go to Australia with half our accommodation paid and we cashed in a business class ticket for 4 economy ones. The only catch was my dh had to work for 2 of the 4 weeks we were away. After the trip, the trip fund money went towards the mortgage and the house was paid off before the 15 years, despite moving to a larger home.

    The only problem we had is that by the time 15 years had gone by, we didn’t have any more goals. We drifted for a while, socking away every penny, and then took up a very expensive goal in our semi-retirement, cruising around the world. That’s almost done (one more segment) and so my dh has added climbing Kilimanjaro to his goals but he’ll do that with our son since I’m afraid of heights plus my health isn’t good enough to do the climb.

    Debt never was part of our lives so we saved all that interest most people pay out, plus we don’t drink or smoke. We’ve lived frugally for so long that it is hard to spend money (I’m currently upset because I wasted $3.75 yesterday) but I’m slowly coming to terms that we are supposed to draw them down in retirement and not try and get by on our reduced income now that regular work is over. Unfortunately, I just bid my husband out on a job he didn’t want to take and he may actually get it. If so, he’ll be unhappy because his definition of retirement is taking the projects that interests him but not worrying if nothing comes along. I still worry if nothing comes along even though, financially, we are fine.

    • Reply Hope |

      CanadianKate,
      You hit the nail on the head. I think without this, what I am calling, “life plan” I have kind of been drifting and that has been detrimental in really achieving any big goals. So now I’m trying to do that…set big goals.
      I like your idea of the years plan…perhaps a 1, 3 and 5 year to start. That will work great with the start of the new year so close.
      I am like your husband I guess and have been blessed to be able to do work that I love. While I do in fact have to work still, much of my work doesn’t feel like work because I truly enjoy it and the people I get to work with.
      Thank you so much for your feedback!

      • Reply CanadianKate |

        You are blessed if you are working at something you love. It doesn’t feel like work, does it?!

        A 1, 3 and 5 year plan would be good. Watch life event timing. The kids growing up won’t wait for a plan but you need to work it into your plan because it will change what is important to you.

        And be ready to find you are a changed person as time goes by. You can’t count on it, but time and experience changes our priorities as our values and passions intensify. I used to joke that I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I only wanted to be a mother and so was worried about what would happen when the kids left home. Surprise! I’m a preacher now. I’m still not exactly sure how it happened but I love this life as much as I loved being a mom and daycare mom.

        My kids are still in shock (and forget Sundays are always booked for me!) My husband is more than supportive, thankfully, since this is a labour of love, not an income stream.

  • Reply debbie |

    Hi Hope.

    I hope you and the children are well and healthy!
    I feel that your goals are good and should be broken up into smaller portions. Instead of an emergency fund of 10,000 dollars, why not make a short term goal of “I can save 2 thousand in three months and put it in the bank?”. Myself, I would be very intimated by such a large amount and hefty goal in a short period of time. 10,000 dollars is a great long term goal to have. I would first make sure that all my current bills are caught up and not in any default first.

    I’m not bashing in any way. I think goals are great. The smaller ones being met will increase your momentum and promote a sense of security and motivation.

  • Reply Jackie |

    Hope,

    Car repair is very good to learn. I was alone for years and while a smart person know nothing about vehicles and as a result have gotten screwed out of lots of money over the years. Mechanics aren’t always truthful! My current husband has taught me so much about vehicles. I can fix basics now. More importantly I know plenty so I don’t get screwed over by mechanics. We do most of our own car repairs. I realized while I was paying $500 to get all the brakes done when we did it ourselves it only cost us $80. That is a huge difference. Very worth learning at least some basics. It’s funny my sister said I know a lot about cars now because she didn’t understand a word of what I was talking about where as before she could follow a conversation about a car with me because I knew nothing about them then. It is a very nice feeling that when you go to a mechanic that you can talk their language. I even caught some of them telling me wrong information.

  • Reply debtor |

    just wanted to point out to all that Hope listed goals for her LIFE. Not stuff she wants next year. I had the same thought when I saw “more kids + huge house” but then I realized it’s achievable…she just wants help in how to prioritize everything.

    I agree with everyone. Since we are coming upon 2015, take december and decide what you want to achieve in the new year. I’d say work on getting at least 1-2 months complete living expenses saved up THEN focus on debt. With so many responsibilities and only one income I totally think that should be priority one.

    If something prevented you from working, that would be a major blow to all your kids and would result in dire straits. On a related note – as someone who is self-employed, have you taken on short-term disability insurance? If you haven’t I think you need to get some asap. Also, life insurance. With so many dependents it’s mandatory.

    Once you’ve gotten your savings beefed up. I’d start another one for say $1000 to cover unexpected events (hospital, car breakdown, etc). The first, I would only touch if you had no work income, the 2nd is for life events.

    Instead of putting timelines on the house and more kids, i would set the goal relative to achievements. Like, I will pursue more kids when I don’t have any credit card debt, or maybe when my credit card payments are only 10% of my income. Or whatever works for you. I agree with you that your life does not have to be perfect before you can provide a great home for kids that need it but I definitely think you have a bit of rose-colored view as to how bad your (financial) situation is and I don’t think you are really anywhere ready to responsibly take on more. But once you set the goal in that manner – you have something to look forward to.

    Side note – have you checked out big brother, big sister? Or any other mentoring organization? It’s not quite the same as fostering but maybe it would help you fill that need to give back to children in need? Just a thought. I’m part of the program and you make an impact in the childs life but it’s not quite the same financial load as fostering.

    Retirement plan, i think you definitely need to get on that. is there room in your budget for $200 month? Fidelity will let you open up a roth IRA if you do an automatic $200 a month transfer (otherwise it’s 2k minimum). I started this 2 years ago (i was also late to the retirement game) and my balance has grown without me doing much to it.

    Hope, I think you would really benefit from trying a yearly cash-flow for budgeting. I use it and I think it helps you have a better picture of what to do with your money. If you are interested I could send you my template. But you could also google it (i adapted an excel premade template).

    Anyway, I think you are on the right track. You probably just need to wrap your head around sticking to a budget.

    Side note #2 – what about college? Are your kids going to pay their way through or do you hope to help them out? Not sure if you have shared your views before.

  • Reply debthaven |

    Hope, is there any way you could transition into a (paid!) job working with foster kids or abused moms? Could you work (and live) in a home or shelter?

    I freely admit I don’t know what the educational qualifications for that would be (I’m guessing a Masters in Psychology or Social Work). I don’t know what your education / background is in, so I’m not at all sure you’d qualify, since you’re doing something completely different right now. But, that would kill two birds with one stone … you’d be doing work you find meaningful, and getting paid for it. It might be more realistic to attempt to transition into that than to make a 6/4 one of your goals. Of course, this does NOT mean, take out a ton of student loans to get a new degree!

    Dreams are great, but you really have to stop lurching between cutting back radically and in the next breath, dreaming “too big”. You need to find a path that accommodates both the reality and your dreams, a path that you can stay on, and maintain, MEDIUM OR LONG TERM.

    Any news on the car sale? Or the proceeds of the house sale?

  • Reply debthaven |

    Your dream house is currently N° 3 in your list of goals. If it had been N° 9, you probably would have gotten less flack about it. Very understandably, IMO.

    I know all kids NEED is food and shelter and love. But as long as the ones you already have have to give up the “extras” (ie music lessons) to accommodate your new finances and living situation, you probably won’t find many fans here for taking in any more “strays”, as you put it, or for building a house than can accommodate them.

    It’s a lofty goal, but you’re really not there yet. Better to list it at N° 9, if it all.

    In fact, that might make a great post … given the feedback, and your thoughts, repost that list in order of priority, and (as others have said) in short / medium / long-term goals.

  • Reply debthaven |

    And while I’m antagonizing you LOL … in the financial position you’re in, IMO, you literally can’t afford to have ANY sacred cows, and that includes your most sacred sacred cow, ie homeschooling.

    If you got a well-paid corporate job for even one year, which you consistently say is an option, you could be in MUCH better financial shape in a year. You have homeschooled the kids till now, and you could homeschool them again. If it’s really the better way, I’m sure they’ll be happy to be homeschooled once that year is up.

    My kids go to school. I’m happy with the schools in my area, although I’m not always necessarily happy with the closest school. I have 4 kids, they have always had / they have different educational experiences. But I work outside the home (a big PT, 32h per week) and I figure they were / are with me the rest of the time, so no big deal, to me.

    • Reply AY |

      I have to respectfully disagree with debthaven. While it’s true you can’t have MANY sacred cows, I think you’ve shown clearly how important homeschooling is to you and how well your kids are thriving with the attention, flexibility to pursue their unique interests etc. I totally support you continuing to make all the sacrifices and investment it takes to homeschool your kids. From what I’ve read you are so gifted at it and you are giving your kids so many wonderful experiences that they’ll remember forever. My husband and I were both homeschooled and while it’s certainly not a perfect system or for everyone, we both benefitted so greatly from it and plan to homeschool our daughter and son on the way (and hopefully the 2-3 more that God may bless us with!) Taking in more kids is obviously not possible right now (though a wonderful goal to work toward!!) but I fully support you doing what you know is best for your kids right now which I believe includes homeschooling.

So, what do you think ?