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Life Lately


Hello, friends!

I apologize for my absence! June has been an absolute whirlwind of a month! I feel like I just blinked and all the sudden we’re two weeks deep and I haven’t written a single post! Yikes!

It’s not for lack of thought about you all! Things have just been, well, a bit crazy. Let’s talk some general life updates with some financial stuff sprinkled throughout.

First, my Dad has officially been moved to a locked memory care facility. My siblings and I have been dreading it for months, but luckily the move was far less terrible than the build-up we had in our minds. On moving day, my sister took my dad to a doctor’s appointment and out to lunch while my brother instructed movers to get everything out of the old place (an independent living facility) and moved over to the new place. My dad happily arrived at his new home exhausted and ready for a nap. He likes the food better, which is a big deal for him – he’s become quite picky over foods and hates things he once loved. I’m not sure if his taste buds have changed or what the “cause”, but he prefers bland things and his favorite “snack” is a piece of white bread or a Hawaiian roll. Very odd, but I’ve read other FTD’ers tend to crave breads, too.  He still does not realize he is locked in the facility and cannot leave. This has been a HUGE blessing for us! The facility is built around different courtyard areas so he can freely access “outside” whenever he likes, but the main exit is locked for patient’s safety.

The girls are in kindergarten camp this week. We’d originally planned to stay in Austin longer following my Dad’s move, but I’m so glad we decided to come back early so the girls could go to this camp. They are loving it and I think it is helping to assuage the new school/Kindergarten fears. We won’t have official class lists until August, but they’ve met all the kinder teachers and are becoming familiar with the school, the routine, meeting new friends, etc.

I’ve got to admit to making some poor financial decisions this summer. We’ve been making a huge sum of money the past couple years, but everything seemed to end at once. Now with my part-time job gone, hub’s job gone, and my new raise not going into effect until next month, it’s been a struggle to adjust. I haven’t done great with it. Hubs and I went on our “Mom and Dad Getaway” (one of our 2017 goals) and I feel real guilt over it. It was our first trip away from the kids for more than a single night since they were born (and they turn 5 next week!). I do think we needed the time alone together to reconnect and think it’s a healthy and important thing for couples to do if they can. But…we also could not have chosen a poorer time. I mean, this was the time that worked for me (with my work schedule, summers are best for a getaway), but it was a terrible choice of timing in terms of money (or lack thereof).

We were spending money we didn’t have. There, I said it. First time in the 3 years of blogging that this has happened. I paid for things on credit and don’t have the income coming in to cover the costs. So, there’s that. My raise starts July 1st, but since the paychecks are lagged, I won’t have a full month of my new income until August, at which point things should stabilize financially speaking. My original plan was to just stay treading water over the summer, but now I know that’s not going to happen. We’re slipping backward a bit. It’s not like we’ve gone out and bought a car or taken on tens of thousands in a home equity loan or something, but we’ve paid on credit for vacation items (hotel, food, etc) that we just can’t cover. And then on our way home from Austin we had a tire blowout. Remember how I just barely got new tires? Ha! I’d only bought 2. A couple hours and $500 later I bought 2 more (no chance to comparison shop or find a deal). We were so lucky that hubs’ felt the tire wobbling so he had exited the highway and slowed down the car before the blowout occurred. We were also incredibly lucky to have it happen to be in a small town with cell phone reception (much of the drive from Austin to Tucson is in cell phone dead zones in the middle of nowhere). So, I’m thankful for our health and safety and the fact that we could get the new tires relatively quickly. But it felt like God or Murphy laughing at us for the poor financial decisions we were making and just adding insult to injury. I guess we’ll see a credit card reappear in my next debt update. It’s a tough thing to accept, but ultimately I’m human and made some mistakes poor spending choices.

Despite the spending issue, work has been going well. I’m enjoying the change of pace the summer always brings. It’s been nice to have the hubs and girls around more (even though it makes working from home tough. I usually just go to campus). I’m able to catch up on some big work projects without having classes and 100+ student emails to contend with daily. I love what I do and feel so fortunate to have landed this position and especially the giant raise I secured (though won’t see until next month).

All-in-all, I’m doing okay. Not great, but okay. I’ve been struggling with some mental health issues related to dealing with my dad’s care and dealing with my siblings to try to secure him the quality care he deserves. It’s personal family matters so I won’t go into details, but suffice it to say that it’s been a challenge. I know that ultimately we are so lucky! My dad had assets at the time of his diagnosis, so we are paying for his care with HIS money. It would be a whole different ballgame if it were my siblings and I footing the bill. But even so, it’s tough when there are major disagreements and I hate the strain that this has placed on all of us. I started going to therapy last year around this time and only went for maybe 4-5 months. I’m considering starting to go again, though, just because I did find it to be a helpful outlet. We shall see.

To end on a positive note, let me share one piece of good news. You may or may not recall how I referred to Summer 2016 as the Summer of Death (we experienced 3 significant deaths that summer).  Well one of them was my husband’s grandfather. His estate went into probate and it took a long time, but my husband’s mother has now inherited a good bit of money. Although nothing was left directly to any of the grandchildren (meaning, my husband did not directly inherit anything), his mom offered to pay for 3 days in Disneyland all-expenses paid for our family! She covered the cost of tickets, hotel, food, travel expenses, and even gave us extra spending money to put toward purchasing souvenirs, matching shirts, or the like. I know it seems like a crazy juxtaposition to the “mom-and-dad” getaway we just barely had, in which we set ourselves BACKWARD in our debt progression. But this gift was given to us with the expressed intent to be put directly toward a family Disneyland trip (not toward general household expenses and/or debt). All of our travels thus far have been with extended family, so we have never had a family vacation with just the four of us and my mother-in-law wanted us to have one. We graciously accepted and have booked our room and tickets for next month (again, the idea being that it’s easier for me to travel during the summer – though it will be dreadfully hot!). The kids and I have never been to Disneyland before (hubs has, but it’s been many years), so we’re all excited to go! It may even slightly help with our current financial picture because the entire time that we are away will be financed on someone else’s dollar (so we may see a savings in our grocery bill or utilities for the time we’re away).

I hope your summers are going well! I must admit how tough it was for me to sit down and type up this update, knowing the financial details I would be sharing. I promise to have a complete debt update at the end of this month so we can catch back up with where our family is at now. My hope is that this is just a blip in the radar and that we’ll soon forget this ever happened and be well on our way to smashing our remaining debts!

Have a great rest of your weeks!



  • Reply AY |

    Hi Ashley! Loved the update and so glad you got your dad into that facility! I know it is huge having that peace of mind and I’m glad the transition went well for him. I am so sorry for the tough sibling decisions about care–that can be so difficult and complex. Hope things smooth over in the next little bit!

    I’m proud of you for sharing your financial ups and downs this month! Absolutely no judgment–you have worked so hard and your investment in your marriage and family is worth a little bit of credit card debt that will be paid off soon! We became debt free two years ago and had been steadily saving for 18 months when I came across our dream/forever home. We closed in January and it took almost all of our savings. We decided to finance about $10,000 furniture on credit cards (half of it on one that won’t be accruing interest for 15 months) and then we were hit by a totally unexpected $4000 tax bill!! So suddenly we are in debt when a year ago we had $$$$$ in savings. Anyway, we will have it all paid off by October so I’m trying not to feel too bad, and honestly even though it wasn’t the wisest decision technically, I really don’t regret buying the furniture we did because we’ve been able to host lots of important and family events in our home when we would have had to wait 10 months to start doing that had we waited to pay cash. All that to say, when you’re overall very responsible and have steady dependable income I hope you can give yourself a break about a few decisions that aren’t “Dave Ramsey approved” ?

    • Reply Ashley |

      It’s so hard to deal with such a huge swing (from $$$$ in the bank to -$). I appreciate the kind words though. I suppose it makes me “real” to have had this temporary step-back. Hopefully we’ll be able to rectify things and get right back on track ASAP!

  • Reply Sarah |

    Thanks for the update…you are doing okay. I don’t think you would be human to not slip. Just make sure to get back on track soon :-).

    As for Disneyland, we loved Disneyland when our kids were young. One tip is to go early in the morning when the park just opens, come home and take a nap, swim, eat, etc., and then go back later. You miss the heat of the day and maybe you can eat dinner outside of the park where it is not so expensive. Enjoy the Happiest Place on Earth. We have tons of great memories from there.

  • Reply Maureen |

    Thank you for sharing. No judgment here. Keep your head high. You are doing remarkably well through major life changes in both personal and professional realms. You are still superwoman! Hang on and your cape will soar again! Enjoy the family time and it may be just the medicine you need to recharge your batteries. Before you know it will be August!

  • Reply Julie |

    Hi Ashley, Just want to say that I’m sorry about your Dad. I am sorry for him because of his relatively young age, and also for you to have to go through this at such a young age, when you still have little kids. I’m dealing with an ailing Dad now and I know how stressful it can be, but he is 86, so it is not unexpected. I am a retired college professor, by the way, and 100+ student emails/day sounds insane. I hope you don’t try to answer them all!

    • Reply Ashley |

      Thanks, Julie! I appreciate your kind words and thoughts! I teach large classes (mine are typically around 200-ish, but we have some classes up to 700), so we do tend to have a high volume of email. I’m typically pretty good about answering them all, but it definitely takes a good chunk of the day just to stay on top of it all! : )
      My thoughts are with you as you navigate your own life situation with an ailing parent. It’s certainly not easy, regardless of age or life circumstance!

  • Reply Victoria |

    My partner would happily never spend any money and I’m more of a spender. I’ve been ill recently and unable to do many things, including creative things, so I’ve spent a bit of money on art supplies “for when I’m better”. I didn’t need to, I have loads of supplies for different crafts, but I’m trying to go easy on myself. It’s a habit for me to spend when I lose control of an aspect of my life (health in this case). One thing I would recommend though is to go back to therapy. That would be something worth spending money on. I’m lucky that a lot of my healthcare is covered as I’m in the UK but therapy, osteopath, and complementary treatments like acupuncture are all paid by me and in bad months that can be £500-1000.
    Don’t beat yourself up too hard. If you worry and feel guilty about your alone time trip then the trip will have been a waste. Remember it fondly, try to keep up any good habits or plans it prompted, and try to cut down elsewhere until your salary comes through.

  • Reply Walnut |

    I suspect that you may be having a hard time reconciling the “new normal” in terms of income and it’s probably time to go back to the envelope method or at least recording each item of spend in a notebook or app. One trap I fall into is considering too many things to be one-time expenses and not acknowledging that my realistic spending each month will just include a certain dollar level of random purchases.

    Perhaps now is a good time to kick off a no spend month or to check out Frugalwood’s Uber Frugal Month to get a solid reset going.

    • Reply Ashley |

      I totally agree that returning to the envelope system is a good idea! I did it before with great success, so I know I can do it again.

  • Reply Shauna |

    I think you’re doing great, you’ve had a few hiccups this year, but you’re still farther ahead than when you started this journey. And you are putting what is important to you first like family and relationships. I don’t think it would be worth it to be debt free with a rocky marriage.

    See if you can find another therapist if you feel the last one didn’t help. Family stress due to your dad’s health issues has got to be rough. I’m not sure if there would be an option for a group session that could help all of you work together during this time.

    Just keep being honest with yourself and enjoy Disneyland. We just returned from DisneyWorld, and had the strategy of going early, leaving around lunch, then coming back at night refreshed.

    • Reply Jen From Boston |

      I agree with the therapy. You need a safe place to vent. I’m sure your husband is good at listening to you, but it helps to have someone else. He or she can give you another perspective, or different strategies for dealing with things. A group session could be helpful, too.

  • Reply Jen From Boston |

    Given that you had to go take care of family business I don’t hold the credit card spending against you. And five years without a weekend alone with your husband is a lot. I wouldn’t judge yourself too harshly – there’s A LOT going that’s pretty important in your life right now. Sometimes we end up spending money we don’t have.

    And I’m relieved for you that your dad is in a safe facility. It sounds like a really great place for him.

    I’m also sooooo happy about the Disneyland trip for you!!! What a wonderful gift for your family! I hope you all have a great time!

  • Reply Matt |

    Sorry to hear you’re going through a bit of a rough season. Try not to be too hard on yourself for the money spent on your and your husband’s trip. It’s important for you two to take time for each other and make sure you’re connecting. The Lord will provide.

  • Reply Kiki |

    I’m glad that your dad is in a safe place. Yes, sometimes it is easy to slip financially. I know that you must be a bit discouraged with the tax problems and now this bit of credit card debt. I think it is important to regroup and go forward from here with a positive attitude. It is very easy to justify and slip back into bad spending habits! You do not want to do that after all your hard work. Even when we feel we “deserve” something, if the money is not there, it is best to pass on it for the present. Keep chugging along!

    • Reply Ashley |

      I totally agree! It can be difficult to shake the “entitlement” mindset sometimes (e.g., “I work hard, I deserve this!”) But its definitely something I’m working on! Thank you for the kind words of encouragement!

So, what do you think ?