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Browsing posts in: Money Tips

Finding Free Fun

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This past weekend we took a spur of the moment trip to a Sustainable Living Fair at a university about an hour from us. It was free and open to the public and had some cool things for kids to do per the website.  I had no idea what to expect but with my eye on the prize of land and home, I thought that they might have some really cool stuff. Got the kids up and headed out after seeing it on Facebook that same morning. (I love all the stuff I find on Facebook!)

Anyways, it wasn’t quite as big as I had hoped but we did see some cool stuff and I got more fodder for my plan making. But that led the kids to saying…”Mom, we should do more stuff like this on days we have free.” Now lets be honest, during the school year, “free time” is few and far between. We have Sea Cadet drill once a month, gymnastics meets once a month, FTC Robotics competitions once a month and who knows what else on that odd free weekend we might have.

But after having such a good time together AND getting their feedback, I have decided to plan for some of these fun, free, cool things this summer. Putting them on the calendar as I ferry them out so we have some fun things to do if we are free! I’ve found a local website that lists all the activities for our area…all within an hour of us.  I can’t wait to find festivals we can attend, sites we can see, artists off free viewings/shows.

Last summer we traveled ALOT and the kids went to ALOT of camps.  This summer we are doing none of that.  No, I take that back, the kids will go for one week each to a local camp which my dad helps pay for as their Christmas present.  So having these fun things in sight will help take the monotony out of it, not to mention our apartment complex has a pool which we will make good use of, yeah!

Our local website is HamptonRoads.com and they have an event calendar.  Have you checked out what you can do for fun and free this summer?


Getting Organized – Finance Style

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When I was married, I managed the books for both of our businesses, did all his payroll, paid all the bills both business and personal, filed all our taxes and was obsessive about keeping my Quickbooks and Quicken files in balance.  I knew where every dime was, when every bill was due, everything.  It was a daily task for me, and by daily, I mean daily.  Fast forward six years almost seven years…

I’ve not maintained a Quicken/Quickbooks file at all.  Yes, on a couple of occasions, I would get it set up, do all the set up to synch my accounts and then promptly and completely forget about it or just plain ignore it.  I have lived by the seat of my pants since then.  Borrowing from Peter to pay Paul, forgetting that I paid Paul and then having to borrow from Jane…and so forth.  I’ve been the queen of knowing exactly how long payments took to come out of my account and then rolling the dice on whether a pay check would come in before then, or using my card and banking on it not hitting the bank until a few days later to buy just that much more time.  It got so bad that I have refused to use paper checks at all, since I couldn’t predict when they would get cashed and frankly, wasn’t really monitoring my accounts that closely.  It was bad, super bad.

I would guesstimate that in my worst years I spent several hundred dollars are year on overdraft fees.  I knew it was wrong, I knew it was dumb, but between the marriage fail, the housing debacle (this is not the recent one, but the two rental homes I have written about previously,) being the sole provider for then two children, well I was a mess.

Now, in the last maybe, year and a half, I have started to get myself in order.  Keeping lists of bills and due dates, monitoring my bank accounts more closely and trying my best to avoid that stupid bank fees.  But I’ve still not returned to my obsessive nature that was we marriage fail.  And now it’s time…

Okay, not necessarily for the obsessive, daily financial craziness, but for a more organized, traditional book-keeping methodology.  So as of this month, I have updated my version (previous 2012) of Quicken Home & Business, begun the set up with my existing budget and categories, etc.  And I am determined to get back into at least a weekly habit of checks and balances as far as budget, planning and business review.

These last seven years have been a long, hard road.  I would like to say that I never signed up to be a single parent, but the fact of the matter is that I would have become a foster parent whether I got married/had biological kids or not.  So I can’t say I didn’t sign up for that part.  I certainly didn’t sign up for it the way it happened.  It wasn’t my plan.  But you know what, I/we are in a really good place right now.  There is a light, not just a light, but a BRIGHT light at the end of this tunnel and we are plugging away for full steam ahead despite setbacks and hardships this past year.

So for your Quicken users, specifically those who may be entrepreneurs/business owners, got any suggestions or tips and tricks to share with me?