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It is Going to be an Expensive Month

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As I sat thinking and planning for my finances for this month, I was trying to come up with a financial challenge and I just can’t. It’s just going to be an expensive month. As discouraging as that is, the silver lining is that once this month is over, I can resume my monthly challenges.

Extra Expenses this Month

  • We’ve got back to school shopping to do. We are still waiting to hear when and how schools will resume, but I know that my 3 youngest kids need some new clothes. And school supplies of some sort.
  • I am sending Gymnast to a week of outdoor day camp. While this was not originally planned, it needs to be done. Anyone else with high maintenance kids know how much you need downtime from them. That will cost $300, but I know it will pay for itself in the amount of work I can get done with him occupied.
  • Princess may have to attend a volleyball camp. She is debating even playing volleyball this year after getting a taste of working and earning her own money. This is why camp is a maybe. I have made it clear to her that I will happily pay the $350 for camp if she is going to play volleyball. But if she is not, she needs to make that decision now as I will not be happy if I pay for the camp and she doesn’t play.
  • Senior pictures for the two girls are scheduled for this month. This won’t be a large expense as a friend is taking them. But I will pay her something because it is her livelihood. (I often feel taken advantage of when people ask me to do or help with large tech projects as a favor with no offer of compensation. As a result, I am very careful to not do that to others.)

We are So Blessed

I look at this list and realize just how much we have to be grateful for, especially during the pandemic. These are all extras. They are all choices I am making. None of these are required to live.

All in all, these extras are probably going to be about $1,200 to cover this list. And as I think about that number I get a little sick to my stomach because that would be another good chunk of my student loans gone. (For the record, I already have a $1,200 student loan payment scheduled. I am sticking to my debt payoff plan.)

And I might very well change or cut back some of this…but right now, this is the plan.

But, the good news, as I continue to forecast and plan…After this month, extra expenses for the last 5 months of the year should be minimal.

The $100 Piano Lesson

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The $100 Piano Lesson

Last week I paid my daughter $100 for playing a piano song. And I don’t regret it one bit.

Since our 10-year-old turned 8, she’s had a weekly piano lesson. Her teacher doesn’t have a piano in her home, so she comes to ours—we got an old free piano a couple years ago. My daughter whined and complained about practicing, but she loves her teacher and her teaching style.

It’s $20 a lesson, but it’s worth it to us. My husband and I both took piano lessons as kids. I made it through two years, he made it through four, and now we sorta kinda play. We like to have music in our home, though, and we want the kids to learn to read and play music. (And hopefully pick up some discipline and patience along the way.)

Last fall, her teacher’s daughter was in and out of the hospital. Her teacher wasn’t available for lessons, and we totally understood. Weeks turned into months, though, and by December my daughter hadn’t had a lesson for several weeks.

I made our daughter keep practicing, but it was always a battle. I also tried to teach her, but I play like a 10-year-old myself.

One day around Christmas, I was stumbling through a version of “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.” My daughter teased me about playing it over and over as I tried to figure it out, so I said, “Hey, this is hard! Girl, I’d pay you a $100 if you could play this song.”

She perked up. She said, “Are you serious?” I immediately started to back pedal. Would I seriously pay my kid to play the piano?!

But I reasoned it’s a tough song! She hated to practice and I couldn’t imagine her pushing herself to play it. Plus she’d definitely missed more than five lessons, so we had more than $100 available. So I shrugged and finally told her, “Sure. Why not?”

She started trying right away. When her lessons were able to start again in January, she showed her teacher her progress with the song and we all agreed on how it needed to be played in order for it to be worthy of $100. My daughter kept practicing, and I didn’t even have to nag.

Then the pandemic hit, and her weekly piano lesson stopped again. I went back to still making sure she practiced and trying to teach her myself. But really, she mostly just wanted to keep plugging away at the ol’ Christmas carol.

Well, by June—much to my disbelief—we paid her for the song. She plays it beautifully! In fact she plays it just as well or better than I do. After sooo maaaany months of repeating it, she memorized it. (Heck, in a way the whole family has.) Best of all, the lesson wasn’t just about piano. She learned perseverance and persistence and that she could do something hard. And now she’s planning to give and save and make a plan for that money, and I couldn’t be happier.

So we spent $100 on 6 months of practicing. She may not be on her way to being Beethoven, but we feel like it was worth every penny.