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Posts tagged with: kids and money

Hope’s Weekly Budget – Week of October 8


We are almost at the end of our first week of our No Spend month. It has been really hard. It’s amazing how much you suddenly crave a candy bar and soda when you have committed to not spending any extra money! I have been very pleasantly surprised at how well the kids have taken to the challenge, especially Gymnast.  Three nights a week we are an hour away from home until 9pm or later, I have gotten in the habit of getting him something to eat on the way home. He didn’t even blink when I reminded him about No Spend Month, and contentedly waited until we got home to eat. (I am keeping power bars in the car for him as there are times he really can’t wait to eat.)

We did eat out once, but in my defense, we did not spend any “money”…I had a gift card to Chic Fil A with $23 left on it. We used $18 to eat dinner one night while we were in South Carolina waiting on Sea Cadet to finish his Police Explorer meeting.  It was a long day and I just couldn’t wait until 10pm when we got home to eat.

Next Week’s Budget


1099 10-Oct-17 150
Groceries 10-Oct-17 -25
Internet 10-Oct-17 -65
Auto-Gas 12-Oct-17 -35
1099 13-Oct-17 850
Savings 13-Oct-17 -85
Allowance 13-Oct-17 -100
Debt Pymt 13-Oct-17 -200
Clothing 13-Oct-17 -250
Debt Pymt 13-Oct-17 -250

Clothes Shopping

We go clothes shopping this weekend. Gymnast is going to wait until next week since he has a full schedule (the $250 in this upcoming week’s budget is part of last week’s $900 I had set aside, not in addition to.) They were all thrilled with their $250 budget, and I was thrilled that it left me with $150 to buy a few things for myself!

New Job and a New Outlook


I am slowing shedding the feeling of shame I’ve been carrying for the last couple of years since we moved out of our home and into the apartment.  For the first time in a LONG time, things are really looking up!  It has been a really rough time, especially since December when everything changed so suddenly.

As I mentioned in the comments of my last post…I GOT THE JOB!!!

It’s full time, full benefits, work in an office…real life job!  And the way it happened could not be any more providential!  Here’s a little back story.

When we began our Christmas visit with my grandmother, I spent a great deal of time applying for jobs…everywhere, all over the world.  Well, I had been through this before, know the holidays were not a good time to be in the job hunt, but I continued to persist.  The job I got is one of those jobs.

Then while we were in Texas visiting my immediate family over Christmas, I got a text from our ‘landlord’ that the camper we were living in had been damaged and was no longer liveable.  Can you say full panic mode!?!  Up until that point, I had planned on us living in the camper until April when we could 1) wrap up the school year and 2) finish Gymnast competition season at Regionals.  Then was planning to move to GA to my grandmothers or travel for a bit.

With nowhere to live any longer, the timeline moved up for the GA move, but I was able to secure temporary housing in VA for a month while Gymnast finished his regular season meet. And to give us time to pack up and get things into storage and so on.  My grandmother graciously let us move in with her with first week of February.

On our trip to GA with our final load of belongings, I got the call. They were interested in my varied skill set for a brand new position, but I lived in VA. Oh, how funny, I’m was actually driving down to GA with our last load of belongings to complete a move to a town, that is literally one town over from the corporate base of this company.  They headquarters are 12 miles from my grandmothers home, 12 miles!

Our first three weeks in GA were filled with in person interviews, personality test, reference checks and phone follow ups, and our last Friday night there (before we returned to VA for a week) they called at 4:12pm and offered me the job, met my salary requirements and I start NEXT WEEK!!!!!

The timing of the call, the timing of the interview process and the start date…after over a year and a half of searching, I can only say that God had a hand in this.  But there is more, this company gives back to foster/adoptive charities (hello, near and dear to my heart,) the owners actually know some of my extended family (small town but wow,) and one of their goals is to empower women/moms.  Holy cow, can it be any more perfect!

Granted, this will be a BIG adjustment for my little family.  I will be going to an office for the first time in 13 years. My grandmother has insisted we remain with her for at minimum another month while we adjust to the new life and she will help with the kids.  She’s watched us homeschool all these months we’ve visited her over the past couple of years, and is comfortable with keeping the kids on track to finish out the year.  We will have school on Sunday evenings where I will give assignments for the week and then we will meet a couple more times during the week to make sure we are on track.  It’s not going to be easy, but I am confident we can adjust.

I am keeping both my part time jobs for the time being both for security and to help me get back on solid financial ground more quickly.  All jobs are aware of the situation as far as me working them all.

And just a small financial win…okay two wins. Maybe three.

  1. I was able to replace the tires on my car, yes, I waited until it was dire, but I paid in cash!
  2. The kids have all received a small stipend for some summer clothes and are looking forward to getting to shop. (They have had a couple of weeks to make lists and think through needs and wants, etc.)  This is especially crucial for the two youngest since they hit major growth spurts this year, so nothing old fits.
  3. I have almost $500 in an emergency fund, consistently saving 10% of any monies received.

I am so grateful for this community and the constant encouragement. I’ve still got a wait until I get my first paycheck and see how all the deductions and so on work out before planning a budget and starting to look for housing.

Keep us in your thoughts and prayers this week as Gymnast will compete at his state meet this week, his last with his current team…it is bittersweet and he is really struggling with the move the most because of it.  And then we will return to GA to start our “new life.”



How the Kids are Involved


Needless to say, we all want to shield our kids from the bad and the ugly in life. But on the other hand, we want them to also see and experience failures while they are under our care so we can act as the safety net. With that being said, the age range of my kids (8-15 years) and the experiences of my childhood (worrying about not having enough money to eat,) have prompted me to be very cautious in talking about our current debt situation. I do not want them to take on this burden, that’s my job.

With that being said, I do want them to grow up to be financial responsible adults and recognize that sacrifices must sometimes be made and that there is always a choice….so here is how my kids have become involved in our debt pay off journey.

1. If you will recall from my budget, a good portion of my monthly bills revolve around kids. Because of my desperate desire to be rid of debt, we have made some immediate changes: a) all music lessons one month early this year; b) all allowance was suspended as of this coming month; c) Busch Gardens passes were cancelled.

2. Because I cancelled allowances, I have agreed to provide paid jobs around the house, especially for the younger two. I hope in doing that I can cut down on some of my landscaping bill, but only time will tell if that pans out. But in the meantime, they will all be more motivated to work around the house in addition to “family chores” which we all do because we all enjoy living here and our home is a responsibility we all share.

3. All entertainment monies have been suspended which would typically come out of groceries and/or kids activities. This includes most eating out, definitely movies, etc. Whenever someone asks for a movie, etc, my response is “do you have the money? are you going to pay?” That quickly shuts them down.

4. Groceries – each child rotates weeks doing the grocery shopping. This has been going on for about 2 months now. They get $150 for 21 meals for a family of 5 + 1 extra 5 meals a week (the neighbor I homeschool,) so essentially 26 meals per week for $150. I did the math for you, that’s $5.55 cents to spend per meal for all of us. That is not a lot. I first wrote about one of the twin’s shopping experiences on my personal blog if you want to see my reasoning for this new method of handling our groceries.

5. As I mentioned this weekend in Doggie Dilemma, the kids will each be attending a couple of camps this summer (if you read the comments for Doggie Dilemma you can see some details on this and I will address it in a later post as well.) Because the cost of camps is covered in a variety of ways, they are each responsible for their own spending money during any travel or camps. My younger two have jars in their rooms that they are working to fill. Tonight they asked for jobs that would let them earn $100…

Even before the debt payoff became my focus, and before I lost a good portion of my income, the twins were responsible for all their own personal hygiene and clothing purchases, so that is not new to them, but it does help me out all the same. I do assist at times with gifts. In fact, for Christmas the eldest, who joined the Navy Sea Cadets said that instead of any Christmas presents, he would like all the required uniform apparel. I think he made a great choice.

The older two know that I am catching up on bills. The younger two know that we have to make good choices with our money and sometimes sacrifice things so we can do all that we want too (the Busch Garden pass cancellation was taken a little bit harder by them.)

Where we are at financially rests solely on my shoulders, I own that. I am working very hard to increase my earnings (more on that soon.) Making good financial choices is a team effort for this family now. And I can’t tell you how much being accountable and advised by you all has already increased my drive and desire to be completely and totally debt free! So thank you!

Great Article


Last night I actually took time to relax and read a magazine.  It’s sad that the simple act of stopping and reading has become a rarity in my current situation.  Needless to say, I am very busy.  If I have spare time I am usually going to choose yoga and that isn’t a bad thing.  Still, it was a treat to read a real magazine. 

I was ready to check my brain out for a bit and maybe read about the latest celebrity gossip or what eye cream can make me look younger.  I was looking to veg.  A friend gave me a copy of More magazine.  I think I’ve seen this in a few airports but I’ve never read one.  The cover says it’s for “women of style and substance.”  Well, I’d like to think I have those qualities so I dug in!  I’m kidding.  I don’t have style but I do have substance!!

As I randomly flipped through the pages, guess what article I came across?  “Spending to piss off my father.”   Yep.  I do think God has become my financial advisor and now He is sending messages in More magazine.  Ha!  The article advertises “she built her life to prove she’s not her thrify dad–and worked frantically to afford it. Than an accident forced her to reassess her splurges.” 


Take some time to read this one and I think you’ll enjoy!  I could so relate to what she wrote and can clearly see where my spending habits originated.  My Dad is also of the Depression era–although the market crashed two months before he was born–he lived in NYC and growing up with a single mom, he knew hardship.   He was frugal like the Dad in this story but very, very private about money.  I knew nothing about finances and just knew that when I needed money, it was there.  I remember one blow up when I guess he was short on funds and my high school tuition was due–and he said something very hurtful.  I share that b/c I think it was an indicator that the stress was there but hidden. 

Now don’t think I’m out to blame Dad for my financial failures.  I am NOT.  I have the best Dad a girl could ever ask for and to this day I rely on him tremendously.  But I do think it important for all of us to figure out how our “programming” happened.  What information we were given as kiddos that shapes our decisions today.  I use that info not only to improve myself but, of course, to make adjustments to how I raise my kids. 

Anyway, grab a cup of coffee or tea and relax a minute with this fun article from Pam Houston.  I really enjoyed!

Cooking-Palooza And Financial Tips For Parents


I am literally sitting down for the first time since early yesterday morning with the exceptions of sleeping last night and church this morning.    I am not at all complaining as it was a very productive weekend in the kitchen.  Real food lunches for the kids (and me!) are made for the week!  DD helped me all day yesterday and it was a wonderful way to spend the weekend.  I am loving her age right now!  At 8 I can reason with her and her help is actually helpful!  And at 8, she still likes me.  Seize the day!

Tonight I want to share something that has been sitting on my nightstand for the last week.  I think we are on the subscription list for “Do Well” magazine from “Crown Financial Ministries” because before I started blogging I looked at their system as a way to get things under control.  It is a quarterly publication that is filled with such great info!  This quarter they shared tips on how to lead our children to financial independence.  I like that they break it up into age brackets and sum up the larger principles.

Ages 0-3:  Teach them to respect others and share their belongings.

Agea 3-5:  Teach preschoolers the importance of saving and giving.  This can start a life of good habits.

Agea 5-8:  Teach lessons of personal responsibility.  Chores can give your children a sense of puprose and help them understand their responsibility to the family.  Aside from chores, give your children opportunities to earn money of their own.

Ages 8-12:  Encourage your children to give at church, and help them find opportunities to share with people in your community and around the world.  Also, begin teaching them how to make the most of their money as a consumer.

Ages 12-16:  Help your children stay focused on preparing for life through traditional and non-traditional education opportunities.  Find mentors who can help your children explore their interests and find a career path that uses their God given strengths.

Those are great little nuggets of information to use in the raising of children.  The article goes into much more detail of course but these are good take-aways.  I’m thankful that although we are a financial train wreck, we still have our kids at home so they can learn from our errors.

A quick closing note to thank everyone for their thoughtful commentary on the lease-to-own issue as well as my job issue.  We value your input more than you know!



First Communion Blessings


SUPER busy weekend and then the week hasn’t let up–so pardon my brief absence!  I was so excited and proud about the planning I did for our daughter’s First Communion and things only got better!  As I shared, we had made the reservation and had the budget under control.  On Saturday when all 14 of us arrived at the restaurant, there was a mishap of some sort.  They were aware of our reservation but did not have a table ready.  It seems that someone broke up the large table arranged for us into 4 smaller tables and those 4 small groups of people were still dining when we arrived.  This is a family owned local restaurant that we really like so even as we had to wait I couldn’t really be angry at them.  As hunger REALLY set in and I was dealing with a tired 7-year-old and my poor diabetic 82-year-old Dad…I started to move toward anger.  It was over an hour before the large table could be reassembled and as soon as we all sat down and a waitress was passing out water glasses…she spilled one down the back of our poor First Communion Kid!  🙁  The back of her pretty dress was all wet and the pretty curls we did went flat.  She had an ice cube in her dress and made me so proud by holding it together when I knew an all out fit was just milliseconds away!  The waitress was also near tears and my sister made a well timed joke saying that now this was a First Communion celebration…AND a baptism of sorts.  We moved along and enjoyed the rest of our meal.  As two bottles of wine arrived at the table and then a spread of delicious desserts I kept eyeing my ex-husband to see if he was adding things to the bill!  I was getting nervous thinking the budget was being blown just about the time I got my half of the bill.  Dinner for 14 with wine AND dessert?  WITH the tip came to $196.00!!  OR $98.00 each!  I still can’t believe it!  The restaurant didn’t charge us for the wine or the desserts!

Our daughter received several gifts and a total of $40 cash.  I haven’t yet but will work with her on splitting that up b/w giving, spending and saving.  I sometimes forget to do that with her b/c she is young and that is dumb—she’s at a great age to learn skills about money.

We are trucking along on the savings and paying debt.  I’m excited to share new numbers on May 1.


The saving money bug is biting others in this house…


I overheard the kids talking tonight and 7 year old girl explained to her big brothers that the library is the “way to go” because you just borrow the books and DVD’s and you don’t have to give them money.  🙂   This on top of the 13 year old revisiting the 25 cent boxes of Rice Krispies and marveleing aloud.  The 12 year old was on the phone with his Dad yesterday sharing what a deal these antennas are because “tv is FREE Dad.”    There have been some unrelated challenges with the 17-year-old so we definitely don’t have any positive or negative commentary from him.  Oh to be as smart as all of the 17-year-olds out there!  Another day where I find a whole new respect for my parents surviving FIVE teenagers!

I know that some readers will assume our kids are overindulged…but I beg to differ.  They saved money from chores (more on that in a post to come), birthdays, holidays, little “jobs” and have bought ALL of the gadgets they have.  One bought an iTouch after over a year of saving. Honestly I didn’t think he’d be so determined but I’m proud he was!  We supply the bottom of the barrel cell phones b/c my husband has a stash of old phones at his disposal and I’m the only one in this house with an iPhone!  And that was only after it was reduced to an employee discount price.   The middle schoolers just got their phones this school year and friends don’t believe them when they learn their Dad works for a cell company…b/c they definitely don’t have the cutting edge phones.  Three of the four kids seem to be naturally thrifty and the one that isn’t…is learning from the others.  We provide basics and even the PS3 that is now serving as our television supply was split–we paid 50%, they paid the other 50%.   So, all this is to say that I’m not surprised by the lack of drama or pushback from them…but I am surprised at each of them articulating it in the manner they do.  As a new blended family we’ve needed a common goal.  It hit me today that saving money and paying off debt is the perfect common goal!   In some bizarre way (truly bizarre thinking here) I wish I COULD point to a bunch of crap for the kids to explain this debt!  But that’s CRAZY talk!  I am sure the days ahead will see unhappiness and disappointment as the novelty of this battle wears off and we all realize it is a long war ahead.

Anyway, this  is just a random share to celebrate the entire family’s progress.  I like the idea someone put in a comment about recruiting them for my ebay sales.  I know they would love that!