Category Archives: Family

Another year

Today is my daughter’s fourteenth birthday. Sometimes, it feels like ‘just the other day’ when she was born. It’s so wonderful to see how much she’s grown and seeing her talents shine. She’s  good listener and her friends tend to come to her when they just need to talk. They know she won’t share their information and that she will be honest with them. Lying is  big pet peeve of hers, as with me. I pray that she has many more birthdays.

Harpers Ferry: Vacation on a Budget

This fall, my daughter and I will be going on a short vacation. It’ll be about two to three days and will land on the days when I don’t work out of the home. I recently picked up an additional job that has me working out of the home for a few days each week. Why? I have long-term goals, which I’d like to cash flow, one which involves relocating in five years.

Initially, I was going to surprise my daughter, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized this would be a perfect opportunity to hand the vacation planning reins over to her and let her choose the place… on a budget. A budget can be as big or as small as you want. In our case it’s fairly small, $500. It will be cash flowed so no hanging debt, just how I like things. I told her the the state, Virginia and she surprised me and told me she would not mind visiting Harpers Ferry. I haven’t been to Harpers Ferry since I was about 14. I love visiting historical sites and am pleased my daughter seemingly shares my enthusiasm. She really enjoyed her class trip to Colonial Williamsburg, VA. She wanted me to attend and so I accompanied her as one of the parent chaperones.

Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia

Harpers Ferry is a historical landmark recognizing the last stand of the abolitionist, John Brown.

John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry (also known as John Brown’s raid or The raid on Harpers Ferry) was an effort by armed abolitionist John Brown to initiate an armed slave revolt in 1859 by taking over a United States arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. Brown’s party of 22 was defeated by a company of U.S. Marines, led by First Lieutenant Israel Greene. Colonel Robert E. Lee was in overall command of the operation to retake the arsenal. John Brown had originally asked Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass, both of whom he had met in his transformative years as an abolitionist in Springfield, Massachusetts, to join him in his raid, but Tubman was prevented by illness, and Douglass declined, as he believed Brown’s plan would fail.

I gave my daughter the details. I wanted the place to be nice and cost under $130 nightly. I wanted to stay in a place that had a kitchen, so a condo or cottage. Having a kitchen means that we can prepare our own meals. I most likely will prepare the meals in advance, so the only thing we have to do is heat the meals and eat! Preparing your own meals, also reduces the cost of what you will spend. It also means the meals will be nutritious and delicious. I love to cook. She accepted the challenge and not only found several places, but a few were under-budget by at least $200! From her list, I did find a location that seemed perfect for us. It had excellent reviews and was owned by a retired couple that have a house on the premises. The cottage where we’d reside used to be home to dairy cows. Don’t worry, it’s doesn’t look like a cow’s home. The couple grows and harvest grapes which they then have processed at a local winery. They also have sheep! As a spinner, you know I’m thrilled. The only drawback is they’re about 20 miles away from Harpers Ferry. My daughter found a few other places also, but this is the one that really jumped out for us. They have a large pond on their property and that was a huge draw for her, also it’s secluded. We both love that. I’ll be following up with the owners very soon.

Outside of family, this will be the first vacation we’ve taken together. We’ve done day trips, but no overnight trips for just the two of us. I’m not counting the school based trips where they were away for a few days or the La Leche League Conference, that I attended with her, when she was only a few months old. We’re both looking forward to this time away and of course we’ll be armed with some portable crafts, excellent walking shoes to check out the historical sites and of course there will be lots of laughter.

Resource

John Brown’s Raid on Harper’s Ferry

 

Adventures in homeschooling…

Later this year, my daughter will be entering the ninth grade and she will be homeschooled. She approached me about 1.5 years ago and told me it’s what she’d like to do. Her reasoning being she wants to finish school a bit earlier and the freedom to move at her own pace, which tends to be fast. I already knew a lot about homeschooling, but told her to think about it for a year, do some research and if she was still interested, I’d make that happen. She was and so I went through the steps needed to get her registered with an accredited Christian homeschooling program.

Of course, the question I hear most often is socialization. What about that? It’s always nice when people parrot whatever they hear, right? But I don’t say that, I usually laugh and say what about it? What exactly does that mean? How is her socialization going to change? My daughter is quiet but interacts with a small circle of friends as well as others. In fact, her ‘socialization’ is much more well rounded than most her age since she interacts with all age groups based on the various ministries I’m involved with. But back to socialization, she’s still going to continue interacting with old friends and also develop new relationships with others she meets during her homeschooling experience. We became actively engaged in a few local homeschooling communities a little over a year ago.

A few months ago, my daughter told me she wanted to start homeschooling “right away.” I questioned her, but she was firm and gave me her reasons behind that and I support them. Her main reasoning being she’s has never ‘taken off’ in the summer. My daughter has a thirst for knowledge. The beauty of it is, that if she wants to ease up she can since she will be working at her own pace. Earlier this week, I followed up with the school where she’ll be attending, and told them our plans. I registered her towards the end of last year, but then the plan was fall. She’s now a student, just waiting for the full transcripts from her Lutheran school. She’s taking a few weeks off of school and then she’ll be in school. Working during the summer isn’t new to her since I have always had her do ‘mom assignments’ throughout the summer. NO, she doesn’t need a break. She doesn’t take a break from strictly fun activities during the school year, so why should she take a break from education just because she’s out of school? Also, her Lutheran school had summer work assigned to the students. There reasoning was similar to my own. Students within the USA, are lagging behind many other countries. Knowing this, I’ve always made sure that I gave my daughter all the support needed at home and when she’s at school.

Homeschooling facts…

“Academic Performance

The home-educated typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests. (The public school average is the 50th percentile; scores range from 1 to 99.) A 2015 study found Black homeschool students to be scoring 23 to 42 percentile points above Black public school students (Ray, 2015).

Homeschool students score above average on achievement tests regardless of their parents’ level of formal education or their family’s household income.

Whether homeschool parents were ever certified teachers is not related to their children’s academic achievement.

Degree of state control and regulation of homeschooling is not related to academic achievement.

Home-educated students typically score above average on the SAT and ACT tests that colleges consider for admissions.

Homeschool students are increasingly being actively recruited by colleges.

Social, Emotional, and Psychological Development (Socialization)
The home-educated are doing well, typically above average, on measures of social, emotional, and psychological development. Research measures include peer interaction, self-concept, leadership skills, family cohesion, participation in community service, and self-esteem.
Homeschool students are regularly engaged in social and educational activities outside their homes and with people other than their nuclear-family members. They are commonly involved in activities such as field trips, scouting, 4-H, political drives, church ministry, sports teams, and community volunteer work.
Adults who were home educated are more politically tolerant than the public schooled in the limited research done so far.”

 

Upcoming Road Trip…

Today is my daughter’s first official day of Spring Break. It’s nice to have some extra time with her. We’re about to head about for a road trip, but before we make that jaunt,w e’ll pop by and visit with an older friend and after that? Who knows where Naomi (my Toyota Prius) will take us. My daughter loves it best when we have no plan and just go wherever…

YNAB Update

I’m still enjoying using YNAB (You Need a Budget) and will definitely be purchasing it once my two month trial is over. I’ve always been a person that has had a budget but I do like that YNAB is just as detailed with their budgeting software as I am. That’s why I haven’t used them before. I’m not exaggerating when I say that all the budgeting software programs that I checked didn’t meet my standards, but YNAB does. I like the fact that I’m manually entering the transactions. It really doesn’t take a lot of time, just a few seconds to log my purchases that I make. Since I’m already frugal, I can’t see it saving me a lot of money, but I do like that I have a digital view of my long term savings goals. Think budgeting is only for people that are bad with money? Think again. I’m not. It’s something I’ve always done and I had excellent examples, my parents. Candid conversations about finances were common in our family it wasn’t until later that I learned this was something not too many people did.

As I said, I’m a planner and to give you a look at what having a budget can do, read The Millionaire Next Door, if you haven’t already. I read that in my early thirties. It just confirmed what I already knew, a lot can be accomplished (regardless of the income you make) if you only learn to live below your means. Many of the case studies were done with people that weren’t making a lot of money, but what they all had in common was they did have a budget, lived below their means and they saved. Part of planning for the future, in some cases, it can mean attempting to take on another job or additional education, now granted, not everyone can afford paying for their own education without some type of assistance, but that’s where the research comes in seeing what’s available (plenty of programs/grants) that are able to assist and… time.

An unexpected financial surprise? No problem…

About two weeks ago, when receiving my paycheck, I noticed that my take home pay was $0.

I immediately knew what happened. Open enrollment had ended in early March and while I have taken advantage of all the programs that my job offers upon being hired (I signed up that next day) the Open Enrollment was a reminder to see if I wanted to increase anything. Of course that is something can do at anytime, since I’m already enrolled in the benefit packages available, but the Open Enrollment was my trigger. I did choose to increase the amount I contributed to a few of them. One of them was my 401k. Some of you might see where this is going. The tool, for the 401k site is a bit odd. They had a tool that showed how much would be deducted if you contributed a certain amount of your wages towards retirement. Entering 100% showed that the amount contributed wouldn’t be a lot and so I went with that. Well, you guessed it… 100% went to my 401k. Just a note, not all companies will let you put 100% of your paycheck into your 401k and that’s why I thought I was fine since it appeared that I was only contributing 100% of what was allotted biweekly, since it still showed me receiving a paycheck. I rarely make those types of assumptions, and it’s the first financial assumption that I’ve made and it will be the last.

I know I’ve been writing about budgeting a lot recently. Honestly, budgeting is nothing new for myself since it’s something I’ve been actively practicing for several years and I observed my parents who were amazing at maintaining a budget. Naturally, I wanted to emulate them. I will admit as the years progressed, I’ve become even better and I do think 2017 is the year for me to do much more. Why? It’s mainly because of the temporary sacrifices that I’ve made. About six months ago, I picked up an additional job that has me outside of the home, not to reduce debt, but to hit some long term goals. Bringing in additional income will make that happen sooner rather than later.

I wrote this post to say if I was living paycheck to paycheck this would have been a serious problem, but since I’m not, I laughed about it and corrected the issue. I told my daughter, parents and one friend and now those few folks who read my posts. I made adjustments to my future budget. I had zero dollars coming in from that company, within YNAB (You Need A Budget) and kept moving forward. Granted, there was one thing that I’d planned to purchase, that was put on hold. A heavy duty stick blender that I had planned on purchasing for making soap. I COULD get it now, the money is there since I do follow and adhere to a budget, however, I’ll hold off making that purchase until May 5. Getting to the point where being able to not worry about a hold on a paycheck didn’t matter, isn’t happening overnight. It happens by planning/making sacrifices and saving well before a crisis happens. To do that, you have to stick to a budget. YOu know when it really hit home? When I lost my job in health care. I was out of work for a year, however, since I had been a wise steward even though I was out of work that long, I was fine because I had enough money saved to support me while I looked for work. Also, since the money was there, I had the choice to hold out and take the job I wanted. When I went back to work, that long term savings wasn’t completely depleted, but it did need to be rebuilt. Budgeting won’t work unless you’re disciplined.

Oh, the good news is, when I saw my check yesterday, I wasn’t seeing $0 take home pay. I input the money into the YNAB app and assigned all the money from my paycheck jobs. Some of the ‘jobs’ included adding additional money to an emergency fund, adding money to what happens if I’m out of work and setting aside money for monthly expenses a few months from now. Sure, I’ve been assigning money jobs for years, but the app makes it easier. At least for me. I still wish it was available offline. Since I’m not living paycheck to paycheck the money assigned are all budgeted towards future expenses/savings. Years ago, it wasn’t that way. There has to be a beginning, but in time that changed. I’ve always been the ant or turtle.

What does the Bible say?

Go to the ant, O sluggard,
Observe her ways and be wise,
7 Which, having no chief,
Officer or ruler,
8 Prepares her food in the summer
And gathers her provision in the harvest.
Proverbs 6:6-8
New American Standard Bible

Meal Planning…

Has YNAB made me a better budgeter? I’ve always done well with that, but I’d say it’s helped me reduce a bit more. It also made me seriously think about meal planning. I make most of the meals at home. In doing this, I’d definitely make meals in bulk. Which I do, but I’d increase it a lot. I just thought about this so that means my next step is researching meal planning software. I don’t need one with recipes since I come up with my own, but mainly something that I can easily input what I’ll be preparing. Bonus points for apps that let me try before I buy. I’m still in the trial period of You Need A Budget. I had one before using the app, but YNAB is something I will purchase once the trial ends next month.

Preparing for the unexpected: 2003 Toyota Prius Error Codes P3125 & P3130

Wasn’t I just writing about setting side money for the unexpected incidents in life? Well, this past Saturday, my Toyota Prius gave me this error code…

Needless to say, I wasn’t driving that anywhere until I got the codes read. I finally got them read today from Autozone.

Error Codes
P3125 Inverter Malfunction

P3130 Inverter Cooling System Malfunction

After additional research it looks like my problem is the inverter pump.

Earlier today, I popped the hood and did not see any turbulent motion within the reservoir. Hmm, that’s not good, but it’s easily fixable and while I watched a video on how to install the part (that should cost a little under $150) I’m just going to take it to my auto mechanic shop to get it repaired. I’m looking to spend a little over $300 to get it fixed. From my readings, the inverter pump should be replaced at 100,000 miles and since this is a little over 143,000 miles it’s gone over just a tad.

I must stay this is wonderful news. Initially, I thought the error code would be the main battery, which is quite costly. An estimate, I received was $1950, but that’s what’s planning for the unexpected is for, right? Each month, I set money aside for “car maintenance”. I have additional categories set aside for other things such as what happens if I lose my income (it could happen, not too much is guaranteed). Adding bits at a time, and having the wisdom not to touch what’s already been budgeted has been my key to being free of worry. Some of those categories has been set in place for years and has just meant minor sacrifices to set aside those saved funds for unforeseen events. Examples? Eating at home, forgoing some outside entertainment and using the money I would have spent on those activities to fund for unforeseen expenses. Because of doing these simple things, I have saved myself a lot of unexpected financial surprises.

 

While this expense is unexpected, it’s no big deal since I’ll simply use the money allotted for car maintenance.

Achieving goals: Turning dreams into reality

This is my second week back working the job that carries me out of the home. I’d been off for a few months. If you follow Dave Ramsey, he would call this a “Dave Job,” and while he encourages people to acquire a second job (if needed) to get out of debt, this isn’t why I chose the second job. Since I don’t have any debt looming over my head, this job is to help me reach some of my long-term goals much faster. About a year before I started working outside of the home, I sat my daughter down and told her about my decision. She’d already known, however, now she had a time-frame. After I started working, I talked with her again about her feelings and did she think there was anything I needed to do to make improvements. We are very close and I wanted to make sure that I still was spending adequate time with her. The only thing she wanted more of was car rides. Done! We take at least two extended drives weekly.

Picking up additional income, has been in my long-term plan and so as I already mentioned, this isn’t a recent decision. Anyone that knows me well, is aware of how I plan everything that I’m able. With this second job, I work nights. That brings its own challenges, not while I’m there, but when I return home. My mind wakes me up two – three hours after I’ve arrived home. Yeah… that can be hard, but I’m still moving forward. I’m determined and I have goals.

Part of achieving goals means surrounding myself with like-minded folks. It’s something I’ve always done, but as I became older, I stepped up my game a lot. Additionally, to achieve certain dreams it meant removed various things from my life. Which meant, reducing distractions. I don’t spend too much time online, it takes away from my focus and in rare cases some distractions have been people. I give respect to others so it makes sense to want the same in return, if it’s not given (after repeated chances) I distance myself. Over the past several years, I’ve only had to stop interacting with certain people two or three times.