09. 26. 2014

I’m departing from my typical Saturday posts – which have been recaps of our financial successes (and, lately, some additional blogs you might like to visit). I’ve got life to share with you.

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Thursday night, the baby was actually sleeping. Around 11 pm Biscuit was outside barking at nothing, which he loves to do. My beagle, Cricket, was licking herself loudly. Every time she moved, I not only heard the disgusting slurp, but her dog basket also creaked. After weeks of poor sleep, I did not want that baby to get up, so I slithered out of bed and swatted Cricket – two different times.

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But something told me this was more than licking. Several months ago, we’d taken Cricket in to the vet to have a bump on her side looked at. The vet confirmed it was a fatty (non-cancerous) tumor. I refused to pay to remove it, because she’s almost 14 yrs old and the tumor wasn’t bothering her. She’d recently developed one on her belly that was kinda nasty looking and growing quickly. Something had me Google about a bleeding fatty tumor and Google said it could be cancer.

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The following morning (after very little sleep), I checked the tumor on Cricket’s belly. It was bleeding and oozing, with an obvious open wound. Whether it was cancer or not, it had to be looked at. Since we live 40 minutes from the vet, without an appointment, we loaded Cricket up to head into town with us on our long commute. Brian ran her to the vet, explained the issue, and left her there for tests to be run.

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He got the call a few hours later that Cricket had aggressive cancer. All we could do was make her comfortable. Cricket was already deaf and her eyes were dulling. I made the decision (she pre-dates my husband) to put her down that day. Yeah, we could have brought her home for the weekend and you know what? We wouldn’t have been home much either day and I’m sure I would have just cried when I was there – and probably annoyed Cricket with my constant attention; she always was a bit of a hands-off dog.

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I left work, cuddled her up, and held her during the injection. I went home and slept, picking my 65 lb dog, Biscuit up, so he could sleep in the bed with me (which he used to do before leg surgery two years ago – he gets around fine now, but can’t jump). And you know what? All I could think was how short-tempered I’ve been with Cricket lately. Always underfoot when I have the baby. Pacing when I’m trying to get the baby to sleep. Licking, licking, licking, So sad that she probably felt very abandoned during her last few months.

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And now I have even more motivation to do right by my October challenge (see here if I’ve lost you). It’s not only me who could go any day – it’s also the people (errr, and dogs) I love. I shouldn’t just live like I’m dying – I should live like they are dying.

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Do you have pets? Have you ever had to make difficult decisions about their care?

09. 25. 2014

I don’t know why, but I was surprised by the supportive reaction for the challenge I’ve undertaken for October. In case you didn’t see yesterday’s post, go here to check it out. I’m so excited to see what I’ll learn; I’m equally pumped that so many people think it’s cool and are going to follow along. I plan to do daily social media updates that won’t always coincide with the daily post, so be sure to follow me at those cute little buttons on the right-hand sidebar. Missing from that list is my Instagram account – connect with Kirsten_Indebted to see me putting the challenge into action.

As part of the challenge, I’ll be writing for only about five minutes each day (plus some time for pretty pictures and all that stuff). In preparation for my daily five-minute posts, I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday, now hosted by Kate Montague.

The rules for Five Minute Friday are simple. Kate provides a one-word prompt and participants write on the word for – you guessed it – five minutes. The results are posted without editing, and people who follow it to the letter rarely get to fully explore the prompt (though some do better than others). Then, you visit at least one person from the link-up and offer them some encouragement.

Today’s prompt? Because.

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When you find your child with glitter glue all over her hands, smiling proudly over the work of art that she has made herself, if you are like me, you will ask “why?” And her answer will start with “because”.

In my career I’ve trained other people to be work in NASA’s Mission Control, troubleshooting systems sboard spacecraft orbiting high above the earth. The decisions they make are critical. After each training session, I would debrief all the things that went well and all the things that went not-so-well. And really fresh, green controllers would bite back and say “because…” No, no “because”. “Because” starts the excuse and there can be no excuses where lives are at stake – only total responsibility.

Because also gives purpose, though. I write because. I run because. I want to be a stay-at-home mom because. I’m going to live like I’m dying for 31 days because my priorities haven’t been in the right place. Because I want to remember Heaven is real. Because God hadn’t even promised me those 31 days – have I been doing His will?

Time’s Up!

What’s your “because” – what is your purpose in life?

09. 24. 2014

Lately, I’ve been feeling a little bit like I’ve lost my voice here. Or maybe I’ve never even yet found it? I started the blog to have financial accountability while we are paying down our debt. I figured I would have one or two posts a week talking about what we’d sold or some way we’d saved money and frequent posts stat using where we are on our debt. I figured I would talk a fair bit about Biblical lessons on money and being a good wife or mother. Sometimes I hit those points, but often I don’t.

I was already noticing how off course I was, when I stumbled over to Newlyweds on a Budget and found Erika writing about ignoring the blogging rules. I had an aha! moment. At the time, I was working on turning a fascinating bit of information (studies show obese workers get paid less) into a post, complete with at least three actionable points. But I had nothing personal to say about this. I wasn’t sharing my story or my expertise. I was just writing a blog post that was regurgitating other information. Booooring!

The same day, I headed over to Meredith’s place, where she’d written about a fascinating challenge. During the month of October, we (because I’m joining her) will be living like we are dying. Let that sink in, cause it’s got some weight to it: for the 31 days of Octiber, we will live like we are dying and will write about it for (at least) 5 minutes every day.
Live like you were dying

The challenge hit me, because it made me stop and think “what is really important to me?” The answer to that question interweaves so many themes of my blog – my faith, finances, and family. Obviously, if I only had 31 days left to live, I’d eat whatever I want, quit my job, and probably not blog here – I’d be 100% focused on my family. But I’m not going to quit my job or quit blogging (kinda beside the point, anyway). No, I’m going to be here sharing the small steps I’m taking in my “last” 31 days.

If that journey doesn’t interest you – if you want to read more posts on how to get a raise, ways to turn a passion into income, or ways to save money on groceries, you might want to unsubscribe. I certainly won’t be covering that during October – and possibly never again.

Instead, I think you’ll find me reflecting on how to set my family up financially when I’m gone, how to leave a legacy for my children, how to set my husband up for success, and how I can leave behind reminders of my love. I’m want to learn to be in the moment. Learn to hold on to what is pure and beautiful. Learn to look toward Heaven with anticipation and hope, rather than just giving it a glance.

If you are interested in following along, please be sure to like my Facebook page, connect with me on Google Plus, or follow me on twitter or Instagram (Kirsten_Indebted). I have got some social media plans for this challenge, so don’t miss out!

I do hope you’ll also join me here, but also know that I’ll be out living a life – my “last” days of it, so I might not be stopping over to your blog for every new post. Let’s still be friends (please?), and I’ll do my best to come back by in November, Lord willing (because God does not promise us tomorrow).

What would you do differently if you knew your time here was short?

09. 24. 2014

Some days, I feel like the only luck I have is the bad kind. After noticing evidence of a mouse infestation (including catching a baby mouse), I called an exterminator to come out to the house. Of course it had to be a time when I’d have to have the kiddos with me and when hubby couldn’t be around. As the exterminator talked to me, I rocked a screaming baby to sleep, knowing that it meant I wouldn’t get any sleep later on.

And then a couple of things happened. First, the exterminator charged me only a fraction of the low end of the quoted price. Second, I remembered:

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. (‭Philippians‬ ‭4‬:‭8‬ NASB)

Basically, God has told me to think positively. Not the fake kind of positive – the kind that reassures me that I’ll have a nice big house and a great job someday. The kind that says “look how blessed you are”, because I am indeed blessed.

I am blessed to have God’s unconditional love. I am blessed to have peace and eternal hope. I am blessed to have salvation.

Beyond the spiritual, I am blessed with two gorgeous girls. My nearly four year old girl is incredibly smart and compassionate, and I pray that her baby sister takes after her. I am blessed that we can pay our bills and that we don’t need anything. I am blessed with a husband who loves The Lord and his daughters and who treats me well.

The snow will start here soon, and I not only have a roof over our heads, I can heat it. And I have remote start on my truck and it works! I have warm clothes for all my family (except the baby, but it’s just because I haven’t gotten around to buying the next size up). I have a job that doesn’t make me drive in with three feet of snow on the roads – and I’ll still get paid (thought I’ll have to work from home).

Today, I’m going to “dwell” upon all the amazing Christian blessings I’ve had in my life – from my in-laws, who raised their son well, to my daughter’s wonderful Bible school teacher, and everyone one in between, far and near, in real life and online. This is going to be a good day – because this is the day The Lord has made. I’m going to rejoice and be glad (Psalm 118:24).
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I wrote all the above in a rush before leaving the house this morning. As I drove in, listening to my baby happily babbling in the back, I was greeted with this scene. Does it get much better?
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Linking up today with Meredith Bernard:

 

09. 21. 2014

If It Weren’t For Bad Luck…

Last week, I took things a little easy here, departing from my standard posts to tell ya’ll a little more about me. The party (and by party, I mean FinCon) is over and now it’s time to get back to my real life.

Unfortunately, we have had another run of bad luck around the Indebted household lately (and sometimes I wonder if there is any other kind of luck). It’s all about a mouse, milk, and midnights.

Trouble comes in threes

Mice

For a while now, my dog Biscuit has been chasing something in the kitchen every morning. I never heard or saw or smelled anything, so I was hoping against hope that he was after a lizard (the dog loves lizards). But a few weeks ago, I started seeing black pellets on our counter and, grossly enough, in our silverware drawer. I declared to my husband that we had a mouse.

I blame everyone who has ever told me “the dishes can wait, snuggle that baby”. I took their advice (maybe to the extreme). My house is far from clean and it’s really not surprising that we had a mouse. What was surprising to me was that it’s apparently a family. We have already caught two parents and a baby.

Stocking the house full of mouse traps of various kinds was expensive enough, but when I saw that baby, I knew we were in for it. If we don’t act fast, those babies will breed and we will find mice everywhere, so I called an exterminator. He will come tomorrow. That’s going to be a $500 bill (on top of all the traps we’ve bought so far) that we didn’t have in our budget. All I can say is: thank goodness for my recent big raise.

Milk

When we bought our house, we got the old freezer in the basement as part of the deal. My sister came while I was on maternity leave and cooked a bunch of big meals for us, freezing enough food for a couple of weeks of dinners. We’ve been pulling them out as needed, instead of running to the store or a drive through. That has been the gift that keeps on giving – saving us time and money. The freezer is also where I have been storing my extra breastmilk.

I pumped a couple hundred ounces on maternity leave, and even when I first started work, I was freezing leftover milk each week. Then I started having fevers and my supply dropped to half of my daughter’s intake. I began using the frozen stash while I increased my supply. My daughter is six months old now and this week I was consoling myself that I should be able to make it to her first birthday, never using formula.

When I came back from the grocery store on Saturday, my husband met me with a pained looked. He’d discovered that the freezer had gone out. He said the milk was still cold, but there’s a difference between being cold and frozen. Once frozen breastmilk thaws, it’s on a short clock for still being ok to consume. I called the whole stash a total loss.

I have my fingers crossed that I can still make it through this week without needing formula – I had to defrost 3 bags last week to make it through. It’s not that I think formula is evil, mind you, but it’s not something I would need if I could stay home. Buying formula is just adding salt to my open wound.

Midnights

One thing that helps milk supply is getting rest, which isn’t going to happen for me anytime soon. The baby has been teething this week and is so uncomfortable she can’t sleep. Thursday night, I got 2 hours of sleep – but not even at one time. The lack of sleep makes me more emotional and short-tempered and basically no fun to be around. All I want is for 5 hours of solid sleep…

Trouble Comes in Threes

They say trouble comes in threes, but I feel like it sometimes comes non-stop in my life. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, wondering if we really just have worse luck than others or if I make bigger deals out of the same kinds of problems everyone has.

If it’s the latter – then what is wrong with me? Has my depression returned? Do I just enjoy being a Debbie Downer? Is it a problem with my faith? Or perspective?

I suspect that 95% of the problem is the lack of sleep. I’ve never done well on little sleep and now the problem is pronounced. And that raises another issue: the lack of sleep is completely out of my control (hi. I’m the definition of Type A). So now I’m having bad luck, I’m extremely tired, and there’s nothing I can do about it ;-)

Silver Lining

If anything good has come out of all this, it’s that hubby is finally taking out the trash (without it overflowing) and actually putting his dishes in the dishwasher. So, ladies, if those are problems around your house, get a mouse.

09. 17. 2014
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Was feeling left out of the blog mascot world… Meet Debty Donkey!

Today kicks off FinCon 2014, the conference to be at if you are a personal finance blogger, which I kinda am. I suppose. Ish.  But I’m unable to attend this year due to having using up all my paid leave to go and have a baby, which seemed important at the time.

Several others are also left behind holding down the fort, so we are having some fun this week and breaking away from our normal blogging routines to have an online “I’m not at FinCon” party organized by Debt Debs and dubbed “Frugal FinCon Fiesta”.

Here’s what we are doing – we are kinda-not-really live blogging (I have a job, people) for the length of FinCon, which Is Thursday through Saturday. You ask me any question (within reason, for an anonymous blogger who doesn’t reveal detailed income information) and I’ll answer by updating this post. We are linking up over at Debt Debs and then there’s something about me being able to display the link-up here, too. Confused yet? Me, too. Just ask me something.

I’ll start.

Who in your life knows about your blog?
Honestly, I’m not really sure. I just told my hubby at the beginning of August, when I signed up for Cat’s freelance program. I suspect my mother-in-law (hi?) found my blog after my twitter account somehow notified her I was on twitter, despite my efforts to create an anonymous account. My sister found me on Bloglovin’ because I had initially used my real name to sign up. After that, I updated my last name to be “Indebted”. I told a friend of mine from Texas, who leaves comments so I know she does actually read this thing (hi, Daesha) and other than that, I don’t think anyone else knows. My sister did pass along the link to some of her friends, but I haven’t seen comments to verify that any of them have been here.

UPDATE #1
Brian, from Debt Discipline (fellow Plutus Awards finalist!!!), wants to know why I didn’t share my blog with family. That is a great question and I wish I had a great answer. My answer has changed over time, actually. When I started my blog, I was on maternity leave and was doing it to pass the time and motivate myself all at once. I wasn’t sure that I’d be able to find time to continue blogging once I went back to work – it seemed like a temporary past time, so the was no reason to share it. In the beginning, I never promoted my blog, but people started finding it and following it and then it kept growing. Now, I’m at the point where I’d like to share it with more family, BUT. I would probably be fired from my job for my blog, so it’s very important to stay anonymous. Not all of my family (or friends) can honor that. It’s one thing to share my blog on Facebook, but it’s a whole different ball game to tag me when sharing it. I didn’t want either of my pregnancies shared on Facebook, and family had a really hard time honoring that. I was deleting comments on a weekly basis. I can’t be sure what they’ll do with the blog, so I can’t share it with them now, even though I’d like to.

UPDATE #2
Some more good questions – what do I think of the Tony Stewart incident, where would I go if I could go anywhere in the world, how am I enjoying freelancing and how I find time to write.

For the Tony Stewart deal, it’s a sad situation. I have never really enjoyed hot-tempered drivers, so Tony is not my favorite. I have no idea what his intentions were or were not, but I’m glad there’s a grand jury looking into the matter so that it can be put (somewhat) to rest. There have been crewmember deaths on pit row in the past, usually as a result of their own team’s car, so I don’t want anyone going too far over the top with on-track death investigations, but there have been enough questions raised about this incident, that it probably needs some closer scrutiny for people to feel secure.

If I could be anywhere in the world right now, I’d choose any warm, sunny beach that doesn’t have a hurricane threatening it. I love the beach and I’m not loving living in such a cold, landlocked area.

Freelancing is … Interesting. I knew it would be a lot of hard work, but I’m finding a tendency of being picky about jobs I go after (and I need to get over that more). I’ve recently just been spending time looking for gigs and not actually doing gigs. I have a couple of gigs in cue, so I work on those as needed.

For finding time to write or do blog work in general, I have almost two hours in the car each day. I have about 1.5 hours while I’m on work breaks. I’ll usually do blog activities for about 30-45 minutes in the morning, before everyone else gets up. I might be able to fit in as much as 2 hours a night. We cosleep with our infant, so once she’s asleep, I’m locked in bed with her while hubby manages the preschooler. It all depends on how tired I am or how soundly she’s sleeping – sometimes she won’t let me sit up to type!

UPDATE #3
Brooke wanted to know how I decided upon freelancing. Yay for another easy question! I didn’t know much about freelancing, just that some bloggers were making a full-time job of it. Then, Cat at a Budget Blonde, started a freelance coaching program and I took it as a sign from God (kinda) that I should pursue it as a way to stay home with my girls. In our consultation, given the magic amount I need to stay home, Cat told me it should be doable – if I hustle like mad – in not that long, so I kinda latched on to that idea. But I’m ashamed I have not been hustling like mad – I’ve been super picky about gigs and I need to find more balance on that so I can make things work out to stay home, while not writing for too little or about the same things all the time.

UPDATE #4
The baby is teething and we were literally up almost all night. Hubby was at Walmart at 2 am, buying more Tylenol. So, if my responses aren’t coherent today – you know why.

Brook wanted to know what scheduling tools I use for the blog. Deb has asked about my family. Daesha wants to know what I miss about TX and like about where we live now. Jean might be interviewing me for a job, asking me where I’ll be in 5 years.

For scheduling tools, I am trying to figure that out for the blog. I mostly type notes to myself in my Notes app (remember I’m usually an my iPad). I don’t have too much going on right now, so that works, but I recognized pretty quickly that I need something more robust. Let me interject here that I started out trying to schedule my post topics six months in advance – and did actually type that out – but have almost never followed that schedule because life happens. And that’s what my blog is about – my life.

I have one sister. She’s a little over two years older than me. She was a high school a English teacher for a long time. She does still work in education, but not in the classroom, and I think she’s doing a world of good where she is. We lost our dad when I was in high school. I was sixteen. He’d been sick for a few months – I’d wake up for the day and find he’d been sitting up all night on the couch, in pain. He got so sick that, a w days after Christmas, he finally gave in. Once he asked for help, he found himself in an ambulance to the nearest big city, where he stayed until he died on New Year’s Day. We will never know exactly what happened, but a CT scan found a mass in his abdomen, so he likely had cancer of some sort. We lost mom seven years later when I was in college (for the last time). Her father had dementia and she had been out West, trying to make arrangements for him and his wife. As she returned to the South, she wanted to make a stop to visit her sick brother in Oklahoma, so she was pushing herself on the drive. She got caught in a bad storm, and basically right at her exit, she hydroplaned, crossed a median, and hit another car. She died at the scene.

I miss our church family in Texas, Daesha, and I’m not just saying that because you are part of that family. I really do miss that assembly there. I miss having class for my girls and knowing there was a youth group ready and waiting for them. I miss the challenging and thoughtful discussions as part of Bible class. I miss folks like Mrs Kim, and the support and encouragement they always provide. I think the area we live in now is beautiful – at least during the summers. At some point I’ll have more time to enjoy it :-)

In five years, I see myself at home, hopefully making life easier for my entire family. I don’t have ambitions beyond that – I don’t care where we live or what type of work I do for an income (if any).

UPDATE 5?
Seems like folks want to know about raising kiddos. My advice: be careful about asking for advice. People have all sorts of “helpful” advice they love to pass along and some folks are really genuine and some people mean well, but… For example, a lovely older lady (really, not being sarcastic here) in Texas was moved about my plight as a working mom. She tried to find a lady at church who could watch my baby (despite the fact that she, herself, does not work) and when that fell short, she told me to find a great daycare but avoid ones that were religiously based as they might not fit with my beliefs. Um, yeah. The closest daycare to work was one of only a handful that I could afford that didn’t make me scared to drop off my baby. And it was one of “those” daycares. My eight-month pregnant-self went home and cried – I’d opened myself up for that advice and it hurt when she gave it. On the other hand, new parents do have tons of tips and tricks and it’s not all bad to ask them. But I’d stick with asking people around your age, who have kids just slightly older than yours. Times change and so should advice. Someone who has a fifteen year old might not know anything about Hyland’s teething tablets – but anyone who has had a teething baby in the last three years sure does… Was that ramble enough for you, Mrs. Frugalwoods?

Kipp, for your question, the biggest challenge I see right now is balance between the parents and balance of our expectations. I do have a different way of dealing with our preschooler than my husband. That doesn’t mean he’s wrong, but he might also be setting me up for difficult times when he’s on travel because “daddy always lets me”. For example, he’s a pushover about getting her snacks and drinks as she tries to delay bedtime. When it’s just me with the kids, I really can’t do that every night because I cosleep with the baby and can’t leave her alone (she could roll off the bed) to attend to the stall tactics of a preschooler. Then, the preschooler has a meltdown, which wakes up the baby, and then I’m up for hours longer than I needed to be. Another balance issue is that my husband loves, loves, loves starting DIY projects on our old home. While he’s off shining up door knobs (that in my opinion were fine), I’m left with the kiddos. You can imagine how much laundry, dishes, and cleaning gets done (none, and now we have mice). His love for DIY was fine, but needed to be tempered while we have young kids. My need for having a pristine house was fine, but had to be tempered when babies came. Unfortunately, it seems like I got the short end of the stick ;-) Balance out needs, communicate, and lower expectations.

UPDATE 5689754
Tre asked how my husband and I make time for each other. Ok, warts-and-all time, folks: we don’t. In the evenings, I wolf down dinner and head upstairs to nurse the baby to sleep. We cosleep and don’t have our mattress on the floor, so I can’t leave the baby once she’s asleep. I’m there. Hubs is downstairs, entertaining a preschooler or perhaps giving her a bath. On the weekends, he’s off shining door knobs (really) and I’m spending an awful lot of time in bed with my cosleeping baby. We actually text each other, even at the house. So, yeah. One nice thing is that we work at the same company, so we do see each other at work sometimes. We also have so instant messenger service at work, and we use that to chat as we have time…

UPDATE #I’ve Lost Count
What will I do once we are out of debt? Well, once we have our student loans paid off, I do plan to attack our mortgage with gusto, but only after we significantly increase our savings rate. Since our student loan payment total is so high, if we use a snowball-type method, we’d have plenty of money to split and, assuming we are in our current house, it wouldn’t take long to pay it off, even with just half our student loan payment put toward it. Then, I’d like to start working toward financial independence. As part of that, I do want some savings for my girls’ college and money for us to travel to see the sites. No point being retired and sitting at home all the time!

UPDATE INFINITY+1
So… How are we handling money for college – good question, I’d love to have money to pay tuition outright, even if not textbooks and living expenses. I do want my girls to know the value of work before they graduate and I like the philosophy I read about in No Debt! No Sweat!, where the parents paid tuition as long as the kids supplied the funds for everything else. The kids were also allowed (even encouraged) to live at home. I like that philosophy – I want the kids to work, but to not have to work 3 jobs to out themselves through school, either.

09. 16. 2014

This weekend, Kassandra at More Than Just Money nominated seven other bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award. You guessed it – I am one of the seven, so I’m thinking this ruins my chances at the Plutus Award this Saturday (because that would be what does it). I’m game to provide the seven facts about me, especially as I’ve declared this “get to know me week”, but I’m going to pass on tagging others. I know, total party pooper (bonus fun fact).

 

A Better Shot of Mom and Baby

A Better Shot of Mom and Baby

1. I’ve always (like, always) known I’d have a career in aerospace. I announced at the ripe age of three that I wanted to be an astronaut. I went to Space a Camp in sixth grade and got a taste of a Mission Control and realized it was much cooler to tell the astronauts what to do. The rest is history!
2. I started drinking coffee, black, around the age of eight. My daddy loved his coffee and he drank it black. I wanted to be just like him and had been drinking milky coffee (you know – mostly milk) for a bit, but I one day demanded to drink it black. My parents assured me I wouldn’t like it, but went ahead and poured a small cup for me to try. It was nasty, but there was no way I was going to let them know that. I’m stubborn like that (another bonus fun fact!). From then on, I always took my coffee black and got some really interesting looks from waitresses when that’s what I ordered at dinner.
3. I’m obsessively early for everything. My husband does not share this gene and I have been known to just leave him when he’s running too far behind. It’s better for our marriage. He’s taken to trying to sabotage me by leaving me to get myself and two girls ready at the same time. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
4. My first language was German. My dad was in the Air Force and was stationed in Germany when I was a child. My mom hired local babysitters and I watched German TV and so I naturally picked up the language. My mother said I mixed my sentences up with English and German together and sometimes had to have the babysitter translate.
5. Since turning 18, I have lived in 14 different towns/cities. I’m (only?) 35, so you can’t see there’s been lots of bouncing around. The longest stretch at one address has been four years.
6. When you google my name, you’ll mostly find race results. Apparently all I have done in life is run some races.
7. I have no filter. None. In high school, a guy once asked me if I’d go out with him. I told him no. He said “mind if I ask why?” I said “because I don’t like you”. Depending on the situation, I’m called “honest”, “blunt”, or “tactless”.

Are you early, on-time, or late? Do you have a good filter? What do you find when you google your name?

09. 15. 2014

It’s FinCon week! I’m feeling slightly jealous of those of you who will be there (but happy for you, too). Because of FinCon, I’m going to be doing things differently this week on the blog (you might just want to come back next week). I’ve decided to let you guys get to know me a little better, which is made easier by things happening at a few other blogs. Kassandra at More Than Just Money nominated me for a blogger award, so I’ll go ahead and share the obligatory “fun facts” about me tomorrow. And then later on this week, I’ll be participating with Debt Debs (and others) doing a FrugalFinConFiesta, where you can ask me anything and I’ll answer questions on the blog Thursday – Saturday, coinciding with FinCon.

For today’s get-to-know-me post, I got the idea several days ago. It started off with these same two bloggers (so you will have a lot to blame them for this week) – Debt Debs and her hilarious reasons she’s not going to FinCon, and then Kassandra shared her weirdness and encouraged her readers to share theirs. I shared something about my love of NASCAR, some tweets flew around, and here I am, telling you my top 10 reasons I’m a crazy NASCAR lady.

crazy NASCAR fan

First, some background. I grew up in the South and my dad was just a good ole boy who loved Awesome Bill (Elliott) from Dawsonville. If you wanted to watch TV on Sunday afternoon, it had to be the race. I hated racing. Hated. It. One day, I camped out in the living room during the end of a race, knowing I could take over the TV just as soon as it was done. There was a guy that was in the lead by a fair bit and in my eight year old brain, I knew if he won, the race would be over that much quicker. I silently rooted for him to get the race over with. The driver, turns out, was Davey Allison and I became a die hard fan of his until he died in ’93.

It’s important to know that, no, cars do not just go around in circles. And I don’t just watch for the wrecks (eye roll). I’m in it for the action. The strategy. The skill. Yet I know most people can’t understand watching the whole race. Here’s the deal: the only way you can watch four hours is to like somebody and hate a lot of people.

That passion has driven me to be a little crazy with my NASCAR obsession, so here are the top 10 reasons why I might have a NASCAR problem.

10. I’m better at diagnosing problems than most announcers.

“Oh no! Looks like Tony Stewart has lost an engine!” Um, dude, did you not see the hard right into the wall and the complete lack of smoke? Cut tire. I don’t even need a replay.

9. I’ve been known to record a race I’ve missed and watch it from beginning to end. It’s not the same just finding out who won.

8. I love the noise.

My college dorms were very close to a major NASCAR track. When the cars would fire up, the dorms would shake. Lots of kids hated it and found the noise disturbing, but for me it was the most exciting thing ever.

7. I bought my husband Daytona 500 tickets for Valentine’s Day / his birthday. He doesn’t watch NASCAR.

6. The qualifying races for Daytona are held on a Thursday. I’m usually sick that day. Really sick. Must.stay.home.

5. My husband isn’t allowed to speak during the race. Not even during the caution, honey. And definitely not during the red flag – I mean, they are interviewing people! And oh, that commercial has my favorite driver in it, so just go ahead and be quiet then, too. For some reason, he just takes a nap instead of watching the race with me.

4. When I was younger, I wanted to have two kids, a boy and a girl, and name them David and Allison (get it? Davey Allison). We have two girls, so I instead tried to pass off Charlotte, Sonoma, Daytona, and Talladega as girls’ names. Hubby didn’t bite.

3. I support the sponsors of the teams I like and I avoid the sponsors of the teams I don’t. Where the sponsor is on multiple cars, as long as they support someone I like, they are cool. At NASA, my coworkers made me publish a good and bad list, so they were aware of what products and stores to avoid (or likely, to irk me with). Frugality is done within the confines of these restrictions.

2. I actually left my aerospace engineering program for a short time and switched to a motorsports engineering program. I had designs on being the first female crew chief in NASCAR. I still think I would’ve rocked it.

1. I got married on a Monday so I could watch the race. Otherwise, I feared being on a flight to Hawaii.

Do you watch NASCAR? If so, probably shouldn’t tell me who you root for – it might damage our relationship forever!

09. 13. 2014

Success Story Saturday

Welcome to my Saturday reflection on what things went right this week – “Success Story Saturday”. We are short on huge successes this week, but that’s ok. Not everything has to be a huge win.

People Don't Seem to Believe I'm Not Photogenic?

People Don’t Seem to Believe I’m Not Photogenic?

1. Today we are going on our first date since May (which was only about 30 minutes away at a coffee shop). It’s nice because our preacher and his wife have agreed to watch the kiddos and they do it for free.

2. Last week, I found a closeout model laptop at Wal-Mart and they didn’t have any left in stock – just the display model. So, I took the plunge and got it – it was already about half price and I got an additional discount since it was a floor model. I am not sure if I have greatly increased my blog-related efficiency, but I will say it’s easier to type the posts and get the formatted well. I think? Maybe? Tell me things are looking OK, people.

Good Reads

Enough about me – let’s move on to other people’s good stuff that you might have missed, due to your obvious obsession with my blog.

FAITH

I seem to find most of my faith blogs through Meredith’s blog. She is building a small community over there and I can see it starting to grow rapidly. Anyway, she introduced us to Amy Dalke this last week, and just in time. Friday was shaping up to be a stressful day and then I read this post from her. Just go read it – she puts some pep in your step.

FAMILY

Laurie at The Frugal Farmer has been letting us in on quite a bit of her life lately. She’s definitely been through rough things – things I can’t even imagine. This week, she did two knock-out, life-on-the-table-for-the-world-to-see posts, but if you only have time for one, read her domestic abuse account. She’s a survivor and I’m proud of her for sharing her story. I just know it’s going to help someone see the light before it’s too late.

FINANCES

Broke Millennial let us in on how to set your rates as a freelancer. I loved this because it contained an equation. Hi, I’m an aerospace engineer, so I heart formulas. And now I know I’ll never undervalue my time – unless I choose to do so.

FITNESS

I didn’t find any topics that I had flagged this week for fitness, and honestly, I’m a little light on blogs I read that have fitness as a major focus. But I am a runner. I love running. I didn’t want to leave this category blank, so I went in search of some new bloggy-fitness-inspiration. I found , and I am thinking I’ll be back for more.

JUST FOR FUN

Robin runs a pretty new blog called The Thrifty Peach (and I do mean pretty. She did some work on her theme and I think it’s awesome). This week she did a cute little post on how grammar (or, actually, spelling) got her a sweet deal on a refridgerator refidgerator fridge. I may have found this especially funny because I am such a nerd about this stuff. I was recently on a team that was tasked with composing a memo for the company, regarding an incentive plan. As we reviewed the wording one last time, I asked the author to add a comma. One of the engineers said “no, I don’t like that comma”, to which I replied, “it doesn’t matter if you like it or not. It’s an introductory prepositional phrase that is greater than four words. It requires a comma”. Yeah. That shut him up.

Are you a grammar nerd? Do you have any favorite non-personal finance blogs that you’d like to share? What were some of your financial wins this week?

09. 12. 2014

can't afford to stay home

I feel like I only go to church to nurse my baby. We have a nursing mom’s room, but the speaker has never worked properly, so when I am in there, I can’t hear much of anything (we are getting it fixed soon). As luck would have it, for the past six months, it seems like worship time coincides with feeding or nap time, so I spend a bunch of time in the nursing room, quietly rocking my baby. Just a few weeks ago, a local lady had a baby girl. She normally travels a great distance to worship where her father preaches, but she’s been attending with us while her daughter is so young.

Since we can’t hear anything anyway, we got to chatting last week. She asked what my husband did for work and I told her, but I also threw in that I worked for the same company. I know how this usually works – there is often an assumption within the walls of a church building that young mothers do not work. I returned the question and then gingerly asked if she worked. She doesn’t.

She (very nicely) explained that she and her husband felt it was best for her to stay home with their young children. She talked about how it’s just so hard with two parents working – getting home to rush through supper and homework and baths and using your weekends to do errands, cleaning, and yard work. I nodded my head enthusiastically – I totally agree. Being a working mom is hard. I live the mess, chaos, confusion, and exhaustion every day.

I told her as much – that I am worn out and I’m always afraid of all the firsts I could be missing. In a motherly tone, she said (as so many women before her have) “we made a lot of sacrifices. You have to sacrifice for what you want”.

I smiled thinly and told her the basics of our situation – that I can’t afford to stay home. That I out earn my husband. That we have a great deal of student loan debt. That I’ve looked at my budget a hundred times in the last 4 years. And she just shrugged and said that it was hard on them, too, but they’d done it. I dropped it, because sometimes it’s just not worth the battle (and maybe partly because I was already drafting this post in my head). But, here’s what I could have told her.

On my husband’s salary alone, I can’t afford to stay home. There are simply no sacrifices that we can make in order to clear that thorny, muddy path for me. After taxes and church contribution, here’s a sample breakdown of my husband’s take home pay:

And if you add that up, that is over 100% – andd we haven’t even paid for operation our vehicles (gas, registration, vehicle maintenance, insurance, repairs), utilities, or medical care.

We can’t cut our student loan payments. We are willing to sell our house, but since we just bought it, we’ll actually be taking a financial hit in the short term. After losing most of our down payment money, we would not be able to purchase another house and rentals will be roughly the same price as our current mortgage (there is an extreme rental shortage in our area). However, rentals will be smaller, so we would save on utilities, but note that I didn’t include utilities in the cut from my husband’s check, so that doesn’t get us any closer to me staying home. I have tried and tried and tried to reduce our grocery spending, but we live in an expensive area, so I couldn’t get it much lower. If I stayed home and could cut coupons and shop at different stores in town for different items, finding the best value, I could probably bring us down to using just 100% of hubby’s take home pay, but I am still going to have to work.

The one solution we see is to try to move to a cheaper area, while somehow securing a raise for my husband. Those two things do not often go hand-in-hand. I’ve covered it here on the blog, I probably don’t need a ton of money to stay home, but there is no way I’d ever be anything other than a work-from-home mom. Does that solve some of our problems? Yes. Does it create other problems? Yes. Would it be worth it? I wouldn’t be going after it if I didn’t truly believe that.

I have grown to despise hearing the (often, holier-than-thou) “if you sacrifice, you can stay home with your kids” bit. It’s gotten old. Yes, I know I won’t have to pay for daycare if I don’t work. Yes, I know I can avoid things like dry cleaning and work lunches – but I don’t do either as it is. I also don’t ever get a manicure or pedicure and I get my hair cut once a year, if that often, so I’m not going to save money by giving up personal care luxuries. I will also not save money on gas and car maintenance, because I ride with my husband about 90% of the time. For now, we don’t have a car payment, so telling me to cut back to one car saves a couple hundred dollars in insurance and registration and creates a logistics nightmare since we live so far from work in an area without public transportation.

If you got to stay home with your children, I am 100% happy for you, but make no mistake – our situations are not the same. Telling me to make sacrifices is non-specific and extremely unhelpful. I can’t afford to stay home.

If you are a stay-at-home mom, what specific sacrifices did you make in order to stay home? Do you earn money? Does your husband have a second job? For everyone else, would there be sacrifices you could make if you needed/wanted to go to one income?

 

 

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