Family Travel: Colorado 2015

The months are flying by and I am keenly aware of the fact that summer will be upon us. Summer is usually filled with lots of travel and high sticker prices to match. We enjoy travel ourselves but this year our trips were schedule outside the summer window. We took a trip to Colorado and we plan to take a trip to Michigan in winter this year as well.

Traveling efficiently is something I am becoming more keen on. It wasn’t something I use to worry much about. I could sleep in the car, travel in a bus or drive all night when I was younger but as I am now in the trenches of parenthood and marriage my trips require I take other certain things into consideration. Still I maintain not needing to stay at the poshest suites or eat at the hottest restaurants.

After the trips I enjoy calculating how much we spent. Usually because I don’t really budget for a trip, frugal muscles are developing and questioning purchases at the source have made me not worry too much about the end result. But it still seems foolish to not check at all, so I gather my data and get to it.

We enjoy seeing this view at least a few times a year.
We enjoy seeing this view at least a few times a year.

Now let me clear something up. When I say we don’t budget for a trip I mean that I don’t say we have $200 for entertainment,$500 for food and the such. I do budget early on in the planning stages, specially when it comes to buying the plane tickets.

In the Roamer household I “budget” $150 a month for travel, which amounts to $1800 a year which normally is about right. Last year we spent almost $4000, but we had some out of state weddings we attended which we didn’t optimize so they ballooned our normal travel expenses.  Anyway like I was saying the budgeting I do for the trip is usually insuring we pay the lowest amount we can for airfare. Which in turn has a drastic impact on our final numbers.

The Costs of Roamer clan’s Colorado trip

This year we took an 8 days/7 nights trip during our son’s spring break to visit family. Even though we traveled during this high travel time frame we were  able to snag some good airfare. The table breaks out the rest of our costs.

This breaks down all the major categories into a more detailed view.
This breaks down all the major categories into a more detailed view.

So what did we do on our trip?

The Flight

We were able to score some great prices on airfare. How can you? Well I would recommend following these tip or tricks.

  • Buy your tickets on the weekdays. Maybe its an urban legend but Tuesday prices seem to consistently be much better when I check flights, then when I check flight on Saturday or Sunday.
  • Plan ahead. I like to buy tickets at least 3 months in advance and again I usually see much better prices.
  • Fly on the weekdays. Tuesday – Thursday are the most affordable times to fly in and out of your destination. If you can be somewhat flexible then you can get a better rate on most flights.

So we did just that, we flew in to Colorado on a Wednesday and out on a Wednesday. The strangest/ newest thing about this trip is that we did day flights. I strongly stand by red eyes or evening flight when flying with kids. But we survived and only had a bout of about 30 mins of crying on our flight back.

The Accommodations

We were able to save on accommodations by qualifying for a family employee discount. Before the trip we booked multiple hotels during the time we wanted to stay and continued looking and booking as we saw better deals. Then a few days before the trip we looked at all our choices and decided on the best deal given our personal preferences. In this instance we traded distance for more amenities. We could have stayed right in downtown which would have put us a walk away from family, but the hotel was very fancy, (read it expected you to go out for every single meal and had no microwave or even small fridge in the unit). On the other hand the other location was an extended stay type of hotel with a kitchen and it included breakfast everyday and dinner 3 nights.  Oh and it was cheaper too. So we stayed on the outskirts.

The Activities

snow fun roamers
Enjoying the free entertainment and the novelty of snow.

We enjoyed low cost and high cost activities. From the low cost spectrum like playing in the hotel parking lot and basketball court, to parks, hikes and swimming. To the high end stuff like a Zoo visit, and fancy restaurant meals.

On our first day stay we were greeted by a light snow cover. YES! free entertainment. We went out multiple times that day to play in the snow.  The hotel also featured a basketball court and swimming pool. So we also did that while we hung out at the hotel between our more expensive excursions.

For the not free activities we went to the Denver Zoo. But we were actually able to save from the standard cost. This is how that played out. Son got in for free because it was his birthday the next day ( what nice and friendly employees and what confident proactive grandmother who made the ask), also brother in law used their free guest passes to get me in . Minnie Roamer was under 2 so free, so we paid for only 1 adult entrance. That’s some good activities hacking and it wasn’t even pre-planned. Then Mr. Roamer and I enjoyed a grown up night out to the movies with my brother in law and his significant other. This on the other hand was very poorly thought out. We knew we had some movie credits but we didn’t plan ahead with regard to snacks and we went to watch something that just released so it did end up costing us more then we had expected. 

The Food

The most delicious thing I ate on this trip. Not a fan of Hollaindaise sauce so this version of eggs Benedict was exquisite!

On our trip we had a mix of home cooked, restaurant, and comped meals. As we already discussed the hotel already included breakfast every morning and dinner 3 nights during our stay. We took full advantage of the buffet breakfast and ate to our hearts content. We did need to purchase some food for Minnie Roamer as I am more particular about what she puts in her mouth and we also had to encourage Jr. Roamer to have some of the healthy options, yogurt, oatmeal, along with his syrup covered morning waffle. But we all let loose, and as to be expected there is a cost for such a diet and after a few days I was breaking out thanks to all the morning breakfast sausage. C’est la vie.

We also visited the grocery store and bought and prepared our own meals a few times. The biggest thing was buying fruits and vegetables, as those were what was hard to come by during all the other meals. If you are traveling I would highly recommend you buy at least all your snack foods at the grocery store instead of on location at excursions. You can save by packing your own fruits, carrots, nuts and even your own junk food; chips and soda.

On this trip we did indulge in some fancy higher end meals, we ate at 2 very nice restaurants. This is where we planned to spend a nice chunk of change and we came prepared. But if you look closely they are followed by zeros on the table. All I can say is we have some nice family. My favorite dish was trying the eggs Benedict, Tomayo  style.(pictured). I am happy we got to have these nice experiences.

Total

The only other major thing we spent money on was gas, and we also had some random expenses( all shown in the table above). Total our 8 day/ 7 night trip cost the Roamer clan, a family of 4, $1072.40. not to bad a compared to the national average.

Head to Head 2014 Vs. 2015

Finally I wanted to compare it to last years Denver trip. Did we spend more? Did we spend less?

So I set it all up in a table

Roamer vacation

Comparing the numbers straight its clear we spent less. $1072.40 compared to last years $1915.37. But then I thought wait a minute this trip was 2 days shorter. So did we spend less or is it only because we were out less time. So I calculate the per diem spent.

9 day trip was $1915.37/ 9 = $ 212.81

7 day trip was $1072.40/7 = $153.20

WOO HOO!

Truthfully though this all seemed rather funny to me since I felt we were much looser with our money in this trip.

Why were we in a much more spendy mindset? Because we came armed with several $100 gift card that needed spending. (The initial idea was to use these card to buy our monthly groceries but I disliked how they complicated the bookkeeping so we decided to set them aside as funds for the vacation.)

Looking Forward

As we prepare for our future travel there are a few things that are or have changed which will cause our costs to potentially increase.

  • Minnie roamer is turning 2 which means no more free flying. If you are a parent of young children. Use their age to your advantage and travel while they are free.
  • We now have a desire to visit family in Colorado and Michigan. Before we planned for only 1 trip a year, we might need to account for 2.

Of course with any travel the best part is being able to take time off work and spend more time together. Since we have family spread out across the U.S. it is a goal to visit them regularly. So with each trip we also get to check off some yearly travel goals.

Are you planning summer travel? how do yo keep your costs under control? Is travel a part of your family’s yearly goals? Let me know on the comments below.

Blog Birthday

Can you believe its been a whole year since The Roamer emerged on the blogger scene and started talking about  the journey through parenthood, early retirement and travel here at travelingwallet?

No!?

Neither can I.

But it has indeed been a year. I know because I got the renewal charge on my credit card. Realizing its been a whole year calls for some introspection which I want to share with you. I want to talk about a few things.

  • My favorite posts
  • What I learned
  • My birthday wish request
  • Blogs I’m hooked on
  • What is coming up this year
  • My advice to new bloggers

Its a nice round set of topics from a year in this new world. The personal finance world. So let’s get started.

My Favorite Posts

I am not a writer by trade, so sometimes I have a hard time stringing together my thoughts in the way I want. Sometimes I wonder if I’m getting my point across? Or if there are bound to only be misunderstandings. Though I’m sure you can find some issue with the following post they are by far my favorites. Why? The topics covered and the feeling that the post did indeed reflect my opinion, or were in someway informative.

The first: I talk about the hot topic of student Debt forgiveness and why I’m not in the camp that is fighting for it. Read why I’m not for student debt forgivenessStudent loan forgiveness

In general I was a big fan of my weekend wandering were I talked about broader topics, sometimes not related to finance. But this one was my favorite and I think completely relevant to the FI aficionados. In a nutshell these people don’t wait until FI to live their ideal life, they live it right away. It is inspiring, envy inducing, and motivational all in one.   Go on and read about the EASY Life.

Then there is talking about one of the most spendy experiences in most young adults lives. Marriage, its such a personal topic right!… Wrong! … Hahaha well at least our general focus on priorities is. Let’s start by questioning that ever pervasive engagement ring. 

Wedding or Marriage

There you have it. My favorite posts. Let me know what you think right on the comments of that post or let me know in the comments below.

What I learned this year blogging

  • Statistics are addicting. Seriously its very easy as a beginner to get lost in the numbers. But checking them constantly even if it is only on Mondays( but who am I kidding you know its not just Mondays)doesn’t help you increase them. Nope your just wasting time you could be..
  • Creating consistent content.  It is important. The good thing about stats is that you can recognize patterns. Nothing compares to creating consistent content my stats showed me so. But besides that I know that I am very attached to the blogs I read because they create consistent content. When they don’t I get annoyed. So why would I want to annoy my readers? Answer I don’t.
  • List are marginally helpful. During this year I have made it a point to join my fellow PF on some lists. Though they are helpful with traffic generation it is very minimal and again you circle around to what you really need is consistent content.
  • Connections can be real. You can make friends online and meet cool like minded people. This has been one of the most amazing things of this year so far. I really have been super glad to be able to get to talk in person with the bloggers I enjoy reading.
warrior dash roamer
Tonya and I getting ready to get Muddy

Blogging is a skill and  I am still learning, I see how much runway I still have to cover by seeing my peers take off on that runway. Yet part of this learning is learning about you! my readers. Which places me nicely on the next topic.

My birthday wish

As I was saying my learning also come from listening and talking to you. My awesome readers. But I want to give you more and for that I need to understand more. So my birthday wish is for you to poke around and leave me a comment.

It doesn’t matter if its your first time here. Actually you can provide me such valuable feedback by letting me know about your first impression. But whether new or regular I want to hear more from you.

To make it easy I created my…

all post/archive list.

Head on over, check it out.  Click on anything that catches your eye?  Leave a comment or leave me a private note. I read them all.

You can answer the questions at the end of the post or just give me general feedback.

Maybe you’ve never commented before. I’d be honored to be your first.

I really want to hear from you!

Blogs that inspire me

This year has been crazy for our financial lives, if you haven’t yet check out the following blogs. These 3 are the ones that really caused me to reassess my finances and have yielded great information and even greater results. Just look at these changes.

Net Worth
And it has just gotten better since then.

While MMM was the one who started me on the FI journey, the Mad Fientist helped me find the money by optimizing my tax situation and  Jim Collins showed me where to put it to make it grow.

Then there are these which just keep making me come back. Fun, random, honest and everything in between.

Also I want to take this moment to give a big HUGE thank you to my biggest fan!

Tonya! Over at Budgets and the Beach.

Thanks I really appreciate all your support. Tonya is a skilled video editor/producer and you can check out all her work, just click the image.

_20150504_220321

In reality I’ve found so many blog that are interesting but you know what they say, so many blogs, so little time.

Coming up this year

My posting has slowed but I am not ready to bow out yet like some other blogs that fell off the wayside ( still wondering what happened to them). So I am planning to continue posting and I working to get back in the groove of publishing at the very least one post a week. 

Other then that like I mentioned above I really enjoy meeting like minded people face to face. As such the following is in my schedule.

FinCon: I bought my tickets at the early bird discount :) now I just need to figure out all the other details. I am really excited to meet more financially savvy people. I am looking to share a room and still need to buy plane tickets. But the goal is to attend. 

Do any of you FinCon alumni have any tips for me on how to keep the costs low?

As I write I know I am getting more acquainted with myself and my writing style so I am going to keep writing stuff up. In the next year I hope to find my voice and stride.

Even though I don’t publish very often I do have a good amount of post ideas in queue.

Just a few in my wordpress queue
Just a few in my wordpress queue

Did you see anything really interesting or that you’d like to read about. Let me know and I’ll work on those next. I also need to work on not getting lost in starting too many but not finishing any. Some post ideas I have found are very time limited and when the moment has passed well… it doesn’t really make sense to publish anymore.

New Blogger? My advice.

Lots of advice  out there. So I’m going to keep it simple. The biggest thing is to create 4-8 complete posts before you put your name out there. Then you’ll stay ahead and meet that consistent posting expectation.( remember how I talked about that earlier)

I really appreciate all the readers and all the commenters

Even though I write my own story your feedback is vital as I work to write things that are useful and informative.

So leave a comment even if you’ve never commented before I want to hear from you.

If you like what you read follow me on Twitter were I post and share more frequently. Majority of tweets are sharing great parenting,  travel , finance articles I come across as well as you’ll know quickly when I post.

So there you have it my firsts year at Traveling Wallet has come and gone and I’m still roaming around trying to make sense of Parenthood and plan for Early Retirement and Travel.

Biking with Kids: Our 1st Trip to School

We are on our way to Badassity. Monday we move on to a new challenge. Biking long distances with kids on a time constraint schedule with only one parent! The time part  and the 1 parent here is the new piece.

We spent time preparing for this trip by talking about it for a few weeks before hand and getting some of the logistical information. Like is there even a bike rack at the school?Answer. YES.

Minnie Roamer letting me know she is ready to ride her own bike.
Minnie Roamer letting me know she is ready to ride her own bike.

So we woke up early got ready and set out. We rode the route we usually drive since it has a bike lane in some areas. The only adjustment we made was taking some different streets so we wouldn’t have to take on the lows and the highs of an underpass.

Trip Stats

:) :) :) all smiles
:) :) :) all smiles
  • 4 mile bike ride to school each way.
  • Ride took about 50 min one way.
  • School starts at 7:30 am
  • Left home at 6:50 am
  • Arrived at about 7:37
  • No stopping( except for lights) but did slow down pace
  • Mixed riding:  street and sidewalk

Ride back

As I rode back lots of thoughts ran through my head. I was happy we made it. I was bummed we were late. I was trying to think of ways to facilitate future trips. Which led to a train of thoughts.

  • I should check out other routes.
  • I can try again to see if I can transfer him to the other closer elementary school which also offers the DLI program.
  • We can move closer to the school and shorten the route
  • We really should just be moving closer to work ( over 10 miles away)
  • Ugh if I didn’t care about the DLI program we could move closer to work and enroll him into the closest school too.

All these thoughts cause me to not peek back at the trailer as often as normal. When I finally did look back at Minnie Roamer I nearly had

A small heart attack

Minnie Roamer had Houdini escaped her straps. She was sitting in the foot nook in the trailer looking out the cover. The top cover is held in place by Velcro so pretty much she was not safe. Hence small heart attack. I was shocked and scared by the sight. I stopped and took her out. Looked at the straps and was confused to find them still buckled.

Minnie Roamer now Minnie Houdini
Minnie Roamer now Minnie Houdini

I understand Minnie Roamer’s motivation, I mean she had been stuck in there for over an hour. Still I don’t understand how she got out. Specially with her helmet on. So now a shorter trip is important for multiple reasons and I also need to worry about Minnie’s safety during these adventures.

After some free movements on the sidewalk I strapped her in, gave her a talking too and proceeded with the trip. She endured the rest of her captivity much better, but still managed to wriggle her arms free. This could pose a problem.

Goals

Monday will be our biking day. This allows me to get to sleep early to be able to handle waking up early. As we get better I might test out doing it an additional day. I’m probably going to be the one holding us back on that since all other weekdays I am pretty exhausted from getting to bed around 1 am.

As of today my son has said biking to school is his favorite thing and that “its so fun”.

Guess what?

Writing this post actually prompted me to do some research. What I found out was that because I wanted to use the bike lane I knew existed I was adding over half a mile to my route. Now I will reassess our route so that we can arrive to school earlier. Next Monday we will try the suggested route and see if it makes sense for the bike trailer.

You might not believe this but there is some poor planning where sidewalks are reduce to a persons shoulder length. Much too small for a bike trailer.

I try to ride on the street and I am trying to get my son comfortable with the idea but it’s not always feasible. So like I said earlier we do mixed riding. Street and sidewalk for us.Roamer boy bike

Well this was fun, and doing it, even though we did get to school late, just reinforces how we don’t really need to drive there. It was a new challenge and we took the first step and got it done. Now we just need to tweak it and optimize.

It’s a win win win. We save up on money and wear and tear on the cars, we get to exercise, we all have fun.( well maybe except for Minnie Roamer)

Now its your turn

Do you ride with your kids long distances? What is the best placing with only one parent and a trailer in tow? Behind you? In front? next to you? Seriously tell me everything! I want to hear from you.

One More Year Syndrome

I have given up writing beautiful prose.(don’t laugh)

Instead of just not ever publishing because of limited time I think I’m just going to start publishing my thoughts as they come. Some I think would be useful to my readers and other well they might just be good practice for me. (Besides it’s not like I can’t go back and delete the really bad ones)

So here goes you have all been warned. Actually what I should have is a weekly wrap up like so many other bloggers have. But again then I wait because it’s unfinished and never end up publishing because the moment has passed.

So let’s get started.

I’m suffering from the one more year syndrome.

But first let’s take a step back.

Life changes so fast. Sometimes it’s an accident at a river, sometimes it’s because you can’t watch your mouth and don’t know how good you have it. Either way life changes in the blink of an eye sometimes.

It’s official

I mean really official

I’m suffering from the one more year syndrome.*

At the beginning of this month I had the perfect excuse to quit. I have been wanting to quit for … forever. And at the beginning of this month, I had the perfect excuse. But what did I do instead?

I extracted my claws, dug deep and clung tight. Too scared to let go. Too scared to take action.

Too scared to QUIT!

Instead of using this sudden excuse to take the year off. (My year off, that I planned almost 7 yrs ago.)

I panicked!

The timing was off. It wasn’t even June. That is when I had planned to reevaluate the job. To decided. I mean I wanted to max out my 401k before I left. Plus I just started this new position in December.

Excuses or reasons to not leave I had.

So instead of making a decision to leave I made the decision to try and stay.

So what happened?

Well, our 5 person household is down to 4. Oh and also we have no childcare.

Let me tell you, living in a multi generational house hold is hard. I’ll tell you about it some other time.

The imminent problem that needed to be addressed was who is going to take care of the kids?

Who indeed?

Due to our previous fortune we had no non family people in our resources. So we hodge podged  a week of care.  Discussed possibilities and finally decided that……

I could work nights.

Do you see it now? Is it clear? me clinging to work when I have the perfect excuse to quit.

Oh life.

Well things got shifted around and now I am working night shift. But I know I really do want to leave, because I was actually surprised when my boss said OK. You see I had tried to get the exact same arrangement right after my daughter was born and they had said most certainly “No”. So I thought I would walk in there propose the idea.  And leave thinking I had done everything to keep the job. But, oh well they had said no and its out of my hands now.

I mean talk about not wanting to be the one to make the decision.

So here I am working nights. Hanging on tight to my one more year.

I say it’s because I want to max out my 401k. Which is actually completely true. But I also think I just didn’t like the idea of altering my plan. June and December were the milestones for quitting. For multiple reasons too.  The 401k and another which was  the fact I was also intrigued by Financial Samurai’s book How to Engineer your layoff and wanted to give that a try.

But at root of it I guess I’m just scared of losing what I already have. A steady paycheck! More ammunition for our f-you money pot.

As of now I’ve survived the month and now have 8k of this years 401k safely sitting in my account. Yet I have to admit this is not where I want to be. How do I know? It would suck to pass on now. I see this is not ideal for the family and that the arrangement should only be temporary. That as it is I’m not entirely sure I am making the right decision.

On the positive side. I was also afraid of being at home all day with the kids. Let’s be realistic the change would take some getting use to . Now however I’m doing it and on very little sleep. So when I finally take time off it should be a piece of cake. :)

* one more year syndrome is a commonly used phrase by FI people to describe some one who is Financially Independent but keeps pushing off taking the plunge and leaving the 9-5.  Worried and thinking that one more year will provide them more safety.

I am not FI but my family is in a position to be able to not just survive but continue to thrive on one income for a year. That is why I am diagnosing myself with the one more year syndrome

We all say we won’t be scared to take the plunge but its quite a different experience when the decision is staring you in the face.

Do you suffer from the 1 more year syndrome? Is something stopping you from making changes or finally crossing something off your goal list? Leave a comment and Tell me below.

Raw and unfiltered: I want more

It’s the year of more says Ramit

Do you want more?

 

I do want more. More me time, more free time, more travel, more calm, more balance.

But I don’t want more jewelry, more clothes, more bills, more clutter, more dinners out , more Jones’ or fake friends.

 

I do want more snuggling, more sleeping, more kids time, more roaming, more wandering, more adventure.

I don’t want more nail polish, or more make up, more stress, more demanding people.

 

I could use more money, more freedom, more passive income.

I don’t need more stereotypes, more restrictions, I don’t need more problems or why it won’t work.

 

I do want more solutions, more innovation, more education , more reading.

I don’t want more late nights at work , more pointless ladders to climb.

 

I do want to have time for more giving , more service, more creating, more tumbleweed cottages. More investing.

 

Yes, Ramit I do want more , its just not the usual more .

 What’s up with More

This year I finally started reading Ramit and this year its his year of MORE campaign. At first it rubbed me the wrong way. But the truth is I do want more.

Its just different.

I do want to earn more money, so that I can turn around and save more and buy more of my time and life back. More of my freedom.

Life has gotten crazy. More money for more time for more freedom sound like the ticket right now. Because I’d much rather be home kissing and snuggling my husband then working 2nd shift.

The Little Roamers enjoying a tent in the living room. Something I now miss out on.
The Little Roamers enjoying a tent in the living room. Something I now miss out on.

 More of this vs. More of that

I am making sacrifices right now to build my more, but in turn I am getting less. Less time with mi esposo ( that means my husband), less sleep.

I think someone said it but I can’t remember who, every thing is a trade off. That when you prioritize something you are taking something else off the table. There is just not enough time to do everything.

What do you want more of? What are you taking off the table to get it?  Sometimes what you take off is not a sacrifice. For me that’s make up or nail polish. The products, the chemicals, the effort…. I ain’t got time for that. Other times it is a sacrifice. Working for the dollars but losing time with the kids or the husband.

Leave a comment below and I ask you again. What do you want MORE of? What are you trading for it? Is it no biggie or is it a sacrifice?

 

31 Day Challenge Update

Ahh, its about time I pump out this update.

Before the new year started I decided that I was going to participate in the minimalists’ game. The challenge was set to start on January 1st, and go until the 31st. The idea? To eliminate 1 item the first day, 2 items the second day and so on. To my surprise but joy, Mr. Roamer decided he would participate too. In essence doubling the amount of items we would have to purge.

Before the Challenge

Our closet. Looking exceptionally unkept.
Our closet. Looking exceptionally unkept.
A side of our room
A side of our room, boxes abound

Per our pictures you can see some of the stuff that has accumulated in our apartment. I’m kind of bummed. I really wish that I would have gotten some more before pictures. These 2 will have to do.

Before this challenge I had already participated in a few clean out days. My method before was to allocate 2 hrs on the weekend to go through old papers     (the biggest offender) and any other random items.  Stuff just seems to spawn in our house and I have to constantly keep on top of it.

 

Now… how best to present our results? I will be straight up and tell you that Mr. Roamer did not photograph any of the items he removed. Still we ended up with quite a few pictures and I thought doing a day by day review would just extend the length of this post excessively so instead I grouped similar items together.

Mementos

A little bit of this and a little bit of that.
A little bit of this and a little bit of that.

About the hardest thing to get rid of when you are trying to clean house is stuff that has “meaning”. From best friends necklaces, to keys of our old house growing up, to the ticket stubs, of all the movies my dad had taken us to while growing up. I had a habit with collecting things. Like I said, I have gone through purging cycles before and these items have kept getting saved…

NOT THIS TIME

The 31 day challenge really pushed me to be more critical.  But it was also a book on Buddhism and impermanence that made me realize how silly it was to keep these thing. With that I had an epiphany and developed a mantra.

Let go now, or let go later, at some point you have to let everything go. (really its just a matter of time)

Pictures, stuffed animals, and even memories.Time has a way of deteriorating everything. It’s not a question of will you let go. Its just a question of when. So I found myself asking , If its going to happen anyway, why not today?

So out they go.

Baby Stuff

Items for a soon to come baby. Not mine, but a coworkers.
Items for a soon to come baby. Not mine, but a coworkers.
Clothes
1 yr old boy clothes. It served my son and daughter well.
Baby
Month by month pamphlets that I got back in 2008 when my son was born.

I had been keeping baby items because of the possibility of growing our family. But with how many clothes we’ve been gifted by coworkers and the discovery of craigslist I was able to let items go. With 2 kids, I don’t have the miss conception that babies cost butt loads of money. So now I don’t feel like I am potentially wasting money in the future by gifting, selling or donating still good clothes.

Happily I was able to sell the boy items pictured plus another 9 to earn my first side hustle dollars of the year. Another upside of minimizing is cashing in on any valuable products that sit unused in your house.

Electronics

Does anyone still use this model?
Does anyone still use this model?

Do recognize these items? An old Xbox, and how about these? An old Sega Genesis. These are just a few items that occupied a gray bin. Inside were floppy disks and more items that we wouldn’t be able to access. Due to how old they were.

Good times... over umm 15 years ago.
Good times… over umm 15 years ago.

The initial goal had been to put at least these gaming systems up on craigslist and see if anyone collected antiques.  :) But instead these item were removed from the house and put into storage.(Not mine, we don’t own one). Someone in the extended family just didn’t want to get rid of them. At first I was a bit upset but then I realized I should just be happy that they are no longer in the house and that now I have an empty bin to use. As long as the items stay out of the apartment I consider them removed.

Random Stuff

Stuff

Books

From crumbled blush, to an expired pregnancy test sometimes things just get lost in closets or cabinets. More random items that got removed included school paper work from our now 1st grader.

During this challenge I also finally took steps away from my dream of “owning” a library. I have always been fond of libraries but I always wanted to have my own, so books were another of those things I gladly collected.  It was a big change in mindset. Bye Bye books.

So are you going to take on the minimalist games in the coming month?

Some tips

Ask yourself a few questions.

  • What is this item for?
  • When was the last time I used it?
  • Why am I keeping it here?
  • Do I really want to keep it or do I feel obligated?

Asking myself these questions and just repeating my mantra to myself I was able to remove items I had previously chosen to keep.

Let go now, or let go later, at some point you have to let everything go. (really its just a matter of time)

This motto has help me clear out stuff. Specially when it comes to mementoes.

Before and After

As I mentioned before I wish I had captured some more before pictures. The area by our sink is doing so much better. Though we still have some boxes and storage bins to go through we were able to parse down quite a bit.  People always say pictures speak louder than word so here are side by side comparisons.

Some improvement.
2 boxes cleared out. Mr. Roamer thinks I should work on my staging skills.
More room to walk in the closet.
More room to walk into the closet.

Finally items that still need to get the boot. These toys all reside in a bin and are just waiting for someone to come rescue them on craigslist. If there are no bites then they will get donated. ( More toys then just items pictured).

We are just a little old, we're still good, we're still good.
We are just a little old, we’re still good, we’re still good.

So Are you joining in the games this coming month? Leave me a comment and tell me what is that one item you hold on to even though it just sits in storage?

Ps. I hadn't fallen into a deep well without internet access. I am just very limited in time. The time I normally use to write content 8ish to 10ish pm is now being used to complete my homework for the ZTL program. I miss you all but don't want to publish just for the sake of publishing. If you're new click around and read some of my old stuff. Leave me a comment below.

Weekend Wanderings #3: Breaking Down Barriers

New Readers Note: My Weekend Wandering series is a time I take to wander off the main focus of this blog and discuss any other topic. Usually including videos that I found inspirational, informative or controversial. But if you'd like to talk about money read about how we obliterated debt in just 3 years.

Work has gotten crazy busy in the new year and if you read my first Weekend Wandering post then you know that Fridays is the day I set aside some time to be inspired and engaged.  With the crazyness at work I had no time. Until last Friday!

The videos I watched did not disappoint. Not me at least.

The first video that caught my eye had the words tolerance and tourism in the title.

hmm that sounds interesting.

Check it out.

Yes! that is the kind of travel that I want to do. It’s the whole reason that I want to travel. To meet new people to expand my horizons my understanding. To be immersed in the local culture not just to see it, but to feel it, to taste it.

In case you didn’t catch it he said he started a company call Medji Tours.

Have you used this service? Please tell me about your experience in the comments.

 

To me its an amazing goal to position travel as a way to break down those cultural barriers.

To hear stories of people letting go of ingrained beliefs, to open the doors to these strangers, these”enemies”.  I think this in honorable work.

On the topic of taring down walls and barriers the following video shows us how we don’t have to travel anywhere else to experience other cultures. To confront ingrained biases. That we can have the experiences talked about in the first video, where we connect with others right here at home.

Watch the following video.

Did you watch it all the way through? Or did you stop when you noticed her main topic was black men?

I’m not black and I’m not a man, but that didn’t stop me from associating with the message. I take great pride in knowing myself and as she spoke I identified with many things. My biases… my weakness.

She focused on black men but its not just about black people
It’s about Latinos
It’s about Asians
It’s about Religions
It’s about Gender
It’s about your sexual preferences

It’s about admitting that we do not see things as they are. We see them as we are. Unfortunately most of us aren’t objective all the time. We need to admit it.

I know I have some biases I need to work on. I admit I suffer from them and yes they were scripted into me. My parents surely suffered from it, likely it was scripted into them as well. For being Latina and a minority for having biases nailed on me I don’t want to do that to others.

So you don’t have to travel to break down those barrier. In America (specially California) we have a multitude of cultures available to us right at our door step, we just have to walk towards them. I was really touched by this talk. I would have cried if I wasn’t at work that is how intensely I felt it. I felt the tightness in my chest and back when I’m holding emotions back.

Yes, I have been on the receiving end and I could relate and though its hard to admit I have been on the delivering end also.

I don’t want to teach that to my children.

I want my children to have a different script… one of understanding.

I honestly believe travel is a great way to do it. I completely agree with the first talk.

In my about me page I tell you I want to ask you questions that cause you to think. I hope this wandering has done that, made you pause and question the “norm”.

If you haven’t discovered the wonders of TED or TEDx talks I HIGHLY recommend it.

The Roamer

Do you put your money where your mouth is?

I made a lot of changes last year. Honestly though, they were easy changes to make. Math, I trust it. And it showed me it would be no problem to reach my goals.

Today I’m going to make a big change. I am so scared. That is so depressing in itself, when did I become so complacent. I have been with my company since 2008. The last 2 years I have suffered through it. I wasn’t proactive enough, maybe. Truth is it doesn’t matter, I just never did much about my situation. I see now that I’ve stayed because it was safe. I’ve been saying, “I am ready for a change,” but I haven’t done anything really.

Just last year I changed positions but I’m still with the same company.  I’ve tried to shake things up without shaking them up too much.

Do I really want to work at this company until I reach F.I.?

I changed positions because I foolishly thought I can keep doing this until we are financially free. But today I chose to not let the next 10 years be a sacrifice,  instead they would be a wonderful growing experience.

What was my big decision? To put my money where my mouth is and sign up for ZTL. It promises to help me understand the systems to set up an online business and show me the steps to actually get it done.  What? Why an online business? Lets jump back a bit.

Old Dreams and Goals

I don’t know when the idea first popped in my head, but I have wanted to to start my own business for a long time (some people call them side hustles). The kind of business has morphed, and it has included all these:

  • Own a Rental property, When I was in college I rented a house with roommates. I could tell that the landlords where making a killing.  So I could see the income potential. I wanted to find a way to purchase a house and rent it out. Right there in our college area.(I’m still interested in this)
  • Start a Restaurant, I also thought that a restaurant that served authentic Latin food would be an instant hit, especially in MI, where the food variety is quite lacking.
  • Start a class, I know how to do some crafty things and I wanted to try my hand at teaching it.
  • Do Consulting, If you read my about page you would know I am a lean manufacturing engineer. Lean consultants help businesses become more efficient and improve their bottom line. Not to mention I’d get to work with different industries. Sounds good.

So I have been wanting to start my own business for a while.

Are FEARS  holding you back?

Yet here I am, I haven’t done any of those things. I had excuses for all of them. Lean Consultant? I’m not actually certified. I didn’t have the money. I didn’t have the time. I wasn’t a professional chef or even had any culinary training. I got pregnant!

If I look back on my yearly goals, I have had a goal to get certification on there for at least 2 years. But the cost never made sense. Honestly I was miffed that my company wasn’t offering me the same opportunities they had offered other people. (People not even interested or appreciative of those valuable courses, yes I am going off on a rant). Some where along the way I learned that I needed to do it myself. That if I wanted certain certifications, I would have to get them myself.  But again I wasn’t setting aside the funds. I wasn’t making it a priority.

Do you make goals for self improvement? What keeps you from taking action on them?

Why now?

Like I said I have been wanting to go out on my own for a while. Try something new. But it never seem to be the right time. So whats changed? Why now?

  • Financially Secure: Finally our Family is in a good financial place right now. We are debt free and have reduced our expenses and have a cash flow cushion.
  • I’ve already started with baby steps. Staying up at night and having this blog on my mind constantly, I am committed and have the drive pushing me forward.
  • I am seeing returns already with putting myself out there . I’ve made new connections with great people who I check up on and who check up on me.
  • I don’t want to wait until I retire to live my ideal life.  I am aware that its possible to start living it now.
  • An Increase in courage, post like, Why I choose to spend 7K for a coach by Good Financial Cents have shown me the value in investing in personal growth.
  • Spend more time with my family, Starting an online business and making it viable will give me the freedom to work from home. I am ready to make the sacrifices (lose sleep) to get there.

The Cost to invest in myself

So this course, ZTL, I am signing up for isn’t cheap. It’s advertised at $199 per month. That means I would have spent $2388 by December. My frugality didn’t disappear, so once I had it in my head that I was interested, I wondered if there was some way to save on that by paying all at once. Sure enough in very small letters there it was save $391 by paying all at once. So I spent $1997 and saved almost 2 whole months of payments.

In the end it was really a cost vs. value question.

The new Goal

As time has passed my goals have morphed and their priorities have changed. Thinking about when I would even have time has also changed when I had projected to achieve them. Since becoming more financially savvy I have been able to positively impact my business goal. It has changed from….

  • Own my own business someday (before I die)
  • Own my own business after I retire (10 years out to even start)
  • Own my own viable business by 2016!

Signing up for this course has made me feel like I should be able to have something by the end of the year.

I’m READY!

Are you investing in yourself?

It doesn’t have to be 7K like Jeff or 2k like myself, it doesn’t even have to be $100.

You can start by reading books or blogs that make you take control. Things that will lay the ground work, the foundation for the next step.

I’m Currently reading 7 habits of highly effective people. This book in itself will help you get into the mindset where you can honestly ask if paying to learn is worth it. A mind set where you don’t just automatically say its too expensive and not worth the cost. But where you can ask if you are emotionally, physically, mentally and financially ready to make such a commitment.

I’m nervous, but I’m excited too. Paying money is just a financial manifestation of the fact that I am ready to make the changes I need to get out of my current job situation.

What is an investment you’ve made recently? Leave a comment down below no judgments here. What do you think is the first step to investing in yourself?