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?

 

2014 Financial Goals Reviewed and Net Worth Revealed

FinancialTime to review our Financials. We were on track to reach our 3 financial goals.

  • Pay off all Student loans by July
  • Open MMA
  • Celebrate with a splurge activity for the family

As you can tell these are some measly goals. Is one of them really open up a new account ,in other word break up with my bank and take my funds earning less then .01% to a better place(Hey breaking up is hard, right?).

So at the start of 2014 we had over 35K of Debt. Some of that was student loan debt.

Student debt

Mr. Had finished paying off his the year before and so we had a talk to discuss what we would do with the newly available funds. We deferred them to my student loans.

With that plan I was all set up to finish paying off my loans in July however sometime in February, maybe March I discovered MMM and he open my eyes to the fact that I had money sitting around in a savings account earning less then .1% and I had loans earning up to 6%.  This in itself made me transfer around 4 grand into my loans.

I wasn’t worried about an emergency fund because those were my personal funds and Mr. and I had a combined emergency fund.

So with those tweaks I was able to pay them off at the end of April. Goal: Complete.

Open MMA Account

I did my research and did not find any Money Market Accounts which seemed desirable. What I did discover was high interest savings accounts. This goal is poorly worded, my goal was to put my money in a better vehicle. In the end I did just that. Complete.

Celebrate with a Splurge activity

By the time we paid off student loan debt. I was already changing my perspective I had budgeted about $500 for this. In the end I think we might of had some sort of dinner.  However no where near $500. In the end I Failed at this goal. Still I’m not bummed in fact I’m pretty proud about it.

The reason I was proud was because I found that I could put the money to better use. I found that I could be more aggressive financially, that led to some new goals

2014 goals new

Pay off Cars

After paying off all the student loans we moved to paying off the car loans. I wanted to pay mine off because it had a 2.99% interest rate, and again it just didn’t make sense to save money in a bank account yielding us less then that, when we had some thing charging us even more. So we funneled some of the money first to mine and then we discussed about Mr.’s car which had an even lower 1.99% interest rate. The car was very new so we still owed a lot on it. We could pay it aggressively with the money we had used for the student loans but we went a step further and chose to deplete our emergency fund down to 5K and use the rest to make a lump payment. Before doing this I ran multiple scenarios on my excel doc and showed Mr. That if we paid it off sooner. We would be able to get our emergency fund back up to 10K in a little over 2 months. So we moved forward with Mr. using some of his personal funds also. By July we had paid off both cars. Goal Complete.

Sadly we were dealt a poor hand right before Christmas and we are now waiting to pay an extra $1000 for the insurance deductible.

Save 50% of Income, Increase 401K to 20%

I guess this depends how you calculate it. Also these last ones are getting into the realm of double dipping.  To max out our 401K last year we had to invest over 20% of our income. Goal Complete.That percentage plus the amount we used to rebuild our emergency fund, plus the amount we used for debt repayment, amounted to more then 50% of our income. By that calculation, Goal Complete.

Open Peer to peer lending account

I did not open the account. Goal Fail.  What I did do was open my own IRA and transfer the rest of my personal money into it. Mr. Roamer also opened an IRA.  Again not too bummed as money was still moved to a better vehicle then my brick and mortar bank.

Earn side hustle of $250

This year I embarked in some side hustle. As a whole I didn’t do so well. I had some good returns on my time investment and some not so good returns. For example the over 4 hrs spent at a yard sale was really bad ROI. Earning extra income was no easy task. Selling items I made an extra $98. So I didn’t meet the goal….

Unless you count the raise I got!

In November I was able to switch positions and increase my salary. It breaks down to $400 more a month, which started in Dec. All in all I brought in $498  extra in 2014.

Mr. Roamer also hustled in the sense that he maximized spending for the best return on his money. That meant switching all his spending from Chase to Discover to take advantage of a cash back offer. By doing this he earned a cool $100 and he didn’t even have to do any extra work. Just switch which card he used for a month or 2. So I’m going to say Goal. Complete.

The Big Net Worth Reveal

Finally what you have all been waiting for. Given our aggressive moves in 2014 our Financials have taken a nice climb upward.As you can see in the chart we achieved 100% debt freedom.

 Net Worth
Net worth of The Roamer and Mr. Roamer as of Jan 3 2015

Since we are following Mad Fientist advice and front loading our 401Ks we expect to break 6 digits sometime after march. I’m excited!

How are all these funds broken down?

401K The Roamer-  $39,131.62

401K Mr. Roamer-  $19,356.18 (First year investing)

Barclay Savings Account (Cash)- $19,332.39

IRA Mr. Roamer- $4,179.67

IRA Roamer – $3,872.54

Assets Chart 010315

So we have 22% in cash and the rest (78%) in stock/bond investments. The cash is our Emergency fund but it is doing double duty. This number is just going to keep growing as we start to save to buy a house so for the next year I see us just increasing our cash holdings. Which is why it was so important for us to have it in the best savings account possible.

Little Roamer son’s net worth

When my son hit about 5, I told him that he would have to save 50% of any money got/ made and the rest he could spend. We didn’t do a very good job with being consistent in the beginning, but still he has accumulated $255.61. I also make it a point to open his online account to show him how much interest he’s earning.

Little Roamer daughter’s net worth

Currently baby girl has no net worth we use all her gift money to buy the necessities. Read diapers and wipes.

If you enjoyed reading my Net worth check out the FI blogger’s Net Worth Tracker @ Rockstar Finance

The Roamer

* I am super glad to finally be done with all my 2014 wrap ups.

2014 travel wrap up

Guess what? For calling myself the Roamer and this site Traveling Wallet,  In 2014 I had made no written goals that we were going to travel. It wasn’t that we weren’t planning to. We have a standing trip to the In-laws at least once a year. It just wasn’t something I was going to focus my attention on.

My baby hadn’t even turned a year old so travel was not even on my mind. I mean how do you travel when you have what I would consider a newborn. (Less then a year is a newborn baby to me). So other then the trip home to Michigan which was required, specially because we had said baby, we had no other travel plans.

Yet even like that, in 2014 we all still hopped on a few planes as a family, as well as just the grown ups.

But before I jump into our Vacation wrap up lets talk about what the average American vacation looks like. This will give me something to compare to later.

So I guess first off the average american doesn’t take much vacation. It says so on the internet, and I can attest to that, as at my current job several employees have accumulated over 200 hrs of vacation.  Why would anyone do that? Then there are those who don’t travel anywhere for it. They didn’t call them staycations before but that is what happened.

However those who do vacation seem to spend quite a bit per family member.

So what does the standard vacation look like and cost. According to a few sources the average American family spend about $4,000 on vacation and it usually covers 4 people for a week now lets just assume it was a full 7 days and not 5 days.

According to vacationkids.com families should budget 5-10% of income. Hmm, so they are saying the more you earn the more you’ll spend.Then this other site has a nice info graphic.

So with all these rules of thumb being thrown around lets just go with the american express survey numbers. $1145 per person or $4580 for a family of 4.

I don’t know about you but that seems pretty pricey for the amount of time you get. So now lets see what the Roamer clan did this year.

Comparing Figures

How much did we spend on vacations/ travel all year?

$3951.67*

How big is our family?

4+1=5 , If you haven’t figured it out yet, our family of 5 consist of: Me, Mr. Roamer, Little boy and little girl and my Mom. So 3 adults, 2 children. Yes I live in a multigenerational household. (that’s a story for another time)

How many days of vacation per person?

  • 1 got 24 days- My mom**
  • 4 got 10 days- The Roamer clan
  • 2 got an extra 6 (that would be us, The Roamer and Mr.Roamer)

Where did we go?

All of our trips required flying as we live in California and our trips took us to

How much do standard american families spend?

A lot! And they don’t seem to get very much. Below I have a chart of what you’d get at the “standard family vacation”.  Seems like with a bit of planning and some savvy spending you can get much more bang for your buck.

Affordable Family vacations

For us the short impromptu trips were due to being invited to some weddings. We had known they were coming in 2014 but we didn’t really decided that we were going until late. Those trips were the most expensive per person per day.

Yet…

All in all it was a fun year and it look like we made out better then the typical Jones’.

We also saved a whopping $7496 compared to the average Joe (and Family). Sounds good to me I don’t miss traveling like the average joe one bit.

During our travels we learned some new things so Lets play a quick game of

Did you Know?

Did you know?

It is absolutely no trouble at all to take the bus from the airport in Milwaukee (MKE) to downtown.

It cost very little about 2.50/ person and the bus was mostly empty and felt safe. So if you’re ever flying in to that airport and staying in the downtown area. Skip the cab and the rental car. The buses work great and its a very walk-able area.

Did you know?

Denver has this awesome tool for transportation called the bcycle.

Its a pretty cool business and in a city were there are major bike routes it just makes so much sense. So if you are in Denver you might want to remember to pack your bike helmet and skip the car rental as well.

If your looking for low cost entertainment mixed in with a little nostalgia stop by 1 up arcade. I’m not a drinker but adult beverages are served and most(all) of the games are the standard quarter(check out their FAQ in you don’t believe me). I’m not an Xbox or PlayStation gamer but I really enjoy arcades(Pack-man please)

Oh! The power!
Oh! The power!

If you have kids like I do, another great thing are public parks and pools. Growing up I had never been to a community pool that included a mini water park for the kids. I thought this was awesome The cost? Okay I don’t remember exactly but it was about $2 per person.

Curtis Park, CO you can't tell in this google maps picture but it is so much fun
Curtis Park, CO you can’t tell in this Google maps picture but it is so much fun!

Did you know

El Salvador is home to these popular sites. Blah! I’ve never actually been. I really wanted to have some cool insight but without having been there well I’ve got nada.  When I get there on my own 2 feet I’ll share. Until then if you ever are in my neck of the woods I can cook you some authentic Pupusas!

Yum! Thanks Wikipedia for better quality pictures then I can take.

Thanks for reading

The Roamer

 How did you make out last year did you travel as much as you wanted too? What do you have planned for this year?

* Some thing to consider is that our total cost likely doesn’t include some numbers for example food costs. Some food costs might have been sorted to our standard monthly food budget. Still I checked and on our vacation months we did not go over our food budgets.  Same for gas. All this means is that if we were gone for a week we spent the same money we would have otherwise spent on food. It wasn’t above or beyond which is usually the case for vacations. Anything that was above and beyond was included in our cost.

** We only paid for the flight, all other costs were incurred by my mother. However I wouldn’t peg her spending anything more then $250 while she was out.

*** I am not getting paid for any of these awesome recommendations. I just think these are cool. Plus Mr. Roamer said that’s what he’d include if he was writing the post.  

Starting on 2015 goals, Tackling Blog Monetization

Time to test the waters!

As my 2015 goal state I want to make my blog able to sustain itself. I think it would be great if I can get it to pay for itself.

Traveling Wallet Goals

In that respect I’m finally jumping into the world of AdSense. As some of you may have noticed I have an ad on my side bar.

I’m excited! I’ve always wanted to start my own business but I’ve never really made the time to cultivate a passion. Starting this blog has been a nice jolt in waking up my brain and I’ve been learning so much.

Monetizing is just another step on the ladder.

Recently I just signed up for an AdSense account and now I need to figure out how all that works.

You’ll see some ads hanging around. I will probably move them around testing their functionality.

I hope to learn quickly and move into affiliates. I think this path would be better as I could focus on products I actually use and enjoy.

Today I clicked around trying to figure out how to block categories that were not pertinent. Get rich quick anybody??? hmm nope. Dating probably not. Clicking and un-clicking categories so far has been fun.

I am a little disappointing also though because I haven’t had a chance to really dig into it and so I haven’t been able to block all the ads that are just not useful or aligned to this sites values. For example I keep seeing a link for “is he cheating on you?” NO! I don’t want an ad about that shiizah. So please bare with me as I take on this learning curve.

For me this is also a way for me to explore the world of the side hustle. As well as the  multiple income stream world.

Now to pick your brain!

How about you? have you monetized your blog? How long did it take you to learn how to implement? What do you feel are the best and worst things?

 

2014 Family Relationships Reviewed

2014 Relationship Goals

2014 goals
2014 goals

Focus on the Marriage

Traveling wallet
Alone time with the husband. Big Goal for 2014! Picture in Frugalwood’s headless style.

In 2013 I ran across a great idea on Pinterest. A great little present where I had pre planned and partially paid for dates. I don’t want to get into to much detail about the gift but it was a fun and effective way to ensure Mr. Roamer and I were going to be spending some alone time.

In my household growing up I don’t have any memories about my parents dating. Yet so much of what I read now about healthy relationships highlights the importance of cultivating the spousal relationship. WHY?! because the kids will leave in 18 years and then it will be just you and the hubs. We don’t want our relationship to have fallen apart in those 18 years.

One date a month might not seem like a lot to some people but to me and my relationship history that was a good place to start.

As you can see it is also a nice set of SMART goals. I was very specific about who and what was involved. Its definitely measurable and since its broken into monthly increments you can see if you are on track. With only 4 hrs needed per day out of 30 days in a month attainability was a check. Having strong healthy relationships is very important to me, that makes this goal completely relevant. Time constrained absolutely whether you where looking at it as                   12 dates/year or 1 date/ month. There was a deadline for when the goal and its sub-steps had to be accomplished.

I had lots of fun with this goal and it got us practicing a good habit. Realizing that even though we are stuck at work so much and away from the kids that we still need to cultivate our relationship as well. Our relationship is equally as important. 100% accomplished.

Oh and just in case you are curious how much all these dates cost us. Well we spent ~$460 on the actual dates and ~$360 on babysitting costs( my in-laws babysat some and we don’t pay them). What I had allotted was $600 for the dates but since stumbling onto PF we removed some of the expenses. Total we made about an $800 investment in our relationship. 12 dates and 12 new memories to cherish.

Love

Focus on the Kids

The Little Roamers enjoying a tent in the living room.
The Little Roamers enjoying a tent in the living room.

Also for last year I made the not so specific goal of spending more time with my kids. As you can see it doesn’t fit the SMART framework.

This means I can’t really measure it to any set criteria.

So I will justify why I am saying we/I got 100% on this one too.

First Mr. Roamer has this wonderful schedule called a 9,80. If you’ve never heard of a 9,80 ( I sure hadn’t) it means you work 9 days out of 2 weeks that add up to 80 hrs in those 2 weeks. Which means he got every other Friday off. These Fridays gave him extra time to spend with the kids. 1 on 1 time with her while big brother was at school and 1 on 1 time with him while she took her naps.  All in all Mr. Roamer had approximately an extra 43 weekdays off that he spent with the Family.

I also took a lot of time off. Per my calculations I had ~34 days off. That’s 6.8 weeks! Just like Mr. I mostly got to spend 1 on 1 time with little girl while big bro was in school. But I also made it a point to go out with him without little sister. I can remember bike rides to the park with just him and some walks around the block.

What I think he cherished most of all was my volunteering at school and even attending a field trip (while he was in kinder). He talks about it often and he is requesting I help this year. This school year I haven’t volunteered yet I’m slacking.

Even our bed time routine has afforded us time to give focused attention to the little ones individually. Our mindset and practices have changed and because of that I will say we hit the mark.

PFL/FMLA

One of the reasons I was able to take so much time off was because in the beginning of the year I still had PFL time available from the birth of my daughter. I love PFL/ FMLA and I will post on it in more detail. One of the many benefits of California is that men also qualify so I am probably under shooting on the time off my husband had off because he also had some time left to use for his PFL.

However great these programs might be they do cause you to suffer a reduced paycheck because they only pay out up to 55% of your usual pay. This means you have to be serious about family and take the necessary financial steps to make this work. To me this was another way we showed commitment to our kids and our family.

Time with everyone else

I also planned to spend some one on one time with my sister and mother. Have a girls night. Like I said in a previous post they(everyone else) are at about 3rd on the list and I rarely make it that far down. So I made a simple goal.

Go out with them 2 times in the year without the kids. ( That last part is key because my attention would be diverted if I had either of the children).This goal was 100% complete and then some.

This is not to say that was the only time I saw them. Nope we hung out lots of times through out the year. But they were family affairs.

We also spent a good amount of time visiting with my In-laws. Whether we visited them or they came out to see us.  We saw them much more then we though or first projected at the beginning of the year.

What about the cut back on movies to 3 a week max?

I’m sad to admit that I stopped tracking the data for this due to the fact that we were killing it. We were going more then a week with out turning on the tv at all. Unfortunately that some how disappeared when I started blogging more seriously (the last 3 months of the year). It seems that since I was working harder I also wanted to play harder. I am pretty certain that Mr.Roamer and I had weeks when we watched more then 3 movies in a week.

The good news is that it really was the Mr. and I so as a family (when the kids were awake) we were not wasting much time with tv. Still it really was to make sure time was being made available for quality interaction so i’m still going to say that I failed this one since I know I wanted Mr. and I to have used the time better. No more late night freebies this year.

Record Keeping

I did a pretty good job of jotting down some notes to the kids in their memory books. Before 2014 started they lay forgotten with several month gaps between entries. This year(2014) it looks like I only missed 2 months. So I got 80%.

Relationships are so important they made the list for 2015 goals too.

I know they say that you need to focus on your audience when writing but I really enjoyed working on this post and reviewing my goals. Why shouldn’t you be mad that you just read through all this.

Well I hope you still got something out of it like the fact that dating your spouse doesn’t need to cost and arm and a leg even here in California.

And also that resolutions or Goals whatever you want to call them are so much easier to track if you are specific and break them down. I believe monthly is a nice way to track your progress.

So there you have it

Have you ever made improving relationships a new years goal? How do you measure its success?

2014 Goals Reviewed

How did I do with my 2014 goals?

Traveling wallet goals
Goals Before 2014 Started
Traveling wallet
paper reminder barely surviving a year of annotations

I am going to break them down. But the 3 major ones I am going to post on individually. Which ones are the 3 major ones? Well the ones that pertain to this site more specifically.

Relationships (Parenthood and family time), Travel, and Finances. I want to go into more detail for these 3 areas so I will post on them individually. My Finances will reveal our net worth for the first time(WHAT?) So stay tuned.  Now lets cover all my other goals.

Spiritual

Spiritual

FAIL! yes I did not really make an effort to get these done. That is why you see them up again on my 2015 goals. But lets break it down anyways. First off 2 out of 3 are not smart goals. They are too vague. Next 2 of them are really just one the first 2 are really one goal check out 4 different religions. Well how did I do? We went to a Buddhist temple but only made it 3 times.  4 churches 4 times equals 16 we only went 3 times, So that means it was 18% complete. Meh.

The journal writing is vague and therefore harder to “Quantify”.  Was I talking nightly? Unless writing these blog posts count as journal entries then I didn’t do so hot. However, when I put my son to sleep I do like to ask him what he is thankful for and a lot of times he will turn around and ask me right back. Do I get any partial credit?

All in all this could use some more attention.

Health

Health

I think I did pretty good in this area.

Mr. and I ran 1 mud run this year which was over 5K. However we did not just wake up and run it the day of, we did train regularly which really was the whole point, to exercise regularly. BUT.. we didn’t keep it up. So only 50% complete.

Dancing does burn calories plus it makes me happy, as in relieves stress, so I wanted to be more active in doing it.  I only did 6 months so 50% for this goal as well. But this one was more concentrated in the last 6 months. Hey maybe I was just switching up my exercises. Running first half and dancing the second. Am I trying to make myself feel better? Maybe?

I also wanted to take 1 class with Mr. Roamer. We ended up taking 2 yoga classes and also 2 cooking classes which focused on healthy cooking. ( They were all about the no gluten stuff). So I say we did 100%+ on this one.

If you average it all out that means Health got a 66% completion rate. Okay.

Language

Language

I have 2 motivators for having language as a goal.

  • First I want to make sure that my children keep their heritage alive and language is a big component of that
  • Second I have a life time goal of becoming fluent in 5 languages( I’m starting off easy but I hope that number will be bigger)

I’m super happy to report that I was 100% successful in completing these  Goals. Though I’ll admit I did go easy on myself.  The Spanish goal has been easier to accomplish because now that my son is enrolled in a dual immersion school I get to read his homework instructions in Spanish almost daily. Still the goal was to read some books which we also did this year. Kids books count Right?!

Quick history: I took Mandarin Chinese in University but I haven’t been actively practicing since 2010 so I’ve forgotten quite a bit. So I’m not starting from scratch but I’m not just counting items I already had memorized either. I know that what I really want is to speak Chinese, you know pronunciation and stuff, but I also want to be able to read it.  I have a CD that I use to practice listening so the focus this year was writing. I was able to reach my goal of learning how to write 24 character (properly). Total I know how to write 35 characters (actually words). YEAH!

I tried to write phrases up top then gave up and just jotted down the characters.
I tried to write phrases up top then gave up and just jotted down the characters.

Relationships

This section has a mix of SMART goals and oh so broad goals. Since this section is one of the big 3 I am working on an individual post where I can go into more detail. ( you wouldn’t want this post to get ridiculously long would you?)

Financial

We killed it on the financial front and I am working on a post that will talk about all these goals as well as reveal our net worth! Some exciting stuff if I do say so myself.

Work

Financial
Work and Financial goals were so on top of each other I couldn’t separate sections

 

My work goal would also classify as a non SMART goal.  Did I invest in certification. No I did not. However my company did allow me to participate in a LEAN Summit which allowed me to make some contacts and even gave me the opportunity to go work with a different company temporarily. This goal was really about getting out of my work funk and start growing again. Though I did not get a certification. I did get out of my funk and I was able to learn through the experiences I mentioned. I’m going to go a head and give myself credit for improving my work situation.  What do you think since it was a bit vague anyways can I give myself 100% credit?

What didn’t you see here?

Travel

It’s not even in my goals but  don’t worry I am working on a post for that too.

So how did you do in 2014. Did you set goals? what was your success rate?