Trust the system


What does that mean anyway?

It means a set path. Following steps. That if you do A it will lead to B and then C.

But I am having trouble with this one.

See I’m taking an online course. Or should I say retaking it because last time I got stuck… Lost momentum and then stopped.

Trust the system I said to myself after watching the video. What the heck does that mean anyways?

But as I thought about the challenges that lay ahead I also thought about the past. I realized wait a minute I have done this before. I have used systems to reach goals.

The most notable to me was how I managed to pay off my 46k student debt in just a little over 3 years.

I had a system.

A system built and tweaked by all the hurdles I had to jump. It had quite the feedback loop.

Through my dealing with student loan administrators I figured out exactly what I needed to do to reach my goal in the most efficient way. Which meant in the shortest amount of time and with the least amount of money leaving my pocket.

The system wasn’t fun but it was consistent.

You see debt repayment is extra challenging for those who choose to slay their debt aggressively. Creditor systems are not built in the best interest of the payee.

This means extra funds funneled into a debt might not be  will not be applied in your best interest. I learned quickly that if I did not contact my debt holders my extra money would not bring in my repayment date. No, instead it would be frivolously used on future interest.

So my debt repayment system looked like this.
  1. Make a plan for repaying debt in 5 years
  2. Run simulations to figure out how much income would need to be set aside for debt
  3. Add in bonus payments from tax refunds into scenario.
  4. Set up automatic withdrawals for lenders required payment.
  5. Go to work, earn money.
  6. Get paycheck have required payment withdrawn
  7. Log in to sites check balances
  8. Pay extra money to meet my personal required payment
  9. Wait a few days log in again
  10. Check balance. Realize money was distributed incorrectly
  11. Call lender talk to rep. Get money sent to the right place.
  12. Wait few days. Check balance again.
  13. Verify that extra payments are affecting totals correctly.
  14. Run simulation with more aggressive payments
  15. Pull in dates for 5 year plan and repeat monthly from #2

It was tedious work, I was micromanaging the heck out of it for 3 years. The first few months # 7-11  caused me a lot of irritation and frustration.

Can’t these people get it right?!

But once I realized it just had to be done. I did it. I didn’t wait hoping the money would find its way to the right place. No . I waited a day then I called to make sure it all got credited to the right place.

Did I have to do that?

Well no, not if I just wanted to follow their standard repayment option. But 10 years and 18k extra in interest was not my goal.

I needed my money to get to the right place everytime.

So I learned the limitations of the creditors payment system and set up a system to address them.

You know what happened?

Not only did I trust the system to meet my goal I trusted it to push me to beat it.

And I did.

So trust the system.

Calling up to 3 different lenders wasn’t fun. But I knew it would get me result. The results I desperately wanted.

Now my goal is different. I can’t run simulations to see the finish line. It’s a new skill. My teacher is telling me to trust the system.

Step D won’t appear until I’m on step C so I have to keep moving forward.

But since I still feel unsure I decided to write this down. So that when I get stuck I can come back and remind myself that I’ve done this before. I’ve used systems to push through difficulty.

That discomfort and challenge means growth and that my goal is waiting for me on the other side.

Trust the system.

Okay, I will

The Roamer traveling wallet


2015 goals: year end review

I started off the year taking a big bite with my goals. But that’s me, I always think I can move mountains and 2015 was no different. The year started with me taking on 20 goals . To which I promptly added 4 more once I had printed them out on paper. (I always seem to forget something before I press print.)

But more then halfway through the year I had to admit that I just wasn’t feeling some of the items I had written down. Truth be told some were on there out of sense of obligation… Hello, spiritual goals. (With extremely religious relatives I felt I need to make a stance on what my kids would believe in.) While other were there because of a dream …. I’m going to make it to China someday and I’m going to be able to hold a conversation. Hello focus on learning mandarin Chinese.

But I just don’t really care about religion. And China is sadly sooo not on the horizon. And many other goals had to go too.

Goals that didn’t make the cut

  • Crossed out all of spirituality
  • Crossed out 2nd organized run
  • Crossed out Chinese
  • Crossed out class with Mr Roamer
  • Crossed out girls night with sister and mother.
  • Crossed out paying for my blog by AdSense
  • Crossed out job interviews
My goals at the beginning of the year. The one in my planner is actually all marked up.

That 2nd review last year really helped me realign objectives. Which as you can tell included striking some from the list. I went from 24 separate goals down to 18. Out of those 18, 5 were complete, and 3 were on auto pilot. Which meant just 10 to focus on each month for the rest of the year. But since this is the year end review I am going to give you an update on all 18 goals that survived the cut. But also since this is a finance blog I’m not going to go into too much detail on all of them.


1.  Run 5k,Jan-June, Complete. I actually completed the run in the first trimester review. It was a lot of fun.

2. Dance 1/ month @ home, Complete. Though I couldn’t make up for missed months prior. I did dance consistently after the 2nd review. You know because its fun. :)


3. Read 1 book in Spanish. Complete, read Despereaux with Jr Roamer. We both enjoyed it.

4. Read 4 books this year. Read 3 out of 4. Score 75%.

      • I Will Teach You To Be Rich. Finished
      • Financial Samurai’s How to Engineer your Layoff. Finished
      • On Purpose.  Finished
      • The Art of work, 75%


5. 1 date a month with each child.

Jr. Roamer time: FailedI stopped tracking this so I don’t know how I did.
Minnie Roamer time: CompleteBeing at home during the day and then full time since November has given me lots of one on one time with Minnie Roamer.

6. 1 date a month w/ Mr Roamer, Complete. Mr. And I are actively dating. But again I lost track of the details but checking our bank records I do see we had date expenses for every month except Dec.  But we snuggled and watched movies during vacation so…. I am going to say we are good.

7. Write in kids memory books. Failed. I missed a lot of months and I am really disappointed. I mean really how hard is it to write in a book a paragraph or 2. 


We had a strong year in regard to our finances but we still didn’t reach all of our financial goals. I had big Goals in this area.

8.  Earn side hustle  $500, Complete

Side hustle
Side hustle, getting better every year.

Whether I’m defining hustle like you would I included anything I had to put work into receive. So I was able to bring in money by selling stuff on Craigslist, and submitting receipts for refunds.  Which included incorrect billings for medical bills and finding roommates for FinCon.

9.  Max out 401k ,18k/ person, Complete for Mr. Roamer, 95% complete for myself.

Mr. Roamers 401K reach the yearly milestone
Mr. Roamers 401 K reach the yearly milestone
My 401K was just shy of meeting the goal
My 401 K was just shy of meeting the goal

This one for me was the biggest disappointment. I mean I was at 92% for goodness sake at my last update. Still I couldn’t have predicted the lay off and so I had to walk out the door before meeting my goal of maxing out my 401K. Luckily, I had front loaded under the assumption that I would be leaving that joint in June and it served me well. Still I was able to get a few more percents before the lay off and Mr. did max his out.

10. Save 30k for house, 87% complete

Our house fund didn't reach the desired balance because it took a back seat to our IRA accounts
Our house fund didn’t reach the desired balance because it took a back seat to our IRA accounts

In the end we didn’t meet the goal and were $3,859 short, but that was only partially due to my lay off.  After the lay off I thought long and hard about having more money easily accessible but realized we’d get more bang for our buck putting any extra funds into our IRA accounts.

11. Both Max out IRA, 11 K total, Complete

Roamer, Traveling wallet
Our IRA accounts is where we funneled in the last of our extra dollars for 2015.

If I hadn’t been lay off we would have reach all our financial goals even this new one I tacked on later. But sometimes seniority doesn’t matter and even though our “house fund” was an older goal the IRA just made more financial sense. We both don’t really feel compelled to buy in California’s inflated market but we aren’t ready to leave yet. So we don’t need to rush on our house fund. Therefore we were able to take advantage of the tax benefits of putting the extra money into our IRA instead.


12.  Write 1 posts a week. Failed, I really dropped the ball during the move and at the end of the year.

13.  Add AdSense when hit 35 posts Complete 

14.  Attend Fincon, Complete. I made it and it was lots of fun and a great learning experience. I was even able to save on the whole trip.


15. Reevaluate job in July, Complete. July came and I decided it made more sense to push through to the end of the year then to try and find a new night shift position somewhere else.

16. Get pay increase of 5% . Complete, got 10% increase. This has set a new baseline for what I can earn moving forward. It was also beneficial because thanks to the big bump I made my usual earning even with loosing out on 2 months pay.

17.  Do hw  and research for Engineering my layoff. Complete While I did actively do research and finished reading the book I am pretty disappointing with how I handled my out of nowhere lay off. I never really had the chance to put anything into practice. 


18. 1 family trip 5+ days, Complete, and then some. We made it to Colorado and rang in the new year in Michigan. We traveled for a total of 21 days as a family and I got in an extra 4 day out on my own. Not to shabby.

A beautiful sunset on our vacation in Michigan.

While I failed at some stuff and didn’t quite meet the goal in others it seems like the overall trend was that I got what I wanted to get done, done.  So that is a relief.

Don’t Forget SMART goals matter

Again if you are embarking on the wonderful journey of goal setting please remember a few things. Make sure they are SMART goals.

Make them Specific enough so that you will know when you reach the finish line. Don’t say you want to loose weight say you want to loose 10 lbs. Then make them Measurable  good thing about being specific is that you usually add in a number and that makes it measurable. Stretch yourself but make sure they are also Attainable. Saying I’m going to win a hot dog eating contest next week isn’t realistic. I have no preparation but saying I can win one in a year well that makes it attainable. Of course why even sign up for a hot dog goal when I couldn’t care less about it. This is where I made mistakes and why I had to cross stuff off mid year. Your goals need to be Relevant to what you want to achieve. Its not that you can’t have off the wall goals but if they don’t fit into your bigger picture your likely to push them aside. Finally make them Timely, give yourself a deadline. This will feed back into making them measurable and attainable. Someday is not measurable. 5 push up in a row in 5 minutes by sat. That is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. 

So don’t forget your goals can, and should be SMART.

Was your 2015 all you wished it would be? Are you learning how to set better goals to keep you moving forward?

The Roamer traveling wallet




Weekly Pain & Gain: Food at Home

I am off enjoying a vacation at my in laws and visiting with a bunch of family. But last week before the trip these were my thoughts.


You would think that I have all the time in the world now a days to just put my head down and be super productive. However, I’ve realized that since I stopped working I have really gotten behind on my consumption of financial articles. And podcasts.

I’ve taken note that it’s easier to ” interact ” on twitter because it just takes a few minutes. Much less time than actually writing up a blog post or reading one and leaving a meaningful comment.

I’ve even fallen off of podcast. At work I could just put one on while I worked but that doesn’t seem to be the case here at home.

I’ve tried but not all podcasts are family appropriate. For example martinis and your money. I enjoy listening to it but its not family friendly I mean they give up Santa and there is profanity. Like I said I enjoy it but I can’t do it at home.

So I’ve had to take a good look at my days and really asses where I can fit in my pf reading and my personal blog writing.  Of course now I’ll be off to a vacation until after new years and so I’ll have to get back to it after that.


We didn’t go out to eat at all this week!

That’s super thumbs up for me. It means we are starting to get back into our normal routine.

You see we did a lot of damage during our move and ended up eating out so much for a whole week. The result was planning to eat out twice a week after the move. Once on the weekday and once on the weekend to cut back from the bad habit we got into due to our move. That’s right twice a week was cutting back.


But this week we made it the whole week with out going out to eat. And I rather prefer it that way.

In the end there are really so many reasons why eating at home is better.

Mr. Roamer and I enjoy cooking and eating at home gives us complete control over what we put in our bodies. It allows us to include vegetables and manage the flavor profiles of dishes.

How are your weeks going?

The Roamer traveling wallet


Weekly Pain & Gain: The Free Tree

The weekly pain & gain series has been a nice addition this year that has really spurned me to post more frequently. So I am going to try and finish the year off strong by not missing any posts for the rest of the year.

and the rest of the year sounds a lot like this…..

” for the holidays you can’t beat home sweet home”

ah its the Holiday season and the radio has been playing music it seems like non stop. We are hustling and bustling but mostly with unpacking tasks and not necessarily with gobs and gobs of shopping. Which segues nicely to this weeks pain.


We have since moved all our belonging to the new apt. However, this doesn’t mean we are all done. No we have still many, many boxes to unpack and sort through. This week I decided to tackle the task of sorting through a few of these boxes.

First I tackled some relatively easy ones that housed clothing for the kids but then I decided it was about time that I start sorting through the paper bins.

Now this year I have really associated myself with minimalism. I think I have had many of the general practices for all my life but this year I was starting to ask myself some tougher questions. Yet one practice, I am constantly reading about, that I haven’t been able to do. Is just tossing out boxes that you haven’t looked at in month or even years.

Yup, I just can’t muster up the courage to just throw those items straight into the dump. I am scared to throw out something important along with the trash. After all it isn’t unreasonable to believe that many a people have lost important things in the rubble of unimportant clutter.

One of my paper bins. So sooo time consuming to purge.
One of my paper bins. So sooo time consuming to purge.

I know when I was younger I didn’t have a very good organizing system and so I am compelled to review everything before it is tossed. Searching for things I know I have missed placed. ( Like the 2nd copy of my son’s birth certificate.)

And reviewing paperwork sucks!

And its so soooo time consuming.

In 2 hrs I barely made it through 1/10th if that of a bin. Of course when you review old paperwork you also get lost in reminiscing. An article here and some pictures of that there.

I completely understand why you shouldn’t even open those Pandora boxes. But I still persist.

So my goal is to consolidate all my memory and paper items and in so doing hopefully assure myself that nothing important (valuable) is mixed in.

And I am trying to be extra vigilant to purge things at the door. Keeping things from entering the house is the first step.

😛 though this week I didn’t do very good on that.


This past week was full of activities and lots of fun pictures to go with it.

And we finally really got into the holiday spirit thanks to someones cast offs.

You see we are traveling for Christmas and we just moved…. So decorating wasn’t really high on my list… I mean we aren’t even really going to be here.

The free tree
The free tree

But I am actually really glad someone decided to give us their old artificial Christmas tree. When we finally decided to set it up it was like a light switch went on. Finally I was starting to get excited about the Holidays.

I’m not going to lie the stuff I’ve read this year has really zapped a lot of my carefree spirit. Now I see everything and I can’t help but think about the waste, excess and selfishness of it all. Specially in respect to resource consumption and Christmas was not free of this judgement. In fact Christmas seemed to be the epitome of the madness.

But putting up the Christmas tree made me realize I can celebrate with out being sucked into all the consumerism. After all what can be better then putting thing into practice. By accepting someones old tree we are reusing and saving it from the dump. It is also keeping us from buying a new one and hopefully somewhere down the line its also keeping one from being manufactured. Sure all the lights don’t work but to me it is serving its purpose. It has brought some cheer into the house and we are enjoying ourselves admiring it.

Oh, that's why they got rid of it. Minnie Roamer doesn't seem to care. She is still dazzled by the lights.
Oh, that’s why they got rid of it. Minnie Roamer doesn’t seem to care. She is still dazzled by the lights.

I also receive some early gifts by accepting some more hand me down clothes from a friend. Now my son is all set for shorts for next year and Minnie also received some more items.

We got to continue building on the holiday spirit by attending a Santa breakfast event that a friend invited us to attend.

All in all we did a very good job of keeping costs down by saying yes to some cast offs and yes to invitations from friends.

How are your days going? How is holiday prep going?

The Roamer traveling wallet


Getting Laid………..OFF

The one gift you always hope to receive before the holidays is more time off. Of course, that’s paid time off. What you don’t hope for is that you walk in at the start of your shift on Monday right before the holidays to receive a big fat lay off.

Poor timing.

It definitely wins the award for that.

..and while I was still in utter shock I was also trying really hard not to smile and shout, “see ya later suckers!!” . ( Of course Mommy would never say such bad things. Felt like I should address my kids there for some reason. Ha ha ha)


I didn’t smile and I didn’t utter any self aggrandizing phrases.

Actually for all my joy, I was very much insulted. “You?!…. lay me?!! Off!” ….. I think not. I was suppose to get myself laid off. I was even reading how to engineer your lay off, but that, I had planned to execute after December so I could max out my 401k. Honestly March would have been better. But its November. November I say!!!!


Well no use getting mad over spilled milk… Or however that goes.

The truth is, it happened and it wasn’t well timed. It was like most lay offs, out of nowhere. And it wasn’t just me, it was 35 or so other employees.

I was just one of the herd being unceremoniously shown the door.
But that was about all I had in common with that herd.

Diverting from the herd

Truthfully there was no herd upon my exit. As I had been the only office employee let go from 2nd shift. (Don’t feel too bad about that number I was the only 2nd shift office employee to begin with). So I didn’t witness the fallout. But I heard others had shed tears and even sat in their cars for over an hr in a daze.
I did run into 2 shop guys whom shared the same fate and one of them had just the week prior opened up about some financial challenges. I felt more sympathy and concern as we crossed paths.

What would become of this guy and his young family? Would he find something new quick enough? Would he have to settle for less pay just to secure a pay check? Or worse take out a pay day loan.

This is after all what most people concern themselves with after a lay off. I’m sure if you’re new here you’re wondering. Okay so what makes you so different.

Why on earth were you ready to Conga line out the door, when others were trying to make sense of the madness.

Laid off but not laid out

While a shocker, our family wasn’t beaten down by the news. And here is why .

  • We had already paid off all our debt
  • Which meant we had reduced our monthly expenses
  • We reduced them so much we could and were living off of one income.
  • We had a years worth of spending saved up
  • And we live off of the previous months earnings giving us an extra month of cushion. (So November is funded by Oct paychecks and so on.)
  • We were already planning for some time off in the future.

Basically, We made sure we had good financial footing long before the news and you can too.

Here are the things you want to start working on now while you have your J-o-b

Sadly this list isn’t going to help you if you were laid off yesterday and are in sink or swim mode. There is no quick fix for financial preparedness. But if your happy chugging along at your 9-5, don’t forget to set some money aside for unpleasant surprises like a lay off.

Are you ready?

So this isn’t for beginners your going to need more then a 1k emergency fund to make it through major financial crises. You need to start saving big money. You are going to want to move from the 1k cash cushion to the 3 month cushion, Then to 6 months, and THEN to 12 months. And if you dislike your day job like I did, your going to want to make it a priority and grow it quickly.

Lower your operating costs. Or in common household lingo, lower your monthly costs. You can do that by knocking out some debt. Big or small balance, ridding yourself of it will have a positive impact on managing a lay off. And just in case you have multiple debts in your name use the snowball or avalanche technique to focus on fully paying off one at a time.

You can also reduce your costs by choosing to be more conscious about your spending. Lowering that entertainment budget from $250 to $175 or even (gasp) $100. Will have a 2 fold effect. More money available to save and less you need to pay out in the future.

Reduce your monthly costs enough and you might even get to the point where you can happily live off one income.( in a 2 income household). And maybe? the big key is, you should just plan to live off of one income indefinitely.

Living off of one income gives you a big boost in savings and building a cash cushion but most importantly if you can live off of one income. You won’t even need to draw on your emergency money if you do experience a lay off.  Because one salary fully funds your happy lifestyle.

If you’ve been laid off recently and weren’t financial ready, I’m sorry, this isn’t a quick fix you can take to the bank. But if you have a job and live in a 2 income situation I strongly encourage you to design your life that it is completely sustainable on one income… And if you really want to challenge yourself make it the lower income.

Love your job or hate it, I would recommend you always plan for a lay off.

Life now

My lay off was over a month ago and we had an unusually expensive month in November as we also experienced our move to a more expensive area to be closer to work. Even so our active 401k is still being contributed to as are the IRAs.  My lay off has not deterred our saving goals for the year.

Come January hopefully we’ll have realized some saving from the move and as customary for the beginning of the year we will have to reassess our budget and priorities.

But our current income and safety net will/ has afforded us plenty of room for the rest of the year.  So unlike my former coworkers who need to rush out and secure new employment before the Christmas rush.

I am looking forward to our 2 week Michigan trip.

I am taking my year off.

I am nestling in for the long haul of full time parenthood. Afforded to me by good financial know how, savvy spending and sturdy savings.

Do you have any advice for me. How should I set up my daily schedule to make the most of it?

The Roamer traveling wallet

Picture by: Gratisography

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Guest post on the Plutus Finalist blog, Even Steven Money

Lots of great things come from starting up a blog on personal finance and some of us even venture into the realm of Financial independence.

The biggest benefit is hearing about other people who are making big changes and reaching their goals. It’s reasuring to know there are people out there just like you and me dreaming big and making those dreams a reality.

I got to meet a bunch of these inspirational people at this year’s FinCon and one of them was Even Steven. And let me tell you something, when people blog anonymously or behind a caricature its always an anticipated moment to see what people really look like.

So if you were ever wondering what Even Steven looks like, let me break the tension. He looks just like his caricature especially where the dollar bills are exploding out of his coat pocket :) . Unlike me an my stick figure logo.

Traveling Wallet

Well thanks to this happy meeting at FinCon I  have had the opportunity to participated in Even Steven’s financial independence interview series. So head over to learn more about the Traveling Wallet retirement plans.

Then poke around and read more of Even Steven’s writing. It’s good stuff.

Welcome to all Even Steven Readers

If you’ve made it here thanks to the aforementioned interview thank you so much for coming over to check out the Traveling Wallet and the Roamer Clan. I am so happy to have you here.

If you want to learn more about me and my relationship to finance. Check out my aggressive yearly financial and life goals. Where I shoot for the stars in regards to our money goals.

You can also read about how we spend the average American dollars for vacationing but we squeeze more out then the national average. While most spend 4 grand on one  7 day vacation. We spend a similar amount on over 3 weeks of vacation to different locales.

Feel free to leave me your thoughts and questions as I really enjoy hearing from you.

And if you’d like to stay up to date on my latest posts don’t forget to follow me on twitter. 

Much love

The Roamer traveling wallet




In case you missed it here’s the link to check out my interview on Even Steven Money.

Weekly Pain & Gain: One bad thing on top of another

Man the start of November was one for the books. Maybe I’m over sharing, maybe I’m under sharing, maybe I just want to say the word sharing a bunch of times in a paragraph. But either way sheesh. Nov has been a roller coaster.


The 1st Monday  of the month I got big news! Serious news. But I’m just not ready to share. It wasn’t good news, or was it?

But, it is what it is, right?

Well the week progressed and then on Wednesday the unexpected happened someone stole a load of our laundry. It was mostly Jr’s stuff but since it was a small load I threw in some of Minnie’s and my stuff as well.

I was so shocked. Who does that?!

It was the cherry on top of a bad news Sunday.

You know what, I’m going to rant for a little bit here.

This laundry incident really upset me. More then Mondays news surprisingly. Because it was 100% unexpected at the time, and we have no back up plan for something like this. ( By that I mean Jr. doesn’t own an overflowing amount of clothing because we try not to subscribe to kids need everything mentality.)

Most people would be upset but then resolve the problem quickly by throwing money at it. In fact that’s how most people solve most problems. But with our imminent move we didn’t want to go out and add more stuff to the pile.

In all honesty I thought it was an accident and so I was fully expecting the items to turn up again in the laundry room. It was just carelessness on someone’s part no ill intent. But the more and more I thought about it the more irritated I got.

What really bothered me about the situation is that I put a sign in the laundry room about what happened and that if they could please just bring it back that would be great. But after 2 days the more I thought about it the more I realized that people instead of being embarrassed or caught were more likely to just toss out the problem.

Just throw out the clothes

…and that my friends is  what really bugged me the most. What a waste.

So we are just making do missing almost all of Jr’s polo shirts. So far it seems like he’ll be fine until after the move.  It really is just a minor thing but it still so irritating and something extra and unwelcome on an already busy month. I’m really trying to get over the fact that the load had Jr’s new pants I bought for his Halloween costume. ( So much for buying things you could use more then once. Ugh.)


Well we are in full swing of packing and purging and this week we got rid of quite a few things. Recycled a few, donated some others for the 2nd week in a row.

During this process I had been trying to get a hold of a friend to pick up baby clothes and she finally passed by on Friday.
It turned into a visit where we stayed up late and talked. Mostly I think it was me ranting but it was nice.

Talking with friends does a body good.

I had always been one of the guys and hung out with boys, but after having kids and getting married I have discovered a new found need for female friends. Specially ones who are in similar life stages.

So there you have it November is only half way through and already had been a wild ride. The 2nd half wont be any calmer as we execute the move.

If you’ve made it this far and are wondering well what am I suppose to have gotten out of this.   I’d say it’s, to fix when you make a mistake even if you look dumb. (Do better then those people who never returned our items).  Recycle and donate your unneeded items ( someone could be in real need of them) and make time to talk to friends.

How has November been going for you?

The Roamer traveling wallet

Surprise! Why me? Dealing with bad surprises

You know that feeling you get, you know when to feel like “I just can’t believe this is happening to me” and not in a good way.

But in a
Why me? way.

That is how I was feeling lately.


Because of the Surprise!
It wasn’t even a good surprise.

It was another unexpected, out of nowhere, break you expense.
Well, it could have been, had we not been in the financial position we are today.

Emergency fund, rainy day fund, unexpected expenses fund. It doesn’t matter what it’s called. Every one is touting be prepare. Like an 11 year old boy scout.

But honestly most people just don’t do it.  One survey showed that up to 62% of people wouldn’t be able to cover a $1,000 expense. While we all seem to expect the worst in some scenarios in others we think ” that will never happen to me. To us. That only happens to them.” It’s almost like we think bad things only happen to people who deserve it. If we are good, nice , caring people we should be fine.

Whether it’s Karma or God you believe in, banking that things will be good all the time is just not realistic. Life is messy so being prepared is key.

You, I, we all need an emergency fund.

When disaster strikes

Personally when an emergency happens its all about what’s going on in the moment. What needs to get done, what do you need to figure out.  Your in the moment and you might not realize whats happening until later.

Looking back I can’t believe the last 12 months.

It’s been Emergency after emergency. Though I don’t think you should freak out and expect an emergency to pop up everyday of the month like this poverty simulation.* It seems like it would be in your best interest to plan for 1 every quarter.


That means you should plan to have a minimum of 1K in the bank at all times and be able to save $333 a month to replenish any 1K emergency after only 3 months. Therefore, covering you 1K every quarter. Lets take a moment to digest that why don’t we. What I am saying is you need to have a $333 wiggle room in your budget at all times. But we can tackle that after building up the initial 1K.

Like I said earlier, this past year has been rife with the unexpected high cost expenses here at Traveling Wallet HQ. The financial emergency if you will.

I don’t remember a year so full of unwelcome surprises.

1 year 4 bad surprises

Last December less then 12 months ago Mr. Roamer was surprised by a hit and run driver. Leaving the car in shambles and us asking. Is this covered by the insurance? Luckily it was, but we were still liable for the 1k deductible.  2 months later and 1k copay we were back to 2 cars.

Bad Surprise # 1, Cost $1,000 paid out in February

March saw us loose our childcare. While this didn’t cost us money paid out. It did cost us used vacation and lost hrs for 2 weeks as we juggled the new situation.  If we didn’t have vacations saved up or flexible employers it would have meant lost wages. I was able to change to 2nd shift to adjust to our new family needs. Could you have afforded not being paid for 2 weeks?  What if the employer hadn’t allowed a shift change? Could you have handled losing the wages of 1 earner? Or found emergency childcare and paid the extra money to have it immediately?

Bad Surprise #2, Cost ~$600 in used vacation in March

Oct saw my car stop working right as I needed to drop off Jr to school.  Jr. missed school and later we discovered a rodent decided to take refuge and chew through some wires. A $4,000+ quote later we are asking once again, will the insurance cover this? The insurance coverage with the same 1 k deductible. Back down to one car for 3 wk and this time we really struggled to make it work. With our staggered work schedules we could no longer carpool and we seriously discussed getting a rental car.  In the end we choose not to. But would you need to get a rental car on top of paying for the repairs or your deductible.

Bad Surprise #3, Cost $842 repair in October

Finally November saw another bomb dropped on the Traveling Wallet household. This one costing over 3k in perpetuity.

Bad Surprise #4, Cost 3K+ in November.

Now like I said, this seems like an unusually high set of occurrences. It is, but I’m a real person and this is what’s been going on in my real life. If we switched places would you have survived my last year?

So lets get serious

So I know you need an emergency fund , you know you need an emergency fund, what are we going to do about it?

First off I’m going to drop a bomb. You want to build a 1k emergency fund in 15 months, sorry the rest of this post isn’t for you.

Seriously 15 months? no. You need 1k in your bank account NOW!

It can’t wait anymore. You need to take a challenge and get those funds together in 1 month.

Now I’m not saying what you do in the next month is going to be sustainable for the long term. I’m saying that while improving your whole financial health might be a marathon. An emergency fund is a sprint. You need to push yourself to the limit then push yourself some more.

Its completely possible. I know because I’ve carried a 1K savings since high school.

Getting the 1k in a month

We are emergency fund ninjas! HAAA YA!
We are emergency fund ninjas! HAAA YA!

Extreme times call for extreme measures. I’m sure you’ll read through this list and think uck.  But not having $1,000 in cash to cover emergency expenses is in itself a big huge emergency that needs to be taken care of ASAP.

So lets get started

  •  Need money? Pull it out of a vacation fund. Maybe your on the up and up and are saving small amounts for your emergency fund, a vacation and the holidays. Christmas is around the corner. Pretty much you’ve decided to tackle multiple financial goals.

Sorry, but funding your emergency fund takes priority and is actually your current 1k emergency. Everything else needs to take a back seat until you have your 1k sitting safely in the bank.

If you have money sitting around waiting for a purchase. Post pone the purchase until your e-fund is built.  Potential $100-$500

  • Cut out cable for a month. Whether it’s movies or sports you watch take a break for 1 month to get your finances in shape. $70-$120
  • Lower your grocery bill. Apparently people spend big bucks on feeding the family. Up in the 1k a month range.
    Remember your taking a one month extreme challenge. Cut out all meat. Cut out any fancy items like expensive cheese. Cut out food waste by buying smaller qty.  If you have food going into the garbage your wasting money. $1000 reduced to $600 means $400 + for savings. And honestly I think you can do better then that. We are a family  of 4 and spend $400-$500 per month and we still eat meat occasionally, and we don’t eat ramen at all.
  • Cut out eating out at work. Pack your lunch 4 days a week. If you spend $10/day that equals $40/wk and $160/month. That still leaves you 1 day a week to go eat out.
  • Cut out eating out as a family. That can easily cost $50-$100 per outing. Cut it out twice this month and save $100-$200
  • Cut out unnecessary expenses. I said Christmas is right around the corner and many people will say presents is a necessary part of that. How much you spend on presents is totally optional, cut down or cut out the qty. And give your family the gift of surviving an emergency unscathed.  Can you save $100 from your holiday budget?
  • Reduce your driving. On the weekends walk or bike around town for entertainment. Save 1 tank of gas. $30- $70.
The stroller we sold for $50
The stroller we sold for $50
  • Sell extra things around the house. I made $50 with a stroller sale. Can you find a few things to sell? Earn and save $50
  • Close your storage unit. Sell enough of your unused items and you can close out your storage space. Or at the very least move to a smaller unit. $50- $100 saved

Add up all the lower end stuff and all the higher end stuff this list has the potential to save you $1060- $1700.  Some stuff will apply some won’t and you might have to even think of some of your own ideas. Like getting a second or side job for a month and saving all the earnings. That will get you to your 1 K safety net real fast.

So if you’ve heard it once you’ve heard it a thousand times. In the end you  and I need an Emergency fund. So stop procrastinating. As you saw with me you might have years where nothing happens and then you have 4 in one year. Don’t wait be ready now.

Do you have an emergency fund? If not what are you going to do to make sure you are all set by the end of the next 30 days?

The Roamer traveling wallet

*Spent is a simulation test to see if you’d survive with 1k for a month.

Capsule Wardrobe Lessons: Love yourself

Its November and I am in the last month of my 2nd capsule wardrobe. But before we can talk about the 2nd go I want to share a recap. In September I completed my first capsule wardrobe challenge. This year I’ve really enjoyed taking on these monthly challenges. It’s an organized way to try something new, and usually it’s really fun too.

So what’s the benefit of a capsule wardrobe? How many items do you get? Is it going to benefit you financially? and most importantly what did you wear these past 3 months?

1st capsule outfits, Summer 2015

I’m so glad you asked. Well start with the easy one. Below you’ll find a collage of my outfits. At work I wear a uniform (self imposed) which falls outside of my main pieces. This mean that I had a more unique situation going on where I wasn’t really relying on my capsule for 7 days a week.  So I really only needed to rely on my capsule during the weekends.

Traveling wallet, Capsule wardrobe, mom style

My first capsule was for summer and it ran from June until the end of August. We spent lots of time, off at the beach on the weekends but also attended a wedding. I needed very casual clothes but some other items I could dress up for a wedding.


  •  38 items for my main capsule.
  •  63 items total including work clothes and lounge ware.
  • $0 spent on 1st capsule
  • Purged over 24 items at the start.

Trying out a capsule wardrobe was a fun experiment, but I also learned a few valuable lessons.

Money money money

I know I had moments in my past where I had a closet full of clothes but still felt like I had nothing to wear. ( I even posted a comment to that affect on facebook and had many female friends echo the same feeling).

Its that feeling that probably pushes you out the door in search of a new outfit. Even when you feel like ” I know I own something that is great” The difficulty of finding it in the plethora of items in your closet still pushes you out the door with money or credit card in hand.

In the beginning of this challenge you do lots of work sorting through your items. But its worth it because you take time to clear out all the crud and leave only things that fit or that you like.   You purge the bad, keep the good and hide the maybes. Clearing up your closet. The clothes you leave out for the season fit you so you shouldn’t ever be shopping because you feel like you need to.  Feelings of chaos and dread,  that you have nothing to wear will be replaced by creativity and exploration.

If you do find a hole in your wardrobe you can write the item down and use your competitive spirit to accept the challenge in its fullest. See if you can stick to the rule that says no shopping for the entire capsule wardrobe season. Save any purchases until the end of the challenge. In that way you save money.

You save money when you know what you have. You save money when what you have fits you and makes you feel good. But most importantly you save money when you can retrieve and don those items without having to go hunting.

More Creativity

Something I found myself doing through out this experience multiple times was growing.

No, no .no …. not physically but creatively.

As I would get dressed I would look at my clothes and new ideas about how to wear an item with another would constantly be popping into my head.

Clothes might seem like a trivial thing to look at, but if you get down to the root of what was really happening it would look like this.

I was breaking down rules, and thinking outside the boxes I had created, where I would assume this only goes with that.

It was fun saying hey I can make this dress a skirt by paring it with this top. Or any other such thoughts and ideas. The point is my mind was working and popping out ideas.  An improvement to the previous routine of trying to subdue frustrations.

Get more comfortable in your skin

When you capsule you are by design limited in choices, you have to work with what you have.

When you capsule you keep what you really like so its a big confidence boost to put any item on and have all of them fit you well and make you feel good. There isn’t a single item in there that makes you feel uncomfortable in your skin. That’s a great thing! to feel comfortable in your skin.

This challenge really pushed me to get comfortable not just with my skin but with my beliefs too.

You see I hate shaving my legs. Its the most annoying thing we are taught to do as women….why? Because its never ending and it serves no purpose… I mean think about it. If you want to be silky smooth all the time, it just never stops. But I have out grown the ritual & commitment it requires.  This meant that I use to confine myself to wearing long dresses or pants. Or some how I would muster up the motivation to either wax or shave.

But that motivation has dwindled and dwindled. It’s hard to waste time doing something you don’t believe in.

Tomboy Capsule wardrobe ideas
My most boyish looks.

So I decided I needed to at least try to remove this barrier. The one that limited my choices just because of how I looked.

I wore my shorts first, with a tiny bit of apprehension. “These are actual boy shorts” I thought to myself “and I am kind of a Tomboy. So in a way leg hair makes sense.” It was a safety blanket I felt I could use to explain away any quizzical looks or questions.

Skirts, shorts, leg hair
Rocking my natural self.

The real test came when it was time to wear a shorter skirt or dress… Dresses are the epitome of femininity. Leg hair, mmm,  not so much… But slowly I  challenge myself to wear it if I wanted. But I told myself I could always just wear nylons if I really felt uncomfortable and wanted to hide it.

But with sweltering heat here in California nylons didn’t make sense. Long story short I pushed through.

I got more comfortable in my skin and didn’t limit what I wore due to my bodies current state. And you know what?

The more I did it the more it felt fine, the more it felt normal.  I wondered why I cared or was so worried to begin with.

I was worried about what people would say. I was worried about what people would think. But no one said anything. In the end I realized I really didn’t care what anyone though specially if they kept it to themselves. I realized in my core I don’t believe or approve of this message we give females. Women or young girls, and that while some might be judging me, I was also hopefully inadvertently giving others courage.

This is me. And I’m ok with that.

Capsule wardrobe for a healthy body image.  Now that’s meaningful change.

Will everyone feel better in their skin after a capsule? I hope so.

Finally here are my individual items. I was super nervous about my choices at first but I think it turned out. :)

2015 summer capsule
All the items in my capsule 1.

The capsule challenge really surprised me. I learned a lot. I pushed through lots of barriers that I had myself put up. My world doesn’t revolve around fashion but I’m glad I took the challenge to simplify my wardrobe.

Have you taken a capsule wardrobe challenge? What did you learn from it?

The Roamer traveling wallet



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Weekly Pain & Gain: Halloween and Dancing

This month is really one of my favorites. I really have lots of fun during Halloween.


October has had some un welcome surprises in the automotive department. Like I mentioned we are in the process of getting ready for a move and things have gotten a little harder thanks to car issues. Currently we are down to one vehicle and because of our imminent move this has caused a lot of issues.

This automotive issue is being felt with time limitations and later will be felt with our wallet.  However, the dollars are less of an inconvenience then the time constraints. Right now we are in serious need of flexibility but instead we are now more constrained. UGH! the timing couldn’t be more off.

It is frustrating and truly a pain.


Of course on the bright side this weekend has had lots of fun.This weekend we got to start celebrating Halloween fun and donned our costumes to go dancing. It has started to become a tradition for Mr. Roamer and I to attend contradancing* for Oct as our date. It is held every 4th sat of the month which was this past sat.

Mr. Roamer and I ready to steal the ninja treasure! ;) Actually, ready to dance.
Mr. Roamer and I ready to steal the ninja treasure! 😉 Actually… ready to dance.

Even though it was a family affair it is still a date for me because Mr. Roamer is taking me dancing. Its also a pretty affordable date $8 per adult. So we spent $16 total. Not bad as date costs go. Now the reason this has become tradition is that in Oct it is a costume contradance and I really love dressing up, and Dancing! So if Mr. is being pushed to go dancing, at least in Oct we get to kill 2 birds with one stone. #WIN!

For me Halloween is a time of creativity and that for me equals fun. But I also know Halloween is  another of those times when having a good time is normally equated to spending money.

Halloween fun ≠ Big $$$ spent

Here is how my family lowers the cost of Halloween.

Tips for Keeping Halloween costs down.

  • Use the internet for ideas. The internet is a great source for ideas on how to re-purpose items for a costume. For us this meant discovering how to make a t-shirt into a ninja mask.
  • Use what you have. After hunting for ideas you might find that all you need to do is think outside the box. Once you do that you might discover you have everything you need to make a fun costume. See t shirt= ninja mask. Also saved paper towel tubes for nunchucks.
  • Plan ahead. Granted this should be the first thing and one week before Halloween is not planning ahead. But if you start thinking about your costume in advance you can make decisions to save. One year I found a cute Chinese outfit at a thrift store in June for $5. Yup that’s right June. And this year I held on to 4 t shirts, that we were going to donate, for some ninja accessories.
  • Remember made at home = unique. Buying stuff for Halloween means you’ll most likely end up looking like someone else. ( I am not a fan.) The little quirky additions to your ensemble that happen from making it at home will mean no one will be your exact copy. YAY!
  • Purchase real clothes instead. If you are going to buy something make it something that can be used for more than the costume. It will be cheaper and versatile. For my son’s ninja costume we bought some blue sweat pants and a blue t shirt for a total of $10.78. A quick search led me to a blue Ninjago costume that cost only $14 but was really $25 after adding shipping and handling. So I saved and the clothes I bought will actually serve him for the fall and winter season. Which if you want to get all mathematical means the the cost per use is going to drop way down. As appose to a one trick pony pre-made costume.
  • Made at home = family time. Another reason to in-source the costumes is that making them becomes a fun way to spend time with your family and builds no cost traditions. Instead of feeling like you need to go out and watch the latest scary movie you can cut, glue, sow and paint up your costumes.
  • Find out whats happening in your community. If you aren’t scared of standing in long lines with a bunch of kids you might be able to score some free stuff. One year we went to the malls Halloween celebration and receive 2 free full sized carving pumpkins to decorate with stickers. Sweet. Tip: most event are held the weekend before Halloween.
Sparing or dancing? I don't know but I do know smiling is going on under our ninja masks
Sparing or dancing? I don’t know but I do know smiling is going on under our ninja masks.

So there you have it, having fun for Halloween doesn’t mean spending loads of $$. We have honestly only spent the $10 listed above and I don’t foresee anymore spending.

How do you save on Halloween? Tell me in the comments below.

The Roamer traveling wallet



*click if you want to see a contradancing example.

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