Frugal Back to School shopping

LastLast week on Tuesday Jr went back to school. Not only that, I also realized I’m getting old he’s getting old. I mean he’s in 2nd grade!

( inhale ,exhale, inhale, exhale)

What happened to the surprise baby. :(

After the initial shock I had a thought. And it went like this.

“Oh yeah, wasn’t there a shopping thing I was supposed to do to get ready for today”

I didn’t prepare at all. I didn’t even really think about preparing for it at all. Other then  “oh Jr starts school next week “.

Instead of think about it in regards to money and purchases. I thought about it in regards to time.

How are our schedules going to change? Adjust?

But wait a minute

I want to go back to this money and back to school shopping thing.

We all know that there is an endless barrage to buy. That is no different when it comes to kids and school. Actually my research showed its the 2nd most consumeristic time of the year. The message to buy was rampant. Even so I hardly noticed it myself.

The truth is I didn’t get a list so I wasn’t worried about having to check items off that list. Still, I got curious about this back to school shopping practice so I did  some research.

How much are parents spending on their back to school shopping sprees? And on what?

A standard list of items for back to school shopping even for young 2nd grade students is pretty extensive.

Back to school list

Writing utensils, Art stuff, Paper. But this list didn’t even include clothes.

Checking off all the items on the box + clothes will leave you $630 poorer says NRF’s study.

As an aspiring minimalist I have to say the list  I found looked a bit much. I recall my days in school and a few back to school shopping trips. (I don’t think it was as popular a thing back then.)  You know what else I recall having plenty of left overs at the end of the year.

It’s not over yet

After checking the last items off your list, walking around with a lighter wallet, you are finally ready to say good bye to the school related spending.

Phew!

While it sounds like most parents (American parents?) spend a lot of time thinking about the initial cost of school few discuss all the other costs.

Yup that’s right closing your wallet after picking up the last 3 ringed binder on the list is not the end of your school related spending. Oh no.

Whether you plan to pay for them or abstain its a good idea to at least acknowledge all the other costs.

$5-10 PTA membership. We receive the little envelope the first week of  school.  We pass on this because I don’t have time to participate.

$20- $60 Class pictures. Okay these are kind of nice special since we don’t go take professional pictures as a family every single year ( actually never do this).But the costs can get up there.

Growing up we always got full picture packages. You know how much good it did us?

Zero good, well zero to buy so many. Being the only family to live in the USA, it would have been nice to send them to family outside the country. But we  never did, instead we end up with hundreds of paid pictures that we didn’t need.

Maybe that was just my family but I’m using it as a lesson. We do buy them but only exactly how many we need. Which usually is the smallest package or 1-2 sheets. Usually $20-$27. Though still ridiculously over priced in my opinion much better then the $60 or more you spend if you want everything.

$5-$10 Field trips, ~2 per year. If you really like experiences, don’t forget to account for these later in the year. But the older your kid gets the more expensive. I was in marching band growing up and we had 3 field trips a year at about $45 each.

$20-$60 Spring pictures. The class pictures twin brother is the spring pictures. If your going to buy Ask yourself the same question. How many do I need exactly? We did not purchase these last year.

$????? Team fees, gear, and uniforms. We actually don’t have to worry about this, this year, but I know its a cost many parents place upon themselves. So make sure you account for it.

Also expect to get plenty of solicitations for, PTA garage sales, cookie sales, valentines day grams , mothers day grams, father’s day grams… Well you get my point. There’s a lot more spending to be done if you don’t keep your priorities straight.

Finally Hidden Costs

In my family and maybe yours too I know we will see Increased car usage. I recognized it right away that we would be using the car much more  frequently. Doing 2 round trips every day to school. This is going to cost more in gas usage. I am keeping an eye out to see it reflected in my monthly accounting.

Destroyed clothing. I don’t know what it is but during the summer break Jr did not put any holes in his clothing. However during school last year he was putting holes in his knees non stop and part of the dress code is no ripped clothing. So not only is there clothes shopping at the beginning of the school year  there is potential for it during the year too.

His Dad ended up purchasing him new jeans(multiples) more then once and we even did too. So I am expecting this cost this year as well. Though I am not scared of patching holes in knees for Mr. Roamer and myself. Jr’s tiny leg holes made the whole process much more labor intensive and time consuming. So I am thinking just purchasing replacements. Through thrift stores of course.

After all that bad news.

Tips for saving

  1. Wait to actually get a list from a teacher.

If you Google your child’s grade level there are plenty of lists of must haves available and the lists can be very inclusive.

Instead of doing this wait to get a list of items from the actual teacher. Then question the validity of them all. Every single item on the list. After all they are only suggestions so identify the real and true must haves, then move on to step number 2.

IMG_20150827_144500
We still have lots of pencils and erasers at home.

2.Check at home first. A cluttered house can make it difficult to find items but you should try anyways. Likely you have at least pencils, pens, eraser, glue and crayons already at home.

3. Realize they don’t need it new every year if it works fine still. School is not a fashion show.  Back pack, lunch box? You don’t need a new one every year.

Finally we are going to address the excess driving by increasing my biking.

So far we have spent zero dollars on our back to school shopping. But I know that will change as school term progresses.

Alright all you parents or students. Did you go back to school shopping? How did you save? If you didn’t cause you don’t have any kids what would you do with the extra $630 you might have spent?

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Weekly Pain & Gain: Emotional Spending

Well it was a really good idea to start this weekly column. I can see now why so many bloggers do it. It forces you to write and that in turn motivates you to write more. At least that is how it worked for me. This will be the 6th installment of my weekly updates.

Pain

Most of us can relate to making poor financial decisions because of external factors. Usually due to being caused some sort of discomfort. I think people like to call it emotional spending. I had just that experience this week.

I was having a bad day this week. I was mad and stressing.

Dammit , I’m going out to eat for my break. I’m going to go out cause I deserve to unwind, and relax.

But I didn’t want to actually go out to eat. I was just feeling helpless and overwhelmed. I wanted to feel in control of something, anything, and today that was my lunch. I’m not going to pack a lunch. I told myself rebelliously.

But my head, as it usually does, shot through a bunch of thoughts and at the end of it (probably less then a minute) I had lost interest.

I didn’t want to drive… I didn’t want to waste gas. That means I would have to walk and walking distance there was only a handful of places and they were all junk. Argh!

Sigh.

If I’m going to spend money on lunch I at least want it to be an indulgence not just junk. How disappointing.

This wasn’t going to help me in the long run. The things causing me stress were not going to be alleviated by this. This show of control was shallow. The worst part? the food wouldn’t have even been worth the expense. :( I was feeling quite sorry for myself but logic had won out.

So instead of going out to eat I separated some food and packed my lunch. I consoled myself by spending .50 in the vending machine on sweets.  :-(

At a cost of only 50 cents its a pretty mild Pain on the finance front, since in the end I decided to not go out to eat. But a pain none the less.

Gain

Hmmm. Good stuff , good stuff?

Well I guess I should be happy I survived the first week of school. Why do I say this? Well I’m still working nights and getting home to bed around 1 am. School means I have to wake up by 6:30 to get Jr ready for school which means less time for sleep. But I survived.

A small victory!

My body is also pretty sore thanks to the fact that I biked about 4 times this week up from zero before last Monday.

So even though I thought we would bike much more often during the summer the reverse was actually true we almost didn’t bike at all.

It was surprising, shocking, and annoying all at once but I guess that’s what happens when you go to the beach every weekend. To tired to do any other physical activity….

But it seems once school starts so does biking? Which I find kind of strange but whatever.

Anyways my son is already asking me whether we will be biking to school. I told him not tomorrow but its a good thing and so I know I will eventually.

Just not tomorrow. Too tired.

So even though my body is sore its still a Gain because , well we are exercising.

We have sourdough, whole grain, sun dried tomato... mmm sounds good.
We have sourdough, whole grain, sun dried tomato… mmm sounds good.

Also this whole summer we have been enjoying “fancy” bread at a discount thanks to someone who had been gifting us coupons.

However they expire this Friday so this weekend we picked up much more then usual, and we still have 4 left. We spent about $6 on all this bread. It is going into the freezer and instead of gorging on it all at once ( I really love bread, plus its such an easy snack) I am hoping to use it for our usual sandwich needs. Because we all know you aren’t saving anything if its something you would normally not buy. This bread fits squarely into that statement if we just start munching on it non stop.  But if we do use it per our usual usage we will have saved.

Capsule

Mr. Roamer likes this dress... It turned out to be the perfect beach attire
Mr. Roamer likes this dress… It turned out to be the perfect beach attire

So we made it to the beach again. This year has been full of beach visits honestly probably 5 times more often then usual. I think this green dress has officially become my beach ware. It is perfect for changing into my bathing suit once we arrive. Though this time I just went ready board shorts and all.

Capsule outfit 16

Also I finally got around to wearing the white eyelet button up blouse. It almost made it to the end of the 3 months without being worn. It’s a nice shirt in my mind and so I like to save it for “special  occasions” but I only have so many of those come up that I just need to get over the idea of having clothes specifically for nice days. It’s very contrary to something Mrs. Frugalwoods recently wrote. I have more to say on the matter but I think I’ll just save it for the 3 month wrap up.

Are you a blogger, do you have a weekly column? Please let me know about it in the comments so I can check it out. What about everyone else, ever had an emotional spending moment? Have you noticed its a trigger in poor financial decisions?

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Weekly Pain & Gain: No Siesta for you! And other adventures.

So much good this week, but don’t worry I still have a pain to complain about.

Pain

Minnie Roamer is not resting during her standard nap time. She does once in a while but is now predominantly taking her siesta during our drive to work and to see papa Roamer. So instead of resting at 1 pm at home. She is resting at 3 in the car. This is a real pain because that time was usually used to spend 1 on 1 time with Jr. Roamer while he’s in summer vacation. But during his school time. I could use the time to rest, work on ZTL hw., a blog post, and even read. But that only works if I’m not behind the wheel of a car. She is only 2 and too young to be abstaining from siestas. But driving siestas don’t give me any time to unwind or dedicate time to Jr. My drive in to work is just not ideal timing. :( so much more potential at 1 pm. We are still trying to get her down by 1 but I guess we’ll see how it goes.

Any parent out there I’m sure can give me a darn right! when I say children siestas are a calming oasis of time in a parent’s hectic daily schedule.

So I am crossing my fingers to still have their rejuvenating presence during an opportune time in my day.

Gain

Lots of Gains this week I’m just going to list them out in no particular order and then go into more detail about some.

Some of the fun this week included:

  • Mr. And I attended a wedding and it was great fun. Can you say Dancing!
  • Got my hand on a sowing machine.
  • Items in balcony cleaned out.
  • Mr Roamer and I had a heart to heart. Which is such a valuable experiences.
  • Found 1 roommate for FinCon but we are still looking to split more ways.
  • Went on a beach adventure. For mostly free :)
Travel Roamer
On our train adventure

So I know I complain about my job, a lot. To be fair its not just my companies fault really its just not a good fit for me.

So even though I am counting the days until I cut that cord(noose) I do have to acknowledge the good too. Like the fact that over my time there I have been able to build some relationships that have allowed me to do some stuff. Stuff like flex time. I am 2nd shift but I have on multiple occasions been able to simply bring up the need for a different set of hrs and I am told to proceed. No red tape, no hoops. It does provide some slight semblance to freedom. This freedom is what made it possible to attend the wedding mentioned earlier. Because it was schedule during the weekdays. No need to take vacation just shift schedule hrs and bam!

I’m really glad too about being able to go. Weddings are a very special occasion for the couple but I also find its a great time to hold hands with Mr.Roamer and for us to renew our vows. Simply by looking each other in the eyes and nodding along with recognition at the word of love being shared.

I think that experience help set a tempo to have our heart to heart over the weekend and even though that’s personal so I won’t go into too much detail. What I can say is that it’s moments like that, that show me how we are still building our relationship to each other. That is a great thing! I hope that you also are placing high value in building better, stronger and more fruitful relationships.

Metrolink view 2

Finally to wrap the week up we made sure to have an adventure with some free train passes that were about to expire. This is a personal finance blog so I will tell you the adventure wasn’t totally free.  You see we had 2 free passes but we are after all a family of 4 so we did have to pay for 1 more pass (Minnie was still free thankfully).

Then we also paid for some ice cream. We arrived early to Oceanside and headed to the beach from the station. We spent the majority of the day at the beach and dutifully packed snacks and lunch to have at the beach. But we decided that we would pack up early in search of a treat and so we did. We were so caught up in the present that I completely forgot to take pictures on the beach. But let’s be honest that’s actually a good thing.

Though it wasn’t free entertainment I’m still very pleased. Had we not gotten those free train passes I don’t think we would have taken this adventure. I hope the novelty of it is something the kids will remember. :) money well spent in my mind.

Honestly I don’t know how much we spent for the entire day trip but I can tell you the 1 pass was $10. And the train was over an hour and a half long. It was a full day. Total for the day we spent on the 1 pass, 3 ice cream cones and dinner. I’d guess about $40 for the whole day. For all you financial types.

Capsule Update

So I have more pictures this week because I went out more during the week so I couldn’t just stay in my lounge ware until work.

Wedding outfit before I'm all ready and before I realize how hot it is outside. It's in the 90's people!
Wedding outfit before I’m all ready and before I realize how hot it is outside. It’s in the 90’s people!

 

Munching on wedding fruit popsicle. A different look with out the sweater
Munching on wedding fruit popsicle. A different look with out the sweater.

Also you can see what I wore to the wedding! It turn out to be a blazing hot day and so I didn’t get to complete my outfit until late, late in the evening. It’s a purple sweater even though it looks blue here.

I always forget to put shoes on before these pictures
I always forget to put shoes on before these pictures

So like I think I said last week I’m looking forward to hitting the end of the month and changing my rotation along with getting rid of a few more items.  I want to reduce my over 200 clothing items by half and then see if I can take it down even more.

Mr Roamer says these look like pjs. Whaaaaa?! This is my real clothes. I can't deny its comfy. :)
Mr Roamer says these look like pjs. Whaaaaa?! This is my real clothes. I can’t deny its comfy. :)

Why? Well I want to travel. The more I think the more I keep coming back to that. And I mean like 1 year non stop. For that I am going to have to learn to function on much less clothing. Just enough to fit in a backpack. So that is my goal with this experiment. To have fun, explore my creativity through my style, and challenge myself to cut, cut and cut out the excess. On my way to that I enjoy reading about people who are on the completely other side of the spectrum. They serve as inspiration and a reality check. I mean if this guy or this girl can live on just 1 outfit for a whole year I can surely cut down to less. Check out one such article here.

1 year 1 outfit

How about you? Did you go on any adventures this weekend? Also if you capsule what is your motivation?

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Shooting for Early Retirement

I don’t remember and don’t want to go back and look at all the previous Traveling Wallet posts. But……Do you even know what our retirement goal is? I don’t think that I have shared it with you.

I guess in a way I always wanted  to retire early but that to me meant at 50. I first started thinking about retirement because at my new full time job I had to decide what to do about this 401k thing. As I learned I thought 65 just sounded wrong specially with the acceptable retirement age getting older and older.

It almost seemed like it was just out of my control. So I started reading about retirement, a lot of it was very negative but I also discovered retirement calculators.  I got really infatuated with the MSN retirement calculator( its different now and nothing special it reduced user control by eliminating input fields, I was disappointed) it had lots of fields to fill and I began experimenting with scenarios.

Back then you could run it and make multiple adjustments to income, amount saved yearly, starting balance, investment return percentage, you could even check a box to include social security benefits.

Back then I also didn’t really know what I was doing so I made a lot assumptions based on popular opinion. Like the fact that I should have 1 million for retirement. I also started by assuming only 10% of income being deposited into retirement accounts.  And agreeing that I would need 80% of my last earnings for retirement. The only popular assumption I didn’t make was 8% growth. I always used 5%.  But that didn’t get me where I wanted so I started playing with the numbers. Sometimes including social security other times not. Finally I got it to work and so 50 was my goal.

When I started this blog I shared that goal with you. In my first post I mentioned retirement and it was a guess with calculations based on broad assumptions. To most people who feel like they can’t ever retire it was a very admirable goal. It was aggressive, though not unrealistic.

It said and I quote

“-Early Retirement (as in 50 or younger shooting for 45)”

Well soon after that post I finally learned about the 4% safe withdrawal rate and about the shockingly simple math to retirement. I ran some scenarios for just how early we could retire.  Learning that you don’t need a million to retire, what you really need is 25 times your yearly spend. So you could need less or much much more.

So I did the math to figure out our number. Then  assuming a 60% savings rate based off of last year. Here are our freedom numbers

Stats

150 months to freedom*
12.5 years to early retirement
FI in Oct  2026
Start date May 2014

*Mr.1500, I like your number based goal so I’m cribbing from you. I hope you don’t mind. 

Well there you have it. Now you know when the Roamer clan here at Traveling Wallet will be free from work. We are looking at 40 years old at the worst.

But since that math we’d much rather get there by 37. If we can pull off 35 that would be the shizz. But in the end the number is 25. 25 times our spend.

Everyone loves a good graphic so I figured I’d do something to communicate progress visually.

Our tracker, accumulating a full year's worth of savings take time
Our tracker, accumulating a full year’s worth of savings/spending take time

Most FI is done with a mentality to the dollars. The date will be whenever the dollars are enough. So I found it interesting to read Financial Samurai’s post stating that you focus on a retirement age instead.  I can see the draw in that since I am sure we will earn at least a little bit of income post retirement. 

Yet another perspective is Paula’s at Afford Anything. Post on semi vs mini vs early retirement. Opening up a whole new world for retirement.

So I’m constantly assessing and asking myself what would be ideal. How about you?

Are you dreaming of retirement or enough financial freedom to live life on your terms ? Let me know in the comments.

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Weekly Pain & Gain: DIY refrigerator maintenance

Rollercoaster weeks seems to be the thing right now. We accomplished a lot but we also faced some difficult challenges.

Pain

My goals for this blog are to discuss traveling, parenting, and finances all how they relate to me. I realize I haven’t really been touching on parenting too much and that’s because that is my biggest challenge.

This week, actually probably more like over a month, parenting has proved quite challenging. We have good days and then we have terrible days.

But this week was really exposing as some of my poor parenting decision came full circle to bite me in the butt.

I keep thinking I should probably take a break from reading all these finance articles and instead focus on parenting ones. Or at the very least ones that speak about developing more patience.

They say it takes 5 good experience to “erase” one bad one and that is a steep ratio to meet. Unless anything not consider bad is considered good. Either way I think I should probably shift my focus in my reading.

Gain

This week proved to be quite productive. There was also plenty of good stuff going on.

This week we saved plenty of money by Doing it ourselves. Our DIY was machine maintenance in this case our refrigerator. Over the week I noticed our fridge leaking but this isn’t the first time this has happened. So I knew exactly what it was and just put a bowl to catch the water until we could fix it over the weekend.

Emptying out the freezer.
Emptying out the freezer.

So this weekend we got to it. Last time we fixed it I was more hands on but this time Mr. Roamer did most of the work I just took some pictures and handed him hot bowls of water.

The amazing part and why this is a gain is because the last time we fixed it I will venture was about a year ago. A year ago we had the same problem and we were thinking it’s time to buy a new fridge. But instead we found some youtube  videos that showed us how to tear open the fridge, diagnose the problem, and then fix it. A whole year later we can still pull up that knowledge and do the repair without actually pulling up the video. That is a great gain in knowledge and confidence.  And I just kept thinking cool we now know how to fix a fridge.

Disassembled removing  ice and frost. Clearing out little drainage hole behind that rectangular thing.
Disassembled removing ice and frost. Clearing out little drainage hole behind that rectangular thing.

So we went about our business addressing the drainage issue of the freezer. I didn’t time the process but I think it took less then 2 hours. That’s it and we have a nice functional fridge again.

We also exercised some more do it yourself spirit by managing our own finances specifically our investments. I longed into our IRAs and updated our automatic withdrawals. Increasing them from $250 to $500. Still won’t be maxing it out this year as it is. Since we didn’t think about it or didn’t even make it a goal to do so I’m not to concerned. Mostly I just want to make sure we get as much in there as we can with out detracting from our actual goal of saving 30k for house down payment.

Efficient Living

Capsule update

Before I started the capsule wardrobe I had the problem in my closet of not having enough hangers. I also didn’t really have any more space to put extra hangers but that didn’t stop me from automatically assuming that more hangers would fix my closet organization problems. I need to buy more. But as I have already said I am a terrible shopper so I never went ahead and got more.

Outfit for evening beach picnic. Turn out to be colder then I thought thankfully Mr. Roamer had a scarf.
Outfit for evening beach picnic. Turn out to be colder then I thought thankfully Mr. Roamer had a scarf.

Now that I have gone through some minimalist challenges and started the capsule I am so pleased with the extra space in my closet. It’s eye opening to me how marketing has really made us believe that what we need is more  organizational type products to manage our ever growing amounts of stuff.

Sunday outfit
Sunday outfit

Instead I have found just getting rid of stuff is much more efficient and effective.

This can and should be applied to multiple areas of our lives. Instead of assuming we need more shelves, racks, dividers, binders to keep our homes and stuff in check we should first ask what doesn’t belong? What haven’t I used in a while? What’s no longer functional? Practice using that 5S knowledge to purge the unnecessary and organize what does belong.

How did last week turn out for you? Have you tried any DIY projects around the house?

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FinCon 2015, Help!

Just a little over a month away FinCon 2015 is hot on my mind.

I’m starting to get nervous for multiple reasons. You see like any good personal financier I am getting worried about the numbers.

What is going to be my ROI? How will I make sure its good?

Though we can afford it in one sense, it is a big investment. I mean there’s the conference pass, the hotel stay, the plane ticket, lifts to and from the airport, food. There’s a lot of money tied into this thing. But its not just that, there are other costs too, specially in the realm of time. My vacation time and weekend both things that are for my family won’t be. My husband and I will have to go 12 days without really spending any time together. It’s a sacrifice, and I need to make sure its worth it. I need to make the most of it. That’s a lot of pressure.

So I’m hunting. Hunting for any information to make sure I do the right things.

Cost so far

  • Airplane $480.70
  • Hotel $515.17
  • Fincon pass $408.95

That’s a total of $1404.82 and that’s not including food or lifts.

Though I did save with the pass because I signed up for FinCon mailing list and so I saw the note about the 48hr sale. Hey if I’m going to go I might as well get the best deal. I’m not sure if I should have saved more by purchasing a regular pass instead of the pro pass. Am I at a point that a pro pass is necessary?

FinCon 15

Purchasing so far in advance is also a big commitment and back then I wasn’t 100% sure I would be going. But it was  their policy that allowed for transfers that put my mind at ease about purchasing 9 months in advance.

Though I probably could have saved more on the pass I think I did pretty good. However, I really messed up with the airfare. My poorest financial decision and biggest regret was not pouncing on $282 for flights. Seriously. Uber fail on my part. Securing the best deal on flights is usually my number 1 concern when I travel.

Accomodation costs are also high but I signed up during group pricing. Are you heading to FinCon? Message me I am looking for roommates. Ladies only though. :) I booked the 2 beds room in anticipation of finding roommate(s) to cut down costs. It will be a fun adventure and its only for 3 nights. As Finance bloggers I’m sure we can all agree that cutting costs is valuable. I am looking for roomies to cut costs down all around.

 At this price this is not just for fun it is for business. I mean if it’s just for fun that is really expensive fun for just myself. My husband and I could have done over 10 organized races(fun runs) for that, taken classes and paid for babysitting, or even taken a week long family trip somewhere.

All alone

I guess another reason I’m scared, worried is that I’m going by myself. It’s intimidating. I have had the good fortune of attending conferences before during college ( shout out to SHPE) but it was always in groups.

Not having anyone to fall back on means I am going to have to be super proactive, so that I’m not that weirdo standing at the edge of the room.  Luckily I never had a problem with that and most say I’m very outgoing. But it has been a long time since I’ve been in this situation.

Being outgoing and making connections is what’s going to make this trip a success.

As preparation I have read/watched and re visited these 2 resources. I really recommend you check them out.

Pat Flynn’s Spi TV conference tip

Bugetblonde’s conference hustle advice 

So let me know in the comments about any other good work I should read before September 17. Not only will you be sharing with me but any other readers aswell. Planning ahead and being prepared will benefit us all.

Mixed bag of feelings

Even with all the nervousness weighing on my chest. The  excitement is steadily building as well. This is going to be a big adventure.

Ahhh! 😀 how amazing!

I am going to hopefully see more then just the inside of a fancy hotel room. I will have the chance to explore a new city I’ve never been too. Traveling! Hooray!

Then I am going to be surrounded by people who share similar interests.  Making connections and meeting all these inspirational people who have impacted my life. Never before have a gone to a conference where I know people even though we’ve never met.

Are you going to FinCon? Let me know it would be nice to meet in person. Are you looking to cut cost ? Send me a message. And don’t be shy with any recommendations. More good tips on maximizing the experience are highly welcome and greatly appreciated.

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Weekly Pain & Gain: Crazy crane lady

That was almost me the crazy crane lady.

Pain

Last Monday I shared with you the unexpected turn of events with my Craigslist ad. People wanted to put in orders.  Well that wasn’t exactly what I had planned but I decided that yes I would venture into this world of pre-order items.

It was for a wedding and I decided I would not gouge them for using the “W” word. But the Short lead time could  not be ignored. Not only that there were lots of special requests and no time.

After hearing the order request I ran a few number and determined that yes I could do that, but it would be tight. I was being optimistic.

However, after 17 messages back and forth and still no solid commitment I had to trust my gut and just say no thanks. These people wanted something very specific and I had no time for testing ideas out. After all I’m not a professional supplier. I just do this for fun but for this order I was just feeling stress.

It was really a pain because I was excited about it but I don’t think my first customers should be so high maintenance and my lead time so nonexistent. The biggest pain was how much repeating I had to go through . Hey you freelancers when you have clients do you often need to repeat yourself several times in just 1 day? 

The end of the week also ended with pain.

You know how they say you don’t know what you have until its gone. By then its usually too late too. Well we all know the saying to be true but most of us still wait to act intentionally. Sunday was a day like that. After having my grandparents just an hr away for years and years. They are moving far far away back to South America.

I definitely feel like we should have visited more. Its bittersweet because I think there is a lot of good that will come of it but again it’s sad and painful because now they will be so much farther away.

Well see how that goes. But it’s very possible we might not see them again for a very, very long time. :(

Gain

Like I told you last Monday Mr. Roamer needed to stop by the urgent care but it had a silver lining. After Mr. went to urgent care we found out nothing serious was wrong just swelling but the real gain was being able to all be together for one extra day. It was wonderful. We all think a 3 day weekend is the best and this was very close to the same thing.

As the week progressed his finger finally started looking better. So we are happy nothing was broken.

Papa and Minnie Roamer having a good time at the beach!
Papa and Minnie Roamer having a good time at the beach!

This weekend we had a fun time spending time at the beach with a bigger group! It’s always more fun that way because we get to talk to other grown ups and also we get to talk more to each other. Since there are more people around nobody has to fight to get attention. Mr. And I strongly need to increase our social circles so times like these are very rejuvenating.

Also on the flip side of the pain of my grandparents leaving, is the fact that they are leaving because my aunt and her family came here to visit. It was great to finally meet my cousins and to see my aunt and uncle again after, hmm 22 year.

Sadly we still spent only meer hours together. But it was good nonetheless.

We talked and will try to make it out there before another 22 year elapse. Ideally in 5.

This was a roller coaster week for sure.

Capsule Update

Here is my weekly update. So since starting my capsule I have found that I have been doing a lot less laundry.

I already practiced the wear clothes more then once mentality, but before I didn’t have anywhere to put the items while they waited for their second go around. This resulted in stuff ending up in the laundry bin prematurely. Now I have ample space in the closet to hang up any item I think can be worn again before a wash. So I am doing less laundry.

If you want the financials on that it’s nothing super big but it does save money.

Here are some pictures of what I wore this week.

Midweek look
Midweek look
Slight variation
Slight variation
Saturday, Off to the beach
Saturday, Off to the beach
Sunday to go visit grandparents and get some last family pictures.
Sunday to go visit grandparents and get some last family pictures.

And just in case you wanted to know. I just wore my white flip flops with all these. Except for mid week then I am actually barefoot while I’m home.

How was last week for you? Seen any family lately?

A Loan on Life: Helping someone out

How helping someone can go completely against good financial advice. And how it can change lives.

I had messed up. I hadn’t done my best. I hadn’t tried my hardest. Maybe I hadn’t taken it seriously from the get go. But there I was needing to take more classes and having just lost a big financial aid scholarship. $12,600 if I remember correctly. The scholarship was only good for the standard time to complete the degree. Me, I had just failed to do that.

Why did I even go to college?

You see my parents didn’t go to college right after high school in fact my dad never even graduated. My mom finish high school and was shipped off to American from her central American home. My dad dropped out of a high school in California.

But even with that, college always felt like something that I was supposed to do.

While we grew up my mom started taking classes for architecture and even as I got older my father too signed up for classes at the local community college.

We grew up attending community college classes sitting at the back of the room being quite. Or running around the hallways trying to entertain ourselves while my mom took her classes.

After we got a bit older we even wandered into empty rooms all 3 of us and played school. Taking turns teaching something. But usually my older sister teaching us something she was learning. ( It’s how I picked up a bit of french)

College was part of our lives and it was fun. Why wouldn’t we go?

So as I got into high school I new I was going. My first college search freshman year yielded interest in an art school in the Boston. But through out the rest of  high school I discovered engineering a happy marriage of my 2 strongest subject matters. Math and science.

Earlier I said maybe I just didn’t take it seriously from the get go. And looking back that definitely seems like the case. You see after the discovery I had the subject matter I wanted to study: Engineering. I also knew there was no way I was going to the local community college. Even near by universities were ruled out because of the simple fact that I didn’t want living at home to be an option. Far in another state would be ideal. To that effect I received lots of pamphlet and application information in the mail from all across the US for different universities I could attend.

And even though I read through most of them( and had never heard of most of them before). Even though I kept narrowing them down. You know what happened? I’ll tell you what happened. I missed the application deadline. I mean how in the hell do you miss the application deadline if you’re serious about going to college.

Thinking back that shows that I wasn’t taking it seriously to begin with.

But you know what? I decided to not give up I rifled through some papers and found universities with rolling admissions or later deadlines.

I found some and applied.

Honestly even though university was expected, if I think back,  my real motivations weren’t the desire to get an amazing degree to secure an amazing job. It wasn’t to be better off then my parents. It wasn’t to be the trailblazer. The first of the family to receive a prestigious degree. (Well maybe it was a little bit of that! It comes with bragging rights!) It was because I wanted to get out of my house. The only way someone of my age and my economical disposition gets to leave home and be on their own is by going away to college. The farther the better. And that desire to flee was strongly coupled by a desire to travel. The only way someone like me could travel was by going off to college and then participating in the study abroad program. That is why I wanted to go to college. ( you know what? in the end I didn’t even get to study abroad, oh the irony)

Those don’t seem to be good enough reasons to attend university and it showed up in my work.

University for me was about the experience, and it showed up in my work.

I got A’s ,I got B’s, I got C’s ,Ds and went through class withdrawals.

I started needing to retake classes. Eventually resulting in pushing out my graduation date.

Then something happened. That could have derailed my graduation indefinitely.

I got pregnant.

You know, I always though of myself as the black sheep of the family. But really? This? How could I let this happen to me? At 20 I was only halfway through the degree program. And I wasn’t keeping up.

It was a wake up call.

I didn’t  want to become another statistic. I’m latina. And even though I was past being a teen mom. I didn’t want to be a drop out.

Ugh… how disgusting and shameful. How culturally common.  A drop out with a kid.

The thought of having debt I wouldn’t be able to pay off didn’t even cross my mind.

It was all about not becoming a drop out. Taking time off even just one semester for me would mean setting myself up for never returning.

As I thought of it more I realized that the only way I would survive this was to keep going to school. You see. I attended a school that required working a co-op. A paid working experience. Where I earned real money. $15/hr.

Nowhere could I make that kind of money with no degree. And now it wasn’t just about me.

So I didn’t take a break I went back to school and took back to back school terms while pregnant.

A funny thing happened. Those were my best semester through my college career. Somehow managing a full school load, I was able to balance everything with a work study , increasing doctors visits and the ever ever present need to frequently excuse myself from class to go pee. My time management skills flourished due to necessity.

It was good but not good enough.  I couldn’t pull in my graduation date.

Though I survived the rest of the time and classes after the birth. The day came when it was clear I would need to take more time to finish.

But how would I do that having lost my biggest scholarship.

I talk to people and knew of so many people having dropped out because of lack of funding. With 1 year left. They were so close. I was so close.

But I didn’t have the money. The money I made during my 6 month co-op was all going to living expenses for the whole year. I was already stretching.

So I did the only thing I could. I maxed all my loans out. But it still wasn’t enough.

I tried taking out a loan in my name, it was denied.

I tried having family cosign. No dice. My family couldn’t provide any financial support.

I had gotten far since the news of my pregnancy. But the thought of not dropping out jumped into my mind like I had made the resolution yesterday.

It was so close but farther then ever.

Then I decided I just needed to throw a wider net.

But I could only think of one person, a fellow student, who I felt comfortable asking for help.

I was asking him to help me. To give me a chance at finishing my degree. I was asking him to cosign a $10,000 loan at an absurdly horrible rate 10.75%. To go against all financial advise that says you should never, Never do that.

For some reason. He agreed. He agreed to expose himself financially and give me an amazing gift.

This friend I can only assume believed in me.

But we never really talked about it again. So I never knew why?

All I knew was that he didn’t want me talking about it. He was naturally concerned about how others might interpret the situation. He didn’t want other people expecting the same thing.

After graduation it was the 1st loan I focused on and the first loan I killed.

But I still wonder Why? Why Did he do such a thing? And I’ve wondered it on many occasions.

I want to understand because I want to give someone that gift too. A life changing gift. I want to know how he knew he wasn’t going to get  burned. Or why if he did it was worth the risk.

His help changed my life. It gave me the chance to finish.

I don’t know if it was Mr.1500’s post of pivotal life events. But this one post  just flowed out of me.

Jr Roamer current day. Likes to climb stuff. Life changing.
Jr Roamer current day.
Likes to climb stuff. Life changing.

Getting pregnant with Jr Roamer was one of those moments. And a few years later, so was this amazing friends life changing financial gift.

People say you can get where ever you want if you just work hard. But some of it does seem to be just good fortune. I was fortunate to have meet this person.  With out the luck of meeting him I wouldn’t have been able to ask for his help in the first place.

So the things I want you to think about is. Sometimes breaking sound financial advice can really help someone.*

I want you to think about moments in your life that helped you get where you are today.

But mostly I want you to realize that even though I made so many “mistakes”. I am in an amazing place right now. So you can overcome too.

And if you feel inclined share with me how this post made you feel? And whether there is some financial advice worth breaking.

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* That is not to say to start loaning and cosigning left and right. Like I said I still don’t understand his thought process.