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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Weekly Pain & Gain : Move on the Horizon

If you’ve read about my travel this past 7 years you know I’ve moved around alot. And yes moving can be a hassle but it also has lots of advantages. Anyways I like the idea of moving around. I’ll blame it on my upbringing. 😉

Anyways we’ve been pretty stable lately and have lived in the same city for almost 5 years. I think we are ready to give this whole live closer to work thing a try, like MMM and Go Curry Cracker did.


The pain of moving around is the research is time consuming. It’s also not super kid friendly if your trying to see a bunch of properties in one day.

Schedules were interrupted and Minnie Roamer missed her naps both Sat and Sun leaving us with a very unhappy child. It’s pretty much torturous to kids to have to walk around jump in and out of the car, miss naps, see cool stuff and not be able to touch. (every apt space is a new area to explore, but some of them were models which means they came full of furniture and stuff which I was more nervous about them touching.) All compounded with the fact that the weather increased up to 99° so it was very draining.

Apt hunting is definitely not enjoyable when you are on a limited time window. I actually think if we had all the time in the world to make the move the experience would have been much different as we could see less locations every day. No rush no fuss right.

The time constraint comes from the fact that I want to continue Jr Roamer in a Dual Immersion program but their is only one space available at his new school. And we need to move quickly. Within the month. Language is super important to me and the program has been amazing at his current school.

Finally the last pain is the cost increase. We work in an expensive area and currently live 16 miles away. The drive isn’t horrible but we are trying to become less car dependent and get within a 5 mile radius of both school and work. That means we would be moving to a more expensive area and our rent costs will increase. Which  is not something I want to do.

I am really bummed about this cost.


Okay okay so this search process so far I don’t see any gains but if we end up closer to work we would see gains. We could start biking to work and to school more often. Woking in exercise info our daily routine.

Also just the process of moving means we will have to go through a purge which is one of the reasons I enjoy moving.

It’s a time that forces you to take every single items out and handle it. That is a perfect time to ask why you own any item.

Plus I just enjoy exploring new places even if its just a new city around the corner. You’d be surprised the diversity possible just a stones throw away. :)

What do you think is cutting 10-12 miles from your commute worth paying $400-$500 more a month? I can tell you we don’t spend that much on gas.

The Roamer traveling wallet




A year off from work, Why? & How?

I have been wanting to take a year off from work for a very long time. As the year gets closer to its end I have a lot to contemplate.

A young mother

The whole idea started after giving birth to my son, he’s 7 now. See I got pregnant while attending university and due to the situation I didn’t even take my full 6 weeks off to recoup. I had deadlines and metrics to meet if I wasn’t going to become another drop out statistic.

There were plenty of breaks thanks to the academic school term and because of how close I live to campus I spent lots of time back home with my baby. But I still felt I was missing a lot.

I remember telling my significant other ” You are going to have to make enough money to support us for a year, because for my next one I am going to take a whole year off. I’m not going to miss anything in that first year”

Well I have 2 babies now and that goal never came to pass. Though by that time, I had put in enough time to qualify for PFL, FMLA, CFRA and all those pro family programs it was still a limited amount of time. 6 weeks. A consolation prize compared to a year. But I took it and even optimized it. ( Another post I’m eager to write).

So I missed it, the goal but I still held out hope.

A year off, are you sure?

I still wanted a year off. But with debt and bills and by the way we have “free” childcare. There wasn’t a lot of support for the idea.

It’s a big mistake older women advised.

“You’ll lose financial security and be dependent on the man. ”

“It’ll kill your career”

“Why would you want to stay home, I couldn’t do that”

It wasn’t so much the career suicide comments that deterred me as much as the money. A lot of that debt was mine not my husband’s and I wanted to pay it off myself. I suffer from pride and stubbornness and wanted to prove “hey I got myself in this mess and I can get myself out”.

But I still wanted to take a year off.

Revised Goal

So I accepted the fact I probably wasn’t going to take the first year off. I asked myself what my goal was really.

Minnie Roamer

Simply I wanted to raise my kids but more specially be the one to imprint onto my daughter in her early years. I wanted to be a key player. Not the alternate. I know there are sentiments against this after all many household are now dual income, farming out the majority of childcare.


There is no argument in my mind that there are certain things you just won’t learn without putting in the time.

” Quality time happens with quantity time”

So with this I decided that I could still take a year off soon, but there was a limited window.

I only had until she turned 4. That would give me a year before she started school and she herself became less available.

So I started a count down, literally on excel.

Minnie Roamer is 2 now and Jr is 7. And it’s looking like next year will finally be the year.

Preparation for a year off

If you are in a dual income household* there are some steps that need to be taken. (* these same steps could also be applied if you are a single parent but you will probably need to make some adjustments)

Taking a year off from work is going to impact a lot on your household from schedules to routines. While those also need to be address the main and first thing is the math needs to make sense.

Financially it needs to work for a year off to happen.

  1. You need to understand your financial situation. As in you need to know how much debt you have and how much you have in savings and other liquid (easily accessible cash) assets. I would recommend having enough savings to cover 6 months* of all your spending.(* if your single you will clearly need to save over a years worth of spending )
  2. You need to know your cash flow. How much money is coming in? How much money is going out? In other words what are you earning and what are you spending.
  3. Identify the Gap. This is where you analyze the earnings with the spending and identify how much excess you have. This is the equivalent of when you hear someone say. I only live off 75% of my take home pay. That means they could function normally losing the extra 25% of income. You want that gap to equal your entire paycheck if possible. This will look different for everyone. For example if you are both equal earners you want the gap to be 50%. But if your spouse bring in 75% of the income then a 25% gap should equal your entire paycheck and you should be good

When your gap is good & savings are met , financially the math makes sense to take a year off. (High five)


What if your saving don’t add up to 6 months and your gap is very small?

Then you need to make a plan to cut your spending. (This should be a post on its own ) Here are some things to consider.

  1. Pay off your debt. Simplistic yes, but this can have a big impact in both how much you need to save and your gap. How? Here’s a table below.Quick analyses of the spending changes and impacts
  2. Reduce any other type of spending. Reducing your spending anywhere else will have the same affect as the above. The less you spend the bigger the gap and the less you need to save to cover you for 6 months.

If you spend $5,000 a month then you need $30,000 saved up to cover 6 months. If you only spend $3,000 then you’ll need $18,000 for 6 months. I’m sure you can guess that getting to $18k will be quicker then $30k.

This was pretty much the scenario for us. After we paid off all the student loans and the car loans our cash flow took a big hike up. As in the gap increased. Then we also realized that what we had saved( without adding anymore) covered more months then it had before.

Family plan

But its not just about the money. Other things should also be discussed.

  1. Agree to have a spouse that keeps working. As in if the job starts to suck, they need to just stick it out or secure another job before quitting. ( At the very least agree to discuss options, I  would want to avoid any disruptions in income)
  2. Make a schedule of things you want to Do. The new schedule is going to be strange and having an idea of why you wanted the time off to begin with will help you not feel antsy about it.
  3. Discuss changes in division of household tasks. But agree to post pone changes and expectations until after 6 weeks pass.
  4. Take 6 weeks to get use to new tempo.  During my maternity leave this is how long it took me to finally find my groove at home. You will feel doubt, again the changes are going to feel weird.
  5. Finally let your mind stop working and decompress.
  6. Schedule to revisit situation, (finances, feeling, expectations) each quarter.

Just in case you are wondering, yes these are all thing we have done. Specifically the financial planning. I have had up to 8 weeks off of work continuously for maternity leave but I’m sure there’s other things that will come up mentally/ emotionally that I currently can’t foresee.

Have you ever thought about taking a year off of work? Maybe it was to be a full time parent maybe something else. How would you go about preparing for it?

The Roamer traveling wallet



If you found this post helpful please share it with your friends and family.

Weekly Pain & Gain: FinCon +


So I just wanted to let you know that I’m sorry I’ve fallen off my consistent posting schedule. agh! I was doing so good too. Lately I missed a lot of posts, which sucks because it was my goal to have 1 post a week . It’s my fault I fell off the horse.

But below is the reason why.

Excuses, Excuses , Excuses

I recently attended FinCon  ( financial bloggers conference) for the first time and what can I say I needed some time to recoup and make up for all the family time I missed.

Also I needed to make time to process all the info that I got at the conference. It was awesome but also very overwhelming. I have to make a game plan because when I attend next year I want there to be big change.

Which leads me to…

What’s on the Horizon

I have been thinking about doing a slight pivot on the blog. ( Foolishly I totally forgot to get some opinions from all the clever people at the conference) but I have lots of work to do to spiff up the blog.

Why change?

Well its really suppose to be to improve the reader experience. So that means its for you. And any future readers.

The layout of the blog will be changing but that won’t happen for a while .

Also it appears I need to clarify what it is we do here. I’ll be honest it’s about my journey and what I value and is important to me.

Which naturally means topics could morph as I grow and my families situation changes. But the main topics will be family/ parenting, travel, and finance.

And with that it’s time to put my nose to the grindstone. I’ve been slacking, I have to admit it. I have to fight for my dreams, they aren’t going to fall in my lap. I wish it were all about numbers and money. For some reason that comes easy to me.

But finding how to communicate and identify a value that people really actually need … That’s something else.


Talking about FinCon, it wasn’t all overload. Actually when it comes to the check book it was pretty darn good.

When I first did my math, I was pretty dissatisfied with how much this whole thing was going to cost. I mean when you compare it to an 8 day 4 person family vacation and come out at the same cost its hard not to be disappointed.

I had the total cost at $1404.82 for 1 person for FinCon . And that wasn’t including transportation  or food for the 4 days.

Fortunately the total cost of the trip currently clocks in at  $1202.76 which will drop further to $1078 once the last roomie payment clears.

So how did I drop the initial cost ?

Well I hustled and found 1 roommate (cha-ching $$) who help find another 2 ($$). So that $515 for 3 nights was sliced by having 3 other amazing ladies stay in the same room. Each of us only payed a quarter of the price. It was win win and it was so much fun.

Another way I cut costs was I used the bus.

I’ve never been shy around public transportation because I grew up in LA and we used it regularly. But after going away to college in a city were  everything was dangerous it had been a while since I had ridden a bus, specially alone. Thankfully the positive bus experience I had with Mr. Roamer last year set me up to courageously try out the transit in Charlotte.

The bus cost a meer $2.20 each way and that was all the transportation needs I had. After that I simply walked.

I had an amazing time at FinCon and I’m happy I came back with a small gain through lowering my initial costs.

Another gain that happened this week specifically was having an eye opening conversation. A conversation that was educational and enlightening in dismantling misconceptions.

I had an amazing conversation with a Persian coworker. Did you know that most Persians would now be called Iranians? I sure didn’t.

I had never thought of that, and as soon as I made the connection I felt the twinge of something. Deep down, Danger? Distrust? Negative feelings for sure. I recognized it right away but he and I were still talking so I noted it but moved on quickly.

We continued talking.

He talked about his country and all the great stuff about it. He jumped on Google and showed me pictures, I asked about the weather, does it snow? He said yes, there are mountains and pulled up a picture.

I was amazed as I noted a quick passage of another thought. Deserts this doesn’t look like just deserts. Then he brought it up. “I don’t know why everyone thinks its all just deserts and camels.”

And I said yes!!! ( wish you could see my face) that is exactly what I was thinking.  And then we talked about the media and its part in painting a whole country as one very narrow thing. It was an amazing conversation. and I left it excited to add Persia / Iran to my want to go places.

The conversation did get a bit emotional as he spoke of the government and its poor performance ( to put it lightly). The country and people as a whole he was all gush!

It’s amazing how one conversation can break down barriers. All those negative thoughts that popped in my head, they have been challenged and now I can see another perspective. People are always talking about moving out of your comfort zone. This is great way to do that. Go TALK to someone about where they’re from….

Ha-ha honestly can’t remember how conversation started… Oh no wait now I do… He kept saying Persia and I kept thinking I don’t think Persia is a country anymore… Finally I just asked.

What Pains and Gains have you experienced lately? If you went to FinCon how was it?

The Roamer traveling wallet




Weekend Wanderings #4: Tiny House for the Win

I’m over hear doting on tiny houses and their many upsides.While everyone is thinking bigger, and bigger.  What’s up with that?

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

FYI, this post does dive into money, so stick around.

Like all my weekend wandering posts this one is going to be chock-full of videos and the idea is that you watch them and be inspired. I won’t be summarizing their awesomeness. Today I am wandering into the realm of tiny houses.

I have gotten quite infatuated with the idea of tiny living and these videos should show you why, but just in case it isn’t crystal clear I’ll specify why I would really enjoy it for me and my family. That’s right, I’m talking about a family, of 4 no less.

First of all, I don’t support or understand this new trend that every kid needs their own bedroom. Seriously, can some one explain to me this thought? See I was raised different in a lot of ways and its because of my heritage. So honestly why does each kid need their own bedroom? Leave me a comment below to cue me in to this practice. It’s super foreign to me.

Its an important question to ask because tiny house living isn’t likely to support that requirement. Making good use of space means bunking together, bunk bedding that is. The first video is a single guy but I could easily see my family in the unit.

If I had to say one thing about it, it would be. “Can I move in and try this out, like now!”

All right now that you’ve watched that video lets get this discussion started.

Cost, starts high gets low

Now this first video is a great way to start the discussion on cost. The owner had a lot of specialty items, that means big $$ up front. Even so, tiny homes are still much more affordable. You just have to have a long term investment mentality. Get the good stuff now and pay less over your lifetime. For example it might cost you more to get your tiny home all set , then most people put down as a standard down payment. but then you get to enjoy all the perks.

How exactly will you save money after the purchase?

Small space, means no room to store unneeded items. Most tiny home dwellers report having to become  more intentional about their lifestyles. This translates into their purchases because it all ends up back in the house. Cutting the volume of the items you buy will undoubtedly lead to a smaller overall costs.  Hooray! for saving money.

Small Space, means small utility usage. Another perk reported is the wonderful side effect of lower monthly bills. Smaller square footage means less energy spent on heating and cooling. Bye Bye big electric/ gas bill.

Small space, means smaller over all cost of purchase. Like I said  earlier there are throngs of people buying houses without putting much money down. Not even 20%, but knowing you could buy a tiny home out right if you save might be motivation enough to accumulate enough to pay in cash. Can you say paying cash means hundreds of thousands of dollars saved in interest over the course of a standard 30 yr mortgage. THAT IS BIG $$$$$. I’m seeing hearts and stars just thinking about it.

Small space, means smaller tax burden. Okay I am making some assumptions here, but it is my understanding that the yearly tax of a house is based on the value of the house. Tiny homes cost less so that means they are worth less (not worthless, I’d say this makes them near priceless). But comment below if you do real estate and set me straight.

Finally for us, and to be more specific when it comes to the 2 mobile houses below. It is no small thing to say that if we were willing to give it a go, we could own one out right . Right now! Seriously at 30 – 40 K we could own it already. After all just this year we are setting aside 30K for a down payment on a more standard house. Like I said above stars and hearts people.


I included lots of different possibilities for Tiny House living (and you can binge watch more if you just keep watching all the attached videos). Not all offer this perk but oh how my heart sings at the idea. The video above and below show case yet another feature. Flexibility, with a capital F.

I am the Roamer, this is the Traveling Wallet, if you still can’t guess I have a deep rooted desire to travel. I know, its my fault I haven’t screamed it from the mountains. But I do, and the idea that these homes let me, you, go where ever the wind takes you. Well sign me up.

For me this also screams upgrade. I know that’s hard to understand when you are sitting in a 2,000 sqft house but hear me out.

You see I have this desire to do what some would call crazy travel. Living out of a suitcase travel. Camping in tents with nothing but the stuff on our backs. Much like this amazingly inspiring family has done.

A portable tiny house would be a great way to make sure we always have somewhere to stay and have our stuff with us. Compared to tents a tiny house is huge. It’s also a huge upgrade in comfort and amenities. You see what I’m saying now.

This following video really make tiny house living look so good.

Okay so what did you think?

Me in one sentence ” I can have a full kitchen? Man this just keep getting better and better” okay that was more then one sentence.

As I was doing research for this post I just came across so many, many videos with so many different floor plans and options.  It truly is an amazing and inspiring lifestyle for me.

Mr. Roamer doesn’t think this is very feasible for us right now, with 2 small children. He does say once they are grown he could see the allure and would be willing to try it. I say great. Being open to the idea is already a good sign. 

Ready to question the status quo of home buying?

Instead of planning your purchase with the thought of hosting Thanksgiving dinner once a year and hosting a couple of friends. How about asking what is my daily life going to look like here.

Most of us don’t really use all the space we have.  By asking what is my daily life going to look like you are asking, “What is the use of this home 80% of the time?”

I am planning my home by my 80%. Not my 20%. 80% is what I want to cover. For the less usual 20% I’ll get creative.

So, do families really need 4,000 sq ft for a family of 4? Did you know that homes in the past housed more people but where smaller in foot print?

Now a days we call those homes starter homes and we think that each kid need their own bedroom. ( I don’t understand this idea as my family (5 people) was raised in a 2 bedroom house from age 10 until 18.) Even now my family of 4 lives in a 950 sq ft apartment.

So if you’re going to say… But Roamer how will you have guests stay over or even dinner parties. Honestly that is not my life 80% of the time. If we do have visitors I would gladly offer them the space we do have.

And we do that even now. Making it a house of 6 for up to 10 days.

We have air mattresses and space enough to lay them out. If that doesn’t suit them they can always say no thank you. But it just doesn’t make sense to me to buy a 3 bedroom house just to have a guest room for the few and far in between times that does happen.

Did you know that even if you house guest for a whole month… That’s right 31 days, its still less then 10% of the planned yearly usage of your home.


Well what about big 10 people dinner parties. My reply to you would be.. did watch the first video? Seriously how sick was the dinning table.

So what do you think? Are you tearing down those old ingrained ideas of good, bad… normal? That is my goal for my weekend wanderings. To make you think outside the box.

So could you live in a tiny home? What about just down sizing?

The Roamer traveling wallet



Videos by:

Please visit these sites for more tiny home inspiration. Also check out life edited.

Weekly Pain & Gain: Kids and Money

Kids can’t live with them can’t live without them.

Seriously this week wasn’t so bad but this weekend. Sheesh. I was an emotional wreck.


You know as the week progresses I like to make notes about what would be my gain and pain… So that I have some ideas to work with.

My pain this week was going to be all financial. See I messed up and miss calculated my IRA numbers, which negates last weeks gain :( . I really thought I was going to be able to max it out… But I accidentally had one extra space, I was counting contributions for January as well… Hmm.

So anyways that was going to be my pain for the week but then Sunday happen.

We, (I?) Had a big Baby scare.

Minnie Roamer rocked my world Sunday by frightening me. She is 2 and was taking too long on the potty, I was getting impatient and finally just picked her up. Then I saw it and something wasn’t right. So I set her down and told Mr Roamer to watch her. Then I went to check her poopy diaper… The poop didn’t seem to be too hard…

How could this happen….

I rushed back and told Mr. Roamer that I thought something was wrong. So I picked her up and told him to look, no that is not poop hanging from her.

I lost it. I did not keep it together. Oddly Minnie didn’t appear to be in any pain just discomfort, trying to shake the “poop” loose.

We waited a bit to see if things would go back to normal but…. I just wanted to take her in. I’m so glad the  hospital is almost literally right around the corner.

Note to all parents and future parents: as you freak out or remain calm about some child injury or emergency. Take a picture!

By the time we were seen at the emergency room everything was back to normal downstairs.  Diagnosis… They really didn’t give us one .. But it might have been rectal prolapse.

After we realized that everything was okay. We started to joke around… Man there are better things we could have done with those $100 and 30 min.  Another of those times you have to laugh to keep from crying… Though I did plenty of crying earlier.

Seriously though I am so happy we can just head over to a hospital… Even if the doctor says this wasn’t an emergency. I’m glad we don’t have to weigh whether something makes financial sense before we consider getting a professional opinion.

Though in the end it was almost a waste… The doctor didn’t do anything really since the problem wasn’t there anymore. I’d rather try to joke about the unnecessary expense after then to wait.

Still I’d rather do without the emotional rollercoaster to begin with but as a parent… These things are bound to happen …

Which lead me to…


I am soooo lucky to have Mr. Roamer, I myself was not feeling well Sunday morning which I think contributed to my maybe overly emotional reaction to Minnie.

But before all that happened Mr. Was doing what he could to pamper me and make me comfortable. Then all hell broke loose… Well at least I lost it. But he kept it together. I could see he was also greatly concerned but he stayed level. I love him so much. I’m so happy to have him around.


And before Sunday we also had a nice day at the beach. There was an event going on so there were booths and as we walked to our usual spot we scored some free snacks.

Beach free snacks… Big waves. (Thumbs up)

Free snacks scored at the beach, and 2 frisbees.
Free snacks scored at the beach, and 2 frisbees.

Actually we scored more then what is pictures above because as we left we also each snagged some more snacks. Yup we are those people taking full advantage of good freebies.

Capsule Update

So another complain is revolving around my capsule.  The weather is hot… Capsule for fall so far is all wrong thanks to the weather. Heats not dropping. I have too many cold weather items and not enough warm weather… Plus I went over board with the color..  I’m feeling like this capsule is going to be a big challenge.

The Roamer traveling wallet