Category Archives: Family

Mini Retirement Monthly Update: Passports? Yes, please!

Hey there, if you’re new I am going to be publishing a monthly series where I document our journey to this years One Goal.  The goal: to take a Mini Retirement where we take 4 months off of work to travel internationally and permanently move to a new stateThe launch date of this adventure is October 1, 2017. This is our first time going through the process of planning a mini retirement. By the end of this series I hope to have a tried and true checklist to go by for all our future mini retirements. Wish  us luck and follow along on the journey.

This year all I really need to focus on is getting from here to that mini retirement. A major component of the mini retirement is going to be travel. I want to take an international trip for 2 months. Visiting Ecuador and El Salvador. Before that we are going to take a 3 week road trip across the U.S starting in California. At the end, we are planning to take a month to settle in to our new home state of Michigan. All in all, I need to prepare our family for 4 months of unusual living.

Of course to get this one goal accomplished there are a lot of other tasks I need to tick off. But, that is my focus. The question this year is: Is this helping me plan my trip? (Is this getting us ready for our Mini retirement?)

Time is ticking fast and some of you may have noticed the count down clock I added.

As of today it says 24 weeks and 4 days.  That is just 6 months out! and I am starting to feel the pressure. The point of this series is to help me manage my tasks so that I don’t get to September with 100 things to get done. Continue reading Mini Retirement Monthly Update: Passports? Yes, please!

My one goal this year

Yearly goals are a thing for me. They have been since I got pregnant with my son in college. I really do attribute my success in finishing school, after having a kid, to the focus that goal setting gives me.

Back then I used to do it every semester, but now I set yearly goals. I have a tendency to over do it, but this year I am not. This year I have ONE goal.

Usually I separate goals into categories: family, money, work, travel. Then I choose 3 or 4 or more for each category. ( If you don’t believe me, check out my goals for 2015) This year just ONE.

The goal: Continue reading My one goal this year

Our California Road Trip and 4 must see views

Mr. Roamer made a beautiful desktop background of our recent California road trip. I look at it and remember.

Oh yeah, I still haven’t told you how it went.

So today lets talk travel & family.

If you haven’t heard. We are moving to Michigan in about 1 year. This caused us to rethink our yearly vacations. We decided to cancel our Michigan trip, in favor of checking out California. It’s funny how that works. We’ve lived here for over 5 years and have only seen a few places. Opting instead to fly out of the state during our time off.

This year was different.

Continue reading Our California Road Trip and 4 must see views

The BIG NEWS, A big international trip.

I want to travel.

Not jump on a plane, gone for a week living in a hotel travel. I want sell-all-your-stuff don’t know when I’ll be back, kind of travel. Reading about nomadic families seeing the world makes my heart burst.  Mouth water, tingly all over.

But lets face it. Or I guess I should say not “lets” but  “I”.  I need to face it… Mr. and I just have different temperaments. Along with different upbringings. Non-stop travel is a super hard sell. For more reasons then you can even imagine.

But I am soooo excited to say that we might just be heading in that direction. Our family won’t be packing it up to go Continue reading The BIG NEWS, A big international trip.

Our California road trip: The plan

As a young adult in college hearing about a family’s need to take yearly vacations was odd. Hearing about yearly cruises or trips to Disney world didn’t make me think of the middle class. The people who spoke this way were surely raised in an upper class life style.

Growing up our family took some vacations but they were not a yearly occurrence and we weren’t jetting off to far off places. Actually they were few and far between and mostly involved camping.

As a full fledged adult I have to admit that I have bought into this yearly travel lifestyle. Through all our challenges, traveling has always remained in the forefront. Even as we tackled our student debt  and then became debt free. Even after a lay off. We continue to go places. Continue reading Our California road trip: The plan

Vacations, Where to stay?

We like to go on vacation. In that sense we are just like the average american. But googling “average american vacation budget” tells me that the average american spends way more then we do on vacation. What’s up with that?

This post is part of my 30 day writing challenge. Each week I will be focusing on one topic. This week I have chosen to focus on travel. If travel is your thing don’t forget to come back everyday until Monday when I choose my new topic for the week.

There are lots of costs associated with travel the plane tickets,  food, knickknacks, activities. Oh yeah and accommodations.

Accommodations the big surprise

Continue reading Vacations, Where to stay?

Weekly Pain & Gain: Halloween and Dancing

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

Pain

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.

Gain

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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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.

But..

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)

But…

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

 

 

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