Category Archives: Yearly Review Series

2016 Goals: Year End Review

It’s January, and you know what that means.

Goals for 2016

This past year I decided to try something new. I had read that I could be more focused if I just chose one goal and really bore down on it for a whole month. It sounded interesting and logical. It sounded like I would get more, deeper work done.

It was also a way to avoid my natural tendency to overload myself with goals. The year before I had jot down 24. Instead this year I could only choose 12 goals for the year.  Continue reading 2016 Goals: Year End Review

2016 mid year goal review

Goals you either hate them or you love them. For me goal setting is what kept me on track once I got to university and had to be responsible for myself. With no parents around to make sure I did my homework and drank my milk I had to figure out a system. Back in university I would set goals every semester but now I simply set them at the beginning of the year. Goals are kind of like resolutions except they are less wishy-washy… Ever since then the habit has stuck because I have seen results.

This year I decided to try something new for my yearly goals. Continue reading 2016 mid year goal review

Net worth update

Hi,

So it’s about time for another net worth update. When I first posted my net worth out for the world to see, I wasn’t so sure how I felt about it. Being transparent about you financials is a bit Taboo. It’s probably not a surprise that as the sharer I feel like I am leaving myself a bit exposed.

While I am not sharing my net worth here monthly it is something I keep and eye on. I decided that I felt that giving a yearly snap shot was probably not so bad. But I am running behind as these snap shots should be coming out during January. While I didn’t get the post out I did make sure to record my stats.

So in this post I will be sharing the growth we saw in the 12 month period since the last net worth post.

Also before putting this post out there I wanted to talk about our savings. Now that I’ve finally posted how much we saved last year I can finally share our new net worth. So if you haven’t read about our savings I highly recommend you head there first then come back here. Read about last years savings at Big Savings & Happiness: Can you have both?

Today we are already in May and that means this year is almost half over. Time seems to run right through our fingers so making big changes can seem so daunting. But a lot can change in just one year if you put your mind to it. That is the story behind our net worth growth.

It turns out 365 days is a lot of time.

Continue reading Net worth update

Yearly Spend Revealed

Money comes in , Money goes out

Every year at Traveling Wallet we spend, spend, spend, Spend!

But its not all bad. If you try, every year can be better. For us last year was an interesting year and the first full year we had in which we didn’t need to spend a single dime on loan or debt repayment.

Not one dime.

Still…

We did spend a lot of money and this post is all about analyzing where it all went. Continue reading Yearly Spend Revealed

2015 goals: year end review

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

But more then halfway through the year I had to admit that I just wasn’t feeling some of the items I had written down. Continue reading 2015 goals: year end review

Goals: 2nd Trimester Review 2015

At some point  this trimester I realized I needed to focus my efforts. It’s not that it’s impossible to work on multiple things at once. It was more the fact that I needed to do a lot of learning. See sometimes you have all the foundational knowledge to accomplish something you just need to take up the challenge to push yourself farther, harder.

But that wasn’t the case for a lot of what I was trying to do. I didn’t have the background. So one task would split into several other smaller things that I needed to learn first. In essence my one goal might actually require me to jump 5 hurdles before even being able to address my goal.

I knew that on some level. That was part of the challenge of the goal. To learn something new. But I just didn’t gauge the amount of time I would need.

Not to mention these goals where made under different circumstances, chiefly me being on day shift.

So I had to reevaluate.

Being on 2nd shift has turned out to be extremely stress inducing.

So the key moving forward was Focus and Stress reduction. I knew I would feel like a failure if the end of the year came and I had not at least tried to achieve each and every one of my goals. So some just has to go.

I took comfort in knowing that even though I thought they were important they really weren’t relevant to the over all picture. Ruthless prioritization, am I right? So I crossed out all the following.

Changing tide, changing goals

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

Spiritual Awareness

  1. Attend 4 churches in a year( attend 4 times a month ) 1  2  3   4
  2. Write in  Journal, reflect 15 min what I am thankful for 1/wk (Total of 52)

I mentioned on my first review that this area was in trouble of being struck out. I decided that this wasn’t a main focus for me this year so it is officially crossed out. You won’t even see it in my year end wrap up.

Health

Warrior Dash in march. Tonya and I getting ready to get muddy...(that is not my real hair :) )
Warrior Dash in march. Tonya and I getting ready to get muddy…(and yes, I did give myself crazy hair and a smile to try and conceal my identity).  🙂

3.  Run two 5ks, 1 Jan-June and then 1 July-Dec.

I actually completed the first run in the first trimester review. I crossed out the 2nd so this one is complete and no longer on my plate.

Run: 100% complete 

4. Dance 1/ month @ home

Though this hasn’t been the rigorous dancing that will keep me in shape, Minnie Roamer enjoys dancing and I will dance with her often. As an exhaust 2nd shift mama I am in serious need of some endorphins. Dancing make me happy so I need to keep it up. Plus we also attended a wedding so got in extra dancing. 🙌

Dancing: 66% complete 

5.  Take 1 class (yoga, dance ???) With Mr. Roamer.  Crossed out

Languages

6. Read 1 book in Spanish.

7. Read 4 books this year.

I am really trying to also get my learning through books. I finished reading I Will Teach You To Be Rich (should I do a review?). I still need to finish 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (pg.144 of 340). Currently though I am  100% focused on Financial Samurai’s How to Engineer your Layoff. Because I’d like to leave my job and if I can do it profitably then why not.

Reading: 45 %, slightly behind

8. Chinese 2 characters/month  Crossed out not relevant to my current life trajectory.

Relationships 

Our June date. Dressed up to go out for sushi at our favorite place.
Our June date. Dressed up to go out for sushi at our favorite place.

9.1 date a month with each child.

With kids off of school I had lots of chances to spend one on one time together. I did a lot better this trimester.

Jr. Roamer time: 33%,  back on track with last 3 months in a row completed 

Minnie Roamer time: 50%, back on track

10. 1 date a month w/ Mr Roamer.

Mr. And I are actively dating. We even went on 2 this past month. I think for the most part we are also doing well with our spending. For our anniversary I put aside $300 to splurge. Even though we went to eat where we really wanted to (sushi) we probably spent only $60. Including getting some Cold Stone’s ice cream. 😲 I guess sushi is a lot cheaper for 2 then a family of four.

Dating husband: 66% complete, on track

11. Sister & mother 1 date/ 6 months  Crossed out, off my plate

12. Write in kids memory books.

I missed July and August. And there is no way to catch up because I can’t go back in time.

Memory book: 33% , missed months so can’t get 100%

Financial

This whole section is predominantly on auto pilot. The only one I need to actively worry about is earning side hustle. These goals also build on each previous month and I have the option to catch up. So I wanted to include some charts.

13.  Earn side hustle  $500

I am just not doing well here. I’ve had a few sales but nothing I am truly amazed by. I’ve made $172 extra.

Hustle: 34%, Behind,  need to up the hustle.

Hustle status

14.  Max out 401k ,18k/ person

Max out 401k on track to be done by Dec. I just need to make one adjustment in December and up it 1%

 

401K: 85% & 92% complete, on track

401k Status
401k Status

15. Save 30k for house($2500/month)

This was behind last trimester because we were funnelling our earnings into front loading the 401ks. Now though we are right on track.

House fund: 63% complete, On track

Home
Home

16. Both Max out IRA, 11 K total (New goal)

This is a soft goal. I just want to keep it up in our view to max it out if at all possible given our other 2  financial goals. The math is looking promising so I am adding it on.

IRA status

Blog

17.  Write  2 1 posts a week.

Crossed out my 2 post per week goal and put it at 1/ wk. Amusingly enough I’ve been posting twice a week consistently for a whole month. My  new weekly updates have really kept the writing juices flowing. And it gives you the reader a quick way to see what we are up to. Still I’m going to leave it at 1/month just in case I hit a metal block, I’ll force myself to write at least 1.

Posts: 62%, on track

18.  Add AdSense when hit 35 posts. Have blog pay for itself.

It’s added, but I couldn’t careless about earnings, focusing on content.

Adsense: Complete 

19.  Attend Fincon

This one is as good as in the bag. It’s September and plane, hotel, room is booked. Vacation is approved and I even found roommates. Horray! I would say this is on track to be done this month. FinCon here I come!

FinCon: Can I even score this?

Work

20. Reevaluate job in July

July came and I decided it made more sense to push through to the end of the year then to try and find a new nightshift position somewhere else.

21.  Hunt for new job / interview 3 times.

22. Get pay increase of 5% .

This is also 100% and in July I finally got my paychecks reflecting the 10% increase in pay due to shift differential. So that means I actually got gip on the raise but instead got a shift differential. Which means if I ever go back to days I would loose it. Still for me it has set a new baseline for what I can earn moving forward.

Pay increase: 100% complete

I have no more open tasks for work. But I have to add one more to prepare for what’s coming next.

23.  I have reading and hw for Engineering my layoff.

Now you might be thinking. What in the world was that. After all this is all you see for my goals here on the blog….

Goals as they appear on the blog
Goals as they appear on the blog

Well I wanted to really check in with all of them so that is why I referred back to the goals I presented to you in the new year. Now another reason I brought up the blog vs. my other goals is that here I include my travel goal.

Travel

24. 1 family trip 5+ days

We made it to Colorado and back. We spent time with family and it was great. But this year is also the year we do Christmas with Mr Roamer family. We have booked our flights. Yes! For closing out the year with Travel. We will bring in the new year in Michigan.

Travel: 100% complete and more to come!

So why am I sharing with you? Well like I said you all help to keep me accountable. My strengths are clearly saving. It was also helpful to recheck goals to see where they stack up and realign objectives. Which included striking some from the list. I went from 24 separate goals down to 18. Out of those 18, 5 are complete, 3 are on auto pilot. Which means just 10 to focus on each month.

Any pointers? How do you manage multiple goals at once? Let me know down below. Also do you do goal reviews let me know  I’d enjoy checking them out. Leave a Comment.

Signature

 

 

 

Blog Birthday

Can you believe its been a whole year since The Roamer emerged on the blogger scene and started talking about  the journey through parenthood, early retirement and travel here at travelingwallet?

No!?

Neither can I.

But it has indeed been a year. I know because I got the renewal charge on my credit card. Realizing its been a whole year calls for some introspection which I want to share with you. I want to talk about a few things.

  • My favorite posts
  • What I learned
  • My birthday wish request
  • Blogs I’m hooked on
  • What is coming up this year
  • My advice to new bloggers

Its a nice round set of topics from a year in this new world. The personal finance world. So let’s get started.

My Favorite Posts

I am not a writer by trade, so sometimes I have a hard time stringing together my thoughts in the way I want. Sometimes I wonder if I’m getting my point across? Or if there are bound to only be misunderstandings. Though I’m sure you can find some issue with the following post they are by far my favorites. Why? The topics covered and the feeling that the post did indeed reflect my opinion, or were in someway informative.

The first: I talk about the hot topic of student Debt forgiveness and why I’m not in the camp that is fighting for it. Read why I’m not for student debt forgivenessStudent loan forgiveness

In general I was a big fan of my weekend wandering were I talked about broader topics, sometimes not related to finance. But this one was my favorite and I think completely relevant to the FI aficionados. In a nutshell these people don’t wait until FI to live their ideal life, they live it right away. It is inspiring, envy inducing, and motivational all in one.   Go on and read about the EASY Life.

Then there is talking about one of the most spendy experiences in most young adults lives. Marriage, its such a personal topic right!… Wrong! … Hahaha well at least our general focus on priorities is. Let’s start by questioning that ever pervasive engagement ring. 

Wedding or Marriage

There you have it. My favorite posts. Let me know what you think right on the comments of that post or let me know in the comments below.

What I learned this year blogging

  • Statistics are addicting. Seriously its very easy as a beginner to get lost in the numbers. But checking them constantly even if it is only on Mondays( but who am I kidding you know its not just Mondays)doesn’t help you increase them. Nope your just wasting time you could be..
  • Creating consistent content.  It is important. The good thing about stats is that you can recognize patterns. Nothing compares to creating consistent content my stats showed me so. But besides that I know that I am very attached to the blogs I read because they create consistent content. When they don’t I get annoyed. So why would I want to annoy my readers? Answer I don’t.
  • List are marginally helpful. During this year I have made it a point to join my fellow PF on some lists. Though they are helpful with traffic generation it is very minimal and again you circle around to what you really need is consistent content.
  • Connections can be real. You can make friends online and meet cool like minded people. This has been one of the most amazing things of this year so far. I really have been super glad to be able to get to talk in person with the bloggers I enjoy reading.
warrior dash roamer
Tonya and I getting ready to get Muddy

Blogging is a skill and  I am still learning, I see how much runway I still have to cover by seeing my peers take off on that runway. Yet part of this learning is learning about you! my readers. Which places me nicely on the next topic.

My birthday wish

As I was saying my learning also come from listening and talking to you. My awesome readers. But I want to give you more and for that I need to understand more. So my birthday wish is for you to poke around and leave me a comment.

It doesn’t matter if its your first time here. Actually you can provide me such valuable feedback by letting me know about your first impression. But whether new or regular I want to hear more from you.

To make it easy I created my…

all post/archive list.

Head on over, check it out.  Click on anything that catches your eye?  Leave a comment or leave me a private note. I read them all.

You can answer the questions at the end of the post or just give me general feedback.

Maybe you’ve never commented before. I’d be honored to be your first.

I really want to hear from you!

Blogs that inspire me

This year has been crazy for our financial lives, if you haven’t yet check out the following blogs. These 3 are the ones that really caused me to reassess my finances and have yielded great information and even greater results. Just look at these changes.

Net Worth
And it has just gotten better since then.

While MMM was the one who started me on the FI journey, the Mad Fientist helped me find the money by optimizing my tax situation and  Jim Collins showed me where to put it to make it grow.

Then there are these which just keep making me come back. Fun, random, honest and everything in between.

Also I want to take this moment to give a big HUGE thank you to my biggest fan!

Tonya! Over at Budgets and the Beach.

Thanks I really appreciate all your support. Tonya is a skilled video editor/producer and you can check out all her work, just click the image.

_20150504_220321

In reality I’ve found so many blog that are interesting but you know what they say, so many blogs, so little time.

Coming up this year

My posting has slowed but I am not ready to bow out yet like some other blogs that fell off the wayside ( still wondering what happened to them). So I am planning to continue posting and I working to get back in the groove of publishing at the very least one post a week. 

Other then that like I mentioned above I really enjoy meeting like minded people face to face. As such the following is in my schedule.

FinCon: I bought my tickets at the early bird discount 🙂 now I just need to figure out all the other details. I am really excited to meet more financially savvy people. I am looking to share a room and still need to buy plane tickets. But the goal is to attend. 

Do any of you FinCon alumni have any tips for me on how to keep the costs low?

As I write I know I am getting more acquainted with myself and my writing style so I am going to keep writing stuff up. In the next year I hope to find my voice and stride.

Even though I don’t publish very often I do have a good amount of post ideas in queue.

Just a few in my wordpress queue
Just a few in my wordpress queue

Did you see anything really interesting or that you’d like to read about. Let me know and I’ll work on those next. I also need to work on not getting lost in starting too many but not finishing any. Some post ideas I have found are very time limited and when the moment has passed well… it doesn’t really make sense to publish anymore.

New Blogger? My advice.

Lots of advice  out there. So I’m going to keep it simple. The biggest thing is to create 4-8 complete posts before you put your name out there. Then you’ll stay ahead and meet that consistent posting expectation.( remember how I talked about that earlier)

I really appreciate all the readers and all the commenters

Even though I write my own story your feedback is vital as I work to write things that are useful and informative.

So leave a comment even if you’ve never commented before I want to hear from you.

If you like what you read follow me on Twitter were I post and share more frequently. Majority of tweets are sharing great parenting,  travel , finance articles I come across as well as you’ll know quickly when I post.

So there you have it my firsts year at Traveling Wallet has come and gone and I’m still roaming around trying to make sense of Parenthood and plan for Early Retirement and Travel.

2014 Financial Goals Reviewed and Net Worth Revealed

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

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

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

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

Student debt

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

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

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

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

Open MMA Account

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

Celebrate with a Splurge activity

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

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

2014 goals new

Pay off Cars

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

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

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

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

Open Peer to peer lending account

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

Earn side hustle of $250

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

Unless you count the raise I got!

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

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

The Big Net Worth Reveal

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

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

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

How are all these funds broken down?

401K The Roamer-  $39,131.62

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

Barclay Savings Account (Cash)- $19,332.39

IRA Mr. Roamer- $4,179.67

IRA Roamer – $3,872.54

Assets Chart 010315

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

Little Roamer son’s net worth

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

Little Roamer daughter’s net worth

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

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

The Roamer

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

2014 travel wrap up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Comparing Figures

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

$3951.67*

How big is our family?

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

How many days of vacation per person?

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

Where did we go?

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

How much do standard american families spend?

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

Affordable Family vacations

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

Yet…

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

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

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

Did you Know?

Did you know?

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

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

Did you know?

Denver has this awesome tool for transportation called the bcycle.

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

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

Oh! The power!
Oh! The power!

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

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

Did you know

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

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

Thanks for reading

The Roamer

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

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

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

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

2014 Family Relationships Reviewed

2014 Relationship Goals

2014 goals
2014 goals

Focus on the Marriage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love

Focus on the Kids

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PFL/FMLA

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

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

Time with everyone else

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Record Keeping

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

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

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

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

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

So there you have it

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