A Father’s Day Tribute to My Husband

Brian with the girls bowlingDaDa, Daddy, Dad, Father.

The name may change over time, but the fundamental role remains throughout a child’s life. Hopefully, their dad is someone they can look up to, they can learn from, they can be supported by and who loves them unconditionally.

I had no idea that I could love my husband more than on our wedding day, but I do. In fact, I love him more and differently with each passing year. Since, we have become parents I have found new reasons to love him. Don’t worry it’s not all perfect I’ve also found new reasons to be annoyed and frustrated.

Oh, we’ve had our fair share of parenting arguments over the past eight years, and I’m certain there are A LOT more in our future. I mean we do have ten straights years of parenting teenagers, and girls at that, ahead of us.

In honor of Father’s Day this weekend, I’m taking the opportunity to highlight the important role my husband plays in our daughters’ lives.

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Never forget your weekly and monthly tasks again

To-do list title imageI LOVE a to-do list.

I almost always have a daily to-do list. It might be scrawled on an old envelope, on a large Post-It, or most recently in my bullet journal, but a list is a constant.

to do list and bullet journal

Honestly, I think a to-do list is what helps me stay organized. I will confess I’m one of those crazy to-do list makers who has been known to write something on my list just to cross it off.

I get a natural high from crossing things off my list. I’m not alone in this obsession.

As a natural list maker, I have no problems with daily to-do’s, but as my life has gotten more hectic, I didn’t have a good way to keep track of monthly and weekly to-dos. These would be the things that should be getting done every week and month.

Confession time: This may be shocking to some of you, but there a lot of things that I am certain you do every month or even more frequently that I do not. We all have to prioritize, and some of my prioritization is probably questionable to a lot of you.

For instance, I do not change bed sheets in my house every week. Ha, I don’t even change them every month. I don’t sweep every day, even with small kids. I don’t clean all that often.

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Two Amazingly Simple Uses for Pillowcases

pillowcases uses title

Pillowcases have simplified my life.

And they can simplify yours too.

I am not kidding either.

I know two amazing uses for pillowcases that may change your life.

Okay, it might not change your life, but it will most certainly make life a little bit easier.

One use is for cleaning, and one is for storing.

  1. Cleaning – more specifically cleaning ceiling fans.

    ceiling fan

If you are like me, you don’t get around to cleaning your ceiling fans very often. In fact, I get around to it once I start to notice the dust accumulating on them. Or worse yet when the dust starts flying off the blades when turning it on for the first time in the summer.

 

If you clean yours more regularly, that is great, and perhaps you won’t need this trick as much as the rest of us who have layers of dust accumulating.

 

Now if you clean as “often” as I do then you know there are a lot of dust particles that float around the house after cleaning the fan. It doesn’t matter if I use the Swiffer wand, a rag, etc. there always seems to be loose dust – until now.

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Debt Snowball Progress – May 2017

A snail’s pace.

That is what it feels like we are moving at these days in our debt snowball.  Our snowball is not currently going downhill picking up snow or momentum as it goes. It’s more like on a plateau of sorts.

We’re hopeful the downside of the large mountain is up ahead because this is frustrating.

We’re fortunate that we can pay our bills, and we can handle unexpected expenses when they come up, but it’s still hard to not see the debt amount reduced by as much each month as it used to be.

The last few months were exceptionally busy, which meant less bargain shopping, menu planning and the like. I am dedicated to using some of my extra time this summer to save money through the use of deals websites, coupons, bargain shopping and finding fun, free (or inexpensive) ways to enjoy our summer.

sale sign

We also have quite a few things that we want to declutter from our house that we haven’t been able to list for sale online yet. I haven’t had time to do that, and I know I will list those in the next few weeks. With any luck maybe that will be a hundred dollars or more.

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Debt Free: What is your motivation?

woman with student loan debt

What is your motivation to be debt free?

I’m betting you have more than just one reason.

But what is that one thing you plan to buy yourself once you make that final payment?

For me, it’s a new couch.

Yes, a couch.

new beige couch

What I mean is, I want a brand new couch that has never been owned by anyone else before me. I want a nice, comfy couch where I can sit to read a book or lay and take a nap.

relaxing on a couch

I don’t want to use a couch cover to hide the ugly maroon pattern of a couch that is dozens of years old and way outdated.

Seriously, when we’re debt free I’m getting myself a new couch and not just a “new to us” couch, a brand spanking new couch. No one else will have sat upon or taken a nap on my new couch before me.

It seems a little ridiculous when I say it out loud. It’s not like Brian and I don’t earn decent salaries and couldn’t just go out and buy a new couch today, but that’s not the point.

I could certainly forgo paying down our debt one or two months and buy a very nice new couch, but it wouldn’t be as satisfying.

That new couch is my reward for years of dedication to paying down debt.

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Should you hold a garage sale or not?

garage sale title

I will never hold another garage sale!

How can a self-proclaimed cheapskate who hates to throw any money away so definitively state that?

Because I have looked at the return on investment (ROI) very carefully and come to the conclusion that garage sales are not a good ROI for us.

The three factors that you need to in determining ROI are time, money and mental health.

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How to Prepare for a Possible Layoff

possible layoff title

Layoffs, downsizing, fired, pink slip, RIF.

All of these words strike fear for any employee.

Working as a state employee in Illinois, these words are thrown around a lot lately. It used to be that a state job was the dream.

Job stability, a pension, regular work hours.

That’s not the case anymore.

For two consecutive years, with two different employers, I faced the uncertainty of a job layoff.

The first time around there was quite a bit of notice that layoffs would be inevitable. They told us the timeline for the decisions, but no one knew which positions would be eliminated.

The second time around there wasn’t as much notice, which meant less time to prepare, but it also meant less time to worry and stress

We cannot control if we will lose our job due to downsizing and lack of funds, but there are some things we can do to better prepare ourselves for such an event.

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How To Get the Most Out of your Summer

summer fun title
The days are getting longer, the temperature is warming up, and the kids are counting down the days until school is over.

This can only mean one thing . . .

Summer is coming.

Whether you work full-time outside of the house, stay home with your kids, or work from home you have to admit summer still feels different than every other season.

If your kids are in school, there is a different mood in the summer. Even if you work all day and day care/summer camp drop off and pick up is the same time as during the school year, it is still different. Sunrise is earlier, sunset is later, and there is no homework to be done at the end of the day.

I find myself acting more like a child in the summer than any other time of the year.

Clean the house or sit outside and read a book – is that really a choice?

Make dinner or play at the park? I’m always picking outside play which means dinner is usually much simpler and later than normal.

girls at playground playing

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Do I Really Need an Emergency Fund?

Emergency Fund title  EMERGENCY FUND

I know you’ve heard the term before, but do you know what it is, why you need one, and how to start one?

An emergency fund is a sum of money that is set aside in your savings account that you only use for (shocker) emergencies. Typically, this amount is $1,000, because that should cover most emergencies including the deductible on your homeowner’s insurance, car insurance or a visit to the ER.

This money should be liquid- meaning you can access it quickly if need be. Your savings account makes the most sense.

If you use Everydollar as your budgeting program, create a budget category for “emergency fund.”

It is not a matter of if an emergency will happen, but rather, when.

Emergencies will most certainly happen, so you need to be as prepared as possible for them. Hence my motto: “Control your controllables.”

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Debt Snowball Progress- April 2017

debt snowball

Emergencies – they are always out there, but if you have an emergency fund set up the emergency is usually a minor annoyance rather than a crisis. We had a couple of emergencies come up this month, but since we’re aggressively paying off our debt, we were able to reallocate money towards these emergencies rather than having to take money from our emergency fund.

Our “emergencies” were of the health care variety. I am very thankful for our health insurance, which eased the pain.

Did you know that medical expenses are the #1 reason for all personal bankruptcies?

62% of all personal bankruptcies are because of medical expenses and of that 78% of the people had health insurance.

Just because you have health insurance does not mean you are exempt from the devastating effects of medical expenses on your finances.

An emergency fund is an absolute necessity.

We found out Amelia had to have tubes put in her ears and her adenoids removed. That surgery and subsequent prescriptions cost us several hundred dollars. A few weeks after her surgery Cassidy was up all night with ear pain. A visit to urgent care informed us she had an ear infection. It turned out to be a resilient little ear infection which cost us two doctor visit co-pays and two different medicines. The tiniest bottle of ear drops cost us $90 WITH INSURANCE. Apparently, it is liquid gold!

So in April, we ended up spending several hundred dollars in unanticipated health care expenses.

Geez, I can’t imagine if we hadn’t had insurance.

We were fortunate not to have to dip into our emergency fund. We were not able to put as much money to the wedding we are in or towards our student loans. It is frustrating when these type of things pop up to slow down our debt snowball, but I’m glad that we were able to cover the expenses. We will just be set back slightly.

This month we had planned to complete saving for the wedding we are in and to fully fund our upcoming summer vacations. However, due to these emergencies, we were not able to do that. I anticipate in May we will. We were still able to put another $100 towards the wedding and $1,680 towards vacation.

As always, we were able to make the minimum payment on the student loan, which still reduces the overall amount – not much, but it’s still moving in the right direction.

As part of decluttering, we sold $62 worth of things from around our house. We also got cash back on our credit cards that we put towards vacation (a story for another day of how we are paying nearly half price for our entire vacation because of leveraging credit card offers).

Our food expenses went down, but we still aren’t hitting our goal yet. “This month we spent $784 overall for groceries and eating out. We are still a work in progress. Right now I am in the midst of the 5-week course about grocery budget makeovers. Look for a review in the coming months.

 

So here’s the update for April

Income report from April

Money from Varage Sale                                     $    62

Money from Ibotta                                              $    22

Cash back from credit cards                                $1,696

 

Total extra income                                               $1,780

 

Current outstanding student loan debt               $33,458