Sunday, July 13, 2014

My Revised American Dream: A Long Hiatus....

My Revised American Dream: A Long Hiatus....: It has been a long time since I last wrote, 17 months to be exact.  A lot has changed in those months and I was reading over my last blog...

A Long Hiatus....

It has been a long time since I last wrote, 17 months to be exact.  A lot has changed in those months and I was reading over my last blog and thought, it is time to write again.  In the last year and a half I have experienced more loss, career success, moves and graduations.

My husband graduated from nursing school last June and is gainfully employed at a local hospital as a Registered Nurse.  I am so proud of him, he worked hard and pushed though.  He has to complete his bachelor's degree in the next few years, but in the meantime he is working!

Last June I also was promoted to principal at a local elementary school.  It was a very long, hard year full of learning and reflection.  I have learned that the view from the cheap seats makes all decisions easy, but when you are the one on the field making the calls the waters are a bit more mucky.  I have learned that dealing with parents is hard, but leading people is even harder.  Trying to inspire people to be the best they can be every day is not an easy life.  Some days you just don't feel like being positive or fair, some days you just want to sit quietly and have have people do their jobs.  I feel like my life has become a game of cat and mouse and I am the cat, always on the look out for people, parents and students that are not doing as they know they should but want to see what they can get away with when I am not looking.  However, I love my job, I love my faculty and I love my kids so at the end of the day that makes it all worth it.

Last February I lost my mother-in -law.  She was very much like my mother.  She was loving and made sure everyone knew she loved them, she struggled with living in reality and spent more than she earned.  She differed in the area of jobs, she worked for a wonderful doctor since August of '81 and she was loyal to him until the day she died.  She was awesome, and I will be forever grateful to her for making me feel loved and valued.  She was a grandmother to my daughter and was our safety net in life.  She lost her battle with cancer on February 19th, she was 67.

Lastly, we purchased a home.  It had been almost 5 years since I lived in a house and I am so grateful to be here.  We signed the papers the day my mother-in-law went in the hospital so the only sad part was she never got to see it, but knew we were buying it and was very excited for us.  I truly feel at peace in this house, it feels like a home.

I am excited about my future and where I will end up, and so as I finish this entry, I start to think about how content I am with my life.  It is boring but busy and very predictable and I love it that way.

I have often thought about what would make me content and I always thought it would be money, but it just took a change of heart and thinking.  I wonder, what makes you happy?

Thursday, February 14, 2013


I started this blog as a way to track my financial progress while I worked towards becoming debt-free.  Over the last 14 months or so, I have obsessed over money and what effect it has on my life.  Through this process I have discovered that I have let money completely control my life.  It is basically what I wake up thinking about and what I analyze every night before I go to bed.  It is a large part of the conversations I have with my husband and what keeps me from enjoying anything I have in life.

I know that sounds like a negative, but it has actually brought me to realize that money is not what I should give so much of my time to.  I should be enjoying each day and the people in my life.  I have had 2 very financially influential people in my life, my mom and dad.  Divorcing when I was 5, they both had VERY different views about money.

My dad was all about only getting the necessities in life.  He worked at the same job for most of his life, working his way from dog catcher to Supervisor of Recreation in the town where he grew up.  He never went to college, he was a recovering alcoholic, he struggled with anxiety, he was very fair to people and always remembered Monti Reed who gave an young married guy a chance at a job. Even though he did not meet the educational qualifications, Monti saw something in my dad and continued to mentor him throughout his career.  My dad was not very demonstrative and his main topics of conversation were sports and jobs.  I believe he was proud of my accomplishments, though he did not really tell me.  My dad died on Monday after a short battle with cancer.  He was 78.

My mom struggled to stay employed, never really having a "Career."  She was a secretary, a cashier, a receptionist and much more.  She loved me and my sisters and spent most of her adult life alone.  She adored her grandchildren often calling them Grammy's Lambies.  She always spent more than she had and moved a lot.  She saved nothing.  She struggled with living in reality.  She spent time in institutions, mostly before I was born but never really got over being there.  She was egocentric, yet giving.  You always knew where she stood because she would have no problem telling you.  I always knew she loved me.  My mom died in 2005 after a long battle with cancer. She was 68.

So, as I sit and reflect on their lives both the good and the bad I am searching for the learning that can be gleaned from them.  What did they do that was wonderful and fulfilling and what did they do that was hurtful or disappointing?  I wish I could have asked these questions of them, but I was not able to be with either one of them as they passed away.

So it leaves me with the question,

Are we destined to live the lives of our parents or can we change mid-stream to make a life more fulfilling?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Simple Things.....

My daughter is having a friend sleepover tonight. We made homemade pizzas, cookies and they are now playing "Airport" which involves luggage and going from room to room.  It made me realize that not much is different than when I was 8 and the best thing in the world was a friend to play with for an entire night.  The sky was the limit on what you could do and eat!

In a time of fancy electronics and TV's in every room, it is the simple things that still make children happy.  Like the ability to create a world where they are traveling someplace exotic, or shopping in a fancy department store where they are the adults and make the choices and are in charge.  I am so enjoying this age of my daughter and every year I learn to appreciate the wonderful little quirks specific to that year.  Like last year was the perfect year for Santa and our Elf, Butterball.  This year she has discovered music and loves to sing and sing she does all day every day.

I am learning to enjoy everyday with my lovely daughter and although I do not want to rush our time, I look forward to what each year is going to bring to our family.  Just a note of reflection tonight, hope everyone is enjoying your weekend no matter where or what you are doing.

Do you think that my granddaughters will be playing house or store when they are 8? 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Happy New Year.....

It seems no matter how many New Year's I celebrate, I always feel excited about what the upcoming year holds for me and my family.  Last year seemed very much like a transition year, but this year holds all these wonderful possibilities that I am excited to experience.

My husband is set to graduate from Nursing School as an RN in May, my nephew is getting married and my daughter gets to be the flower girl, and I am going to try and make the leap from Assistant Principal to Principal.    There are many other items that are on the horizon that makes me excited about 2013.  I was lucky enough to spend my holidays in NJ with my family(where it was VERY cold and gray) and then I got to return home to sunny Florida which always gives me an appreciation of the weather here.  

Although 2012 did not end financially like I thought it would, I still made it through with all the bills paid, a vacation to NJ and roof over my head. It did however, make me very aware of money but not in a bad way.  More of a, "Stop stressing about it and just do it" way.  Instead of constantly beating myself up about my choices, I keep reminding myself that, "Nothing changes unless I take action" and so when I make a choice that is not good, I learn from it and move on.  I do not look back and keep reliving the mistake over and over so that I become sick over it.  

One of the resolutions I did keep from last year was, I did not shop in a Walmart store all year.  Not even once.  I had decided that they are not good for my bank book, my time or my fellow neighbors that are basically working poor when they are employed by them.  I am sure they are not feeling the impact of my boycott, but it did make me feel good that I believed in something enough to follow through with it for an entire year.

So, to all I wish a Happy and Healthy New Year. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thinking Outside the Box... A Guest Writer...

My friend Kathleen's husband sent me this note and I loved it so much I asked him if I could share it on my blog. He has been trying to get control over money and had a really interesting idea on how to do this for his family.

Hi Jennifer. I was reading your blog and thinking about how we are in the same boat. I have determined to get out of that rut. I came up with an idea. It isn't anything new or revolutionary, but I thought I'd share it with you. 
I ordered a prepaid American express card. No fees and one free monthly withdrawal at the atm. It allows for direct deposit. I set up a direct deposit of $100 per paycheck. So for the year that would add up to $2,600. 
I have put the card away in a drawer and will not touch it until next year. Then I will only take out $2,100 leaving $500 on the card to be included in the following years total which would come to $3,100 That year I would still only take $2,100 leaving $1,000 on the card to be included in the following years total of $3,600 and so on. 
So I get a small windfall every year to have for extra spending, while also saving $500 a year. Putting it on the prepaid card keeps the temptation of spending it away because I cant see it on my online banking totals. 
Not life changing but a start in the right direction. I know after a few paychecks I won't miss the money anymore. I also started a Roth IRA at the bank for just $100 to start it. I've been transferring $20 to $50 a paycheck, whatever I can afford in that range and when I get to $500 I will make a trade for some sort of stock. This allows my money to grow with the market and as the account grows, if an emergency arises, you are allowed to take out the money you put in the Roth without penalty, just not the growth beyond what you put in. 
So that's my simple strategy to at least have s little spneding money and a emergency fund in the Roth acct. Tell me what you think?

I love this idea. I told him it reminds me of the Christmas Account of year's past where you would get a coupon book and pay into it each month and then get a lump sum in December.

What do you think? Has anyone done anything like this or known anyone to do something out of the ordinary to find ways to save money?? We would love to hear about them.

Thanks Luis for sharing!!!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Four Laws... Revisited

Many years ago I read a book called, The Four Laws of Debt Free Prosperity by Blaine Harris and Charles Coonradt.  This book shaped the way I view money.  At the time I was in a similar, but better, situation than I am in now.  I knew that my financial life was out of control and I needed to bring it under control or I would not be able to live the life I envisioned for myself.

Does anyone else breathe a sigh of relief when their paycheck hits the bank and you haven't bounced anything?  Made it another pay period and the power, phone, and cable are still on and you have food in the house?  That is me.  I can not seem to get myself past "paycheck to paycheck" living.  I know what to do, it just seems I lack the will power or focus to carry out the plan for any length of time.  I am sure most people have this in some area of their lives: food, sex, exercise, travel what ever it is that you want to change and can't seem to reach the goal. However, every time the paycheck goes in, I go crazy and spend too much on something.

Last week was a tough week, and although I am ashamed of the following story I feel it is necessary to tell it so that everyone knows the extent of my weakness.  Tuesday, the day after Labor Day I checked the bank balance and knew it was going to be a tough week.  We had overspent and we had many expenses coming up this week.  I thought it was under control, we would barely make it with like $5 left in the bank when my husband called to tell me the cable/internet was just shut off and we needed $ 197.00 to get it turned back on.  Well, I can shut a lot of stuff out of my brain when I am at work but this became my focus for the rest of the day.  By the time I left work I felt sick, tired, and depressed.

We only had 3 options that I could see, ask to borrow from my mother-in-law again, live without the items for a few weeks, or sell some jewelry I have been holding on to from my previous marriage.  I decided to go with option number 3 and sell the jewelry.  It did not have meaning to me, I just liked knowing I had some items of value.  I was able to sell it for $ 870.00 about $ 4000.00 less than I paid for it over the years. I have to admit, this was my low point.  I have never done anything like this and I did not like the feeling.

So, I thought of the book I had read many years ago and felt some hope again.  I have begun to read the book again and find that although many of the principles in the book are simple, they are principles I was not living by everyday.  I was doing it in short periods of time, but not with focus or conviction.   So, I am going back, starting again from the beginning and reading through the book that I feel makes the most sense to me.

The first chapter in the book describes a man in a situation very similar to me, finances out of control a family not working together and a complete feeling of defeat.  However, as I read I find I have hope in the fact that I can change this but it will take time (years) and there is no quick fix. So, here I go.  I am excited again and that is a good feeling.

Can anyone relate?