Life Update

Home Sweet Home

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on here so it’s time for a life update. And boy oh boy, there’s been a lot of life going on!

Shortly after I got this site up and running, I began filling in for one of my co-workers while she was on extended leave. She was gone from the beginning of August basically through October. Doing her job and my job can be challenging in the 30 hour work schedule I have right now. It makes the days fly by, which is great, but I didn’t have a lot of capacity left for thinking about this side project. I basically came home and left all the numbers at work. I expected this season to be just that way, as I’ve done both jobs in year’s past. I knew it would be do-able, but I needed the website up and running before she left, or it would have to wait until she returned.

Then, Labor Day weekend rolled around and Brandon and I decided to ponder the idea of moving. It kind of came out of left field, as he has always said he’s never moving again. Likely it was a combination of our friends moving (giving me the bug) and him being open to moving to my hometown. The Monday of Labor Day we looked at 4 houses “just to see” and low and behold, the 4th house was the winner! It took about 3 weeks of pondering (and 2 price drops on the house we wanted) before we bit the bullet and listed our house for sale. Again, “just to see” if it would sell quickly and we could get the house we wanted.

10 days later, our house was sold and once we were through inspection, we had an approved offer on our new house. And when I say new, I mean brand new!  We are currently waiting to close right now and then we’ll be moving to Oxford. The kids will remain in their school until the end of the school year, but will ultimately be switching schools. Needless to say, this will be a big transition year as we manage activities in both towns.

We are really looking forward to settling into our new home and our new community. Brandon is particularly excited about the 27 hole golf course that is a part of our new neighborhood. I’m looking forward to all of the walking trails and the ability to ride my bike everywhere (including the library!) I also love me a new house so I’m really excited to get in there and make it our own.

Also, the nerd in me is particularly excited to get this house closed so I can get all of my “numbers” updated. Net worth, payments, etc etc. It’s about that time to start building a 2020 budget for our household and I absolutely CAN NOT wait!

If you want a new budget for 2020, now is the perfect time to build one. I’m going to make some generic template budgets soon and I’ll post them on the site. If you need something more custom, let me know. Budgets start at just $40!

Back to School is the NEW January 1st

It’s almost time. Back to School. September is coming and I’m always here and ready for it.

Back to School is a big transition in our house. In addition to all 3 kids being in school now, my husband is also a Principal. He has a whole new class of incoming freshman faces and their corresponding parents. He has new teachers and other new staff.

Our kids have new classrooms, teachers and classmates. Our youngest will be going into 4 year-old preschool and will have school 4 full days a week now. 

I love back to school time. Each year, school changes my routine although in less drastic ways. Bus schedules, pickups, after-school activities, work schedules, everything tweaks a bit. More importantly for me, it’s like a bonus “New Years” where I can set new routines. New goals.

Every August I get hyper motivated. Ready to maximize every checklist, every plan to make the next year as smooth as possible. I get all the school supplies for teachers and get them organized. Kids get new school clothes, backpacks, shoes etc. I even do a little back to shopping for Mom and Dad. We need new supplies too! (Man do I love office supplies) And a few clothes for the fall. Here are some areas I’m focusing on this year.

Area #1: Meal Planning & Prep

I start thinking about meal planning. I make lists of recipes that are easy and everyone loves (that list is small, by the way). I include slow cooker and Instant Pot recipes on days when we’re most busy. A list we quickly tire of while still in September, but I digress.

Meal planning is a work in progress and my biggest focus this year. I use my bullet journal for keeping meal ideas and I use my phone’s Notes app to save links of recipes I find. That way if I need to see ingredients while I’m at the store I can pull up the recipe on my phone to double check. If you want to save recipes from a website, you can select the little paper icon with the arrow and click “add to notes”. At least that’s how I do it with my iPhone.

I also think about lunch planning for the kids. Man, kids lunches are the worst. I hate packing them. My oldest doesn’t like sandwiches and my middle doesn’t like anything that’s fresh. It’s a very guilt producing process each morning. Ideally this would be better done at night, when the kids aren’t tire and temperamental, but the majority of the time it falls to my responsibility in the morning, for the sake of just GET ON THE BUS.

Area #2: Before / After School Routines

For the kids, my number one focus is that they take more responsibility for getting themselves ready without prompting from me. I despise having to remind children over and over to do the things they need to do in order to get out of the house on time. I’m sure they hate my nagging too. So this year they will have dry erase sheets that they can check off so they need little to no reminders from me. Last year, I kid you not, in my nagging fit to get our youngest out the door, she put on 2 different shoes and I didn’t notice it until we arrived at school. I laugh about it now but in the moment it felt like a total #momfail.

After school habits are another area to create better processes. Getting the kids to hang up their bags, take out their folders, empty lunches and water bottles and put them where they belong will be a focus this year. Having healthy snacks ready for them so they can make a good choice before dinner and unwind a bit. I find for at least my 2 oldest kids, when they first get home they do better with fewer questions about their day, a snack and a cartoon or 2 to wind down while I’m making dinner. My middle child may even head to her room for so me alone time to decompress. After dinner is best for the questions about their day and then, finally,  to handle homework and reading.

We will also be adding in a few chores for each of them so they can help contribute more to the work that goes on around here. I’m thinking dishwasher unloading and loading, helping with the pets and simple wiping of counters in the bathroom.

Area #3: Get Organized

This year we created a command station where we added a dry erase calendar for the month, a weekly sheet for meal planning and a cork board for anything we need to keep track of temporarily. We also bought 3 wall files so the kids can keep their school papers in there and I can go through them weekly and all the paper can stay off of the counter and table.

I like to think I’m a pretty organized person but 3 kids in elementary school threw me for a total loop last year. There was paper everywhere!! This year I want to stay in front of the scheduling madness.

The monthly calendar will contain only the things that pertain to the kids and anything happening after school. My husband and I both keep separate planners for work-related items so it doesn’t need to fill that calendar. The kids all seem to thrive when they know what the plan is and this will help them feel a bit more in control.

My husband and I use Google Calendars and we share our individual calendars so we know each other’s availability. In addition, we can add our school calendar automatically, which is super helpful when random “no school in session” days pop up. I can add all the kids activities and we always have everything available at a glance.

Area 4: Making time for Movement

The evenings are when I enjoy exercising most, so having a plan to fit in my workouts is important. The evenings can get away from me if I don’t have a plan. Usually I’m better about getting in workouts when I schedule them. I’m even better at getting them in when I plan to workout with someone else! The accountability helps me and it’s always more fun to work out with someone else.

When I have the opportunity I will play volleyball but the majority of my workouts will be weight lifting and just getting in movement via walking.

Over the winter we added a gym to our basement, which I really enjoy using. It’s much easier to get in a 30 minute workout when I only have to get dressed and walk downstairs to do it. Planned weight lifting sessions coupled with walking at lunch are my plan.

It’s a Clean Slate

This time of the year, I also think about how my habits affect our budget. New routine, new plan, less spending. I find that the more I actively plan our family meals, the better I am about planning my breakfast and lunch so I can spend less money during the week. I’m not a coffee drinker so Starbucks has no appeal to me. However I frequently partake in a breakfast burrito in the morning. Without doing a good job of planning dinners, there often aren’t leftovers for lunch, which means using gas to go get lunch and overspending on fast food. This change of routine is the perfect time for a clean slate to start some new habits. Planning these areas most certainly saves time and money. Also, not running out for lunch leaves me time to walk at lunch, which is a much needed moment to move my body and get in some “me” time.

August is notoriously the most expensive month of the summer, with back to school needs and camping trips. Starting a clean slate with new habits helps get us back on track with saving vs spending.

Each year I have hoped that our transition will be smooth and we’ll all have a great school year. I’d like to think the planning helps everyone but  it definitely helps this Mom feel better about orchestrating all the moving pieces that are required with a house full of back to schoolers. I’ll probably have it all figured out just as the last one graduates high school. Here’s to the next 13 “New Years!”

What works for you?

What have I missed? What do you reset at the beginning of the school year? Any tips to share? I’d love to hear them.

What is your true hourly rate?

Do you know what your true hourly rate is? It’s not the rate you were hired in at. Your true hourly rate takes a bit to calculate but it does wonders for helping you realize how much your stuff is costing you and how long it takes you to purchase that stuff.

Let’s say Joe makes $52,000 a year. He’s salary so he doesn’t get any overtime but he can live on $52,000 a year. Dividing by 52 weeks a year and 40 hours a week that’s $25 an hour.

His workday  is 8-5 but he usually leaves at 6 in the evenings. He lives 30 minutes away so he commutes an hour each day. He doesn’t usually work in the evenings but he does tend to work at least one day during his weekend for a few hours. At least 2x a month he has to go out to dinner with clients, which doesn’t cost him anything but his time and gas. Now instead of a 40 hour week, he has a 50 hour week.

He also has costs associated with his job. He has a wardrobe that he has to buy. He has a car which requires upkeep and gas to keep it moving. For the sake of the example, let’s assume his car is paid off and we’re just talking about gas and maintenance of $75 / week. Annually that is $3,900. I’ll assume wardrobe costs annually of $500.

$52,000 less taxes and other deductions (I’ll keep it simple at 25%) = $39,000

less $3,900 and $500 = $34,600

$34,600 at 50 hours a week = $13.30 an hour.

When you think about your bills in terms of $13.30 an hour, how many hours do you have to work in order to pay for your stuff?

$1,000 mortgage? 75 hours

$300 car payment? 23 hours

$125 cell phone? 10 hours

$30 weekly coffee habit? 3 hours

This exercise shows you a couple of things:

By seeing your true hourly wage that is required for your job, it might show you that perhaps a job closer to home for less pay could be better for you. Or a job that is full-time but it really 60 hours a week isn’t worth the 5% extra pay.

It also shows you how much of your life you’re using up to pay for your bills. Some are necessary. Some are worth it. But some aren’t. What’s important to you?

What’s your true hourly rate?

Who can benefit from Financial Mapping?

Everyone knows in the abstract that they should pay their bills, save some money and save for retirement, all while trying to eat and put gas in their car. But how to structure your money and automate it so that you aren’t tempted by a full paycheck is another thing entirely. And how much should we be spending?

Financial Mapping helps you set up your finances in a way that aligns with your short and long-term goals. It’s perfect for a person who is just entering the workforce. Specifically for someone who is about to be on their own for the first time. It’s hard to know how much should be spent on a work wardrobe, rent, groceries, entertainment, etc. Especially if student loans are involved and they’re currently being deferred.

With my program we will look at your income, your bills, any debt you have and what your plans are, whether that’s to buy a house or get married or pay off student loans. Then we’ll figure out your priorities so we can make your money work most efficiently for your goals. You have to tell that money what to do or it disappears, I promise!

I’ll set you up with a system that is as automated as you’re comfortable with. If you have debt we’ll also make you a debt payoff schedule so you can see how quickly you can pay everything off. Depending on your motivation I can also help you find ways to make some more money in order to achieve your goals more quickly. It’s all based on the individual and how quickly you want to achieve your financial goals. We’ll automate your savings so you don’t have to think about it and we’ll establish spending that will still allow you to enjoy your life now and work towards your goals.

Just like everyone can benefit from a wellness visit, you can benefit from a financial check-in as well. Let’s see how you’re doing and where you can tweak things to make your money work harder for you.

What is Financial Mapping?

What are your goals?

Financial Mapping starts with a simple concept, What goals do you have for your future and your money? Do you have a specific goal you’re trying to reach (buy a house, pay off your debt) or more broad goals, such as saving enough to be financially independent or retire. It doesn’t matter if your goals are big, like FIRE (Financially Independent / Retire Early) or more immediate, like paying off student loans, Financial Mapping can help you see the vision and steps needed to get from here to there. It’s your big picture overview of how you want your money to work for you.

The first step we’ll talk about is your income and any debts that you have. We’ll talk about any assets you have (house, retirement, cash etc) and we’ll talk about your plans in the near and far future and what you’re hoping to achieve. Many people have never thought like this before so it’s possible that your original plans evolve into something else entirely by the end of this process.

I, myself never expected to retire early. I always assumed that retiring early meant living on nothing and I wasn’t interested in a beans and rice retirement just so I could stop working. I love what I do so I kept doing what I was doing. And what I was doing was living on payments. Could I afford the payment? Not the thing I was buying, the payment. I was a payment manager! It wasn’t until I learned more about FIRE that I realized I could have both. I don’t really want to retire early but I want to be ABLE to retire whenever I want, so that money, or my employer, isn’t the first thing driving decisions on how I spend my time. You can say I’m more of an ‘FI’ girl.

Okay so we’ll have an idea of your income and debts, your assets and bills. From there I’ll have an idea of what your money is capable of doing for you and how long it will take you to reach your goals. I’ll have suggestions for ways to tweak the formula to help you get to your goals faster and we’ll figure out how to best manage your money if you either a) don’t have a system now, or b) it’s not working well for you. I love me some Excel but not everyone does so we’ll walk through that together. There are lots of apps out there to help you stay on budget without loads of manual tracking.

I’m also going to have action steps for you to make your relationship with your money a little better. If you are a couple, this will help you both get on the same page with your goals. This is completely customized to your situation so tell me your pain points and I’ll see what I can do for you.

I am not going to cut all the fun from your life. I’m not making a budget for you and telling you to hack out everything except gas money and $12 for groceries every week. You decide where your money goes. You decide how much you want to spend and what is a priority to you. If you want someone to boss you around, I can do that (how fun!) but that is not sustainable long term. It’s your money – just make sure you’re telling it what to do and not letting it fall through the cracks.

My general goals are going to be to get you out of debt first and foremost. I’ll show you how much you’re paying purely in interest and payments per year and I’ll show you what life will look like when all of that is gone. I’ll get you saving for upcoming needs you might have and then we can focus on long-term goals like retirement or perhaps college funds.

I am not going to be suggesting any investments for you or signing you up for insurances or investment accounts. I can help point you to trusted individuals or information but that isn’t my expertise or my passion. I have people for that too.

Finally, just like Planet Fitness, this is a JUDGEMENT-FREE ZONE. I DO NOT CARE how much money you spend or mistakes you’ve made in the past. Everyone has done something stupid with their money a time or two (I’m raising my hand). Don’t let it stop you from changing your future. Now is the time to set a road map for where you want to go. Make that money work for you!

What would you do if money was no object?

Money no object, I would own a place right here (Caseville, MI).

If you had $2 million dollars and no debt, how would you be living your life? What would be the same? Different? Would you retire? Would you start a new career? What would you do if you didn’t HAVE to work?

Over the past year I’ve been working on an idea of mine that I’m very passionate about. I’ve been looking for volunteers so I can develop them their own customized budget. I loved helping my friends and I’ve learned some things along the way.

What I’ve Learned:

I’ve learned that I was only attacking part of the problem. While no one learns in school how to make a budget, learning to budget doesn’t solve the problem, because a budget isn’t a goal. You have to plan with the bigger picture in mind of what you’re aiming for. A budget is a tool, but it works best when it’s built to serve the goals of the individual.

I’ve also learned that everyone doesn’t like Excel. I should have known that after being married to my husband for 10 years! Not everyone wants to budget that way and that’s perfectly fine. There are other options out there.

Most importantly, I’ve learned that I love helping people with money. It’s incredibly satisfying to me.

If money was no object for me, helping people with money is something I would do for free. I love talking money and I love helping people make their money work for them. I want all of us to get to a point where money is no object. Where we can just live our lives, fulfill our passions and money would not being the largest factor in those decisions because now we’re living like money is no object.

So let’s talk about what your money goals are and how to get there. I’m accepting a few individuals for the first round of my program, Financial Mapping! This will be at an incredible discount because I’m still learning as well.

Here is what will be included:

-Meet one on one to talk about your goals for the future and your finances. This can be in person or virtually.

-Examine your current financial habits and uncover areas to painlessly make your money work harder for you.

-Create a financial map catered to your personal budget strategy

-Continued support as you work towards your goals

Contact me today so we can schedule a free consultation and get started on making your money work for you!