Being Grateful: Fifty-First Edition

Hey everyone! This week flew by, mostly because it has felt like the weekend since Wednesday.

We decided to celebrate Thanksgiving early, as my mom is working pretty much every day next week. R took off Thursday and Friday, and we’ve been here since Wednesday night.

Before we go on, I have to apologize to you all. I just wrote up the entire post, went to save, and received an error from WordPress. My stomach sunk upon realizing the entire post was gone.

As I’m all about being transparent, I don’t really have the energy to completely re-write the post, so forgive me for running through things rather quickly. =( I absolutely hate when technology doesn’t cooperate!!

Not surprisingly, this week is focused on being grateful for family.

Being Grateful | Journey to Saving

Bingo!

Every Thursday, my mom and her neighbor play Bingo at a nearby restaurant. It doesn’t cost anything except a meal to play (and I think you only need to spend $5).

The jackpot is $350, so I figured I would tag along and play with them. R came, too, and the neighbor’s sister was visiting, so that made 5 of us!

I have never played Bingo for money before, and it’s been a really long time since I played at all. It was fun, even though none of us won! I kind of wish I was around here on Thursdays now.

My mom had won a $25 gift card the previous week, so we mostly ate for free, which was great.

By the way, my mom (being the primary money manager) has been keeping on top of her budget! I’m really proud of her. She should end up coming in with some money leftover this month, which she will be putting toward debt.

Low-Key Get-Togethers

We celebrated Thanksgiving on Thursday with a small chicken dinner. We couldn’t find a turkey small enough for the 4 of us, and none of us really cared what we ate!

I had mentioned lasagna as part of the weekend celebration, and my mom agreed to make it. We ate that tonight, and it was delicious!

Small, low-key gatherings are always nice. Sometimes when you have too many people in the kitchen, things can get hectic. With just the 4 of us, it wasn’t necessary to go all out with the trimmings, and I kind of prefer it that way.

Yes, I know, I’m weird! I’ve never looked forward to Thanksgiving because of the food; I just looked forward to spending time with my family, and making plans for Christmas. Speaking of which …

Christmas Tree

My parents threw out our old Christmas tree when they moved, as it didn’t fit on the moving truck. I would have taken it, except that a 7.5′ tree wasn’t going to fit in our basement apartment!

Since they were visiting us in NY last year, they decided not to bother with one…so they needed one this year!

We went up to Target yesterday to see what their selection looked like. My parents had already been to a few stores and weren’t impressed with the choices.

Thankfully, we ended up finding one, and it was on sale for $51! Not too bad, especially considering they’ll probably be using it for all future Christmases.

I should probably mention (fun fact), I’m allergic to actual Christmas trees, so that’s why we go the fake route.

I don’t recall this at all, but my dad said the second they found out, he tossed the real Christmas tree we had over the deck of our old house. Apparently, I ended up in the hospital as I had such a severe reaction, and he wanted nothing to do with it after that.

Anyway, I’m grateful we found one, and that we can decorate together again. Last year wasn’t the same without a tree!

Craft Fair

Earlier today, 40 vendors came to my parents’ community for a craft fair. My mom and I were hoping to find a few frugal gifts for everyone back home.

We didn’t find a whole bunch (mostly because we had to keep in mind we had to ship items, and some were too delicate or bulky), but we found some really unique pieces of jewelry for 2 family members, so that takes care of them!

R and I also found a really neat looking cutting board, which my parents bought for us. How can a cutting board be neat?

Well, it’s made out of different types of wood, and it looks similar to this. R is really interested in wood being that he works with it at his job a lot. One of my dad’s favorite hobbies is also woodworking, so I’m slightly interested in it!

Suffice to say, it caught our eye, and it’s nice to be able to support someone instead of a store. Plus, our old cutting board broke a month ago!

While we were there, I observed that most of the people selling things were older. I was impressed with how they had turned their hobbies into a side hustle.

I even overheard one of them claiming you need some sort of activity in retirement to devote your time to. Rock on, senior citizens!

Overall, it was inspiring to see the ideas some people came up with. Not all of the items being sold were overly complicated to make, and some of them didn’t take much artistic talent at all, but people were clearly willing to pay.

Working from Home

Lastly, I am being grateful that I work from home, as these extended weekend trips wouldn’t be possible otherwise. It’s hard enough to coordinate days off with one person working, let alone two!

I am also grateful that R’s job is so flexible. He’s already taken the day after Christmas and the following Monday off, so we’ll be able to enjoy time with family then, too.

If you were reading this time last year, you might remember that R and I made the questionable/crazy decision to drive down here and visit. We spent 14 hours on the road going back home. I’m SO glad we’re a lot closer now!

Tune in next week for a special 52nd edition, complete with a lot of introspection, reminiscing, and lots of gratitude.

(And if you missed it, I featured a great guest post by XY Planning partner and owner of Bespoke Wealth Management LLC, Laurel Hardy. She gave some great advice on paying off student loans and saving. I am always grateful for guest posts!)

What are you being grateful for this week? What’s your favorite part of Thanksgiving?

What Pro’s Know Your Money Can Do (and You Should, Too!)

Advice from a pro on what your money can doHello everyone! Today I’d like you all to welcome Laurel Hardy, a financial advisor starting her own firm with the XY Planning network! If you haven’t heard of them, they’re a great group of fee-only financial advisors, and as you can tell from the name, they’re geared toward helping Gen X & Y.

Laurel is here to give you some tips on managing your money. If you’d like to check out my writing, I have a post up on Careful Cents about managing a schedule while working from home, and a post on Young Adult Money on getting over your fear of side hustling. Now, enjoy Laurel’s post!

I had a client who was in her 90’s. She purchased a few shares of McDonalds in the 1950’s and forgot about them. Can you image the balance today? It’s amazing what can happen when you let something grow and have enough self discipline (or absentmindedness) not to sell or spend it!

Start with a mini financial plan

If you’d like to start working on your own mini financial plan and are still paying off your student loans, here’s somewhere to start…

  1. Collect all the statements for the student loans you’re paying off
  2. Make a list of their balances and the interest rates you’re paying
  3. On a calendar, project how long you will be making payments to each one

This is a start. Now you can add in your income from work…

  1. To keep it simple, just calculate how much you’re taking home after taxes and benefits are removed each week.
  2. Figure out what percentage of your income is going towards paying the balance on your student loans.
  3. Figure out what percentage of your income is going towards paying off the interest on your student loans.

Knowing these figures will give you a better grasp on exactly where your income is going. The more specific you can get, the better. You can compare the difference between the student loans with different interest rates to see how interest affects your income. It’s also good practice for analyzing the rest of your finances.

Save as soon as your debt is paid off!

If you’d like to take this a step further, you can plan to start saving as soon as you’re done paying your debt. I would highly recommend doing this without skipping payments, so that you can make as few changes as possible to your daily life and budget during the transition.

  • Plan to open a Roth IRA. A financial advisor can help you, or you can open one online.
  • Plan to continue making the payments on your loans to the Roth IRA.

You will already have trained yourself to live off of your current level of income. If you have enough self-discipline, take advantage of your resourcefulness by contributing to a retirement account.

If you don’t keep making the payments and chose to spend more instead, later on down the road you’ll have to put more money aside to make up for the time you’ve lost. You may also have to make some budget cuts to create room for the money you’d like to add to your retirement account.

It’s less painful to just keep the payments going. You’ll be really happy you did for two reasons:

1) Money grows over time. The more time your money is invested in an account, the larger that account can become from growth in addition to whatever you’re adding. If you wait to make a contribution, the money you put in will have less time to grow, and so it won’t grow as much. This is the “Time Value of Money.” I believe it’s also why people say, “Time is money.”

2) A Roth IRA is a retirement account that you set up for yourself and contribute money to on your own (your employer doesn’t do it for you). The reason it’s a great tool is because you contribute money after you’ve paid income tax on it. The fed won’t tax that money as income twice. It will grow in your Roth IRA, and when you take distributions in your retirement, you won’t have to worry about paying income tax on it then. Retirement accounts with money that hasn’t been taxed yet will cause you to pay income tax on your distributions in retirement.

I hope that this has been some help in explaining what financial advisors and planners do. I also hope to have inspired some readers to start taking a look at their finances from a planner’s point of view and take advantage of the resource you have right now….time!

How many of you have a financial advisor that you meet with? Is anything holding you back, or do you prefer to take the DIY route with your finances? Have you contributed to retirement accounts while paying off debt?

Laurel Hardy as a model in 2001

How many financial advisors can say they were models?

Laurel Hardy is an investment advisor and planner for young investors and founding CEO of Bespoke Wealth Management, LLC. Laurel started her career as a stockbroker, and left her position to start her firm after 4 years. She now provides Fee-Only financial and investment advice to individuals across the country.

Laurel has been quoted on various websites and publications including Women & Money Magazine, Gen20, and NerdWallet.com. Before becoming a financial professional, Laurel was a fashion model in Manhattan and Milan. She earned her degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Connecticut. Recently, Laurel was named “2014 Woman of the Year” by the National Association of Professional Women, and the “Pinnacle Professional of the Year; Lifetime Achievement” by Continental Who’s Who. In her free time, Laurel and her husband enjoy restoring their antique home in Connecticut.

Being Grateful: Fiftieth Edition

The Fiftieth Edition of the Being Grateful Series at Journeytosaving.comWow! I can’t believe we’re at #50. Two more weeks and I will have been doing this series for a year. Sometimes it’s still hard for me to believe I’ve been blogging for over a year now.

I’ll do further reflecting in the 52nd edition; I think that’s a more appropriate time!

For now, I have to own up to something – I’ve decided to scrap the videos for a little while. I’m not closing the door on the idea completely, but I don’t think it was adding value in the way I wanted it to.

Besides that, I’ll be even more transparent and say it was a bit too time-consuming. Depending on how things went, editing and uploading took several hours. As my freelance work has ramped up, I just can’t devote that kind of time to a platform that likely won’t bring more visitors to the site.

As it was, I skipped writing this series for a few weeks because I didn’t have a video to go along with it. I felt bad letting you all down, but I don’t want hold myself back from providing content.

If anything, experimenting with video has taught me how much easier writing is, and I’ve been very grateful for the learning opportunity it afforded me. I hope you understand!

This will be a wrap up of the things I’m currently being grateful for this week. I decided to post this during the week, as weekend posts aren’t as popular, and I think it’s fitting for the month of November!

You guys!

I know, I mention this a lot, but I am truly grateful for all of you that come here, week after week, and take time out of your day to leave a comment. I had been meaning to post an update for a while (finally got around to it Friday if you missed it), but time kept getting away from me.

I was really surprised and delighted that some of you were actually wondering where I was! You all are too sweet.

I know I’m not at all important in the grand scheme of things, but in general, isn’t it funny how we get attached to our favorite internet personalities or bloggers? So you all better be sticking around.

Encountering problems and learning from them

This is a weird one to be grateful for, so let me explain.

Lately, we’ve been having severe connectivity issues with our WiFi. Our apartment automatically came with a modem/wireless router 2-in-1 setup. We had a separate wireless router we wanted to use, so we hooked it up to the modem.

In the beginning, that was fine, but in the last two months, the WiFi has been dropping a lot.

This is an issue as it impedes my ability to get any work done on my laptop (which is why I’ve been working at my computer so much), and poor R can’t watch YouTube videos (that’s slightly sarcastic…).

I had had enough yesterday! We were trying to watch a 2 minute video, and the wireless wasn’t having it. On top of that, it was taking a while to get the signal back after it dropped (which hadn’t been an issue before).

I set out on a mission to figure out what we could do, which meant that Google came to the rescue. I was able to login to the modem and put it in bridge mode.

I then logged into the wireless router, adjusted some settings, set static IP addresses for the iPad and laptop, and breathed a sigh of relief upon testing everything out.

Except that lasted for all of 30 minutes, when R told me he lost connection again.

So even though I spent half my day yesterday trying to troubleshoot to no avail, at least I learned something in the process. DIY fixes outside of your comfort zone, on small scales, can do a lot for your confidence!

And if you didn’t understand any of that, don’t worry, I had a headache for most of the day…

Winter clothes!

I’m one of those weird people (or am I weird for this?) who changes her clothes around when summer and winter begin. When we moved here, I packed most of our winter stuff, as it was pretty warm here in April.

I remember packing our clothes and flinging everything around in a panic like it was yesterday. After all, we had 2 weeks to pack the entire apartment; clothes weren’t exactly high priority.

Because of that, some stuff made it that shouldn’t have. I went through all my drawers and my closet and made a huge pile of clothing to donate. R had gone through his clothes a month or so ago.

It feels nice knowing that for the most part, all the clothes I own are things I’ll wear. That sounds silly, but I had been keeping some clothes that were gifted to me out of guilt. What helped me get past that was knowing someone else out there could benefit from them.

Regardless, I am also just happy the weather has finally been consistently cool enough to do this. I wanted to switch things around a month ago, but there were still some 80* days mixed in!

Plus, now I get to wear all the fuzzy socks!

Writing

As always, I’m also grateful to those that feature my writing on their sites! Please feel free to check out my latest post on Careful Cents about the 3 mistakes I made when I first began freelancing, 4 Ways to Further Invest In Your Side Business, and A Case For Earning More Over Spending Less on Young Adult Money (quite a change from my earlier views). Thanks!

What are you all being grateful for lately? What has been the best fall activity you’ve done so far this season? Have you gotten snow yet?