3 Things I Hate About Working Outside the Home

Lately, I’ve been noticing that the excitement I used to have when getting ready for work has all but vanished.

It could be because I’m incubating an entire human and I’m exhausted 90% of the time, just wishing I could sleep past 5 AM, but I know that’s not the only reason.

The truth is – I’m not excited about my leaving my house to work because my job could be done remotely.

I work in a Help Desk. It’s a call center environment at a huge hospital in Philadelphia. I could do this job in my pajamas, from my bed, while eating cereal. I think that’s what bothers me most.

Here are the other things that I hate about working outside my home and why the push the to self-sustain on freelancing from home is so strong:

1. Taking Mass Transit to Work

I get up a 5 AM every morning and I’m dressed and out of the house with two small children in tow by 6:10 AM. It sucks. Someone is always crying or cranky and it’s not always the boys. Plus, there’s people bumping into you and your kids, late buses, crowded buses, times when you can’t sit down and your’re carrying one kid, so you can’t sit down. The list goes on…

2. No REAL Sick Days

When you have small kids in daycare, they get sick often. They’re sharing germ-ridden toys and supplies with children you don’t know and live completely different lifestyles than your family does. It can get gross. My boys both caught two complete different contagious infections within days of each other. It was a difficult week.

When you have small kids who get sick often there are things that happen that make you look less dedicated to your job:

  • Taking off from work early at a moment’s notice
  • Calling out because you can’t take them to daycare and have already exhausted your backup child care (depending on the ailment)
  • Doctor appointments in the beginning or at the end of your work day
  • Checking in constantly when you do manage to leave them with someone

It can be hard to be an involved parent and give your attention to your work, as well.

3. Getting Up Early, Going to Bed Early

When you work 1st shift, you have to be in your chair by 7 AM. That means going to bed by 8 PM even when you have other things you need to get done like laundry, taxes, and even showering.

This, coupled with having to take mass transit means I’m up before the sun with both boys, trekking though whatever weather is outside to the bus stop, taking the bus to their daycare, getting them in their classes within 6 minutes so I don’t miss my bus to work, and then hoping to eat breakfast before working, all by 7 AM.

It’s exhausting and if another schedule came along where I could have some leeway, I’d take it, but this is what I have for now, so it’ll do.

There are a lot of things I hate about working outside my home, but until I save enough in an emergency fund, this is what my life will look like.

If you work outside the home, what is one thing you hate about it? Leave your comments below, I love reading them!

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What Does It Mean To Be Financially Independent?

I’ve been reading finance books again and this question has come up many times during these reading sessions. It has also spawned more questions that I’ve become more comfortable with answering as I track my spending habits.

What is financial independence to me?

When would I feel financially independent?

Those are not the only questions I came up with, but those are the ones I’ll be addressing in this post.

So, here goes nothing!

What is financial independence to me?

When I think about financial independence, my first thought is someone who can support themselves without the assistance of others. That is the literal meaning to me.

If I dig deeper, financial independence is:

  • Having more assets than liabilities
  • Maintaining a comfortable lifestyle without going into debt for it (paying cash whenever possible)
  • Living below my means and above my needs
  • Always having enough

I picked those four points because I have seen what living above your means looks like. I have lived above my means for most of my life in the name of confirmation. I could care less about that now. From time to time, I do envy those Pinterest home decor photos, but I know that’s someone else’s lifestyle. Below, I break down these points even more.

More Assets than Liabilities

If I have more assets than liabilities, I would have no consumer debt, no mortgage, no car payments, no past due bills, nor student loans. I could put all of my money towards savings or spending, not debt repayment. I would not owe anyone anything!

I would ideally like to have my retirement accounts fully funded and have an emergency fund that would pay for our expenses for two years.

I would be able to not work for two years and be fine. No going into debt, no worrying about bills, no waking up and dragging my kids out the house in 3°F weather because I have to go to work.

Maintaining a Comfortable Lifestyle Without Debt

This is the most important bullet point for me so far. To be able to go on vacation from my savings without needing to use credit is a dream come true. I know plenty of people do this and I have as well, but I’ve missed that money later on when I needed things like new shoes. I want to be able to create a comfortable lifestyle for my family and not feel regret about my spending.

I guess this is more about responsible spending than anything.

So, I want to spend responsibly and thoughtfully without going into debt to do so. If my washer breaks, I want to pay someone to fix it without checking my account balance or worrying about what won’t get paid or purchased because of that.

I need to want to save more than I want to consume.

Living Above My Needs, But Below My Means

This simply means I need to spend less than I earn. Simple to write about, difficult to do. For now. I feel like I need to catch up on basic needs, which requires a lot of front loading (spending a lot now). I am just becoming able to afford the basics for my family – diapers, wipes, transportation, medication, etc. So I spend just about what I earn each month, sometimes more. But, now that I’ve been in the workforce steadily for almost a year, I have put the basics in place.

Over the past year, I…

  • Purchased a washer and dryer (eliminated my need for a laundromat each week)
  • Repaired plumbing in the basement
  • Repaired electrical issues and installed new outlets
  • Bought quality clothing and shoes that didn’t fall apart within a few wears

These are things many people take for granted, but I have paid in cash and did not go into debt to do these things. Did I have money left over afterwards? No. But these were often one-time purchases, so the front-loaded costs will save me money in the long run.

To live below my means, I would have to earn enough to break even after buying the basics. Right now, that isn’t possible. It will be in the future, but right now, I will tread water until I can swim gracefully.

Always having enough

To always have enough is something I have dreamed of. I grew up in a lower-middle class household. We could afford the basics and save a little, but a series of deaths and misfortunes put us deep into debt. We have very little help getting back on our feet, so the last 12+ years of my life have been spent trying to get back to having enough.

I’m at a point now where I have enough, but that’s because I work and receive benefits from the state. It helps to make ends meet, especially since I am interning after graduating back in June. Most people won’t admit they accept government benefits, but I do. My family needs it while I get on my feet.

You can wag your finger at me, but the point is, the assistance is there for those who need it temporarily and I need it temporarily. I still submit all my pay stubs and any income I earn, taxed or not, so they can adjust my benefits. I am still at poverty level, even with the assistance.

There are still times when I have to borrow money because the assistance is not enough, but we make due.

This is why always having enough is important to me.

I never want to need assistance again.

To be self-reliant and financially independent is to be free.

When Will I Feel Financially Independent?

I’ve answered this question in my examples above, but I still think I should make a realistic list of my requirements for feeling secure financially, so I did.

I would feel financially independent when…

  • My bills are paid each month, in full, and on-time
  • I can help others financially without worrying about needing the money I gave away
  • I can choose to how much I want to work or if I want to work at all because my assets can cover my expenses
  • I am able to cover all of my needs and those of my family, with more than enough left over (abundance) for wants
  • My retirement accounts are fully funded
  • I am able to afford what matters to me and my family
  • I have no consumer debt

I feel like this is a great list of things to aspire to.

I think that looking at this list will help me when I’m deciding to be frivolous with my cash.

Changes to TLSB

I’ve been thinking about what I want this blog to become.

More and more, I want to become transparent and share what it really looks like to live just above the poverty line. To show how I’m working my way from not being able to afford getting to work some weeks to living a sustainable lifestyle where I can be privileged enough to not notice it’s payday because my account balance is in the black.

I am aiming to live a life full of abundance. To be able to pay my bills on time or early. To buy new underwear without checking my account balance. To be more candid about my debt and what my income is and how I’m making that work.

I’ll be introducing a new style to the blog. Short videos or vlogs. I’ve done them in the past. Take a look at one of the videos below:

But I have to draw the line somewhere to protect my family. So, I’ll be keep my boys off of my blog from now on. No more photos of their faces. No details about where we hang out or shop. I’m not that kind of lifestyle blogger and I don’t want my family to become a target because of what I share.

With that being said, my next few posts will be mostly about finances and how to start saving money.

Let me know in the comments which posts you’re most interested in reading and I’ll do my best to tackle those.

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Mindful Living

Learning to live a mindful life is something I stumbled across a few years ago.

I’ve read blogs, watched videos, and read about clearing clutter, living with less, and being environmentally sound.

Overall, I love the idea.

But, there comes a time when you need to stop consuming information and start practicing it.

Now is that time.

I live in a small home (1400+ sq. ft.) compared to homes in my neighborhood, but nonetheless, my home is cluttered with stuff.

It feels privileged to say that I have too many things, because it is.

I don’t want to keep buying containers and bins and storing items I have no use for.

I want to downsize. I want to clean less. I want to maintain less. I want to look for less each day. I want to worry about less.

I read a post by one of my favorite bloggers, Sherry of Save Spend Splurge and she summed this idea up perfectly.

“…YOU’RE PAYING FOR THAT EXTRA SPACE, YOU KNOW..

That means that they’re paying about double the amount of room that they need (1500 square feet) to house their junk, when they only use about half, or 760-1000 square feet to live.

If you consider the price of houses these days around the $500,000 mark reasonably close to downtown Toronto (e.g. a half hour away), that’s $250,000 for storing your junk, and $250,000 to live.

Interesting, don’t you think?”

You can read more of Sherry’s post on her blog by clicking the link below.

Read – How much space do you really need?

With that being said, or rather, written, I’m practicing mindful living one item at a time.

This is going to be challenging given my messy nature.

Read – Fighting the Hoard

But, I’m ready for a change and my family will thank me when our things aren’t laying around anymore.

I’ve starting by reselling and donating books that I’m not using anymore.

I’ll let you all know how that goes in an update!

Tell me…

How do you keep the clutter away? Do you practice mindful living?

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30 Days to $300

I decided to challenge myself and dive into freelancing.

I want to earn back what I’ve paid for Danny’s course ($297) over the next 30 days.

I’m going to share what I’m doing to achieve this goal and where the money is going (as long as it’s not intruding on my family’s privacy).

So, here is what I’ve done so far.

Course Purchase

I purchased Danny’s Upwork Course in January.

FTW

What I Did

I finished the modules within the week and began updating my profile on Upwork so that it aligned with the new techniques I learned in the course.

My Results

I was able to get an interview right away, but unfortunately that client wanted to work without a contract, was unresponsive, and I withdrew my proposal.

UPWORK2

I was really in a funk after being strung along for a few weeks and not applying anywhere else. So, I turned to other members of the my program.

They helped me by critiquing my proposals and profile, and ultimately helping me get off of my guilt trip. I truly have found an amazing group of freelancers. They advice alone is has more than paid for the course.

After psyching myself out for a few weeks following my failed proposal, I was able to get a invite to interview for this gig on Wednesday.

UPWORK

I charged twice what the client’s budget was because the project is worth that much and I was still asked to interview!

I have yet to speak with the client, but things are looking up.

Please join me on my freelance challenge! Sign up for my email list and watch my earn back my course fee!

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Investing in Yourself

I was going to write a post about why you should invest in yourself, but I can’t.

I can only write about why I’ve invested in myself.

No one can tell your truth the way you can, so use this post to get your mind going and comment at the end of this post what you’re going to take today to invest in yourself.

Here are reasons why I invest in myself:

 

I love learning.

 

I want to know everything about everything,” is a quote from Sid the Science Kid, a show my 4 year-old loves, but it’s very true.

 

I really want to know as much as I can about whatever I’m interested in. I don’t think I’ve  ever said, “I never should’ve wasted my time learning this,” since leaving high school.

 

I will always find a way to use whatever knowledge I’ve acquired. It could use it in daily conversation or writing a blog post for a client. Nothing is worth not knowing, in my opinion.

 

I am also my best asset.

 

Presenting myself as knowledgeable is important to me, especially working as a Woman in a STEM field.

 

I’m the “T” in STEM, by the way. I work in IT, Information Technology.

 

Being knowledgeable and being able to put what I’ve learned into practice is valuable in my field. Every  course I enroll in, webinar I tune into, and book I thumb through is pushing me to the top of my field. Any knowledge I acquire and can apply in the field works to my advantage and makes me look incredibly competent to my colleagues.

 

I love reading and practicing time-management, self-development, and spirituality. I only have this life and I want to make sure I’m enriching it in every way I can. Seizing every opportunity. Following growth wherever it leads me. I do this, not because someone makes me, but because I am worth it. I am worthy of love from myself.

 

No one can love me the way I can love me.

 

That is why I invest in myself.

 

Tell me:

 

What is one thing you can do to invest in yourself today? It doesn’t have to be spectacular or life-changing. You could finally pick up that book on personal finance and read a few pages, or reschedule that dental appointment you’ve been meaning to get to.

 

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LeapFrog Epic Review

LFE_Review

In December I bought my three year-old  a tablet to replace the one his Dad accidentally stepped on a few weeks before.

After looking at a lot of tablets, I decided on the LeapFrog Epic, a tablet made specifically for kids, ages 3 to 9.

It’s been a few months since he started using it and he loves it!

Here are the pros and cons of the LeapFrog Epic:

Pros

  • Age-appropriate apps with genuine learning experiences
  • No ads or in-game purchases
  • Parental Controls that are easy to understand and use (Includes a 4-digit pin to unlock settings menus)
  • Most apps are accurately age appropriate (My son didn’t need help to play most games)
  • Easy navigation for kids
  • Desktop can be customized by kids
  • Customized profiles for each child by age
  • Other apps can be side-loaded (Netflix, Youtube kids, etc.)
  • Battery life is fantastic
  • Stylus is attached

Cons

  • Apps are expensive ($3-$25 per app)
  • App sizes are large
  • Some games let kids choose level of difficulty, which causes tantrums when they can’t play without assistance OR of you recommended an easier level and try to change the settings.
  • Speaker is not very loud, but my son uses headphones, so I don’t mind this at all

Recommended Accessories

Where to Buy

LFE Edited

I bought the LeapFrog Epic on Amazon for about $122 USD after taxes.

At the time of this post, it was selling for $119.99 USD.

You can pick one up for your kids on Amazon by clicking the link below.

LeapFrog Epic 7″ Android-based Kids Tablet 16GB, Green

My First Appliance Purchases

“Be prepared.”

That’s what I would’ve told myself looking back, now.

I had never purchased anything as expensive as my washer and dryer, unless you count the 72 credits towards my Bachelors Degree.

Read: Debts I Owe

This year, I decided that it was time to stop going to the laundromat, put my big girl panties on and buy those appliances I had been putting off for years: the washer and dryer.

It was a big step in adulting and definitely not something I want to do again without more research first.

I thought it was a simple process.

You go look in-store or online at appliances, pick which ones you want, add parts and warranties, pick a delivery and install date, then pay for it all.

No.

I did those things with no issue (after measuring out my current space to make sure it would fit).

What I didn’t expect were the hidden costs because my home was old and needed repairs before everything could be setup properly.

Plumbing for the washer

New socket for the dryer

$500+ on top of the washer and dryer purchase

And a three week wait for everything to come together.

I wanted to freak out at the amount of money flowing from my wallet into this simple project, but I knew that the other repairs were necessary and likely a one-time expense.

I was lucky to find a great plumber and electrician (which I ended up hiring for even more jobs around the house) on HomeAdvisor (a home improvement contracting site).

I am definitely happy to have everything over and done with now, but definitely be prepared.

Here are my takeaways from the experience

  1. Set a budget

  2. Add 25% more for contingency

  3. Don’t freak out if things don’t go as planned because you have #2

Have you ever purchased something only to find hidden costs associated with it?

 

Capsule Wardrobe – At Work 2016

At_Work_2016

I decided to challenge myself after my last fashion related post and choose some items I would mix and match for work.

Read – Spring/Fall 2016 Wardrobe Wishlist

Here is what I came up with:

Shirts

Tops

For tops, I have 5 groups:

  • Flowy
  • Wrap
  • Sweaters
  • T-Shirt
  • Tank Top

These are my go-to styles for shirts because they fit my body well, don’t make me sweat too much, and are easy to pair with pants or skirts.

Pants

Pants

Bottoms are tricky for me.

I have an inseam of 30.5 inches, which is too tall for petite inseams (29.5 inches) and too short for regular inseams (32 inches). I usually get my bottoms hemmed so they don’t get eaten up by dragging on the ground as I walk.

My favorite types of bottoms are:

  • Dark-Washed Jeans
  • Black Trousers
  • Grey Trousers
  • Capri or Cropped Pants

These types, again, fit my body type (curvy with lots of hip) and I can pair them with any of my tops.

Dresses_and_Skirts

Dresses & Skirts

Dresses and skirts that fit well are hard for me to find. I’ve learned that as a short, busty, curvy girl, I can wear wrap dresses and dresses the are segmented right below my bust. They look nice, fit well, and are easy to find in-store or online.

Skirts are a lot less easier to find. So far, A-line skirts or bodycon skirts seems to work best. I would love to rock pleats, but they spread out around my thighs and it does not look like the designer intended.

So here are my top styles for dresses and skirt for my body:

  • Wrap Dress
  • Empire-Waist Dress
  • A-Line Skirts
  • Bodycon skirts

Blazers_Wraps_and_Outerwear

Blazers & Jackets

Being short and busty, I’ve learned that three-quarter length blazers, cardigans, and jackets that are pinched at the waist, look amazing on me. This also means I don’t have to hem the sleeves or take them in at the waist.

This year, I’m going to add these to my wardrobe:

  • Three-Quarter Length Blazer or Jacket
  • Cape
  • Trench Coat with adjustable sleeves

Accessories

Accessories

  • Flats – I have never been a fan of flats, but now that I’ve discovered to world of online shopping, I know that flats come in wide widths. I have already ordered some and plan on testing them out this Spring. I’ll link that review in this post when it’s posted on the blog.
  • Small Bag – I always need a smaller bag to keep from packing it with the contents of my entire house. Logic says stop packing everything in there, but I can’t stop, so, smaller bag. I picked one up at Walmart recently and, unfortunately, it collects all the lint that exists in my house. So, I’m on the lookout for a vegan leather bag that I can carry to work. I’d be willing to get a clutch, but I’d really love a cross-body bag with an adjustable strap.
  • Scarves – I have fallen in love with scarves in the past 18 months. I began wearing them when I worked in retail and now I love how they change up an outfit in an instant. My favorite style/material scarves are:
    • Infinity scarves
    • Silk scarves
    • Outdoor (usually wool) scarves

Well, that’s all she wrote folks.

Thanks for reading and let me know in the comments below –

What do you typically wear for work?

My Only Goal for 2016

It’s March, but it’s never too late to have a goal for the year.

Now that the first quarter of the year is almost over, I’m ready to set my goal for the year.

Yes. One, single goal.

I’ve made a mistake in the past of setting multiple goals and barely achieving any of them.

This year, I decided to make one goal and complete a lot of tasks to make that happen.

Here’s the goal for 2016:

Earn $5k in side income

It’s a goal that’s very important to me.

I talked more about how I’m going to do this in previous posts

Read – Getting Out of Debt & Operation Save $10k

Living in poverty levels or close to it in terms of personal income, I have never earned more than $20k in a fiscal year. This year, for the first time, I’m earning more than that!

I want to start building my emergency fund now that I’m not worried about how I’m going to pay for food or clothing anymore.

It’s an exciting time in my life and I’m ready to push my earnings as far as they can go.

Do you set one single goal and work towards it or multiple goals for the year?