What We Read This Week | May 9th – 15th

I really enjoyed writing and talking about the books my family read in April.

To keep that momentum going, I’m going to discuss what new books we’ve read this week.

I’ve also started a Link Love post because I’m a serial reader of articles and I really want to write about what I’ve read lately.

Eli & Leo’s Books

Eli can officially read this book on his own!

My Books

I’ve been reading this book for a few months now. I pick it up and read it and usually fall asleep.

I don’t fall asleep because it’s a boring book, I fall asleep because it’s very easy for me to digest a book about Christianity. Especially a book that discusses it the way that Jeff Bethke does. I find the book refreshing and comforting. I hope to finish it while I’m out on maternity leave over the next few weeks.

This entry was posted in Reviews.

Links I Love | May 9th – 15th

This is the first post I’ve done in this format, but I love reading Link Love posts from other bloggers, so I’m going to start posting my own.

I think that what people choose to read and post on their blogs tells you a lot about them. More about who they are than anything they write about.

So, here is a peak inside my head and into the links I love:

  • This article from Greatist made me think a lot about why I never achieve some goals, but surpass expectations for others.
  • As a fan of various East Asian cultures, I have always liked emojis. The fact that Google is adding more female emojis is awesome.
  • The Gamer in me is extremely excited for Civilization VI! I cannot wait to see some Let’s Plays and read strategy guides for the newest edition to the Civilization franchise. I’ve been playing Civilization for a few years and I really fell in love with turn-based strategy games because of it. I definitely have this game on my wishlist.
  • This is a really great article about how Apple is able to command the price it does for it’s products. There are some really valid points here that I agree with.
  • After experiencing the theft of my money from 2000 miles away, while I was in the hospital no less, this article is what I suspect happened to me. Since then, I’ve stuck to using cash back or not using cash at all, and keeping an emergency stash in another account that I never use the ATM to access.
  • As a Pharmacy Tech by trade, I still keep up to date on the goings on in the industry even though I no longer want to work as a tech. This article about older women being over-prescribed drugs more often than older men was very interesting. I would love to read the studies on this.

I have a lot more links that I’d love to share, but I think this is enough for now.

Let me know what you think in the comments below. If you have any links you think I’d love, leave them below!

This entry was posted in Reviews.

Brothers

Brothers

I never thought I’d be a Boy Mom.

My days are filled with running, screaming, stepping on Legos, crying, repairing broken items , and sometimes complete chaos.

But my days have also been filled with storytime, hugs, pancakes, kisses, artwork from school, and bedtime cuddles from my little guys.

This way of life is something I’ve come to embrace these past four years, even when it’s been a really rough day.

And now I’ve welcomed another baby boy into the family.

Isaac, welcome to our world. I think you’ll fit right in.

Things You Have to Do for Yourself

I’ve started making audio diary recordings again.

This was something I used to do as a child.

I would open up the Sound Recorder or Windows Media Player on my Windows Me Compaq PC and record minutes or hours of myself, siblings, and friends. It was like my own radio show. I loved it, but mostly, it was what made me realize that there are so many ways to record your growth in life.

But, I’ve started doing this again, as a way of documenting my life.

I’ve tried vlogging, but I’m not comfortable in front of the camera and I don’t want my children on film anymore until their old enough to consent.

This seems to be the best form of media for me right now.

My first entries are about things I need to do for myself.

I came up with this after reading the reviews for Beyonce’s Lemonade.

I don’t have HBO. I don’t subscribe to Tidal. I do like a lot of her music and I respect the message she’s sending to Black Women.

This made me want to record reminders for myself. Affirmations, really.

Here is the first clip of many.

What I’m Reading | April 2016

I’ve purchased a lot of books this month for my boys and myself.

Here’s what we’re reading in April:

  1. Millionaire Women Next Door
  2. Bedtime for Peppa
  3. Rubble to the Resuce
  4. Chase’s Space Case
  5. Peppa Pig Dentist Trip
  6. Peppa Goes Swimming

You can probably guess that my 4 year-old is reading now, since 5 of the 6 books on this list are his. It’s so great to hear him reading and wanting to read more and more books each day (even if he’s just stalling because he doesn’t want to go to bed yet). I love that I’m raising a lover of books.

Since, I only read one book last month, I’ll review that for you.

Click on the triangle (play button) below to listen to my review on Millionaire Women Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley.

This entry was posted in Reviews.

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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