Sunday, January 17, 2016

2016 Spending Plan

This week I took two checks to the bank and felt like doing a little bit of shopping. I went to a pastry shop to pick up some French Macaroons. They were $1.95 each and I bought $23 dollars worth. Then I went to Cost Plus World Market and purchased Torani and some sugary carbonated beverages for the kids.  I looked at some cloth napkins and tableware and remembered my financial goals and put those items down.

These little $20 purchases add up. I want the stuff, but I don't need it. I need to use what I have and not purchase things that are easily affordable, because the more little things I buy, the less I have to purchase the big things I really want. Big things like a house or maybe even the ability to build a house.

When I look at houses online and see that a decent (3-4 bedrooms in a neighborhood where gun battles are not the norm) homes are a million+,  I feel like I should just decorate our house and be satisfied. I have to keep speaking positively to myself and knowing our goal is achievable if we focus on our goals.

Last week I did a 2016 spending plan and reviewed utility bills, etc. Upon initial review of the completed document, I became discouraged because our living expenses are a huge chunk of our earnings.  I asked Mr. A to contact cable/internet to see if we could get a reduction in price on those bills.  I decided to limit my water usage to night when the rates are lower.  Those seemingly little things that add up to a lot.

The next day I looked at our spending plan again and realized this month we'll be able to save nearly 50% of our earnings. That sounds great, but our earnings are not consistent each month, but based on what we've earned (though yet unpaid) in recent months, we should be able to save 50% or more for the next few months.

Our expenses are still too high for my liking but we don't have many options we're willing to do. We're not currently willing to move to a low cost of living area.  We don't want to live in a cookie cutter neighborhood or house, and it costs more to have a craftsman home.  We want to live in the city and close to things. It's hard enough driving 10 miles to our various activities and traffic in the Bay Area has gotten so horrific that living close in helps quality of life.

One day I'll put some budgets up here.  I've read other blogs and people get offended when people with seemingly high incomes post about financial struggles. I figure if I spend some time posting about how expensive it is, people will feel my struggle when I post budget stuff.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

2016 Goals

This year I've decided to clear $200,000.  This is going to require that I remain organized and focused. I will likely have to spend the year, working at least 5 days a week and not procrastinating.

We need a 4 bedroom house and that is going to cost.  My goal is to get organized enough this year to earn $200k and increase the next year.  Taxes trap us in the middle.  At a certain income, we're losing money but working more.  I think $200k is an amount that has high taxes, more work but allows us to afford to pay for the stuff more money will require us to spend.

My first order of business is to organize. My assistant is returning to help me organize.

I am committing myself to putting dates and events on my calendar and working a minimum of 3 hours per day.  The main reason my income is limited is because I work  2-3 days a week.  I'm going to change that.

I've made a chart with my money goals. The chart indicates that we've earned $33k for January. That money was earned in Nov and December but will be paid in January and will go on our 2016 taxes so I'm including it in January earnings.  I won 4-5 hearings in 2015, each one should be a minimum of $20k. One hearing was 2 days another was 10 days and the others were in between those number of days. Getting to my goal amount is doable.  I'm excited to see what can be accomplished with focus, organization and daily work.

I mainly want us to get a huge chunk of money and fund a house with views, that has enough bedrooms, living space, yard space, office space and then we can go back to working like we like living life more than work.  We're even willing to get a fixer upper.


Monday, December 28, 2015

'Tis the Season

TR has had cornrows since before Thanksgiving.  I finally finished removing them and tonight we pre-conditioned, washed and conditioned ( her hair. She didn't want to go to bed with damp hair so I used the  hair dryer and then I decided to flat iron the bottom section to see the length while straight.

She was quite pleased with the length. I suspect if we are consistent with her hair care regime, she could hit her goal of waist length hair, by the summer.


Tonight's photos.
 The last length check was in October 2015 and she had twists.
 The last time her hair was straightened was January 2015, so I added that to attempt to compare.
January 2015
December 28, 2015




I think the December length was at 7. I did a dusting of her ends.

I will make a hair appointment soon to get her hair put in twists or braids.  Braids make life easier and I prefer little girl hair styles on little girls.

The NEW YEAR

In 2015 we settled and won a number of cases at hearing. We are scheduled to enter 2016 with enough to pay a year's worth of bills. I'm excited about that. I want to use the extra funds to expand the businesses.

I feel like I'm at my peak earning years so I want to earn a lot before I hit the decline.  I also want to set up a business so my kids will have a means to earn if they need a job.

I'll probably make a 2016 to do list.  Writing things down is powerful.


Monday, December 21, 2015

Homeschooling Fun

Yesterday we completed 5 months of homeschool with both kids! We're taking a break along with other kids, although we'll likely still do some schoolwork.  The kids are excited about their Christmas break but I think I might be more excited than they are.

We have 2 weeks without gymnastics, art, track, speech, Spanish and Girl Scouts.  2 weeks to relax, and refresh and to plan. 2 weeks of not having to drop a kid off at a certain time. 2 weeks of freedom to roam without time constraints or to stay home and relax.

HomeSchool Goals

As a homeschooling family, I want to give my kids a full and well-rounded education.  I keep my ears open for learning opportunities.  I'm considering purchasing the Logic of English and spend time on the kids spelling.  

I told QT to write a story and his concern was that he wouldn't be able to spell the words. That tells me we need to work on spelling.  The Logic of English (LOE) also has cursive writing instruction. The kids have taught themselves to write in cursive, and the LOE says cursive is more natural for kids.  I'm inclined to believe that claim, since both kids prefer to write cursive.

Mr A always says a good leader/manager removes the barriers and obstacles to allow the team member(s) to perform at their highest ability.  

If spelling is QT's barrier, then its my job to give him the tools to feel competent and confident.  QT is 5.10, and is a fluent reader of age 1st-2nd grade material.  It hadn't occurred to me that he might question his ability to spell.  He knows his phonograms but we have to develop his confidence in using them. TR used to write stories and she would ask me how to spell certain words and I would help her sound them out, but she never didn't want to write due to spelling concerns.

I'm excited!  

HOMESCHOOL MAKES ME BETTER

The buck stops here.  If our kids have or don't have a skill, it is an indication of our parenting and our work as educators.  We don't have a teacher to place our expectations upon. The responsibility is on us.

Homeschooling has to make me better because the best way to teach is by example.  I'm currently working to teach TR organizational skills. I have to organize and be the example and a more organized me, is a better me.

In most things I have to reteach or teach myself, before I can teach the kids.  They see me learning, making mistakes and trying again.  

I'm glad Mr A and I have the will, the determination and the confidence to educate our own kids. I grow with them.



Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Bay

Every weekend that we go to the Farmer's Market TR fills out the form to win a basket of produce.  Today (Saturday) TR won the basket!!  Fortunately I had only gotten eggs, 1 bunch of kale, apple cider and a few apples.  I usually spend about $100 on fruits and vegetables.  Today I spent under $30.  I'm excited to get creative in the kitchen this week!


TR ate a few grapes and said that victory tastes sweet and free food tastes amazing.
The A family has been busy but we've been enjoying ourselves. QT is busy with track and I enjoy seeing him out on the field and having conversations with 5-7 year old boys.  He is naturally competitive. Since both of my kids are competitive, I'm beginning to think ether Mr. A or myself are competitive.   Perhaps competitiveness is a trait that is hard to see in yourself or maybe it looks different for older people.  My career is about winning and losing so perhaps I'm still a competitor.

TR is enjoying gymnastics. She qualified for the State Meet this year and got 3rd place on floor.  I'm glad that she found a sport she loves.  At 14 or so months old, a month after she began walking, she climbed on our couch and walked across the back like it was a beam.  

I was nervous but I remained calm because I didn't want her to pick up on my fear and fall. When she was done, I picked her up and smiled.  I called Mr. A and told him what happened and told him we needed to put her in gymnastics so she could use the balance beam.

I didn't know baby gymnastics existed! Not long afterwards Mr. A went to Babys R Us and saw a baby gym in the same lot. He went and signed up for a trial class, and called me to tell me. I was excited and when we went TR was in her element. 

When she was 3, I enrolled her in ballet and took her out of gymnastics. after a couple of months she told me she wanted to go back to gymnastics.  I reenrolled her that next session and she has been doing gymnastics non stop since.   People often ask me how I knew to put her in gymnastics so early and I tell them the balance beam story.

HOME SCHOOL

I enjoy homeschool.  When shopping for schools, we toured elite private schools and the schools I liked gave the kids freedom, independence and an ability to practice self-discipline.  Those tours made me realize how a school environment can be.   We're able to offer those values in homeschool. My top goal for homeschooling is to allow my kids to be creative, develop skills that allow them to take ownership of their education and be confident in their ability to conquer challenges and learn from failures.  With TR I see her entrepreneurial and creative spirit.  She isn't afraid of trying something new.  She believes she can do whatever she puts her mind to. That is powerful!  QT is great with money.  I appreciate his ability to plan ahead and manage money.  If he wants to be an entrepreneur his financial skills will be of great benefit.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Wants

I've been wanting to blog.  Each time I open the page to write, I can never finish.

I'll just ramble.

One day I told Mr. A to bring me something tasty to drink.  He returned with Pelligrino Sparkling Water and flavored syrups.  Yummy!

After a few weeks I realized that my belly which had been expanding was shrinking.  I've been walking the track while QT is at practice but I've also realized that the sparkling water has replaced my soda intake.  All of the bad stuff in soda has been eliminated from my diet!  I'm so pleased by this discovery.

My mom's aunt is in town from Georgia.  Her aunt was born in California and moved to Georgia in the 90s.  Anyway, while my great aunt was here I showed her some of the things the kids have made. As I was showing these things I realized that TR knits, sews, draws, and makes things from clay, paper pulp and other materials she collects. The kids then went into the living room and QT showed her his drum set. I realized the kids are learning the drums, piano and guitar.  They are taking Spanish, Science and QT is running track and TR is doing 18 hours a week of gymnastics.

We are Tiger parents!  It's amazing because I've been calling this woman a tiger parent because her 9 and 6 year old kids do competitive gymnastics, play instruments, karate, cross fit. As I was pondering on the fact that we aren't tiger parents and considering this woman, I realized we do as much but because we home school our kids get during the day.

I've been enjoying hanging out with Mr. A and my kids.  Mr. A is a very fun person.  I chose well.  In hindsight, I realize how well I did chose because we've grown together and kids really made me realize how important marrying a person with aligning child rearing goals.  My kiddies love him and feel secure, and I enjoy that they are so secure in their father and respect him.

I've had 5 or 6 hearing this year.  I won all but 1.  Now to get paid from the ones I won.  I'm tired just thinking about it, but 2016 should be a good financial year.  Maybe we can build a fat cushion!

Have a lovely Thanksgiving and prayerfully I will be able to blog again before the day of Thanks.

I thank God for this life I've been blessed to experience. He is Great!

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Market and the Community

Mr. A designed a fun homeschool activity yesterday.  Before going to the store Mr. A went over people in our community.  Then he had the kids go over the food groups.  He made a graph so when we arrived at the grocery store, the kids could identify the food group the food we were purchasing belonged in, the price per pound of the food or the price of each item. Mr. A introduced the kids to the butcher, the cheese expert and a clerk, as community members.  They were all happy to engage with the kids and curious about what we were doing. Lots of people were stopping to ask if it was a school project or if we home schooled and expressed they thought it was a great idea.   

The kids used the last column of the graph to total what each item cost and if the price was per pound or we had more than 1, they multiplied.  Both kids did their own math.  TR tallied the total amount of the food. Her estimate was $69. The clerk rang up the sub total and said $63. Mr. A said to the clerk, did you add the melon?  When the clerk added the melon it was $69!!!!  Whoo hoo.  TR was right! We did math, health, community all in one grocery store trip.

That was the most fun in the grocery store ever.  We did health, social studies, math and meal planning all in an hour at the market.

Home school requires effort, planning and parental commitment, but the reward is worth the work and the reward is much greater than the work.