Categories
Books Financial Freedom

Financial Freedom Update

It is amazing to think that I started my third semester of college last week. It’s even more amazing that despite the challenging assignments, I managed to complete them with time to spare.

I’ve spent most of my downtime recharging when I haven’t been focused on my book. The first draft is completed so I’m giving it a few days to settle before I tackle the rewrites. In the meantime, I’ve done a lot of reading and resting.

It seems my battery was lower than I thought. For several days I did little more than sleep! I guess you never know how much a public job takes out of you until you escape. My body is delighted that I’ve done it again.

But I got to spend some time with my granddaughter! I’ve not gotten to spend much time at all with her due to my obligations with work and college, so this is an entirely new experience for me. I was able to attend her second birthday party this time, something that my public job schedule never allowed.

And I even went with my daughter to her doctor’s appointment a few days later so I could babysit Granddaughter while we waited.

Here she is digging through my purse while we waited. We had to put on lipstick. We had to examine everything I carried with me as she played with the fascinating items. My keys were a big hit.

My Katie has finally started to relax now. While she was worried about our finances at first, she has now realized that I’m actually okay and has volunteered to help with the cover art for my next book. She’s starting a small book cover business online so we intend to help one another. Here is the cover art she crafted for that book.

Cover Art for Book

I haven’t quite worked out a title yet; I’ve decided to break the whole thing down into major steps to make it easier for readers to understand and to hopefully help others avoid the pitfalls that can result when you get too excited and skip a step.

With that in mind, the first book is about finding your path.

You see, it is actually easy to build a business that will allow you to escape your public job. You just find a way to make money and get started.

The problem with just picking any old way to make money, however, is that it may not bring you happiness. It may not take you towards the life you want to lead. I fell into that trap with the first few businesses I started. I made money but I was miserable. It wasn’t until I figured out the life I wanted to lead and worked from there that I embraced any sort of real success and happiness.

It took me years to realize my mistake. I want to help you avoid that should you decide to pursue your own financial freedom.

I’m not certain what to call this book. Part of me wants to name it “How to Find Your Path,” or “How to Find Your Path to Freedom and Happiness” but I haven’t decided.

Do you have any suggestions?

Categories
Empty Nest Housing

Broken Bones

I received a letter from Katie yesterday. As I was reading it the phone rang.

It was the kid.

She’d suffered multiple stress fractures in her right leg during a PT test in addition to injuring her knee. As a result, the Navy was sending her home.

To say that she was disappointed would be an understatement. Even with a fractured leg she was only 14 seconds shy of achieving her time on her PT test that day.

Well, shit.

I kinda liked this empty nest thing but I can’t fault the kid for getting hurt. I know from experience just how easy it is to be injured in the military. I’m just grateful it was caught before her leg shattered.

She’ll be shipped home in about two weeks. After that comes the process of helping the kid heal and building her up for her next adventure. Only time will tell what it will be.

In the meantime there is a bright spot. She’ll continue to share the bills once she gets back on her feet. She’s already gotten two job offers locally now that the news is emerging. That will give her time to recuperate and figure out her next step while making life a bit easier on me once she recovers.

Life is still good. It’s completely chaotic at the moment, but it’s still good.

So what’s been going on in your world? Please share your stories in the comments below.


Categories
Empty Nest Food Personal

The Miracle of Water

It was close to midnight. I padded into the kitchen to quench my thirst and picked up the water pitcher.

I blinked at the heft. Huh? I raised it up to examine the water level. It was full.

My water pitcher is never full. The only way I can ever get a drink of water out of it is to fill it up, let it drip through the filter and then immediately pour a glass. This has gone on for so long that I’d become convinced that the Household Gods were determined that I die of dehydration.

“Hmph!” I filled my glass, topped off the pitcher, and returned to bed. It had to be a fluke.

The next morning I headed to the coffeepot. I paused, staring in shock.

The water pitcher was still full.

“Hokay, that’s strange,” I mumbled as I poured myself a cuppa Joe. Twice in a row? My Household Gods must be on vacation!

Before I left for work I filled a water bottle, topped off the pitcher once more, and headed out.

It was full when I got home!

Maybe, just maybe, the Household Gods that always seemed to drink my water or mess up my house, maybe they went on more than a simple vacation.

Maybe they went off to the Navy.

Hmmm.

I can have some fun with this!

Categories
Finances Frugality Investments

Potential Paths to Success

The kid got her permit today.

She’s over the moon with the achievement. She intends to acquire her driver’s license, invest in a vehicle, and get a better-paying job.

Late last night she discussed her options with me. She asked if I would mind if she lived with me, splitting the expenses until some time in 2020. This would allow her to have a support system when her fiancée is deployed overseas this year.

While the mom in me was like really? the frugalista in me was cheering.

It opens another option line for my future.

If the kid remained living here my bills would continue to be low. I could piggyback off of her, using her vehicle to re-acquire the license I gave up while writing The Car Free Experiment. This would allow me to get one step closer to my long-term goals.

We discussed the option of getting a factory job together. We would both save money by splitting transportation costs. We could almost double our hourly income with this route; the extra hours we would receive would mean that our weekly income would more than double.

I could invest $500-$1,000 a month if we went that route.

In order to receive a base amount of money to live on ($500/month), I need to have $60,000 invested in dividend stocks at a 10% return. Not including rolling over my dividends and chipping in my royalties, I could have that socked away in less than 10 years by simply investing that minimum $500 a month; less than five years if I managed to invest $1,000 monthly.

I could work in a factory job for 10 years. It would be rough, but I could do it. I may not even have to work in one for that long, depending upon how my overall investments, my book royalties, and other options pan out.

No one knows the future, of course, but I find that exploring options is a worthwhile exercise. It allows me to brainstorm potential paths towards my long-term goal and to weigh potential pitfalls as well as what steps I would need to take in order to hedge my bets.

If anything, this path would allow me to turbo-charge my investments and allow me the income needed to acquire a vehicle of my own, as well as the money needed for any classes as I work out the best career to settle in for the long-term. I have no real desire to work in a factory until the day that I die.

What options are you considering to achieve your long-term goals? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Categories
Personal

Katie’s Graduation

The big day finally arrived. My youngest, the reason I worked so hard to live on less, finally graduated high school.

It was a bittersweet day. I spent close to 20 years striving to work less so that I could spend as much time with her as possible. I swam against the current as a single mom but this day marked the moment where the journey was finally over.

My baby is now an adult even more so than she was when she turned 18.

A friend of mine drove over four hours to celebrate with us. The first thing we did that day was surprise her with flowers.

The next thing we did was take her and her boyfriend out to Olive Garden. We wanted to make this a day she would never forget.

We gifted the kids with a round of gag gifts. Her boyfriend C really got a kick out of one of them!

As we told him, we figured that since he was going into the Army he could use the guy for practice! Oh how he laughed! His real gift was a journal in which we inscribed “to keep track of your future adventures with Katie.” He was touched.

We also got him a set of crowns so he could remind Katie of who was the “king” – complete with spares for when she knocks them off his head! She got a tiara, of course – she is my princess!

After digging out some other gifts Katie finally got around to her big one from my friend. I’d given her my gift earlier because I didn’t want to detract from the moment. Here’s the expression on her face when she realized that my friend had gifted her with a pair of diamond earrings.

Once the dust had settled C had another surprise for my daughter. I was the only one aside from him who knew his plan. He smiled at her and announced. “I’ve got something to go with those earrings.”

That was when he proposed.

After all of that we still weren’t done. We drove them around and took lots of photos of them to mark the big day.

Once we dropped them off so they could do their thing prior to graduation my friend and I went out for a good stiff drink to mark the end of an era. We both needed it by then. My friend had known her since she was a baby and I needed liquid strength to get through the graduation ceremony. Not only was my youngest daughter graduating, I was lost. I’d spent so many years trying to be the best mom I could be, trying to spend as much time with her as I could. It didn’t help that, like my daughter, my dad had been dying of terminal cancer as well when I had graduated from that very same high school. I was filled with bittersweet memories, all of which came to the surface as I sipped on my Jack and Coke.

Thus prepared, we headed to the stadium for the graduation ceremony. We looked around, relieved to see that her dad, my ex-husband, actually managed to attend. He’d had Hospice take him. Once the ceremony finished we met up with the kids and took some more photos. I’m the one with the red shirt and big boobs.

So this is it, folks. The end of an era. My goal of raising my daughter is complete. Katie has not only graduated high school, but she’s engaged as well.

I’m both proud and sad.

Categories
Personal

Katie’s Prom

My daughter’s growing up. It’s hard to believe that she is 18 and on the verge of graduating high school. She even has a boyfriend now. He’s leaving for the Army in a few months so he’s resolved to spend as much time with Katie as possible before he leaves. He even gave her a promise ring this weekend.

Here are some photos of them at Prom the other evening.

I am in awe of her beauty, of how wonderful they both look in these photos. I am in awe of how quickly she has grown up. It seems like yesterday I started blogging as I searched for a way to be the best mother I could be; to spend the most time I could with her while she grew up.

I cannot wrap my mind around the fact that it’s been ten years since my very first post on that very first blog. What’s next? This can’t be all there is in life. I’ve spent the last 28 years focused on raising my children…what do I do now?

I’ll figure something out. I always do. In the meantime I’ve something else to focus on: how did someone so beautiful come from a woman as ugly as me? 😀

Categories
Life Success

How I am Teaching Responsibility to my Young Adult

As my daughter Katie neared her 18th birthday the inevitable challenge arose:

“I’m almost 18!” she huffed at me one day. “You need to start treating me like an adult!”

“I’ll treat you like an adult when you start acting like one,” I retorted firmly.

This led to a conversation about what it takes to be considered an adult. I explained to her that able-bodied adults pay their own way in the world. They don’t rely on Mommy and Daddy to support them. While they may not be rich, they have bills that they have to pay and they do.

“What if I start paying rent then?” Katie suggested. “If I pay half of the bills, would you start treating me like an adult?”

After I recovered from my surprise, Katie offered to begin paying half of the household expenses. Since I live very cheaply, that’s not as much as it seems. Two hundred dollars a month during the summer months, with more added to cover the extra heating expense when winter comes ended up being the amount we settled upon. We are both responsible for any personal expenses and we split the expense of buying food and supplies (like bathroom tissue) that we both use.

To be honest, I agreed to this with the belief that she would keep up the payments for a month or so and then start coming up with excuses. However, over six months have elapsed and she has paid her share of the expenses cheerfully. As a result, I now treat her like the adult that she wants to be treated as.

This not only solves the issue of dealing with a young lady on the cusp of adulthood, it teaches her how to budget in a safe environment. I keep the whole amount for the bills on hand in the event that something happens that prevents her from paying just in case. Instead of my daughter moving out to live with friends who may or may not be fiscally responsible with their share of the expenses, she gets to live with someone (mom) who knows how to make sure the bills are paid regardless.

It has also made life as a single parent easier. Instead of having to pay all of the bills, they are now halved. As a result, I actually have money to save or to use on those little extras I’ve sacrificed over the years (I’ll write more on that later).

How have you decided to teach fiscal responsibility to the young adults in your care? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Categories
Finances

Simple Progress

This morning the school called: my daughter had a fever – could I pick her up? I was kinda disappointed for I had a special treat lined up for today, but such is life for a single mother.

Anyhow, a few clicks and all my current bills were paid – it feels SO NICE to no longer have to concern myself with a variety of websites and logins – just one place and a few clicks and I’m done! Such peace! I was finished in record time!

Also I called ATT and had my unused land line turned off. I have a cellphone that I use primarily, supplemented by MagicJack when I am watching my minutes. Now that I have voicemail set up on the cellphone I will simply have the Magicjack forward all calls to the cell, saving electricity by not having to have a Windows computer on 24/7. Those who know me understand how rarely I am actually on a phone, so it really was a waste of electricity to have it on when I have the cell as well. Since the cell is portable and also contains my clock, my address book and my brain it makes more sense to use it than a landline – especially since it costs less to use the cell than keep the landline lol!

I purchased a small jar of instant coffee this morning. Not bad. I put a bit too much in the cup but it still tasted okay. It felt good knowing that I no longer have to drag out the percolator (or a coffee maker if I had one) whenever I want the occasional cup of coffee. The tea kettle stays out from frequent use. What to do with an unneeded percolator?

My daughter and I discussed my sleeping in the living room over the winter. She thinks it’s a “cool” idea, but suggested that for the winter we stash the rattan loveseat and coffee table in the back room and just use the folded-up futon during the day as a bohemian couch! It isn’t like we have much company, and it would make for more space and ease of use while I sleep here in the winter!

Slowly, life is becoming less complicated. I have noticed that even with the lower income the bank balance is staying steady, yet all of the bills are paid. KGB will help increase that balance a bit, as well as any computer jobs I happen to get. I will be able to be home more for my daughter with this simpler lifestyle, and have more time not only for her but myself as well.

Categories
Simplicity

Television, Movies, Family and Stuff

Yesterday ended up being an uneventful day as we lazed around the house and watched movies online.  My daughter enjoys Webkins and Funbrain, while I enjoy seeing if I can locate and watch new releases online.

Found a good one online yesterday, though at times I end up watching whatever when my searches don’t pan out, but sometimes I get lucky.  To watch a current movie we would have to drive almost thirty miles one way and close to forty miles the other way.  So add gas, wear and tear on the car, plus the expense of tickets and treats, and movies are priced right out of range of this frugal soul unless I find something interesting online.

And no, we have no cable here.  I could get cable, but between the garbage they show and the commercials that leave my daughter drooling, it simply is not worth paying money for.  I refuse to spend money on a medium so hell-bent for me to spend even more money.

I guess I should lump certain web sites on there, with their clicky ads, but you can choose to click or no, and that is a huge difference in my opinion.  I don’t mind their being available for me to choose to pay attention to their advertising or not, but resent being forced to watch something when I’m already paying for the priveledge by subscribing to a service.  

Hulu doesn’t bother me, cause I know those ads are how they are able to put the content online.  Pandora and their occasional ads don’t bother me either for the same reason.  

My daughter is in the stage where she thinks she can question every decision that I make, so this morning I had to get firm with her.  Hate it, but such is life.  I don’t answer to anyone in this world, I am not going to answer to a spoiled ten year old!

Our mutt is hyper this morning!  She is a chihuahua crossed with what we guess to be Jack Russell, and while she is adorable to us, she really dislikes strangers!  Guess I ended up with a dog as antisocial as I am, but I love her.  Rescued her from the local shelter.  They said she had been there around a month or so, and she wouldn’t have much to do with anyone because of lacl of socialization.  However, when we sat down on the floor she crawled right up in my daughter’s lap, and so I think it was more an issue that she hadn’t found anyone she wanted to socialize with.

It was chilly last night, and sometime early in the morning one of my neighbors had difficulty getting a vehicle out of someplace it was stuck.  Took them over an hour of revving the engine and spinning the tires to finally escape whatever they were stuck in.  Figure when we get out and about this morning we’ll see the tire marks in a yard somewhere…

Time to get ready for church this morning.  While I love my church family and agree with the doctrines, part of me really hates mingling with the crowd, especially knowing that I can’t really be me while I’m there…  Guess I’ll go early so the kid can visit (she’s a social butterfly) and leave just as soon as it is over.  

Talk to you later!