You’ve probably heard by now about Pokémon Go and how the new game is sweeping the nation. If you haven’t heard about it, have you noticed large numbers of people wandering around your town looking at their phones? Or gathering in parks or on sidewalks? That’s probably what they’re doing! Once you realize what’s happening, it’s pretty funny to watch! [Read more…]
A friend recently became an aunt again and we were talking about how it’s nice to now be in the position of being the “wise aunt”. My friend and I both have elementary-aged kids now. We’re moms who have survived the infant, toddler, and preschool years but we’re also still close enough to those years that we remember vividly what’s it’s like.
We’re no longer clueless new moms and we’re not yet grandmas with irrelevant decades-old parenting advice (sorry, grandmas!). We’re in that perfect middle ground of “wise aunt” or “wise mom friend” and we think there should be an award for making it to this stage. When a mom’s youngest is age 6 and in full-time school, she should line up to get her medal. Maybe just a silver medal, as the gold ones should be reserved for the new empty nesters who have made it to the finish line. [Read more…]
When someone first starts to learn about reducing a family’s expenses, one of the first pieces of advice they’re likely to hear is to “cut the cord” of cable or satellite TV. It might surprise you to learn that when we first started out on our journey to freedom from debt, we kept our satellite TV, even while we were doing crazy things like selling BOTH of our cars. We started down this path in late 2008 and didn’t get rid of our satellite until early 2015, almost SEVEN YEARS LATER. It’s painful to think that we spent around $100/month for a total of about $8,400 during that time. We did play the system to try to lower our bill as much as possible during that time (calling to ask for deals every 6 months or so), but it’s still never cheap. [Read more…]
I have a confession to make. I’m completely obsessed with avocados! I bought fresh avocados for the very first time a few months ago because I wanted to try making homemade guacamole, which was absolutely delicious. If you want to try the recipe I used, it’s very simple and kid-friendly. In the process, I realized how amazingly delicious avocados are and I started buying them more often.
I mentioned to a friend that I’d always avoided buying avocados because I felt that spending $1 on a single piece of fruit was absurd. After all, I’d never pay $1 for a single apple or banana. She wisely pointed out that while avocados are a fruit, their nutrition is more similar to the nutrition of meat and if you look at the amount of nutrition you’re getting from one avocado, it’s actually a pretty good value. I suspected she was right, but I wanted to see proof in the numbers. [Read more…]
I love numbers, love details, and love saving money, so I’ve always been interested in income taxes. I know I’m a bit of an oddball in that way, though. In case you’re not as nerdy as me, I thought I’d write about some of the reasons why I think you should care about the fascinating topic of income taxes, too. [Read more…]
Anyone with kids knows that batteries are a necessary item to have on hand. Doesn’t it seem like kids run on batteries? I remember when we got a children’s play kitchen for our kids. I think it took 20 batteries for all the little sound effects. And don’t get me started on remote-controlled cars! These days, the most common use in our house is Xbox and Wii controllers. [Read more…]
Now that I’ve shared our personal debt-free story, I’d like to start a new recurring theme of “Smart Family Happenings” to chat about what’s going on in my life right now: financially, personally, whatever! So, what’s happening in the Smart Family right now?
- Consolidating retirement accounts. Brad and I have several small retirement accounts in several locations, one of which is still controlled by an employer Brad worked for over 12 years ago. It’s time! We need to get it all in one place so we don’t forget where it all is by the time we retire! Also, moving investments to a lower-fee firm can save money over time which leads to more money in retirement. We’ve tried unsuccessfully to take care of this before, always giving up after a few too many phone calls, but we’re determined to do it this time! I’ll let you know how it goes!
- Figuring out our new “life after debt”. It’s only been about 6 months since we’ve been debt-free and we’re still trying to figure out our next goals. We know we want to pay off our mortgage early and save for future expenses including our next car, but what else? Is it time for some home improvements? More travel? Should we loosen the reins a bit on everyday spending? We’ve done a bit of all these things, but I feel like I’m not completely sure where we’re going next. It was a bit different when we had one big goal of paying off the debt to focus on.
- Summertime with the kids. The kids have been out of school for two weeks and it’s fun to have them home. They’re signed up for a number of fun activities, including the one that led to the flubber incident, but I hope we have time for laying around the pool or hanging with friends. Summer always seems to go by too quickly! The kids are also growing up way too quickly… I wish I could freeze them at this age.
- Learning to live with asthma. My daughter recently got diagnosed with asthma, after a very rough year filled with many months of coughing, a round of pneumonia, a scary trip to the children’s hospital, and more medical tests than one kid should endure in a year. She just recovered from her first cold after being on asthma controller medication and it didn’t go as smoothly as I had hoped. She ended up needing a rescue inhaler a fair amount and an antibiotic, since the doctor was worried she could be headed towards pneumonia again. I know there are lots of others parents who deal with much more severe medical issues and I am very thankful that we’ve had the resources to get her the medical help she’s needed. I’m sure I’ll write more about this as we figure out how to navigate the very high cost of asthma treatment in the US.
That’s all for now!
Curious about our personal story? Be sure to read our story of how we became debt-free except our mortgage.
This week, my kids are having a blast at an enrichment camp offered by our school system. They each got to choose 2 fun classes to take for the week and my son is in one called “Slimy Science”. He’s definitely having fun, but you can imagine the things that are coming home with him! Today, he came home with several balls of flubber, colored green (his favorite color). I helped the kids get a snack and then headed upstairs to fold laundry. I’m sure you can figure out where this is going by the title of this post… My son soon came upstairs to tell me he accidentally sat in the flubber and had it all over his shorts and the back of his shirt. [Read more…]
If you have been trying to trim your grocery budget, you have probably tried Aldi or at least heard about their amazingly cheap grocery prices. I plan to do a post comparing Aldi prices to other stores soon, but first I wanted to write about some of the non-financial reasons I love Aldi. [Read more…]