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…]
Now that most kids in the U.S. are getting out of school for the summer, many families are looking for fun activities to keep the kids busy. It’s a great bonus when those activities also help to keep their minds engaged, get them outdoors, and cost very little. Our family has been enjoying an activity that fits all of those criteria. Letterboxing! [Read more…]
I had a great trip to my favorite thrift store last weekend! The picture above shows all the items I bought for my daughter for a total of $21.87. It included 10 items: 5 shirts, 4 pairs of jeans, and 1 dress, all in very good condition, including one new-with-tags. Since thrift store shopping can be such a great way to save money, I thought I’d share my advice for successful thrift store shopping. [Read more…]
I love the YNAB (You Need A Budget) software for budgeting and I’m sure I’ll talk more about the nuts and bolts of that in the future, but today I’d like to write a bit more philosophically.
The folks at YNAB suggest following their four rules to make budgeting work smoothly and rule #3 is “Roll with the Punches”, which means that when you overspend in one category, it’s OK to shift money around to cover it. This is not a failure, but just evidence that humans are not very good predictors of the future. Even if we diligently put $100/month into our car maintenance category, it can be hard to see when that large repair bill might pop up and it’s OK to cover the overage with some money from the eating out category or the home improvement category. Roll with the punches and move on. [Read more…]
It’s that time of year when many of us are working on our yards and buying flowers and plants. I love how warm and beautiful flowers can make a yard feel. I also love having a backyard vegetable garden where I can just pluck a few items for dinner each night. And trees… who doesn’t love beautiful trees? The only problem is that all of these things can be pretty expensive!
Here are some tips I’ve used to save a bit of money on the plants for my yard. [Read more…]