Category Archives: Finances

What’s Next?

 

It’s been ages since I posted and this year has been filled with twists, turns and unexpected trials and triumphs.  With my son moving up to 1st grade and my daughter going into her last year of nursery school, I found myself at a crossroad with no idea of the next direction I would go.  Being a stay at home mom for seven years was a gift that I am lucky to have had.  I started my role as “Mommy,” “Mama,” and “MOM” after teaching 1st grade for eight years and loved my new identity.  Time has flown by and I’ve come to the realization that I’ve been home almost as long as I was in the classroom and can’t imagine jumping back into a teaching career when I’ve been out of practice for so long.  So…where does that leave me?  I’m no longer a first grade teacher, an identity I cherished and was proud of, but I’m also not a mommy of babies and toddlers anymore which is what I came to love even more than my previous role.  I felt like I was slowly becoming NOBODY.

Bigger kids means bigger financial needs and the strain of a single income was becoming apparent.  The obvious solution would be going back to teaching.  However, there are no words to describe the anxiety I felt when even thinking about returning to teaching.  Being out of the classroom for so long makes it that much harder to imagine going back.  If I had taken a maternity leave and gone back right away my kids wouldn’t know any different and neither would I.  Problem is I know how much I love bringing them to school and picking them up.  I love “Mommy and Abby days” when she doesn’t have school.  I couldn’t imagine giving it up.

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Conflicted with finding an answer that would be best for our family I had one of those MEANT TO BE experiences that has changed the path from uncertainty to determination.  I have always believed that certain people come into our lives for a reason.  There is no doubt in my mind that Tracy was one of those people.  My husband went to high school with Tracy and we have been facebook friends for a while.  She lives in Georgia and was a marine biologist, but is now a division leader with lia sophia.  For those of you who are not familiar with lia sophia it is a direct sales company that offers gorgeous jewelry at affordable prices (Think Tupperware party, but with jewelry)!  One day Tracy sent me a message asking me if I would be willing to host a facebook virtual jewelry party so she could show her team that it is possible to connect with friends from out of state and build your business through technology.  I thought about it and mentioned it to my husband and he said to me, “Maybe you should talk to Tracy about selling lia sophia, she was a marine biologist and is now really successful doing this and is home with her kids.”  That was it…I talked to Tracy once and signed up!  That was two months ago and boy has my world CHANGED for the BETTER!  Through friends and family who volunteered to host parties I have been able to get my business started and already recruited a customer to join my “team”!  I am on my way to promoting to Unit Leader and am still in awe that this practically fell into my lap.  Tracy has guided me EVERY step of the way and has been my biggest cheerleader.  It is AMAZING to work for a company that encourages women to be their own boss, set goals and attain them, and live their dream.  My dream has always been to be home with my kids.  My fondest memories are of my mom being home with me and my sister.  I completely understand that this is not an option for many and that there are many women who even if staying home was an option would choose to continue with their career.  The choice we each make does not DEFINE the type of mother you are.  It does not make one of us better than the other.  It is simply the path that each mother takes on the road to raising their children to be the best they can be!

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In the past two months I have gained a new level of confidence and am proud of the work I have done to build my business.  Dressing up my “Mommy” clothes with all of my new jewelry has added an element of fun to my days.  I LOVE being my own boss, making my own hours, and helping our family out with finances.  People do come into our lives for a reason…Tracy came into mine to be the light on this exciting new journey that I am on.

Visit my business Website!

~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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Filed under Dream Big, Finances, Good Life, Hard Reality, Inspire, Life, Marriage, New Jersey Robyn, Relationships, Self Image, SelfImprovement, You

Be Rewarded for Shopping Online

As I’m sure many of you can relate, shopping with kids in NoT exactly my favorite thing to do.  There is always the fighting over who sits where in the cart, then the whining that I’m taking too long, and of course the dreaded tantrum over the desperately needed toy they just HaVe to HaVe!  My kids can turn a 5 minute trip to Home Depot for light bulbs into a disaster.  They will manage to find something they need…such as the Tinker Bell and Lightning McQueen flashlights that are placed just at their eye level so they can pull the, “Oh wait, we need this!”

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Thanks to the ease of online shopping and the availability of coupon codes, (read our post on how to get coupon codes) and free shipping, I try to avoid going out to the stores as much as possible.  I was recently introduced to an online shopping opportunity even better than coupon codes!  EBATES!  Ebates is a company that gives you cash back if you shop through the links listed on their site.  They advertise for the stores and you make money back by shopping through their link.  It is a WIN WIN  for everyone!  At first I thought it was too good to be true, but I did my research and have been a member and shopping with them for a month now and earned over $30 back on purchases I would have made whether I ordered them through the Ebates site or not.  You can track sales, coupons, and percentages that stores are giving back on their site.  The money you earn from shopping is either mailed to you in check form or can be deposited directly into your paypal account.  You can still use coupon codes and free shipping codes and get whatever percentage that particular store is offering back on the day you are shopping.

Here’s a link to get you started!

http://www.ebates.com/rf.do?referrerid=1F4aHuk9ijWgSKFCdEfzww%3D%3D

Happy Stress Free Shopping!

~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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How I am avoiding a stressful Christmas this year…

I know…it is only September…but I already have half of my Christmas shopping DONE!  The motive for starting so early?  I’m tired of stressing out during the holidays!

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The reason I’m starting so early has to do with money.  If I began now, I could spread the cost of gifts over the course of several months, instead of spending a large sum of cash in November and December.  Since we do a monthly budget, I didn’t want to go WAY over in December (and throw the budget out the window), all because of Christmas.  I figure if I SpReAd OuT my spending, I could easily pay $50-$150 in Christmas gifts and it wouldn’t make much of an impact each month.

The last couple of weeks I started searching for a few gifts.  To my surprise, I was able to purchase several of my items half-off, just by shopping on eBay and Amazon!  If I would have purchased those same items in a couple months from now, I’d be bidding against NuMeRouS (stressed) Christmas shoppers, which would make the bidding prices go uP Up UP!!!  I have already saved significant cash on gifts, which allowed me to start working on the items I was planning to purchase next month.  Can’t beat that!

The other obvious advantage is avoiding to shop (and panic) at the last minute.  I feel less rushed doing it this way and can also make sure I get what I really want (since items are IN STOCK in September!  ha!)

Christmas can be the last thing on your mind since we haven’t even hit Halloween, but if your past experiences left you in financial ruins and stress, it might be worth considering!

Happy Shopping!

Lara

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Shop at Home and SAVE!

Those of you who know me or follow our blog know that if deciding between shopping at Target with my two kids or a root canal…the stress free option would hands down be the root canal!  I am always the mom with the kids climbing in and out of the shopping cart, yelling at them for running away from me, or in last weeks case the mom with the 5-year-old crying in the isle because I wouldn’t buy him some Captain America shield he JuSt HaD To HaVe!  So again…a root canal with a little laughing gas to take the edge off would be my pick any day!

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Thanks to my little shopping nightmares I have resorted to doing almost all of my Christmas shopping online.  What I have learned is…you can get amazing deals with PrOmO CoDeS!  When purchasing online, before you pay there is almost always an option to enter a promo code.  In the past I left this blank not knowing where to find a code.  Now with some hard work and a little luck I have saved tons of money and gotten free shipping on most of my purchases by simply typing the name of the store that I am purchasing from and the words promo code in a google search.  Once you do that tons of links come up to sites that are dedicated to listing current and expired promo codes.  For example…I ordered our Christmas cards from Shutterfly this year during their 50% off sale and earned free shipping due to the amount that I was purchasing.  The card that I chose was a little more than I wanted to spend so I typed into google “Shutterfly promo code” and found a code that got me an extra 20% off what I was already getting!  It was well worth the time and effort it took me to find the code!

As you get ready to do your last-minute shopping, remember…the stores need to get rid of their inventory just as much as you need to buy presents.  Take the time to search for SaViNgS!

~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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The Financial Lifesavor

A few years ago I did something that iMpRoVed our financial stress.  In addition to tracking our monthly expenses, I made a simple spreadsheet that estimates what our bank account will look like in six months.

Whenever I log our monthly expenses, I also update this 6-month sheet (to see an example, click 6-Month Spreadsheet).  At the top, I enter our most current bank account total.  Below, I have the pRojEcTed expenses and income for each month.  You should have a pretty good idea on how much you spend if you already keep track of your monthly expenses.  If not, now would be a good time to start!  If your income varies due to sales or farming, etc. you need to enter in a realistic number to ensure your 6-month projection is as accurate as possible and doesn’t give you false hope. 

One reason this concept comes in handy is because it anticipates yearly bills.  Propane refills are already estimated in the months of October and January, so when the time comes there is no big SuRpriSeS.  By taking into account all of your known expenses you won’t have to worry (and stress!) about moving money around to accommodate.

I especially like the 6-month forecast when I want to make larger purchases.  If you’re itching to buy new carpet, you enter in the total and instantly have a good I D E A how much it will affect your finances in the long term.  For example, you may get a bonus at work and see an immediate increase in your bank account.  You go out and spend it all (and maybe a little more), and then two months later you are panicked because you forgot your vehicle tags and taxes were due.  See how this could have been avoided?

As far as financial surprises, like if our car breaks down, I don’t estimate for that.  You will find that if you do the 6-month spreadsheet you won’t be likely to spread your bank account too thin.  Pick a number that will give you a nice CusHioN for emergencies.  As long as you stay above your goal you can avoid roller coaster financial stress and feel more confident in the purchases that you make!

~Lara

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Put Your Blinders On

Do you make decisions based on the people around you?  DeeP dOwN did you decide to buy a new car because all your friends and family recently upgraded theirs?  Did you put your kid in t-ball because you felt the pressure from the other parents?  Have you recently felt the need to go on an extreme diet because you bumped into an old classmate that lost a bunch of weight?

Whether it is what you buy, the vocation you choose, how you raise your kids, or the way you live your life, we must ask ourselves this question:

If I couldn’t see others and what they are doing, would I still be making the same decisions? 

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So many times we forget to think on our own because we are heavily influenced by other people.  Doug and I talk about this a lot.  In our decison making we have to constantly remind ourselves that, if we didn’t care what others thought, would we still go down the same path?

Taking buying a home for example.  Would you have purchased your home if you didn’t know what type of home everyone else lived in? Without thinking about it, you went house hunting feeling obligated to want certain things because you knew what other people have.  Even though they weren’t there, the influence talked you into buying an expensive home, and you are left with the stress of keeping up with the payments.   (If you are in a financial struggle, read our finance posts for help)

When you are at a crossroad to make a decision, ask yourself WHO you are doing it for. Like a race horse with blinders on, tune out what’s going on around you and focus on what YOU want.  It isn’t always easy, but living YOUR life will be the ulimate pRiZe when reaching the finish line. 

~Lara

Tired of keeping up with the Jonses?  Read my post called Goodbye Jonses! Hello Freedom!

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{The Answer Is In The House}

With a tough EcoNoMy like the one we’re in, many people find themselves in a challenging financial position.  Many are looking to take on second jobs to make ends meet.  It reminds me of a talk I heard back in college.  My alma mater, Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Ok required us students to attend chapel twice a week.  These were a HiGhLiGhT for me as they were so uplifting.  From time to time special speakers would be invited to address the students.  One of the chapel services I remember the best was one in which ToMmY BaRnEtT, pastor of Phoenix First Church spoke about a widow who found herself in financial dire straits.  He told the story about this woman in the Bible who came to the prophet Elisha, desperate for help.  {II Kings 4} She was a widow, had debtors demanding payment, and on brink of starvation.  If she could not pay her debt, by law she would be required to give her sons to the debtors.  She had no money, no means to make money, and was at the end of her supply of food.  When Elisha heard her story, he asked her, “What’s in your HoUsE?”  Her answer was, “Just a little bit of oil.”  Elisha then instructed her to collect jars from all her neighbors and pour her oil into the jars.  As she poured, the oil continued to flow, until she had enough to pay off her debtors.

The point of this story is that the answer to her problem was in her house.  She just didn’t think that what she had was sufficient.  If you are finding yourself with great need, ask yourself  “what’s in my “house”?”  Maybe you have a gift/talent/skill that you could turn into PrOfiT.  Maybe there’s some things you could sell.  Maybe it’s time to downside.  Whatever you do, if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed with your situation ask yourself, “What’s In My House?”  You may be sitting on your answer and not even know it!

:)

Robynn~

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I’m working hard and getting nowhere

Do you ever feel like that?   I have felt that way on our jOurNey to get out of debt.  On Tuesday, I shared the story on how we got out of denial and started tackling our finances in my “Getting Out of Financial Denial” post.  Does that mean the process has been easy and I haven’t wanted to quit?  No way!

Today I wanted to shed some light on the “lows” of working toward a gOaL.  There will be times when you feel like you are making no progress.  When we first started tackling our debt I felt like we were moving mountains.  But as time went on there were moments we felt defeated because of unexpected bills or kinks in the “plan”.

Life isn’t easy.  There will be suRpriSes and setbacks.  In tough times, Doug and I talk a lot about where we’ve come and the good things in store for our future.  When we need inspiration we tune into Dave Ramsey’s radio show for the “Debt Free Fridays” to hear how other people turned their financial disaster into a sUcCeSs story.  We surround ourselves with friends that have similar goals and give us support.  We choose NOT to give up because we know there IS a light at the end of the tunnel.

If you are feeling defeated in some area of your life, take heart!  You may not feel like you are making progress, but YOU ARE.  Eventually you will see your hard work pay off.  Believe it and persevere.  The greatest rewards come to those who work hard and wait….

Lara

Live-It List Hidden Question of the Week

List an item on your live it list that you will do with another person and your relationship with that person.

Comment below to receive 1 point.

For more details: http://thesuedesofa.com/2011/10/02/win-a-coach-purse-the-details/

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From the Confessional: Financial Denial

I remember 2011 Super Bowl Sunday like it was yesterday.  The game was about to wrap up and I sat in the living room staring at our computer, logging our expenses for the month.  I told Doug what I was woRkiNg on.  He responded by asking, “Lara, WHY do you even do that? We’ve been doing this for years and it comes out to the same number every month!“  After talking about it for a while we went to bed feeling defeated.

I couldn’t fall asleep and happened to see the “Total Money Makeover” book by Dave Ramsey on the night stand.  (I had ordered that book earlier in the week because a friend had recommended it.)  I ended up reading the first three chapters and my financial atTituDe was forever impacted.  I anxiously told Doug about it the next morning and, from that day on, we started working the basic principles to become debt free.  We revamped our expense sheet, made new gOaLs, and most importantly worked like crazy.   Doug got up with me and worked a few hours painting blocks before he went to his day job.  We stayed home on the weekends and worked every free chance we had.  We got the entire family involved in the process.  It was a little cRazY but we finally started getting traction.

Looking back, I can’t believe how much we’ve accomplished.  We not only drastically changed our financial situation, but our family has become even more of a TeaM.  It is still a work in progress but we are on our way to changing our family tree!

I am sharing this with you because if someone didn’t reach out to us, who knows how long we would have stayed in denial.  As humbling as it is to admit our faults, I take cOmfoRt in knowing our story may help someone going through the same struggle.

How is your financial situation?  Do you run out of money before the end of the month?  Go check out the “Total Money Makeover”.  Dave Ramsey has a great, simplified plan that will make you look at your financial future in a whole new way.  We also LoVe tuning into his radio podcasts while we are busy at work!  Visit http://www.daveramsey.com/radio/home/

Check back in on Thursday, for my Part 2 of this story!

Get on your way to financial FREEDOM!

Lara

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$ailing The Financial $ea$

This is a ship Scott made for our girls one cold, winter night. It's lessons are: On the journey to financial freedom, first, just get going, and second, don't compare your ship to the Queen Mary!

I have to AdMiT, I was a little (or a lot) hesitant to write a post about money.  You may have read my earlier post “Broke Was My Goal” where I talked about being a teacher with a financial mess on my hands and how I got out of that mess by taking one small step at a time.  Back then, I was a teacher on a limited salary.  Now I’m a doctor’s wife and on the other end of the spectrum.  You can probably understand my hesitation of talking about MoNeY.  The last thing I want to do is discourage our readers, who may think, “That’s easy for you to say.  I could do that if I were in your situation.”  My motive for talking about money is to give hope and encouragement, regardless of where you find yourself financially.  Not only do I desire for you to have hope in your financial situation, but also financial PeAcE.

That is a phrase I first heard in 2006 when Scott, my husband, and I took guru Dave Ramsey’s “Financial Peace University” class.  That really ChAnGeD the way we looked at money.  Up to that point we weren’t all that bad at handling money, but really didn’t have a clear-cut plan.  However, once we took this class our goals changed.  Because financial peace and living DeBt FrEe is our goal we have chosen to make certain sacrifices in our finances.  For us, it meant swallowing our pride and not trying to keep up with the Jones’ next door.  We don’t always do things perfectly.  {I’ll even share some of my mistakes I’ve made on this journey}.  But we are trying to take small steps in the right direction.  For example, my husband Scott drives a 13-year-old SUV with close to 300,000 miles.  My vehicle is a 4-year-old Dodge minivan which I plan to drive until it dies.   In addition, for two years we lived in a 950-square foot home with two kids and two dogs.

For everyone,  the definition of SaCriFiCe is different, but for everyone AcTiOn is required.  Just as we talk about losing weight, exercising more, or being a better parent/spouse, inaction is inertia; and inertia makes sacrifice just another good InTeNtIoN.

Here’s wishing you success in overcoming inertia….that difficult first step.  BoN VoYaGe!

:)

Robynn~

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