Is Family Support a Part of Your FIRE Plans?

Last week I listened to Sylvia’s story on the FIRE Drill Podcast.  Sylvia is a lawyer who has already hit her financial independence number, but is working for a few more years so that she has the flexibility to provide financial support to family members after she retires.

I’ve seen plenty of discussion in the personal finance world about parents providing economic aid to their grown children. But the opposite scenario – wanting to help parents or siblings – is not something I’ve seen covered much in the FIRE community.  Is Sylvia somewhat unique, or are there others who want to have the flexibility to do the same?

This episode hit home for me.  I do not worry about my husband’s parents’ financial situation; his dad is living comfortably on a railroad retirement pension, and I believe his mom’s husband will have a pension when he retires in the next couple of years as well.  But my family is a different story.

My Family Story

I grew up in a rural area.  My dad was a farmer and my mom stayed at home.  When I was ten my mom, a nurse, went back to work part-time.  There aren’t a lot of job opportunities in the immediate area.  She could have chosen to commute an hour to a larger city where she could work 12-hour shifts and earn more money.  But it was important to her to have the flexibility to be close to home for our after-school activities.

At some point my mom went back to work full time, while my dad continued to farm.  In addition to farming, my dad also took on side jobs, including selling seed and appraising and selling real estate.  My parents always worked hard, but the hard work did not result in lucrative financial gains.

Twelve years ago, my dad died unexpectedly.  He had life insurance and his affairs were kept in good order.  But there was still a financial impact.  My mom sold off some of the farm equipment, but there were loans against the farm from the lean years that needed to be paid down.

I am thankful that my mom had been working for many years by this point so she didn’t have to worry about finding a job.  But despite being at the same employer for coming up on 30 years, she still does not get paid a high wage.  Though she manages her money well, there just isn’t a lot of it to go around.  And maintaining a home and farm occasionally requires significant outlays of cash.

My Philosophy on Family Support

Honestly, I do worry about my mom’s financial situation.  So when I have an opportunity to help in small ways, I do so.  My brother and I both went to college, then moved to large cities and got jobs that pay substantially more than any jobs in the area where we grew up.  So we have the luxury of being able to pay for things that are a small burden to us but a much larger burden for her.  For example, we bought her a new washer and dryer two years ago for Christmas.

There has never been an expectation that we provide things for my mom.  And my mom is not the kind of person who would ever take advantage of us for financial gain, either.  But she has always been a great mom, and a role model for hard work and sacrifice.  Why wouldn’t we share our financial abundance when it makes sense to do so?

While providing family support is not an explicit part of our FI journey, having extra money to help my mom whenever it’s needed is definitely a consideration in our long-term financial decision making.

Caveats

I do think there are some rules to abide by when it comes to sharing your financial resources with family, whether it is a child or a parent or another family member:

  • Take care of yourself first.  Sylvia referred to this as the airplane method: you can’t help someone else if you don’t take care of yourself first.  Make sure your own financial house is in order before you offer to help family.
  • Only provide money or resources willingly, not out of forced obligation.  My mom would never have an expectation that we “give” her things, but others may have a different family dynamic.  Providing money without creating a cycle of dependence can be tricky.
  • Be cautious in loaning money.  I have never loaned money, but if I were in that situation, I would treat it as a gift so as not to create resentment should the money not be paid back.
  • Consider non-monetary gifts.  Sylvia mentioned that she shares frequent flier miles with her family.  I think this is a great idea!  My mom said Hawaii is the one place she really wants to visit, so in the next few years we are planning to do a trip there – and I plan for us to pay for most, if not all, of the trip on her behalf.

I’m really curious to get feedback from others on this topic.  Do you have family support as part of your FIRE plan?  If so, how do you plan to do so?  

Liebster Awards!

What is a Liebster Award, you may ask?  It is a way to recognize and discover new bloggers.  I want to give a shout out to Sarah at Ditching Your Desk for nominating FIREDup for a Liebster Award recently!  From one new blogger to another, it means a lot to know there are others out there who are on a similar journey.

To get to know the Leibster nominees a little more, Ditching Your Desk put together a list of questions for us to answer…

Why did you start your blog? 

I’ve gotten more interested in the FIRE/personal finance community in the past couple of years and wanted a way to get more involved in it.  Also, I love finance and writing, so it made sense to finally have a space of my own where I could share my family’s journey.  It also keeps me accountable to my goals.

What gets you up in the morning?

Coffee!! 🙂  Seriously though, in addition to the thought of breakfast and coffee (I’m always thinking about food), I get excited to spend time with my daughter and husband (and my pug dog).

Describe your perfect day.

My perfect day would involve most (or all) of the following:  a good night’s sleep, coffee, delicious food, quality time with my family (and friends), outdoor time/exercise, and some time to read.  Bonus points if the day involves an adventure, whether locally (like a visit to the zoo) or on a vacation.  If the evening involved a date with my husband and a glass of wine or a cocktail, that’d be pretty great, too.

What have you found to be the best thing about starting a blog?

The personal finance community in general is very positive and welcoming.  I feel like a bigger part of it now that I have my own blog.  It has also been a great way to get more writing under my belt, which is something I enjoy doing.

What have you found to be the worst thing?

Despite the fact that I created the blog as a creative outlet and not a business venture, I sometimes feel guilty that I don’t spend enough time on it.  That kind of takes the fun out of it.

What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

I am late to being a mom and for many years actually didn’t think motherhood was in my life plan.  In fact, I was a little scared that I would be one of those moms you read about on the Internet who says she hates being a parent.

I’ve actually found the opposite to be true.  I am so crazy about my daughter!  I was pretty satisfied with my pre-kid life.  But now that I’ve experienced being a mom, I can’t imagine not having her in my life.

Where is the best place you’ve visited?

In the summer of 2013 I went on an epic trip with my best friend, who at the time was in the Air Force and stationed in Germany.  I flew to Germany to meet up with her, then we traveled to Istanbul, Turkey and a few different cities in Italy.  It was fantastic!

Where do you dream of traveling?

It might be easier to list where I don’t want to travel!  I imagine there are more places I’d like to see than I’ll ever get a chance to visit in my lifetime.  Australia/New Zealand, an African safari, Thailand, and Bora Bora are just a few fun ideas.  There are also many amazing places within the United States to explore.  I would like to visit some of the best National Parks when my daughter is a little older.

What is your favorite book?

I enjoy reading.  I don’t have a specific favorite book, but I’ve read some good ones this year, including The Bear and the Nightingale, What Alice Forgot, Heartburn, and At Home in the World.  They are all very different books but I enjoyed each of them.

What do you want to be in your next life (figuratively speaking)?

I’ve worked long enough in cubicle land to say it would probably not involve staring at beige walls all day while hunched over a computer.  Writer?  Teacher or professor?  Librarian?  Financial planner?  Personal trainer? Yoga guru?  Entrepreneur?  Who knows.  But in my next life I’d also like to be a wife and mom and daughter and friend.

Who is your favorite musician or band?

The Avett Brothers!

A Few Suggestions…

Go check out Ditching Your Desk if you’re looking for new blogs to follow!

A few other newer blogs I suggest checking out as well:

Lean Fire ATL – LeanfireATL is a GenX early 50’s chick’s blog about the journey to FIRE through spending, saving and investing.

Women Who MoneyWomen who Money is a collaborative blog created to provide trustworthy personal finance information for women.

Birds of a FIREOlivia is a 25 year old FIRE blogger living in New York City.

Financial Pilgrimage – A St. Louis family who is on a journey to pay off nearly $200,000 in debt since 2011.

Readers – any suggestions of other new blogs everyone should check out?

Friday’s Frugal Five!

Happy Friday!  Here’s a peek into five money-related moments from my past week.

  1.  Last Friday I texted my friend to wish her a happy 40th!  She had won free tickets to a concert that night, and plans with another friend fell through, so she offered me her extra ticket.  Normally I would have found excuses not to go, but the last minute nature of the invite worked in our favor this time.  As a plus I got to spend quality time catching up with a friend I haven’t seen much since my daughter was born.
  2. I changed the way I’m handling dependent care flex reimbursements this year.  Our current daycare sends monthly invoices, which I submit for reimbursement as soon as they are received.  The daycare cost is significantly(!) more than what’s being deposited in my flex account each month, so our claims submission process is smart enough to know to cut me a check after each paycheck, when the new deduction has been placed in my flex account.  It doesn’t change the amount I receive back from my flex account, but it does ensure consistent cash flow every two weeks.
  3. Due to an unfortunate incident my trusty old Kindle died on Monday.  It wasn’t ‘frugal’ to buy a new one, but I love to read, and use Overdrive through our local library to check out e-books all the time.  Since I borrow almost all books I read instead of buying them, I should recoup the cost of the Kindle before the end of the year.  
  4. We spent at least $25 less than average on our grocery store trip last weekend.  I’m not sure what we did that made it so efficient, but I need to try to recreate it!  I think we did have some efficiencies from meal components that overlapped.  For example, I made homemade meatballs on Sunday, then we used them for two separate meals (spaghetti and meatball subs).
  5. Our tax refunds have already been squirreled away!  None of it is being spent at this time; there are things going on behind the scenes here that suggest this is the most prudent option at this time (more on this in an upcoming post).  Part of it went to beef up our online savings account (the 1st tier, super liquid emergency fund) and part of it went into the brokerage account (the 2nd tier emergency fund).

What were your big money moments from the past week?

Don’t Wish it Away

This time last year I was on maternity leave with my newborn.  I am so happy I took the full twelve weeks off to be at home with my baby, but I’d be lying if I said the time was pure joyful bliss.  Adjusting to a tiny human who needs constant care and attention was not easy for me.  I would ask my friend Google:  “When do babies get easier?”  Sometimes I found myself wishing the time to move a little faster, to jump ahead to a time where this parenting thing got easier.

Then I went back to work.  Time began moving rapidly.  My daughter started rolling over.  I thought, “This is fun! I like this stage.”  Then she began sitting up.  That was fun, too.  She started eating solid foods and sitting in her high chair with us at mealtime.  The first time she crawled was so exciting.  Now she is a toddler and working on walking and talking and so many other awesome things.

That “hurry it up” mentality from the newborn days?  It diminishes more and more with each passing month.  Each developmental stage is passing so quickly and my husband and I are trying to truly experience and enjoy each moment while we are in it.

“Life is a journey, not a destination.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

What does this have to do with Financial Independence?

It’s easy to have a “hurry it up” mentality about financial independence, too.  For many (including us), it’s a goal that is several years away – if not a decade or more.  Sometimes it’s a struggle for me not to wish away today, anticipating some “magical” future time when we will reach our financial freedom goal.

But each of us only gets one life to live, and we don’t know how long it will last, or what detours our path will take.  The thing I’m working on is how to enjoy TODAY, while still making conscious financial decisions that benefit our tomorrow, too.

How do you enjoy the present when FIRE is such a long-term goal?

Friday’s Frugal Five, Tax Edition: Five Ways We Minimized Our Tax Bill

I filed our taxes this week!  Yes, I’m a super nerd who enjoys plotting and scheming and figuring out my deductions.  And we usually get our taxes done early so we can sock away our tax refund.

In the personal finance community, there is a lot of this:

“You don’t want a tax refund!  Don’t give an interest-free loan to the government!”

I get that.  It’s a logical argument.  But I’m firmly in the “I enjoy getting a refund” camp, for a couple of reasons.

  1. The money that I’m getting in my refund probably wouldn’t have been invested anyway; it would have been squirreled away to my emergency fund, which is a high-interest savings account.  I’m not exactly earning lots of dollar bills on that.
  2. There is a psychological boost that comes with getting a small chunk of ‘extra’ money.  It’s a way to put a significant dent in a loan, set aside funds for a house improvement or family vacation, or replenish an emergency fund.  (We don’t spend our refunds frivolously; for someone who would be tempted to do so, a refund might not be the greatest idea.)

Here are five ways we minimized our tax bill for 2017:

  1. We contributed to tax-advantaged retirement accounts.
    • The hubby and I both contribute to 401(k)s at work.  We didn’t max them out in 2017, but we definitely contributed more than either of us ever had in the past.  (My goal is to max mine out this year!)  This money was all contributed pre-tax.
    • If you have a 401(k) at work, you can still deduct a contribution to a traditional IRA if you meet certain income limits. I wasn’t sure exactly where our modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) would land in 2017, so I waited until tax time to do the analysis.  I ended up making a partial contribution for the 2017 tax year, and funded it as I filed my taxes.  I’ll use the refund money to replenish the funds I put in the IRA.  Plus, the IRA contribution reduced our taxable income even more, leading to a bigger refund!
  2. We used FSA and HSA accounts.
    • Since I had our daughter last year I knew that I would have to pay quite a bit of out of pocket expenses against our medical plan, so I maxed out my flexible spending account (FSA) at work.  FSA contributions are free from Medicare/Social Security, federal, and state taxes!  The caveat is that FSA money is “use it or lose it” – so you have to be certain you will use up the funds in the year you contribute them (there is also a small grace period to use up FSA money the following year).
    • I don’t have a Health Savings Account (HSA) at work, but my husband does.  HSAs are used in conjunction with high deductible health plans.  This money is also pre-tax and the best thing about an HSA is that the money is portable.  You can take it with you if you leave!
  3. I contributed to a Dependent Care FSA.
    • If your employer offers it, you can fund a dependent care FSA up to $5,000 a year.  Dependent care FSA contributions are also free from Medicare/Social Security, federal, and state taxes.  When you factor in our marginal tax rates, this income would otherwise be taxed at nearly 39% – so this is a ton of tax savings.  You need every little bit when you pay as much for daycare as we do!
    • If your employer doesn’t offer a DCFSA, you may be able to claim the dependent care tax deduction.  You can’t double dip on this with the FSA, but if you have more than one child you may be able to claim costs that are above the $5,000 DCFSA limit.
  4. We itemized our deductions.
    • We used some of the common deductions – property taxes, mortgage interest, and charitable contributions – to itemize rather than take the standard deduction.  The larger the deduction, the smaller the taxable income, which means a smaller tax bill.  With the tax reform changes, 2017 is probably the last year for the foreseeable future that we’ll be able to itemize.
  5. We received the child tax credit.
    • Really there isn’t anything to do to claim this credit other than have a kid.  But there is an income limit on it, so by utilizing some of the options listed above, we reduced our MAGI enough to ensure that we got the full $1,000 credit.  The best thing is that a tax CREDIT is a dollar for dollar reduction to your tax bill.  (FYI: the income limits for the child tax credit have increased significantly for 2018 with the tax reform, so more earners with kids will be eligible for this credit.)

Do you enjoy or dread doing taxes?  What did you do in 2017 to reduce your tax liability?

12 Items in 2018

Buy nothing pledges are ubiquitous in the personal finance/minimalist blogosphere.  Britt at Tiny Ambitions is doing a 2018 shopping ban.  So is the Happy Philosopher.  The only clothing item Mrs. Frugalwoods has bought in the past 4 years is a pair of muck boots – she didn’t even buy maternity clothes for her two pregnancies!  Tread Lightly Retire Early is starting her second year of a clothes buying ban.

I’m not ready to make a pledge to ban all clothing purchases for myself for a year.  (I do enjoy being able to add a new thing to my wardrobe on occasion!) But I do want to be a conscious consumer.  So I’m doing a 12 Items in 2018 challenge.  I plan to buy 12 (OR LESS!) clothing related items this year.

Why?

  • I already have plenty of nice clothes.
  • I wear the same clothes over and over again anyway.
  • To encourage me to mend that small pile of clothes sitting in my closet and take good care of the clothes I already own.
  • To be more intentional in my purchases.
  • To lessen my environmental impact.
  • And of course, minimizing shopping helps the wallet, too.

What gets counted?

  • Shirts, sweaters
  • Pants, jeans, skirts, shorts
  • Dresses, skirts
  • Accessories (scarves, hats, belts, etc.)
  • Outerwear/coats
  • Shoes
  • Jewelry
  • Handbags, wallets
  • Loungewear
  • Workout gear

What I’m not counting in the total:  underwear, socks, free t-shirts from any races I complete this year.

Since I did the Uber Frugal Month Challenge in January, my current total for the year is ZERO clothing items purchased.

Who wants to join me?  What is your WHY for limiting your purchases in 2018?

What I Learned from the Uber Frugal Month Challenge

In January I decided to partake in the Frugalwoods Uber Frugal Month Challenge as this was the last opportunity before it goes on hiatus.

I really didn’t know what to expect; I went in with an open mind to see what I could learn.  Now that the month is complete, here are my biggest takeaways:

My basic frugality skills are solid.

As I read each daily e-mail, I realized that I’ve already done a lot of work to get back to a frugal mindset in the past year or so.  I have cut back on clothing/shoes purchases, pack lunch for work 4’ish days a week, actively shop the ads at our grocery store, think before purchasing things impulsively.  Since we have a toddler, our travel and entertainment budget is pretty minimal (we don’t go out much).  We even hosted a frugal birthday party for our daughter, which was both inexpensive and low stress.

I also used the challenge as an opportunity to “go without” some small luxuries for a month as a reset.  For example, I didn’t buy anything on Amazon or Target and didn’t purchase any coffee away from home.  (How did I manage to go a whole month without setting foot in Target?)

Could I have cut my discretionary expenses even more during the challenge?  Definitely.  But overall I feel we have a solid foundation in frugality.

 

We have a lot of ‘big rocks’ in our spending

These are our 3 big rocks:  Mortgage, Daycare, and Retirement Savings.  I just added up in my head what these three line items amount to, and it’s pretty ridiculous.  In fact, January was a 5-week daycare month so that expense was nearly as much as our mortgage!  We also had an unexpected plumbing expense in the middle of the month.

When so much of your monthly budget is consumed by a few big things, it can be discouraging; why even bother cutting back on the $5 lattes or $10 lunches? But these are the only changes that will make an impact for us in the short term.

You can’t force frugality upon someone else.

I started the month trying to rope my husband into this challenge, thinking it would be fun to do it together.  One of the first UFM e-mail topics related to goals.  I set out to have a conversation with the hubs about our frugality and future life plans.

Well…I kind of forgot that my husband hates goal setting and thinking about the future and really anything that constrains his behaviors artificially.   (We are very different souls.)  I kept pushing on it and we both felt miserable at the end of the discussion.  So I took a step back and remembered I can only manage my own behaviors.

“You cannot effectively shove ANY philosophy, world view, religion, or way of life down someone else’s throat. The best you can do is live out the shining example of your financial certainty. People will notice.”  -Mrs. Frugalwoods

Do I wish my husband would spend less money going out to lunch during the week?  Yes.  Is that a hill I want to die on?  NOPE.  So I’ll carry on by eating leftover black bean soup three days in a row.  You know why?  Because I CHOOSE to do it, and it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice.  (That was some damn good soup if I do say so myself.)

My husband is generally open to listening to my points about frugality when I make non-judgmental remarks in passing conversation, so I’m going to continue using this approach.

 

There is a season for saving and a season for spending.

January is the perfect month to focus on frugality.  Everyone is burned out from the holidays and trying to get back into a regular routine.  However, it can be really easy to get in a NO FUN RUT where you never let yourself splurge on anything.

This path to financial independence?  It is not a short one, at least not for us.  Some fun things need to be sprinkled in there to keep up the morale.  The key is to find a balance and spend money on things that you value.  I’m loosening up the purse strings just a little in February.

“There are seasons for blowing money like a dope, and seasons for saving like a coupon-clipping maniac. Finding your balance is key.”  –Abandoned Cubicle

Who should do the UFM Challenge?

I was a surprised to discover I didn’t learn much new information from the daily e-mails.  Maybe that’s because I’ve been reading the Frugalwoods blog for a while now and am already familiar with many of the great tips offered through the challenge.

I think the ideal target for the UFM challenge would be:

  1. Someone who is early in their frugality journey and still building their skills (this would be a great Frugality 101 class);
  2. Someone who likes/needs group accountability (there was a lot of discussion on the Facebook group, though I didn’t participate personally);
  3. Someone looking to do a frugality “cleanse” – a previously frugal person, who has encountered some lifestyle inflation and is wanting to reset habits

Have you done the UFM challenge?  What did you learn about yourself?  How do you talk frugality with your significant other?

Friday’s Frugal Five

It’s Frugal Friday y’all!

Some frugal things for this week:

  1. Used my Discover card when I bought a tank of gas.  Gas is one of the 5% cash back categories this quarter!  That was like an extra DOLLAR of cash back, people. 🙂
  2. Those extra dollars add up to…more gift cards I can buy.  I get $50 Chipotle gift cards for $45 in cash back.  I used one of those cards yesterday to have a “free” lunch with my friend.
  3. The other 4 days this week I packed lunch.
  4. For coffee at work I usually fill up a reusable K-cup canister from the bag of coffee I have stashed beneath the team Keurig.  However, yesterday I went to our Starbucks cafe at work with my friend as a treat (and to stave off sleepiness from my restless child’s lack of sleep the night before).  Instead of buying a latte, I bought an Americano and added a little cream.  This hack usually saves at least $1.50.  Also? Because it’s an infrequent splurge, I REALLY enjoyed it.
  5. Last year I bought small Christmas gifts for our daughter’s daycare teachers.  Each teacher got a favorite drink and snack along with a Target gift card.  Well, one of those teachers was on maternity leave at Christmas and decided not to come back to work.  I’ve been holding on to the gift and now realized that I can reuse that Target gift card.  Looks like I’ll be buying some “free” paper towels and Kleenex this weekend!

I’m also very happy to report there were no outrageous unanticipated household expenses this week so I feel really good about the week’s spending.

How was your week?

What is Your Money Personality – and How Did it Develop?

What is your money personality?

I recently came upon this quiz online and here are my results:

Capture

These results are accurate.  I’ve got a case of bag lady syndrome and have been like that pretty much since I started living on my own.  For anyone not familiar with the term, bag lady syndrome is a fear of ending up destitute.  I am confident in my financial decision making skills, but I still view money as a security blanket.  (More on this later…)

And while I don’t save as much as many in the FIRE community, I’ve always been an above-average saver.

The Other Personalities

According to The Money Couple, these are the other personalities:Capture2We all know people who fit this category, right?  People who love the finer things in life and live life to the fullest.  I also know people who give thoughtful gifts; it makes me think about the Five Love Languages, because receiving gifts is an important expression of love to some people.

Capture4Think about anyone you know who is an entrepreneur at heart.  This is definitely not me.  I am willing to take a normal amount of risk in the markets since I have a long time horizon, but I’m risk averse in daily life.

Capture3This is the closest match to my husband’s personality.  Money is relatively unimportant to him; it is simply a means to an end.

How did you develop your money personality?

  • Were you born with your money tendencies?
  • Was it influenced by the way your family taught you about money or your financial situation growing up?
  • Has it been impacted by your life events in adulthood?

Growing up, we always had plenty of food and a warm house, but we did not have much money.  My dad was a farmer and outcomes were often dependent on factors outside our control – Mother Nature and the agricultural markets.  I think this is a big factor that shaped my money personality; I didn’t want to have so little control over my own financial destiny.  Thus money became a security blanket to me.  I saw how hard my dad worked, yet all that hard work didn’t always translate into money in the bank.  I’ve made safe, traditional education and job choices in adulthood because of my risk aversion, and it’s also been a reason for my “save for a rainy day” mantra.

I also think some of it is just our inherent personality.  I am the firstborn and have the traditional firstborn traits.  I’m conscientious, cautious, controlling, and achievement oriented (yep I love setting goals!).  As far as I know, my younger brother is good with money, but he’s not a crazy finance nerd like me.

Ongoing life events impact our money personality, too.  There was a period of almost three years at the end of my first marriage where I was the only breadwinner.  (Did I mention this was during the last economic meltdown?)

This series of events could have led to financial ruin for a lot of people.  While I did have a rebuilding period after my divorce, I did not have to start from scratch.  I had been saving for a rainy day – that day came, and it lasted nearly 3 years.  I was thankful that I had developed the ability to live below my means and that I had a healthy emergency fund stashed away.  This experience simply reinforced my belief that MONEY = SECURITY and FREEDOM.

Would you change your money personality?

Overall I’m pretty satisfied with being a saver and security seeker.  I sleep well at night without worrying about money.  But in an ideal world, I would take a little more risk, have more fun in the moment, and stress a little less about life in general. 

As our daughter grows older, we will teach her to live frugally and save.  But I also hope that she will take calculated risks and enjoy her life to the absolute fullest.

What is your money personality?  How do you think it developed, and would you change it?

Friday’s Frugal Five (or FAIL?)

AHHHHHH Friday.

This week’s recap feels like more of a Frugal Fail than a Frugal Five.  But here’s how it went:

  1. The big frugal fail was an unplanned house expense.  My husband started off doing something very frugal: he tried to fix our leaky shower head.  (He’s actually pretty handy around the house.)  Unfortunately things went awry and then the main water valve shutoff to our house BROKE.  Yup, not a whole lot you can do there that doesn’t involve calling a plumber.  That was an unexpected 4-figure expense.  Sometimes that’s the reality of being a homeowner, but it was still frustrating.  Luckily we have a healthy emergency fund for just this purpose, should we need to tap into it.
  2. Everyone in our house was sick at some point this past week!   My husband was actually at home from work Monday when the whole plumbing debacle happened, and I felt terrible because he had taken the day as a sick day to get more rest from the cold/flu he had over the weekend.  Right about the time the plumber left I showed up at home, as I had received a call from the daycare to pick up our sick child.  Luckily, the family sickness didn’t derail our spending much.  When I was home with the baby Tuesday I ate leftovers for lunch, and when my husband was home with her on Wednesday he made a box of mac and cheese that we had in the pantry.  AND, I had a banana that was past it’s prime that was perfect for putting in a smoothie that I made for our feverish little one.  Sick babies are soooo sad!  Luckily everyone is on their way back to 100% health now.
  3. Stocked up on snack provisions at work to avoid visiting the vending machine or running to the work cafe for a snack or treat.   (See photo)
  4. We received two gift deposits to our daughter’s 529 account this month for her birthday.  Yay for family members who are willing to support our financial and lifestyle goals!  Our daughter definitely didn’t need any more “stuff” so the 529 gifts were perfect.
  5. We had fajitas a couple nights ago for dinner.  There was just a smidge left over that I stashed in the frig for lunch today, saving me from having to buy lunch out.

It feels defeating to be writing about such SMALL WINS, like eating leftover fajitas rather than spending $5-10 on a lunch from the work cafe, in a week where we had such a LARGE unexpected expense.  But I have been reminding myself this week that small savings daily, on important categories of our lifestyle, lead to large savings over time.

How was your week?  Has your household been battling sickness this season too?

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