Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Where to begin?  How about maximizing the retirement plan offered by my husband's work?  So I have been told, and so we did.  It was a stretch at first we thought we couldn't handle, but we could!  As we slowly made other changes in our budget to prioritize our retirement contributions.  We figured it was most important that we got that covered before we can set up college savings for our kids and tackle other areas of investment since if we can't take care of ourselves in our old age, how would that really help our kids pursue college and their dreams?  I didn't believe it possible, but I am learning that money is something that can be "stretched" (as some have used the term--for one in Miserly MOMS by Jonni McCoy) for your purpose.  Similar to what McCoy advises, by reviewing our spending records from last year and looking ahead, we were able to find what we needed to set aside each month for each particular purpose this year, and it was actually fun getting in control of our money.

I still do not know too much about investment and rebalancing portfolio and such, but it is one of my goals to get a handle on "making most of my money now" (as Jane Bryant Quinn offers many do-able solutions in her self-same book Making the Most of Your Money NOW (Simon & Schuster, 2009).  As in her book and in many other similar articles I have read about money, the list of goals (in order of priority) is similar, but here is ours:
  1.  Maximize Retirement savings
   2.  Emergency Fund
     3.  College Savings
       4.  Pay off house
         5.  Save for other goals.

Saving has become fun and rewarding for the pure sake of knowing that you have some control over the future that way.  We are not quite all there, but we are surely on our way with the right step forward.

Monday, January 28, 2013


I have been a stay-at-home mom for now almost seven years!  And, for the first time in a very long time, I have finally begun to relish staying home with my kids...again!  I had been for a while debating the well-known question, i.e., whether to stay home or return to work--that every mom must at least once consider.  And, finally, with a little help from a few mom friends whose strong commitment to staying home with kids has inspired me consider it as a commitment and from my new favorite book authors who have laid out the facts for me--e.g., Jonni McCoy in her Miserly MOMS: Living Well on Less in a Tough Economy (2009).  Not only did I realize that I can save $10,000/year just on day care by staying home, but I also began to see that, thanks to a friend, that is probably what I would have wanted when I was a kid--to have my mom available to me when I wanted and needed her.  And, deep down, that is what I would want for my kids.  So, with this new commitment to staying home came a new desire to keep things in order and in budget so that we can still accomplish what we want while staying in budget and keeping my sanity intact!

So, how can I keep my sanity and passion alive while staying home with kids?  Here's my check-list for this year:
1.  Set and prioritize goals and work toward achieving them every day! (See Crystal Paine's The Money Saving Mom's Budget, 2012 for more inspiring ideas).  
2.  Find the time of day that works best for me and make that my "work-time" (My work time has become the first two hours before everyone wakes up.  Now only if I could get more disciplined about the use of my work time!)
3.  Set my budget (monthly and annually) and stick to it.  Also, check and maintain it consistently either weekly or bi-weekly.  Get in the habit of sticking to my budget every time I make that trip to the store...without falling prey to the newest marketing ploys!
4.  Find a hobby (old or new) and put in the time to develop that hobby into a skill that may be useful some day. I am hoping to pick up knitting this year and looking forward to knitting scarves and beanies for me and my family...and even as gifts--OK, let's not get ahead of myself there!  My other resolution has been to practice the piano regularly along with my kids, but that may need a little push.
5.  Deepen my existing friendships and make new friends and build a network of support...because I know I am not alone in this endeavor!
6.  Find time for my inner growth...with God!  With God's help, I can do it!

So, with that thought, I am enjoying staying home with kids...because I finally realized in my pursuit of happiness that happiness is found in realizing and accepting the hard fact that what I already have is what I truly desire.  

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Beginning...

Where to start?  Gosh, I have been keeping a budget file for as long as I have been married, thanks to my detail-oriented, well-organized husband!  But, I don't think I have really stuck to it strictly or knew that I could cut here and there until the economy started taking a turn for the worse and my husband and I started having more arguments about money more often probably because of all the issues that come about from trying to provide for a family of five now and in the long future to come, so we hope.

Then, like a gift from God, I had a chance to read an article from Real Simple magazine, titled, "Women and Money" (
--it was just what I needed to get inspired to thinking about money in a more approachable way.  I must say the real change came about once I started reading the books on their recommendation list, one of which included The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko (Gallery Books, 1998)  The key thing I took away from the book is frugality of the wife (one of the key characteristics of self-made millionaires).  And, I started taking better control of the money we have in order to set in proper motion for our future of five.  So, I guess that is my beginning, the life and wonder of five! Stay tuned for more!