Hi-ho, Hi-ho, off to college we will go

RoadI’ve been reading a lot of status updates on FB lately about kids heading off to college. It made me a little nostalgic.

6 years ago I took my teenage daughter to college for the first time. No one told me how I would grieve when she was gone.

Then again in all fairness, I couldn’t wait for her to leave so I wouldn’t have believed them.

Her senior year was rough. Actually, her high school years were rough.

She graduated on a Friday evening and I had a plane ticket with her name on it for Saturday morning. She was heading from El Paso, TX to Connecticut to say with her biological father for the summer. The plan was that he would take her to college.

That plan quickly went awry, as most of those plans do. I booked a plane trip for the 3 littles (the youngest was 5 months old) and me and off we went to save the day. The Man even flew in for the weekend.

I rented a minivan, loaded it up and drove to Oswego, NY from Branford, CT.  My mother and step-father followed, just for good measure.

When we arrived, we discovered that the oldest was a day early. She would be one of the only ones on her floor.

Humph. Now what? My husband had a plane to catch the next day and we couldn’t stay overnight.

The decision was made that she would be fine and we were to leave.

She was ready for us to leave. There were 4 adults and 3 littles plus her in her dorm room. And 3 of the adults had lots of opinions on how to set this up or move that around, etc. I am sure you can picture it.

We all piled back in our cars and headed out. She had a cell phone. She could call if she needed to chat, I reasoned.

I can’t tell you how hard it was to pull away. My heart was breaking. The Man asked if I was okay. I waved his question off because I couldn’t speak. I was bereft.

I had raised my oldest to do just what she was doing, go to college, but it was painful to say good-bye.  I wish I had known how hard it would be. I was sad beyond measure.

I wasn’t so sad after we sad good-bye over Thanksgiving though. 5 days reminded me why it was time for her to fly the coop.

Have you sent your kids off to college yet? How did it go?

Life Changes

Slide1One of my girlfriends called this week in need of an ear and maybe some advice. The jury is still out on that because quite honestly she already knew the answer. Maybe confirmation?

Her dilemma is nothing new to a military spouse…change.  EXCEPT this change is in the form of military retirement.

This is actually a BIG deal if this is the only life you know.

Don’t close your browser just yet if you aren’t part of the military lifestyle because what I have to say pertains to ALL of us, military and civilian alike.

My girlfriend had some valid concerns:

  1. They will experience a pay decrease.
  2. What if they can’t find other employment in middle age?
  3. How will her husband be different without the job that defined him?
  4. What if she gets what she always wanted?

Here’s what I told her:

Pay decrease:  Assess your debt level now before a change in pay happens. What can’t you live without? If you receive a pension, what is the amount you need to make up in a new job to maintain the standard of living you enjoy now.

Unemployment in middle age:  This is a very valid concern considering the current job market. I reminded her that he has over 20 years in the military with advanced degrees. She is employable in a field that is experiencing a shortage of qualified candidates.  Plus, I reminded her of #1.  How much do they actually “need” to make up the difference. What if the only job he could find is the Walmart greeter? Will that make up the difference?

How will her husband be different?:  Ahhhh….here was the actual crux of the matter. The rest was just “fluff.” The real looming crisis is how this would change the dynamic of who they are as a couple.

What if he never gets off the couch?

Very, very valid concern, in my humble opinion, and one we ALL will face someday.

Here’s the advice I gave:  talk.  I know it sounds trite to some, but it is nothing but.  If you don’t start communicating your fears and concerns ahead of the impending life change then you will be behind the 8-ball.

“He tells me my fears are unfounded or he tries to “fix” the problem.”  Well, then tell him that isn’t fair and you deserve a chance to speak your peace and to stop trying to fix the problem.

Trust me, girlfriends, I know of what I speak on#3. I love The Man very much and we will be married 19 years this September, but communication is our biggest challenge.  He wants to “fix” the issue and I just want to “vent.” He gets tired of talking about something and I can hash it out to DEATH! Poor guy HA!

If you feel your Man won’t listen at home, then schedule a date. Or schedule a marriage retreat. This is serious business. Your concerns are valid and you need a chance to be heard.

What if she gets what she has always wanted?:  This is a tough one because we all think the grass is greener in someone else’s yard. (Except for me because I have the greenest lawn on my street, kid you not. I take pride in my lawn. I think I am a guy deep down at times. One of my former assistants accused me of that years ago before I fired her….sorry I digress.)

Let’s play the “what if” game here.

  • What if he sits at home and does nothing all day? Will that upset you?  Why?
  • What if you get the dream job you always wanted?
  • What if life doesn’t turn out the way you planned?

See, the reality is that life is NEVER what we think it will be, but we survive and thrive anyway.

I have faith that my girlfriend will come out on the other side of this life change as a force to be reckoned with and I can’t wait to see how she blooms.

A taste of humble pie

A couple of weekends ago I got a good taste of humility. My 8 y.o. daughter participated in her first rodeo.DSC06428

She has been training for quite some time and was very excited.  I was excited for her.

I posted the upcoming event on my FB timeline. I called my mother.  Everyone was anticipating pictures.

Unbeknownst to us, her trainer had a paperwork snafu and the horse my daughter usually rides was not allowed to participate.

The only option was a pony. Yep, a pony.

Some people don’t know the difference between a horse or a pony, but those that do know a horse is a horse and a pony is tiny in comparison.

I was shocked and a tad disappointed when the pony arrived and not the horse we were anticipating. How could I possible show a picture of my daughter riding a pony when I went on and on about her rodeo??

To be fair, the instructor did indicate via text that they were “loading the pony.” I didn’t give this a thought because truthfully I had never seen the pony and my daughter had never ridden the pony so I didn’t even know there was a pony at the stables.

Here’s the thing, though, my daughter didn’t care one iota that she was on a pony. She actually fell in love with the pony.

I was embarrassed.  She was riding the ONLY pony there. All the other kids were on full-size horses. She didn’t care.

There was one other parent who wouldn’t let her daughter compete on a pony. They left.

So here’s what I did, I bucked up and embraced the change because my daughter wanted to ride and she didn’t care what she rode.

Here’s the link to her ride.  I cry every time I watch it. The crowd reaction to her entry into the arena just warmed my heart. My daughter was so confident and proud of herself, how could I be anything but proud also?

So what does this have to do with money? A lot actually.  How many times do we make financial decisions based on what other people may say or think of us?

  • Your car?
  • Your house?
  • Your furniture?
  • How about your clothing?
  • Your kid’s clothing?
  • Hair?
  • Nails?

All too often is probably the answer.  Instead of worrying about our financial house we worry that our friends and family are judging us based on what they see.

I know I am guilty of this.  I hope the rodeo incident will cure me of some of this.

Can you ever save too much?

I had a chat with a 93 year old girlfriend.  Yep, my girlfriends are all ages.

She is a hoot and a wealth of knowledge. I love spending time with her.

She was telling me how she was annoyed that her bank issued her a revised 1099 and she had to get the local tax agency to file an amendment to her return.

I got nosy.  Yeah, I know, not a big surprise there, right?

I asked her how much she paid this agency.  She told me $300.

Holy Hannah!  Did I mention she is 93 years old?

I got concerned thinking they might be taking advantage of her.  I mentioned the VITA program and the TCE program offered through the IRS.

VITA=Volunteer Income Tax Assistance

TCE=Tax Counseling for the Elderly

I was relieved to hear that she knew about both programs.  Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your perspective), she doesn’t qualify.

It seems my girlfriend and her late husband did well for themselves through the years.

I didn’t get THAT nosy though and given the generational gap she wasn’t inclined to disclose any further. It was all good.

What she did tell me was how she wishes they had spent more of their money instead of saving so much of it “for the future” and their kids.

I was surprised to hear this, but I can appreciate that statement.

She said there were many things she and her husband went without so that they could put money aside.

After much consideration I decided that this is an important enough topic to discuss.

How much is enough?

I blogged about this in an earlier post here, but it warrants a discussion again.

What is your “number?”  Your number and my number are probably totally different and the journey to get there will be different also.

  • Do you want a mortgage-free home in retirement?
  • Will you be paying for your child’s (children’s) college?
  • Do you have a pension?
  • Is travel in your future?
  • Will you continue to work?

All of these things, and then some, are important factors to consider as you start saving and investing.

I would love to help you work through this process.  It is pain-free, I promise.  Just take the first step and send me a note to so we can get you started.

Busy as a bee

beeimagebulletinboardI am sorry my loyal blog-followers that I have been neglecting you.  It has been over 2 weeks since I connected, but what a whirlwind these 2 weeks have been.

Actually this new year has been a whirlwind for me and “my business.” I was hired in February to help an amazing entrepreneurial woman get her taxes together for her small business.

And then all of a sudden a couple of opportunities have come my way to help 2 more inspirational women launch their new small businesses.

Wow! I am HUMBLED to say the least.

One of these ladies just signed her lease yesterday. I am so excited and proud of her. I have known her since we were 16. I know she will be amazing at this.

My other friend called me yesterday in an excited panic. The “dream” of a new business is now a reality. She had her elevator speech ready when someone asked “What do you do?” She has her first paying client waiting in the wings. Woohoo!  Now to get her even more ready for her debut.

So what else is going on, you ask:

 

On top of encouraging and guiding these ladies I have been doing what I do best for my family, managing our finances.

I blogged about the local consignment sale that happens twice a year here and this will be the first season that I will consign.

Have you ever consigned?

I have done it before, but nothing on this scale.

Plus, I have 3 kids now and this is a whole new level of consigning.

I have been putting their too-small clothes in plastic tubs and had to haul them out. Then I had to haul out the spring/summer clothes and see what still fits. Lastly, I had to determine what is needed and for whom.

Can you spell p-r-o-j-e-c-t?  Well, worth it, though, since I am now going shopping with a plan.

And….

 

And that leads to the next project I have embarked on. A make-over of sorts for me.

One of my friends is starting up her personal stylist business. In exchange for my business savvy I get her style savvy. Trust me, I sure needed it.

Our first session together was to discuss “my colors” and my body shape. I had a general idea of both, but it was nice for validation. We even went over my make-up and hair style.

The next session was in my closet, literally. My closet now contains clothes that are appropriate. I am not holding on to that pair of pants any longer that I will never get back into. Seriously. Do you do that too?

I know what I need to round out my closet when I shop which will be very helpful to our budget.

It is time to move on and accept who I am.

The beauty of it all is that my girls see that I am embracing who I am. I don’t ever want my girls to think that getting older is a burden or something dreaded. I want them to think “I hope to look and act like my mom when I am her age.”

Lastly,

 

I made a promise to myself this year that I would really focus on my trading/investing.

It is my passion. I am good at it. I make money at it.

Plus, I want to learn new things.

And that requires time which, as you can see, is at a premium in my household at the moment.

Oh yeah, and I am homeschooling these 3 fascinating kids.

I wouldn’t trade any of the craziness though. It makes the days go by quickly.