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Home > Archive: February, 2019

Archive for February, 2019

Money Independence

February 19th, 2019 at 11:38 am

I took youngest son (14 year old 8th graders) to the bank today and we opened up his student virual wallet at PNC bank. He has a debit card now and is going to be financially independent in the sense that he his allowance is going into the bank - and he'll have to manage his spending accordingly.

He's also growing like a weed (last month I spent $140 on older son who is also growing). So we had some conversations about economic choice, working within your budget, and balancing what you need with what you want. He actually only spent $60 of his $140 and with some great President's Day sales he got two pairs of pants, two long-sleeve Ts, and one short-sleeved T. (He wears a uniform to school M-F). He had a long list of other things he wanted (not needed) and he's deciding on a particular name brand sweatshirt for $60 or some other things. He's thankfully not one of those who feels he needs to spend all of his money at one time.

I also spend $250 and purchased a small computer desk and coordinating shelf from Target. I like farmhouse industrial and the ratings were really high for furniture you need to put together. There was a 15% off sale and a 5% additional off thanks to using the Red card. So I've made my economic choices and actually spend all of my money until March 1.

We're all slowly getting there. I did get hit with a $35 over draft fee that I'm irked about, but not lamenting. So progress being made over here. I'm super-annoyed about it, but am better organized now so that my checks go with the proper accounts. I entered it in the wrong place. Frown

My Experience Living Between Socio-Economic Classes

February 9th, 2019 at 10:34 am

Reading the posts and comments on poverty levels has me thinking a lot, and not about my grand-parents or great-grandparents. But my own experience. I am now a middle-aged person, married almost 30 years, with a family of my own that is growing. And I am who I am today fiscally because of how I was raised and the money management that I saw.

I was born to teen-agers six months after their high school graduation. At the time, marriage was the only option. My biological father had also father another child born six weeks after me who was placed for adoption. Three of my four grandparents were born in Europe, with the one born here raised on a farm. None of my grandparents graduated high school, yet made money and prospered in real-estate and also owning a gas station and a fleet of taxis.

My parents lived in an apartment in a building owned by my grandparents. My father went to college and then law school. (Paid for by his parents) But he was a bully along the way and my mom left him at the age of 21 with two kids and no means of real support. Her parents were pretty clear it was up to her ex-husband to support her. After the divorce she ended up staying an additional 3 years because of no education and no way to support the kids. [The only benefit to this decision was when she left again there was no legal battle, that was already done.] So she stayed again until the bullying got really bad. So she left. And worked part-time. menial jobs to pay the rent and keep food on the table. See, the ex-husband didn't pay child support like he should have. She didn't have money to get an attorney. Her parents didn't know bad it really was money-wise because she was told it was her problem and her ex-husband should be paying support.

It meant living in a one bedroom aparetment. It meant having little to no furniture. It meant mac and cheese and hot dogs and bologna. It meant new clothes only received as gifts. It meant shoes falling apart. It meant washing clothes in the sink because there wasn't money for the laundromat.

Biological father at this point has had a string of live-in girlfriends (with kids) who he lavishes money and attention on. It means he drives a Corvette while his ex-wife drives an unsafe car because she's saving money for brakes. It means a whole lot of confusion to the kids.

It improves a bit when grandparents on both sides realize how bad it is. There are some after-school activities now, visitation with bioloigcal father transfers to his parents who are good about giving "allowances" to my brother and I, my mother remarries and they buy a modest but very nice house in the suburb we were renting in. I then attend a private Catholic school, etc.

I am the victim of financial abuse. I was hungry and thin and didn't have insurance as a child and also almost died from an anaphylactic reaction. I decided to make my kids' well-being a priority. I also became educated on the outside chance that I would end up a single parent with no support from an ex. I learned to worry needlessly. I also learned that my father uses money as a manipulative tool to get people to do what he wants. I didn't have my emotional divorce from him until the age of 21 and it resulted from a money tactic he tried to pull. I still wonder if I have enough money despite a net worth of close to $1,000,000 (disclosure 75% of that is real estate). I live a middle class existence and pay cash as I go. I don't use credit. I have a budget and a cancer diagnosis derailed our finances a few years ago (still paying on $17K debt and add $3K to that annually with follow-up scans and Rxs).

So poverty can be istitutional. It can be because of circumstances beyond someone's control. I can also say that I have several first-cousins who are previously homeless and now reside in public housing (a result of drug use and poor choices - on both sides of the family). I can say that education is a key but not always, since my biological father is still living off of his parents' estate. I can say that despite my education, I had four surviving children in six years and I stayed home with them. I also had my nephew who was orphaned part of that time. I pay on a student loan still. My husband has nothing more than a bachelor's degree and we've managed to send our kids to from K-12 at Catholic schools. We have paid for the first two years of college for the oldest two so far.

Am I resentful for being hungry at times and having to walk to school in clean, but damp clothes on some cold fall mornings? Sometimes. But it is always worse for other peope. And if being poor freed us from having to live with a bad bully, it was worth it.

Point, everyone has a story. Everyone makes choices. Sometimes you are a victim of circumstances, sometimes you are a victim of your own stupidity. All I can do is try to be a good example to my own kids who are learning to make their way in the world.

Weekly Spending Recap

February 7th, 2019 at 09:53 am

Variable expenses (groceries/gas/miscellaneous) for the week 2/1-2/7 was budgeted at $212.50.

I'm car-sharing today with my daughter so its a no spend. Here's the spending breakdown for the week ending today:

Groceries $100/Spent $89
Gas $50/Spent $35
Miscellaneous $62.50/Spent $69.50
Coupons Savings $8.75

Miscellaneous was $7 over and included a turning arrow bulb for the car, battery for our scale, three pizza lunches in Feb for younger son's hot lunch, one coffee date for me, a cross stitch kit, and a dress I ordered on Zulilly (and saved $12.00)

Tomorrow is payday and I'll stick with the $212.50. I'm glad I came in $19 under for this week. Let's keep it up. Going to do valentines on the cheap for the family, just still figuring that out!

It's all good!

Looking at the Bigger Picture

February 3rd, 2019 at 05:22 pm

In my previous post where I recapped January, I didn't include looking at the bigger picture of actual dollar amounts that we put into savings. Here is a recap:

$580 - 10% 401(K) contribution
$172 - 6% 401(K) employer contribution
$50 - Retirement annuity
$175 - Vanguard money market interest
$125 - Contribution to Vanguard for even out amount

At a quick glance, that's just over $1,100.00. It was eye opening that bits and pieces in the money quilt can add up.

Also since both my husband and I are on my father's payroll, there is extra money coming in too. I've decided to forego a desk overhall-repurpose and just purchase a smaller computer desk and shelf from Target. They are more in line with my aesthetic and they have good reviews. I definitely want to work smarter not harder. It's also rather nice to bid farewell to hand-me-downs and second hand furniture that served us well, but is time to move out.

Happy Super Bowl Sunday!