Monday, May 21, 2018

Don't let a financial set back become a dead end.

I mentioned last week really messed with my planned budget, well this week has started no better.  My DS's car is in the shop and although they have not finished diagnostics yet, I know the bill is creeping close to $600 already.  Yes, for a few minutes this morning I pretty much had a melt down about this; but then I just thanked God for the challenges and know I will figure it out.  So, my budgeting is not working as smoothly as it does in the movies....I am still sticking to it!  I will get his car paid for on Friday and hopefully we will be good to go.  I will pay cash for it.  THAT is the best part.  I have had to change some plans to accommodate this unexpected expense but, due to my being sick, it is probably for the best anyway...see God is in this thing.



Sunday, May 20, 2018

Learning from others....Financial Knowledge!

I admit it, finances scare me and I also realized how little I truly understand about how our financial systems/banking worlds work.  So, I have been doing a lot of reading.  I do run into things I don't know if I buy or agree with, but then I usually take away a nugget or two from everything I read which as the saying goes, "knowledge is power!" I wish I had more time to devote to learning more quickly, but being a full time college student, full time employee and a full time Mom does present it's own challenges and I am not beating myself up for not being able to study this topic 24/7!

This week has found me with several unexpected medical expenses (thank goodness for medical insurance) as my son needed a unexpected medication refill and I was diagnosed with a severe (and I do mean severe, care of Mono....yes go ahead and laugh...no, I didn't get it from kissing - not that I would have minded getting that way, but...I apparently have  Chronic Epstein-barr virus, which has caused me, at this unlikely juncture in life to develop mono.)  According to my doctor, I have had it for a while and it explains my extreme tiredness and other issues I have been trying to ignore. So, when you are trying to pull together a good budget and just getting started it is a bit frustrated to have this little surprise dropped in my lap.

Anyway, back to budgets...I have been working on mine and have found a few blogs I would like to share that I thought others who are determine to get out of debt and stay out debt might enjoy:

Dear Debt

Jackie Beck

Mr. Money Mustache

Even if you don't take away some insight, I think just staying focused and reading on debt removal is crucial to keep me on my path.  Hope you enjoy.  Lets stick this out and get out from under this miserable stress called debt.  Freedom is the goal!

P.S. My first debt snowball will be paid off by FRIDAY!!!! Yipppeee!!!!

Please join me in some great chat on Twitter:  https://twitter.com/SouthernSpark16


Saturday, May 12, 2018

Snow Ball!!!!!!!

Well maybe, not THAT kind  of snowball, but I am finally committing to a snowball, a debt snowball.  If you aren't familiar with the concept, it is where you pay the minimum on your debts, except one.  On the one you have chosen to "snowball" you pay as much as possible over the minimum every month to pay it off as soon as you are able.  When that is paid off you pick another debt to tackle and put the amount your were paying toward your first snowball towards your new target and in essence you develop this debt snowball of paying off your debts.  It is probably better explained here:

"The debt snowball method is a debt reduction strategy where you pay off debts in order of smallest to largest, gaining momentum as each balance is paid off. When the smallest debt is paid in full, you roll the money you were paying on that debt into the next smallest balance."

When I was married we often talked about doing this but never seemed to actually stick to it.  So, I know the concept...but haven't actually seen it work.  I have heard and read about great successes and so it seems like something I can handle. I have started this month and it takes a little fear out of figuring out how to make progress and get a start on working through the scary mountain of debt in front of me!  Wish me luck!!!


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

What are your challenges?

When it comes to money, what are you tackling or what  challenges have you overcome?  I am very interested in hearing how other people have faced this scary part of life and what you would like to do differently, what you have done differently, how you have learned to be a better steward of your financial health. 

Hearing what other are doing to keep on track is not a selfless question. I want to learn from others on the same path, even if you are way ahead of me.  Also, please share what your favorite money/budgeting blogs are - especially if you know of ones focusing on the unique challenges of single parents. I find many great budgeting/money blogs that focus on families (2 parent families) but haven't found many with single parents and their challenges.  I know you are out there! I don't want to walk this walk alone and hope to find others who have this same interest!   

Looking forward to finding new inspiration and learning from my fellow sojourners!


Saturday, April 21, 2018

If you can, please help....Tracy's Go Fund Me Page

This is a photo of my sweet friend, Tracy.  She is an amazingly strong Christian and always comes with an extra dose of Jesus to share when someone else needs it.  Unfortunately, for the past few years she has battled not 1, but 2 brain tumors...they have names Tilly & Willy.  As she says, "if they are going to be around for a while they ought to have names."  Who can argue with that?

I can tell you she is a tiny ball of fire with a fighting spirit that can't compare.  Not only does she battle these tumors but she is also now dealing with additional medical complications. She is still working full-time PLUS and takes care of her ailing grandmother.  She amazes me.  She always has a spirit of joy to give.  Of course, she has medical insurance but we all know that with the high deductibles her costs have skyrocketed over the years she has been battling these buggers.  Pray and move as you feel you can. Her Go Fund Me Page is located here: Tracy's WIN!  If you can help take a little of the stress off of her life you will be a blessing beyond compare.  Thank you!!!!


Fear....


I hope you are ready for some transparency...actually, I hope I am. All 5s of you that read my blog know that I have tried to find direction for this blog and haven't quite found my niche'. Since my divorce I haven't really known where my path was.  There were so many things in my past that I loved to write about,  but life happens and those things don't quite fit anymore.  I am in a new season of life.  I am no longer a wife and although I am a still a Mom, I only have one child at home and he is walking the tight rope between boy and man while my other two live out on their own.  I am kind of in a strange, uncomfortable season of life which I can't quite explain.

One thing that I have really honed in on lately that haunts me, especially since becoming divorced, are finances.  This isn't completely new to being single, as my ex-husband and I had our times of financial struggles during our marriage.  We had great seasons of  the money being manged well and seasons of it  not  being managed well.  One of my mistakes was not learning as much about money as possible and learning to manage it consistently from day 1 of being married.  So, a terrifying part of finding yourself all of the sudden single, and having stayed home rearing children for almost 25 years, is that you are 100% responsible for managing it all....alone.  When I found myself in the position of solely managing our family, I was lost. I  had never managed anything before.  I was terrified.

In those early shock and awe days I made mistakes by trying hard to make our lives look and feel the same as they had always been.  Right or wrong, I didn't want my children to feel any different or have any additional changes if I could help it. They had lost so much already. Unfortunately, they eventually did have to feel the changes.

 I have learned a lot, I realized that I am completely and totally afraid of money.  That probably sounds silly.  I took the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University course (unfortunately taking the course and being able to put it into action can be harder than you think) and it touches on the topic of how people are afraid of money and boy, do I understand it.  I am especially fearful of not having enough.  It is paralyzing.  I think it is worse on a single person because you don't have someone to share the burden with or anyone to think things through with or just talk it out.  You are alone.  You are completely, totally responsible for managing it all.

A few year ago I was on track rather well financially. With my alimony and my income, I was on track to purchase a house for me and my children but unfortunately there was a change in my alimony which changed my income and the legal situation surrounding that took my savings for my down payment as well.  Moving on, I was still managing to do what needed to be done until about a year ago when my company restructured and laid-off over 500 people across the country, including my entire division.  I was able to find a job with benefits, but my income was cut in half....unfortunately my expenses were not, even cutting back in certain ways.  Que the extra dose of fear. Learning to adjust to that amount of money has been more than a challenge. I realize I am being very open about my life but I want to hold myself accountable. Be real.

I do have a challenge now because I make 1/2 of what I did when I started this journey.  The reason I am redirecting this blog and my world is because but I want so much more out of life...not more stuff, but more peace, more security and fewer nightmares.  I want to be away from the fear of being homeless, especially as I look to my older years.

It is time for me to figure this out and get my finances in order.  I have to do it because I can't live with the stress and fear any longer.  I am working with creditors right now and working to improve my credit score, and adjusting my life as much as possible.  One thing that has always tripped me up is lack of organization in my finances and I am working to become organized so I don't miss a thing.  Between work, school, being a Mom and life it is hard to find that time but I am trying.  I know I am smart enough to do this, I just have a lot to learn.  It is time for me to do it and do it right.  Of course, I know a lot people will be uncomfortable with my transparency on this subject, but I feel like I need to for myself and as I said earlier the accountability factor. If I can stay focused on becoming a financially savy woman it will be worth it.

I have put a time frame down and am setting goals:
  • To finish my degree to give me a greater earning opportunity.  There is a challenge here because, of course, I have to find the time to do this along with pay for it, but I feel it is necessary to give me security.
  • I also want to be in a position to help my youngest when he starts college in 2 years. He deserves that.
  • Paying back every dime that my family has helped with during the emergency times is very important to me. I can say thank you to them, but they do not know how much their support has meant when I was paralyzed by making it all work. I need to make sure they have what they need and gave to me.
  • Debt....I have to have it go away.  I never want to have debt again.  It has crippled me, tripped me and skinned my knees more times than I can count.  It has stolen so much of my life through worry, anxiety and fear.  It is time for me to stop it's power.  
  • Savings and Retirement. I am scared completely of this coming season of life and doing it alone.
I am not taking this journey completely alone.  I am looking to God for direction and peace.  I am looking to Him to guide me and show me when I miss a red flag.  I am tired of doing life alone, so I need Him.

Please join me on my journey.  Your thoughts and tips will mean more than you will ever know in helping me stay on track.  It is a journey where I am owning my mistakes.   I am going to try to add sparkle to this journey and not tears, though sometimes it feels like tears are all I have.  You will also notice I have monetized my blog to hopefully gain a little extra income, so  if you shop at Dollar Tree, Amazon, need some beautiful jewelry or clothing by Cynthia Rowley please shop through my links, every bit helps! Thank you for reading along and I hope you will stick around and share your strategies for beating the fear.


Sunday, April 1, 2018

What I wish more churches would share with young parents

There are lots of things I like about the church we attend, and I could really go on and on about what wonderful guidance I received in celebrating this year's Easter observance, but today, in the packed Easter Service my eyes were drawn to a little note that hangs in each pew.  It is for parents of young children.  Now, of course, I no long fit this demographic but I totally appreciate it because when you are the parent of a young child it can feel like they make no louder ruckus than in church!


It says:

To the Parents of Children, May We Suggest....

Relax,God put the wiggle in children; don't feel you have to suppress it in God's house. All are welcome.

Sit towards the front where it is easier for your little ones to hear and see what is going on. They tire of seeing the backs of others heads.

Quietly explain the part of of the service and actions of the pastor, ushers, choir, etc.

Sing the hymns, pray and voice the responses. Children learn liturgical behavior from copying you.

If you have to leave the service with your child, please feel free to do so, but please come back. As Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me."

Remember that the way we welcome children in the church directly affects the way they respond to the Church, to God, and to one another. Let them know that they are at home in this house of worship.


TO THE MEMBERS OF OUR CHURCH
The presence of children is a fit to the Church and they are a reminder that our congregation is growing.

Please welcome our children and give a smile of encouragement to their parents.

So, Mamas and Daddies, don't feel you are disturbing the service.....YOU are part of the service and YOU are the ministers to the next generation.