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Archive for July, 2015

My biggest financial leap

July 31st, 2015 at 10:08 pm

I'm curious to know what your biggest financial leap may have been...

Here's my story:

I was 2/3rds the way through grad school, I didn't like the Executive Director at my current position and I was working full time + part time + part time grad school and was a single parent. It was a ragged schedule and it would take me another 2 1/2 years to complete my degree at my current pace but if I quit my job and went full time school, I could complete it in 6 months. I examined my budget, explored health insurance options for myself (child covered by other parent) and put together a plan. I shared this with the people in my life who I really trusted and valued their opinion. I asked them to review my plan and tell me why I shouldn't do it. No one had any objections and even offered me a loan if I needed it. So while it was scary, it was a very calculated risk.

It was very scary for me because I was a single parent who was responsible for my child and had a mortgage to pay. What if I couldn't find another job? What if there was a major medical problem? What if there was a major repair on the house? What if I finished my education but couldn't find a job in my field? Financial security has always represented choices for me. If I'm financial secure, then I can decided which jobs I will take or quit(like leaving the job where I didn't like the director).

It worked out perfect, better than I ever expected.

What financial leaps have you taken? Did they work out? Did you learn something new?

Learning to manage money

July 25th, 2015 at 12:42 pm

I grew up in a family where we didn't value stuff. It was more about valuing experiences and people more than keeping up with the Jones. Both of my parents were social workers and thinking of others was important but so was living the life we have chosen versus trying to be boastful or prideful. It would seem that our family was religious based on our judeo christian values but religion didn't come into our family until later(another story and only includes some of my family).

My parents gave us allowance and I often spent it as soon as I got it as a child, usually on sweets. My parents (or maybe my father specifically) really believed in children developing their own autonomy so as children we were able to make a lot of our own decisions. My mother didn't work until we were all in middle school so she kept expenses down by doing more (home cooked meals, gardening and etc) instead of buying more. When she went back to work, all the family pitched in for housework because her extra paycheck would allow us more luxuries. I don't know how they did it because I saw my late father's Social Security Statement for his income and it was never above 40k. This was very surprising.

I started my first job(waitressing) when I was about 16 and used tips for spending money and banked all my paychecks. I usually always had some money in a savings account. I lived at home until I finished my 2 year degree. Within 6 months of completing my 4 year degree, I was pregnant and married. We lived in low income housing for a couple of years and then with the help of my family, purchased a home. When my son was born, I expected to go back to work but when he showed up, I fell so absolutely in love with him, I couldn't. Daycare would effectively zero out my wages so it was more worthwhile to me, to learn to live on one income. Thankfully, Amy Dacyczyn of the Tightwad Gazette helped me through those lean years. It also helped that I could delay gratification very well. I learned how to stretch money based on watching my family but also being motivated(public library is your friend for research!) to stay home with my son when he was a baby.

Speaking of Amy Dacyczyn, I just came across this blog post about one of her now adult daughters about growing up her family. It's very interesting to see her perspective then and now. http://thefrugalshrink.blogspot.com/2013/05/dacyczyn-interviews-jamie-part-1.html

I do think I was very lucky to have already been ok with a lower cost lifestyle based on what I grew up with. We went camping, to the library and to free events at museums or in the parks with our picnic lunches instead of hotel vacations, cable tv, restaurant dining and the like.

How did you learn to manage your money?

Education with no (little debt)

July 21st, 2015 at 08:03 am

Thanks for the warm welcome from you all!

I saw a couple of questions about my education so I thought I'd do a post and answer them.

I was very fortunate that my maternal grandmother had an annuity that she received when her husband died that she was not aware of. She gave this to my mother (who was an only child) and it was invested when we were children (back when it was double digit interest for savings :-) ) This allowed my sisters (2) and I about $15k each for our education.

We all spent it differently. My older sister spent it within a couple of years at a private college. My younger sister spent it at a public state university with a little bit more help because it took her a little longer and the cost increased over time.

I attended a community college before I graduated high school through the PSEO (post secondary education options program). This can provide students up to 2 years of college education before a student graduates high school and it's all paid for! I completed the remaining credits at the community college to complete my associates degree which transferred whole to the state public university. I really love community colleges in the state where I live, they are cheaper, smaller class sizes and most of the faculty do really care about teaching (versus research like some universities). I ran out of my money just as I completed my undergrad degree. :-)

Almost 10 years later as a single parent working in a call center, I realized there was no way I could do that the rest of my life! They had tuition reimbursement and because I already had a 4 year degree, I had to pursue a graduate degree. Looking at my strengths (I'm very resourceful) and anticipated job openings (which were WRONG) I decided to pursue Library and Information Science. For my tuition reimbursement (90%!!) I focused on the Information Science aspects so that this would be covered. It was for two classes until my entire department was laid off. We were given 60 day notice and a nice severance package. I was able to find another job before my end date and pocketed the severance which was 3 weeks of pay for each year of service. They rounded me up! 15 weeks of pay into the bank! The job I found started the very next day after I ended my call center job and they also covered one of my classes at 50% (tuition reimbursement is your friend!~).

I'm going to post what the last 6 months of my degree was like another time if you're interested.

The challenge like Laura might know is that despite previous reports of so many older librarians retiring, technology and budgets have limited the number of jobs available. My state especially in the metro area is very competitive for jobs. After graduation, I worked a number of part time and temporary positions while searching for the elusive full time with benefits. I was willing to take just about anything and it still took me 3 1/2 years to find that permanent position. Thankfully, as a single parent I was lucky enough to keep working in my field. At one point, I was driving in two different directions an hour each way depending on the day of the week for up to three different jobs at a time.

I do confess that I did take a small student loan for my last semester of library school because I didn't want to drain my bank account while I wasn't working. I'll share more about that later.

I've been employed at my current position for 7 years and this fall I will be taking a sabbatical to finish my second masters degree in Educational Leadership. I'm able to take classes in the same educational system with free tuition, I just need to pay for books and fees. I always believe that you should take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself. It also will bring me up to the highest level of education (credits counted not actual degrees, I don't have a PhD) in my position so my salary goes up to the highest column.

First post

July 16th, 2015 at 12:04 pm

I've lurked here and read for years and now I think I'm finally going to start my own blog. I don't even remember how or when I started following these blogs. I live in the same state as Cee Jay, read CB in the City before she moved back and as a fellow librarian, read Laura before she got her job as a librarian.

A little about me: I'm an empty nested, single parent who's figuring out what the next part of life is like. My son is still in the process of launching, he's expecting to finish his undergrad degree next spring. Coincidentally, I will also be finishing my second master's degree then, perhaps we'll have a joint celebration.

I've been very fortunate to have learned to be pretty frugal and lived that way most of my life. I'm not sure how it happened (mostly through my parents' examples I'm sure) but I'm grateful. As a result of the values I grew up with, I am about to finish my second master's degree without student loans. Another value I grew up with was to work in a field of interest where we impact the world versus just to make money. Fortunately I've also been blessed with high standards and tenacity (one might call it stubbornness) so I can get things done. I have no debt and thanks to my father's tragic death (small inheritance and lawsuit), I'm a lot more flexible with money than I once was. With this blog, I'm looking forward to connecting with you all instead of just lurking.