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Private school so far

October 7th, 2017 at 09:13 am

Did I ever mention we put our younger dk2 into private school kindergarten? Well we did. It costs $15k for the year and they offered us a spot for our dk1 in second for $8k but we didn't take it.


Well having just moved we decided we would try the public school for her and its been an adjustment. We are guessing she will qualify for the gifted program next year, we vouldn't do a direct transfer in because she had only done a partial testing in kindergarten. The school district she was in does full testing in 2nd grade for 3rd unlike.e the district we moved to that does 1st for 2nd. So we decided we would try to make friends and then see how the testing goes in November. If she doesn't get in we could always move her to private or stay pug.

For our dk2 I worried it seemed unfair to pay for private school. But the truth is she's on the birthday cusp of turning 5 and immature for her age. So fair isn't equal for kids. We are doing this because academically she's ready for kindergarten but we aren't sure emotionally. Plus we decided if she has to repeat kindergarten. She could do it in public school and no knew will be the wiser.

Private school has been honestly really great so far. The class size is 12 kids and 2 teachers. Dk1Had 19 kids and 1 teacher in public. She also had no homework or in school extracurricular. Dk2 has gymnastic they walked to school next door, karate with teacher who comes in, art 3x a week while public school has it once a month, zumba, Japanese and Spanish. DDDk2had none of this.

That being said it is $15k. But it turns out to be about equal for the kids financiapreschool. DDk2had 3 years of preschool with us paying $4850, $7250, $7250 because we lived in a higher cola. But dk2 preschool was $1800 and $3000 p.us this one year of private school. So it actually balanced out financially.

Trust me i never thought we would pay or could afford private school. And right now I am considering private for both. But its a really big financial investment. But I guess we will take it year by year and situation by situation.

your thoughts and experiences?

spoiled children

July 23rd, 2017 at 03:55 pm

When you think about spoiled kids you think of things like buying fancy toys, clothes, etc. But I'm starting to think there are other ways to spoil a child non-financial but that can lead to financial problems. Mostly it's the fact that it's easy to learn never being told no.

I've been watching a friend's kids a lot recently with her going through a divorce and packing. They enjoy playing with my kids. But watching them this Friday and Saturday it was hard. Friday her mom watched the kids for dinner and had to make do with what we had. It was an unexpected dinner and I didn't have anything her kids eat. They eat chicken nuggets. and that's pretty much it for real food. They eat candy and snacks and some fruits. So on Saturday she dropped them off with chicken nuggets and tortilla. I made a quesadilla for the kids and they told me they don't eat it. They didn't eat any veggies or anything else. I said there wasn't enough chicken nuggets for them to eat only that and there wasn't. She said to feed them anything because if they don't eat they wake up in the middle of the night demanding food and milk. She can't deal with it.

I get it now. She talks about having outrageous food bills and never having food. After seeing what her kids eat I get it. Everything is processed and packaged and expensive.

But real problem is that catering to every want and need I think could lead to problems. Yes it's food only but never being told no and having every whim catered to can lead to not understanding you can't have everything in life.

I tried to guide my friend to a budget. But she ignored it. That's fine but I pointed out that calling herself poverty stricken while getting $2500/month support seems a bit much. I pointed out that DH and I live on not much more a month. Yet she isn't responsible for anything but groceries, gas, and utilities. Plus she's working and making $1000/2 weeks. So it's a lot of money since she isn't paying mortgage, car, insurance of any kind. But it's hard to hear that other people live on a lot less. I pointed that out and she's like but "my kids will be deprived."

I can't help but wonder how people think kids manage when their parents make less? What happens to people who make the average?

529 versus Real Estate

June 16th, 2017 at 10:31 am

So we're doing our ESA at $2k/year for each kid. We have mentioned adding to that around $2k/year each kid into a 529.

Right now we are positioning ourselves to be financially independent soon enough not including college. DH will be 52 and I will be 50 when our youngest goes to college. I always had it as a goal that we would be Financially independent by 45 and I think it'll happen. But realistically I think we may have to wait until age 55 for DH to "retire" so that we could cash flow college.

But reading more about investing in real estate and I think in 2 years we could save enough to perhaps consider investing in it. I wonder if it would make sense to do a rental property for each child and use that instead of 529?

There are a lot of negatives including we're starting late, they won't be paid off and the cash flow might not work. Plus we'd need at least 2 homes for each child. But I wonder if this would make sense?

I can't do it for something that generates $100/month cash flow even with the depreciation tax break. I think that means we'll have to invest in something away and be an absentee landlord to make it happen.

Plus I need DH to get on board. I know he'll be anti-real estate. So anything I find has to make a lot of financial sense.

Any thoughts or experiences? Do you think this is a good idea? This is a long term play so I think with our financial situation we need at least 2 years of stability right now and planning. I need time to research to present my report to DH about where and how we will invest and who will manage the property for us. This is not something I feel we can jump into since we'll be needing to foot most of the cash down payment, emergency fund at first.

Owe our kids?

May 9th, 2017 at 09:48 pm

I've heard twice today from friends that they owe their kids a certain quality of life. One was the friend who is about to have a lifestyle change. She said she was struggling with the realization she can't give her kids the lifestyle they have now. I said that's not true. The lifestyle they have now is funded by debt so it's not real. You can't compete with that. Even staying married you'd be cutting back and "decreasing" their "quality of life" anyway. She thought about it and agreed. But said it still sucks because this is all they've know. I agree.

Then at lunch another friend was discussing about how she is desperate to buy a house because renting is throwing away money. That renting is making their life unstable and shouldn't they buy because it would stabilize their life for their kids? I mean they are rushing to buy a house with less than a 10% DP and she was talking about pawning her jewelry to get more money together. I wanted to shake her and say no you don't need a house to be stable. The kids are okay. But I get it. I get the feeling of instability. I asked her if they were preparing for retirement and she said no. They are struggling to save for the house.

But that got me thinking. I've never felt we owe our kids anything. I feel like we need to be responsible adults and making good decisions about our financial future is being good parents. I don't think we had to buy a house for our kids. We bought it because we wanted a house. We also don't think that we have to provide x, y, or z.

But I'm realizing that parents of all different economic levels feel this pressure to provide everything. We're expected to provide a nice home, college, car, house down payment, wedding. It's insane. Don't get me wrong I get wanting to give your kids everything. But I'm still firmly in the camp that you take care of yourself and everything else will fall into place. I see these parents giving EVERYTHING of themselves and their money for their kids. What happens when it's time for them to retire or not have a job? How will their kids manage if everything is handed to them? Or worse will their kids be able to turn the tables and support them if these parents give anything for them.

Are we doomed to failure if we continue down this path? What do we really owe our kids?

$5k loan followup

May 8th, 2017 at 11:00 pm

I told DH full disclosure. I ended up showing him a few emails and photos and he agreed she needed the money. She retained a lawyer today and was advised not to wait to file for divorce but most as quickly as possible.

Well things are worse than she thought. So she thought it was just cheating Nope. Well she went into their garage and started opening up all the mail they've been ignoring for years. She hasn't paid a bill since 2007 when they got married. They had separate checking and savings accounts and he paid all the bills. So she never bothered to open a bill or inquire how things were going.

Her husband has played her and everyone for a fool. He's built a house of cards spending money he makes as fast as he can and then some. As I've helped organize the paperwork and explained some of the debts I said to her it's time to cut her losses and pray she can get out of this without declaring bankruptcy. But it might already be too late. She is so far in the hole.

The lifestyle she's become accustomed to is too champagne taste for her beer budget. How will she go back and change her mindset? I can see it in the way she handles money now? I can't tell her right now but she needs to realize that the house of cards money even after the divorce won't cut it. Maybe the sale of the house will wipe the slate clean of debts. But the days of going to the grocery store and buying whatever she wants is probably over. I asked her once before how much they spend on groceries and she guessed for a family of 5 about $3k/month. She put down in the budget $2k/month on groceries. That's not counting the eating out, starbucks, take out. We've found receipts for an average of $600/month lunch at her husband's club. That's on top of his eating out daily.

I dare not say the truth, but perhaps she had a suspicion that the lifestyle they were leading was way more than $200k/year. That the spending was so over the top, but she thought they were making enough to cover it. Yes she was saving for retirement but she made much less money. I really wonder how she had no idea they were living an unsustainable lifestyle. Or maybe he has been burning through his inheritance faster than even he imagined.

I don't know but the unpleasantness of the money situation I think will be hard. I can't even fathom how hard this fall will be. Tougher still to realize that he dug them into a deep hole and if not for the hole she might have a chance. I know BK seems irresponsible, but I wonder if it's not the best option in this case? How do you live on a $50k salary when you've been used to 5x that or more?

We'll see how this all plays out. But it turns out that more people than you can imagine are living lifestyles they can't afford. I never dreamed that she would be one of those people.

college savings

April 6th, 2017 at 09:02 am

We just contributed our $2k to our kiddos college fund a bit late for 2016. We're still in flux trying to buy a house but decided to go ahead and do it. We're invested for both of them in VTI and that's it. I guess in about 10 years we'll consider moving them to something more conservative but I figure at 4 and 7 we're better off taking the risk since the goal is to not draw on it for anther 11 and 13-14 years.

So I hadn't realized but DK1 has $19,398 and DK2 has $12,778. It's pretty good I think. Continuing on this track we should definitely have $50k by the time they hit college each. Stretch goal? $100k which I hope by that point will cover 4 years at a state school which is our goal as parents to give to them as a gift.

Now doing taxes I see a lot of people saving nothing for retirement. Saving nothing for college. But stressing out about how will they pay for college. I hate to say it but I suggest they instead focus on maxing out a 401k and IRA before worrying about college. And inevitably the words come out "but I have to pay for college. How else will they go? They need to go."

I don't know what to say. Since most are white collar professionals I would have to say not going to is not an option and I understand. It's not an option for my DH. And truthfully these people make more than enough money that college shouldn't have been a problem. But neither should saving for retirement.

But instead they are in their 40s/50s and basically bupkis for retirement or college. I have to say something has to give. And using their free cash flow for $100k towards college seems like a bad idea.

I'm not sure how we change this as society? I mean the obvious is to educate people about saving for retirement earlier. Saving for college earlier. Have less debt.

But what about this feeling that we have to pay for college? That we owe our kids a college education? We have to help them? Are we obligated? Is there an income obligation? If you make over $100k then you should be helping your kids because you make enough that you should have been able to save for retirement and college?

I'm not at that stage but seeing this make me wonder. Yes DH and I are being responsible but we're being overall responsible like others on this site and saving for retirement and college is secondary. Right now as it stands I think we are pretty close to having enough in taxable accounts that we could fund college now. But we aren't quite ready to commit to "earmarking" and putting that much into a 529.

But are we supposed to? Should we feel obligated? That we do well enough that we can afford to save for retirement early so instead we should focus on college? That we should delay ER for fully funding college 100%? I always have said our goal is FIRE and looking at our numbers we are there.

But DH is not about to give up his new career anytime soon he loves it. I love working part-time. I can't see myself volunteering and I love getting out of the house. So right now it's not on our radar. We have a slower pace of life since I stay at home for the most part and are more relaxed than most of our contemporaries. So we can fund college more but are we obligated too?

Black Friday and Holiday Shopping Savings!!!

December 5th, 2016 at 09:20 am

On Black Friday I saved $100. Literally. There was a sale at Costco on the electronic keyboard I had bought last month with a $100 coupon. So I took my receipt and I bought it again and returned it. It was $449 plus tax when I bought it and $349 plus tax when I bought it on Black Friday. Yes $100 in about 30 minutes of time to buy and return it.

I also bought socks and underwear from walmart and holiday pajamas for the kids for 30% off from target. I love buying these sort of clothes on black friday. Overall spending probably less than $100.

I bought the kids a couple of gifts as well. This year they got Lego Advent and chocolate advent calendars. DK1 got a vtech smartwatch from Target which was on Buy one get one 50% so I got it for $35 regular from $55. I am mailing other to friend. She also got a Gemma shopkins doll for $20, and my little pony from TRU for $17. And I still have to look for $1 stocking stuffers. DK2 got shopkins $11 from TRU, equestria doll $5 from walmart, and troll twins $30 (going to get using my target gift cards).

DH got bose wireless headphones for $350. And now to the teacher gifts $120 - 6 teachers @ $20/pop all to Target. Thank you for the 10% target gift cards yesterday.

I have a few more items to get for people but overall I think my shopping is done. If only I had magic elves come and wrap and send my gifts.

i just signed up to kill myself

November 15th, 2016 at 09:51 pm

I just signed myself and the two kids for snowboarding lessons in January. $1000 for 4 weekends with rentals for the kids and 2.5 hours of lessons for four Sundays. Ugh. I know the kids will enjoy it and DH is coming to supervise. But this is my first time back since 2009 probably when I injured my ACL. My DH loves it and guilted me into trying it again. I could do this and try to do a family activity or I could sit in the lodge. I figure I'll give it one more try and then i'll sit in the lodge forever. I am terrible at it. I am inherently clumsy and honestly I'm terrified of the chair lifts. Either way I figure I'm investing $220 for 4 lessons to figure out that I can sell my snowboard and never go again.

This might be why I had kids. So I can send them with my DH to enjoy his sporty past-times. I'm more a summer warm weather person. Wish me luck. When I nearly kill myself I'll refer back to this post.

Giving early or later?

October 18th, 2016 at 09:22 am

I'm going to admit to suddenly for once being jealous. In a few different ways. My cousin just bought a house with down payment help from both sets of parents. Neither of them have a good job and yet they can buy $800k home without selling their $350k condo. She's an only and I've heard that he's from a "rich" family. Some envy that they get help.

But I have recently known a lot of people who get down payment help from their families. I know multiple people whose parents gave them the down payment of $50 or $100k or more. Some are even paying/funding college for their kids.

I guess my thought is how are these parents able to give their kids/grandkids money now? I know my parents and in-laws are secure. I don't expect any help nor will we get any. But it's likely they will leave us something eventually.

I guess I'm jealous because how do people know they have enough to give to their children before death? How do they know when they are only in the 60s and 70s and in "early" retirement to know they have enough? I ponder this because I'd like to think that maybe we'll save enough to help our kids.

It's a stretch goal that we are able to pay 100% for 4 years of college, some money for a wedding/house down payment, and a car out of college. In that order I'd like to gift our kids with a leg up. I've really thought about it but we'll be in our early 50s and potentially retiring when they go off and finish college. But how will I know that I have enough? How will I be able to part with so much cash so early in our "retirement" position? Of course if DH chooses to work past 50 then I'm assuming we have a large cash flow.

But how secure do I have to be? Do I think maybe whatever our parents leave behind will be used to be passed on? I think maybe we'll get something but I could be entirely wrong. Our parents have paid for homes and pensions. But I'm not sure much cash on hand, which is understandable why gifting us with anything is pretty much nil.

But how do we get there? How do you know? Have you been gifted a substantial amount of cash from your parents or grandparents? Was it before death? If so why before? How did they know they had enough? If you got it upon death did you expect it? Was it more or less than you expected?

my neighbors are jerks

July 16th, 2016 at 07:09 pm

Did I mention what's been going on? Remember the incidents earlier in the year about the bullying? The hitting and drawing on my DK1? The luck we had about switching classes. Anyway before the end of the year I turned in a request that they are not in class together. Nor my DK1 is any class with any neighbors.

So a reason we also looked at moving out of our rental was the neighbor situation. Anyway recently we got a note from saying "you suck DK1." We also were left weird rock piles on the door. Until the note we said nothing and then my DH went next door and explained to the parents the situation. We did not show this to DK1, we asked if DK did it and she said no.

The parents said they don't talk that way. They didn't let them out of the sight. The truth is I caught them this week leaving notes again at the door. I am not sure what to do now. By caught I mean I opened the door and the kids were standing in front of our house and ran.

So now what to do? Make situation worse and confront them? Or just realize my neighbors are assholes and that there is nothing to be said or done before they realize their kids are being jerks because they are allowing it? Is it wrong to feel like we should move? I hate feeling trapped in the house and constantly on the kids so nothing happens?

so i'm guilty too

May 27th, 2016 at 09:32 am

Like my parents LAL and Mr LAL's secret shame is our lack of wills now. We had it done about 8 months before we moved and 5 years after having a kid. But then we moved and now I'm pretty sure we need to redo everything. So again we've not done it.

But this time things have changed a little. Our kids are older and we're more secure with the idea of my mom taking the kids. My dad's older but the kids are easier. We've got $5m+ (life insurance plus savings) to help her if anything should happen to us. That will provide I would guess the ability to buy the right house, private school (need in hawaii), and live in help permanently.

But now more than ever we need to look at someone to provide financial oversight and planning for her and the kids. When I brought this up over my parents lack of financially planning my DH made a face. Before we had his best friend but since we're more unsure about his financial planning skills. A cousin I would have trusted before got married and I'm not sure about his decision making. I wonder if we can hire a bank? Would a CFP work out?

My aunts and uncles are not good financial investment planners. None of them including my mom are overspenders and all are very frugal. But long term? I'm not sure what to do now.

Before we struggled more with finding a guardian for our kids. Now we're struggling with a financial manager. This is compounded by the fact that I hate to do a will and we move again. It's something else we've talked about and thought perhaps we should wait until we settle in a place we know we'll stay.

Sometimes the simplest tasks seem so difficult.

Privilege of knowledge

April 20th, 2016 at 09:46 pm

After volunteering this week for our monthly shelter birthday party, I realized something. That anyone reading this blog, with a computer, internet access, and time probably has time to spend with their kids. We're very privileged in so many ways.

On SA we have a variety of incomes from poverty to 1%. We also all share a mindset of living below ones means and valuing our time. We've also got the privilege of clipping coupons, grocery shopping in bulk, going to thrift store, and just spending time with our kids.

Anyway we were playing at game at the shelter using colors and shapes. I realized that more than a few kids didn't know all the colors and shapes we were using. If I had to guess these kids hadn't been privileged enough to be read to by their parents. Their parents were probably too busy trying to not be homeless and scraping by to find the time to go to a library and read to them. Or talk to them about their day.

It's funny the difference it makes when you have help even if you are from a very low economic background. I was extremely privileged to have one on one "babysitting/nanny". I mean I was read to, fed, taken to the park/beach/playground/library, grocery shopped, etc. I was given immense attention and my vocabulary was developed by the amount of time I was spent being talked to in both a foreign and english language.

The truth is that my grandmother now lives on $500/month SS and I think $150 pension from Greylines (my grandfather drove a tour bus). She gets medicare and medicaid because she qualifies for welfare medical coverage. She never owned a home, and lives a good life now because her kids provide her with extras. I would say lower middle class is generous, they lived for years without a toilet/bathroom in the house (thus she babysat at my uncle/mom's houses yeah indoor plumbing!)

Anyway I realized these people at the shelter don't have a hand to help them up. They don't have free childcare, or help at nights. They probably don't have a car or time to spend with their kids reading and just playing and teaching. Even without money some people can spend the time. But when you are struggling to pay the rent, put food on the table, and medical bills it seems impossible to do more.

I just had a deep appreciation for how lucky I am to spend time with my kids and teach them everything I received. It's possible my mom didn't make more than some people on welfare but we were so fortunate that our bills were so minimal and we were helped out a lot by our family.

the bystander effect

April 12th, 2016 at 05:00 pm

OMG I feel so embarrassed. I ratted out a nanny. I have never done something like this and I always thought I would. But honestly it's a lot harder than you think when faced with it. I can easily return something but turning someone in for a situation you could be "misjduging" is hard. I understand the bystander effect. I'm hoping that if I will speak up and realize it's okay.

So I was walking with my DKs into a Barnes and Nobles. A boy about 8-9 maybe younger I couldn't tell, was holding a dog and crying outside. He asked me to go in and look for his nanny. I said no, and instead I offered to hold the dog and let him go look for his nanny. I was uncomfortable looking for a woman I had no idea what she looked like.

So we waited with the dog outside. I took a photo of the dogs ID tags with the family's contact information. After they came out we went in and I heard the nanny telling the kid he should have left the dog tied up or in the car. It was his fault. I wasn't sure what to make of it.

Torn, I was encouraged to email the mom and I did including the photos of the dog's tags to explain how I got their contact information. I explained the situation and didn't judge just said I had your dog outside a bookstore while your son looked for his nanny.

I received a response that the mom will be investigating the incident because she wasn't aware they had taken the dog out and what happened. I have no idea whether I overstepped and perhaps the nanny has been a long term employee. I feel bad also because I could have been overreacting and cost someone their job.

I write this a bit in guilt torn over maybe getting someone fired and at the same time worried over a kid and potentially an irresponsible nanny.

Trust me I worried about overreacting, considering I had just yelled at my kids for locking me out of the house earlier in the day. My DK2 keeps locking doors driving me nuts as she's locked me in the garage from the house and I've had to go around the house to get back in. So I do worry I was misunderstanding the situation.

I hope either way it works out.

karma happens

April 5th, 2016 at 01:51 pm

Since moving I've found karma a lot. A woman I met volunteering at the shelter and whom I've become friends with used to work with my cousin. Funny we were talking and she said "oh I used to work so and so". I laughed and said so did my cousin awhile ago. I showed her a picture and she said "Hey I know her." Turns out to be a smaller world than one would think.

Anyway recently I met a woman I went to elementary and middle school with at my DK1 t ball practice. Her kid plays on the same team. We got to talking and she said "oh we just moved here." I said from where and it turns out we went to 2nd to 8th grade. She then moved out of state and I stayed put. She sent me a picture of us on neighboring pages in the year book! OMG it was crazy. We moved to different states years later and meet.

She didn't recognize me and I didn't recognize her but it was weird. I felt bad because she said she'd found it really difficult being an "outsider" moving into a small town and fitting in. She said she was teased and it hard. I apologized in case I ever did anything terrible (I honestly don't remember her and seeing the picture looks familiar but we weren't friends). I hope that I wasn't terrible in anyway. It's weird how when you get older you don't recall being a terrible kid but it's possible that you were.

Anyway that's my karma story. I hope that if I did do anything "bullying" that giving a sincere apology might help my karma. Do you have any weird karma stories?

Does moving hurt kids?

February 12th, 2016 at 09:39 am

Does moving hurt kids? Am I not giving my kids to make friends from kindergarten for life? I don't know. But right now I'd say no. The move for us has been good. Our DK2 won't remember where we lived and I can tell our DK1 has only vague memories of specific things that may not really stick.

Is it worth trying to stay put now that we've moved? That means buying a house in the same district. No. We moved and are renting to know the area. Where we are is good but we're not convinced this is the right area for us. The schools are good but the commuting isn't perfect. We knew that when we rented but areas we looked at didn't have anything available. And who knows what might be available when we start to look to buy.

We're not even sure we'll buy this year or rent another year We aren't even sure we'll stay put in this area, perhaps in 4 months a job offer too good to pass up will come along and we'll move again. That will likely mean renting another year and then buying.

Every step in this process we've explained to the kids what we are doing and why. Our DK1 understands we are renting this is not our house and we may not stay in the area. DK1 understands Dad is not working but trying to get a job. DK1 understands why we moved and is happy. Loves the area, misses snow but then was excited to see it when we visited the grandparents and went snowboarding.

I think that military families who move every 3 years probably have a better grasp of moving. I meet a lot of people who are terrified of uprooting their kids even within the same city. Once kindergarten has started they only want to find a house within the district. They feel it'd be too disruptive. People who just moved to the area feel constrained to buy once they've rented and pressured to buy within a year.

I think kids are more flexible than adults. I think it's us as adults that feel this pressure to "settle" down and give our kids what we perceive as stability. We also feel stressed over making new friends and having to develop new relationships.

Have you found it hard to move? I found it super easy without kids. I moved a lot. With kids it's more work but I haven't worried about uprooting the kids. I feel like we're on this adventure to find the place we belong together. It'll all click and we'll be happy. Have you moved often? Was it difficult?

economic gap is widening

February 11th, 2016 at 08:42 pm

I just read an article about a math revolution going on in the US. Very cool and interesting. But the article bring us and points out a very interesting phenomenon. The gap between kids born to the educated and well off versus the rest of them.

Last year the US won the international math championships. But the kids who were on the team were grown through a "pedagogical ecosystem". Meaning they were developed by extracurricular math programs on the "rich coasts and tech meccas". These kids were born to STEM parents and given the opportunity to learn because their parents feel the education of public schools isn't satisfactory enough. The people doing this are also starting earlier and it was suggested that 48% of kids between 2003-2009 who wanted to go into STEM fields switched because they lacked substantive quantitative background to succeed. So basically parents are paying for their kids to get ahead of the game.

In fact it was noted in the US 8 to 1 is the ratio of rich kids versus poor kids becoming math whizzes. Also the gains in math mastery is coming from those who have money.

But as also suggested in the article STEM fields are the most well paid right now and likely future. So many kids do want to enter the field but aren't able to succeed. The article suggests success is being born to the right parents and zip code.

I wonder when we'll start to acknowledge this and realize the gap is getting wider in the US and the middle class disappearing?

working or not working as a parent?

February 6th, 2016 at 09:33 am

My mom still hates the fact that I don't work. She keeps saying that I'll understand the plight of working parents when I go back to work. That caring for children is easy because a working parent comes home and cares for their child. When I point out I do exactly what a working parent does when they come home she said we'll they are tired from working all day. I point out that I'm basically an unpaid childcare provider/nanny. When I say "does that mean daycare providers/nannies/sitters are not working?" She has absolutely no response. She says they are but they are. So I say I'm just not paying someone else I'm paying myself to watch my kids. But that child care providers of children of any age are still working, perhaps not "high" paying jobs but they are working. And without them how would any parent go off to their job if they weren't paying someone else? She has no response except I have to go get a job and learn how hard it is to work then come home to parent. But she can't admit that child care providers aren't working though she says "you are working LAL."

She keeps saying "you don't understand what's it's like to "have" to work". I point out that I have met many SAHM/D who stay at home because they don't make enough to pay for childcare. They can't earn enough. Her response "they don't have good jobs". I point out to her there are many careers that don't pay well that people do because they like them and the world wouldn't run without them.

Probably the top "career" for women I've meet staying at home who went to college and liked their job? Teacher. Seriously teachers are very much underpaid and often by kid 2 can't afford daycare over the teaching salary. They liked teaching. I have to say most teachers must because it seems like a thankless job with parents expecting so much, schools expecting so much and such little pay. So they take a break, have kids, then go back.

But my mom till today, she never paid a penny of daycare, so she has no clue what it would feel like to try to make ends meet and not have entire paycheck. Or to calculate how much she really made after taxes and daycare. Or work overtime without free childcare. Don't get me wrong we weren't rich and certainly couldn't have made it without free childcare.

My grandmother didn't really work outside the home, except for a few years at a newpaper printing press after all her kids went to college. But then grandchildren came and instead of minimal salary she watched grandchildren for free so her kids could all work and keep their salaries. There were 3 of us born in 2 years May 1977 to May 1979. So 3 kids under 2 is a lot of work. She did it all. I don't think my mom fully understands what it must have been like. Looking back I have no idea how she did it to be honest. Don't get me wrong my mom paid back her parents as did her siblings, provided cars, housing, etc. But to have free childcare is something that can't be measured.

My point to my mom however has always been, that people who both work obviously they make enough to pay for minimally childcare, and usually have some extra to make it worthwhile to work. They might be able to pay for the dry cleaning, eating out, newer car, more vacations, etc. They have more money in lieu of one parent not working. Otherwise why are they working? If they can't make enough to cover childcare then they are working and going into debt to pay someone else to watch their child? Usually when I meet someone who is working for less than childcare it's because they need health insurance, but their partner makes enough to cover everything but health insurance.

I don't know if I can ever get my mom to understand this. Every word out of her mouth is "well if you work you could afford a lot more. You could buy a bigger house, new car, etc). My response was nope not going to buy more house than we can afford on 1 income. Not going to buy a car we couldn't buy on one income. She keeps saying you can take more risk. True. But the other truth is that no matter what I make my DH and I made a pledge we didn't want to be dependent on two incomes before we had kids back in 2005. We bought our house back then on his income alone and I don't think it was a bad choice. It made for tougher decisions but at the same time when we did go to one income it was without a change in lifestyle.

Perhaps instead of calling myself a stay at home mom I should title myself "private nanny." I'm not sure what I'd make where we live now, but where we used to live? I'd have made at least $50k/year plus gas and car use to watch 2 kids plus all expenses reimbursed. I'd also only work 40 hours and more would constitute either more vacation or more money since many friends ended up paying more because they had to pay for commuting time hourly on time of working time.

Or in home childcare provider? I wonder if it would legitimize my "job" caring for kids if I started to watch other kids? I think this is a sore spot for me because I'm trying to figure out how to get back into the workforce but at the same time I know what I don't want.

Cubic Zirconia or Real Diamond

February 4th, 2016 at 10:34 am

I was reading the thread about a woman wanting to sell her diamond ring but not getting anything. Honestly I can say people can't tell the difference.

My grandparents were pretty poor. My grandmother's original wedding/engagement ring was super plain band. In later years she wore these two diamond rings neither of them real! But who would know? I certainly didn't until my mom said "oh those pieces of glass. My grandmother is 88 this year and lives with my aunt.

She's got a few pieces of jewelry. Nothing expensive or valuable. A few gold bracelets, jade pendants/bracelets, gold ring, and these two cubic zirconia rings. I want the cubic zirconia rings. I know they aren't real. And I know they are less valuable than the other stuff, but I would love to have them.

I can recall them since I was knee high playing with them and seeing her wear them everyday. She promised me them years ago, but with the situation we're in, she lives with an aunt of mine I am pretty sure I'll never see the rings again unless she gives them to me now before her death. I hope that she won't pass for another 10 years, but who knows.

It's hard to explain the sentimentality of the ring. It's not expensive but I love them. I think that people who focus on these expensive diamonds lose focus on the point of the ring or sentiment. The value is inconsequential but the charm.

I have a diamond not the most expensive quality and I never wear it (doesn't fit after kids). But it reminds me how much my DH struggled to buy it and where we came from and built together. I just might resize it so my kiddos can see it. Of course I might also be gifted one day with a huge fake diamond that my own grandkids remember me with. Maybe I'll just clean my grandmother's rings.

Do you have fake jewelry you wear? Or only real? Have you ever been faked out by a diamond you thought was real and it wasn't?

The most expensive diamond I've seen has been a friend who told me her 1 carat diamond was flawless and the jeweler who sold her the ring offered her $40k for it back. OMG. I nearly died.

funny thing

January 21st, 2016 at 10:24 pm

Our neighbors that we aren't on best terms with are moving in June. How relaxing now. Now we don't have to avoid them as much. Bonus if we choose to rent longer we won't have to worry about the two kids being in class together next year. I know I said we'd rent but I hated the idea of my kiddo in class again with our neighbor's kid. This way we are set to not ride the bus or see them again after June. Say la vie! Bye bye to trouble.

In case I forgot to mention over the holidays my neighbor accused me of making her life difficult by reporting the incident between our children. She felt I should have come to talk to her about her son hitting my daughter on the bus instead of dealing with the school and transportation department. She was forced to do a ton of paperwork because of my reporting the issue. I don't know the repercussions but she said that "kids will be kids" and I shouldn't have overreacted. I should have come to let her deal with it.

Truth is that I reacted to seeing a kid hit my kid through the window of the bus. I didn't stop to think I should talk to his mom. I just went and talked to my kid and the school. Second I probably would have reported it anyway after talking with her since this was the second incident with her child. She obviously hadn't dealt with her child after the prior incident of drawing on my child's face. And no I did not tell her that, but I just told her I was sorry that she had a lot of trouble with the school and bus. But that I had done what I felt was in my child's best interest. I explained I was just following the rules and I understand that they are children.

Truth is that moving classrooms has been great for my kid. She mentioned when we said they were moving "great that neighbor S is moving. He's mean on the playground and I avoid him as much as possible." Say la vie.

proud mommy moment

January 20th, 2016 at 08:31 pm

Tonight my 5 (soon to be 6...counting down the days till monday) kiddo and I went and volunteered for the first time since moving. Before we moved we would volunteer at the food bank in town and we did an organization that threw birthday parties at shelters for kids. Well tonight we went to another shelter and helped host another birthday party for the kids at the shelter. I usually take my 3 year old but my DH suggested we check this out before committing regularly with my 3 year old.

It was a great party and my kiddo did AWESOME. I think she's matured a lot and really developed into a thoughtful kid. She understood why kids were there and really got into helping and running games and handing out gift bags. In the car we discussed how the children living were without homes and probably without money to have their own party like the one we're throwing for her. It really hit home and she asked if we could donate some of her money to the organization to buy cakes or ice cream (we donated the cake and ice cream this month). She earns money by doing chores and homework and knows she's getting some for her birthday.

I had a tear in my eye as I write this. I am sure everyone reading this understands how hard it is to be financially responsible. But how much harder it is to be a parent and raise a both a financially responsible child with empathy. To know that I'm trying to raise my kids with and understanding of how privileged and affluent we are. How we have so much more than so many others and that we are so fortunate. Trying to be "frugal" yet sharing what we have with those who have less.

It's a really delicate balancing act. Coming from a less privileged background I really worry about my kids having too much. That they'll just lose appreciation for anything.

Tonight really helped me feel proud. That I think perhaps I'm doing something right. A moment in the torture that is parenting.

Is your career your life?

December 8th, 2015 at 11:49 am

DH is starting to gain traction on his career choice. He's getting started on his bootcamp in Febraury and is excited. He was called for an interview from Linkedin in his old career and he refused. It would have been a promotion doing what he did but he said he mentally turned a corner and that's what he did. Now is his chance to do something different.

As for me I'm still wavering on what I want to do with my life. But the depressing part? My mom. Last night she tells me I need to get a career and accomplish something with my life. That staying at home raising kids not enough. That she's embarrassed to say I stay at home and do "nothing" when people/friends ask. I need to use my degrees and become "someone" and make something of myself. What am I contributing to this world? Being a housewife isn't enough even if I can do it financially.

I don't know what to write. I am not sure I am that person who wants to have an accomplished career. My DH made a comment the other night "our resumes read like type A personalities, but we're not type A people." That statement is probably why we are together. Neither of us could be with people who have similar degrees from the schools we went to. Instead we're pretty content right now sitting at home doing nothing together but raise our children and hang out. I feel embarrassed right now and I know my DH does too (now) that we aren't ambitious enough.

I guess that's part of the hesitation. Do I go back and get a certificate to jump into something similar to my degree and get a full time job? Or is it acceptable to find a part-time job in retail and work just the hours the kids are in school? Perhaps the problem is that both of us want our life to focus on our life and making money/career is secondary. We work to earn money to live so our jobs aren't important. He wants his job to be fulfilling so when he's looking at job he's adamant he won't take one for the money. Rather he's interested in finding something he wants to do. I support this because I've always said we can make any amount of money work and my DH agrees.

But should we have more ambition? I mean if we lived elsewhere we could retire with more than Mr Money Mustache did. We aren't ready to do that. But in 5 years if DH is unhappy and we continue on our previous saving trajectory % and we have enough is it wrong to leave the career and do nothing again?

Do people love their careers? Or their spouses love their careers? Do you work to accomplish or contribute? Do you work to not be bored? Or is it about the money? Did paying off your debts change why you work?

Do kids understand money?

December 4th, 2015 at 03:53 pm

Reading a post about net worth on the forums made me think about time versus money. What my DH and I are doing right now is probably costing us a lot of money. How much? Well at least $45k in salary this year and another $100k next year. Then add in the fact we're going to likely burn through $75k in expenses from not working for 10 months plus tuition for DH's program. And we're out $220k without counting the lost opportunity cost of us not saving some and investing it.

Our kids are 5 and 3. So right now my DH is getting the opportunity to enjoy them in a way many parents can't. I'm fortunate to have enjoyed them immensely until now. He's getting to experience volunteering in class, doing field trips, etc.

I'm not sure our kids understand the sacrifice we are making right now. Or that our lifestyle changed moving cross country. We've actually mentioned to our older DK1 that we no longer have an income. That we are watching our pennies and we can't buy everything under the sun.

But the truth is that we lived very much like we did before. The only change is that we didn't shop as many sales/coupons for groceries. We ate out maybe 2x/week instead of 1x/week. We ate at more expensive places instead of places with deals. But otherwise we never shopped a lot, still give the girls extracurriculars, still go out and do experiences we did before like the zoo/aquarium/etc. We've curbed our weekend roadtrips, if we were working we'd likely have gone on 1-2 weekend trip.

But I honestly don't think our kids think our life is any different. They do understand we have a much nicer, bigger SFH with a garage that is warmer. But that's due to the fact we just moved somewhere cheaper that we could afford a home. Even if we were working we'd still have rented the same place.

I wonder if our kids will understand the huge financial risk we took when they were young? Or understand ever the financial repercussions we've done by quitting and moving? I don't know, but I hope they think we did something amazing to change our lives.

But I do know my Dk1 understands those less fortunate. And we are continuing to volunteer at shelters helping to host birthday parties for children who don't have homes. She understand that there are so many others who have so much less. And at this time of year we should be grateful for having so much.

I'm still excited for the season and while there isn't a shelter party we're going to help make goody bags instead this month. I hope that when they look back on holidays they remember these sort of things. I always remember and give my children money for the red salvation army buckets because more than once my grandfather told me he and his family were on the receiving end of the Thanksgiving and Christmas food baskets. He always gave me money to put in as does my mom till this day. If not for their generosity I don't know where I'd be.

Black Friday shopping

December 1st, 2015 at 10:50 pm

e made a lot of purchases on black friday. Some planned and some unplanned. Something planned for months but still pricey was a new desktop computer. This is our third desktop computer in 15 years together. So I guess around every 7 year we replace our desktop computer. Previously my DH used to build our computers with parts as he had more time to look for deals. This time he did some online research and determined he'd buy a lenovo desktop which would provide a solid buy for a good price. He's said this since around June and told me he'd be looking for a deal around black friday. After we moved the computer for some reason has been overheating/shutting down and crashing. We knew it's been on it's last legs but he's been nursing it along. We got a lenovo desktop from Best Buy for $399. We also got a 24 inch monitor for DH from newegg. This was our big "planned" spending which makes me blanch over the spending but knowing that we've been planning it for almost 6 months makes it bearable.

DH also bought me a Kindle Fire for $35. We'll see how I like the OS compared to the android devices I normally use. He found an open box $5 case at best buy as well. For the kids we decided on $100 budget each ($50 from us and $50 from Santa) for Christmas. We bought DK1 a Razor scooter for $18 and Beadola for $10, Tricycle for $15 and Hello Kitty bus for $20 for DK2 from Santa. We're giving them PJ $10 each, ornaments $5, shopkins $3 and I'm stuck on other stuff. I wonder is it weird if I give them an electric toothbrush $5 each and lip gloss $5 (tsum tsum) for gifts? I am also thinking some lush bath balm $5 each and maybe air freshener night lights from bath and body works.

I find myself looking at cooler stuff the kids sort of "need" but not stuff I would usually buy like an electric tooth brush and super fancy lip gloss (it's minnie mouse). I also bought playdough but I need the tool set.

My parents are gifting the kids with calico critter doll houses $29 and $39 each. I'm still stuck on trying to figure out cool toys they'll enjoy for the long term. I also bought tonight a board game from Scholastic and a workbook. So I've gotten something they need (PJs), something they read, and something they want? I'm not sure since it keeps changes everytime we got to the store!

Question of manners?

November 27th, 2015 at 08:48 pm

Okay I'm about to admit to something that bothers me that I'm never sure how to handle. I've never actually handled it unless it's been mailed.

It's how I never get a thank you note or acknowledgement of a gift. It's recently happened twice and I'm not sure whether or not the people got the gifts.

First we went to a birthday party at a pool that was a little crazy and I left the gifts in the general area it seemed to be collecting. This was in October and I'm wondering do I ask the friend "did Boy B get the gift?" Is it tacky? Is it rude? Am I hinting I want a thank you note?

Second we went to a housewarming party that same weekend and I brought a gift for their new baby and dessert. I know they ate the dessert and served it but the books in a bag with card I left. Did they get it? Did they open it? How do you ask? Again I don't expect a thank you but I just am a little annoyed there wasn't anything to acknowledge.

So how do other's manage this? Once I sent my nephew a DVD from Amazon for his birthday/Christmas and finally when I had the nerve to ask my SIL she was embarrassed because they sent a thank you note to someone else they thought it from. I have also questioned before my brother for his daughter and gotten "oh yeah we got it." So they just chose to not acknowledge receipt of the gift.

But nowadays I wonder even if thank you notes are passe (I do them and so do my kids always) how do people acknowledge they got your gift?

Starting to get excited

November 22nd, 2015 at 01:57 pm

It's weird this year. I feel like for the first time in my adult life we are getting into the feeling of the holidays. We delayed and are trying to order our holiday cards this weekend. We have it made but the website photobooks American isn't taking the groupon I bought. Ugh. So hopefully tomorrow we can have it ordered and we get it by the end of the 1st week of December. I worked on my holiday card mail merge and we should be good to go within a day to send out the cards. We are not religious but I'm very grateful for everything we have this year. And the opportunity to start our own traditions with the kids is amazing.

Today we bought Christmas lights and the turkey. We are getting started for Thanksgiving because we're hosting my in-laws and brother-in-law. My parents will be here for Christmas and then we'll spend New Years with the in-laws. For the first time we'll be in our home with a tree for the kids. I realized that I'm actually going to have to shop for gifts. Perhaps not expensive but the idea of wrapping and buying presents is very pleasant. We bought the kids a lego advent calendar and a mighty blocks advent calendar to start off the season.

I've planned on a dozen cookies each for the teachers, probably white chocolate cranberry cookies. So I've got 6 dozen cookies to make plus another 3 dozen for the school cookie drive.

As for the menu for thanksgiving I'm making cornbread stuffing, cranberry sauce, spinach artichoke dip, green beans, sweet potatoes, and potato salad.

Happy Thanksgiving to all. Hope everyone travels safe and enjoys their families I can't wait.

riding the bus

November 20th, 2015 at 03:36 pm

So this morning we had and incident with the same boy (S) on the bus. He hit my DK1 on the face and said "i don't want you to sit next to me. Get away." Unfortunately DK1 has been avoiding S but we got to the bus stop late and there wasn't any seats for kindergarteners except up front. Yes I saw this happen through the window.

I drove after the bus and stopped DK1 (she wasn't crying but upset) and she told the bus driver what happened. The bus driver said he would be sure to separate the kids from now on and he would also make sure the seats reserved for kindergarteners would be cleared instead of 1st or 2nd graders trying to crowd the front rows. We also told the school principal about the incident. I followed up with a call to the transportation department and how lovely there are cameras on the bus and it was on video. The transportation department said they would be following up with mom of S and the school said they would as well.

My DH went to school to work on the art board today as well. When he saw the boy S, S began stammering and saying "DK1 deserved it. She's been mean to me." My DH ignored him and instead came home and talked to DK1. DK1 said she's been avoiding him and not been talking to him period. She doesn't like him. I believe her and so does my DH considering this is the same child who lied about drawing on DK1 face and told untruths about DK1.

Thankfully we are switching in 10 days to another classroom. So we only have to endure morning bus ride with this neighbor boy and no more afternoon bus rides. I hate to be so petty but I am so glad my DK1 chose to move to full day kindergarten so she won't have to see this child again. Perhaps if we stay and they stay in the area we will see each other but if not then it's just neighbors passing in the day.

You know this wasn't supposed to happen till they were older. I expected this in 4th or 5th grade but not this young.

Full day kindergarten

November 17th, 2015 at 10:39 am

So we got a call that DK1 whose currently in half day kindergarten got offered a spot in full day kindergarten. The cost is $370/month. A great deal honestly. But the negative is that DK1 would have to switch classrooms. When we moved we were hoping to get into full day kindergarten. Because we thought it was more educational. Yes and no. The curriculum is similar but more time is spent on each subject. 1 hour versus 30 minutes on writing, reading, math, art, social studies, etc. So why the hesitation?

I think because it's December and I worry with all the change she'll be sad. I don't think she's made super close friends yet, but she has made friends. Talking with DK1 she's very interested in going full day because sitting with mom and dad for lunch gets boring. Sitting at home doing homework daily with us (workbooks, piano, math) is tedious. If I had to guess I think she gets more attention and is learning more at home with us than at school. But because of all personalities involved DK1 isn't keen on us teaching her. We do a lot of nature and science teaching as well as workbooks and online coursework. We've done IXL, abc mouse, khan academy, and she takes russian math. Along with piano, swim lessons, gymnastics we know she's getting a nice supplemental education. But I can see how it could be fun to stay at school. But i wonder if she'll be happy having a new classroom?

We have until tomorrow to decide. I am leaning towards full day but perhaps it's too much of a change. Did your kids go to school full or half day kindergarten and why?

it's been a long week

November 13th, 2015 at 03:24 pm

It's been a long week. Remind me again why I don't homeschool or private school my kids?

Yes again we saw our neighbor and the boy S. No apology and his mom stopped me after the bus and said "well S said he was just kidding and joking. He didn't mean to spread rumors and thought it was funny." He also reacted poorly to DK1 saying something bossy "you aren't doing it right" so he reacted and she realized that he hadn't told the truth about the situation. "He reacted poorly but kids will be kids." "it's not his fault other children are provoking the situation."

Something I never thought I'd contemplate is whether private school is an option or homeschooling. We are very big supporters of public school. We are very big supporters of public education and yet I am starting to question if it's worth buying a home in a "good" school district? Or should we focus instead on a location with a nice house and focus our money on private school? Or maybe even consider homeschooling?

Bullying already

November 12th, 2015 at 06:52 pm

So I can't let it go for so many reasons. The earlier incident with Student S drawing on my daughter face. I managed to finally get ahold of student S mom (Miss A) since she left me a voicemail.

What did she say? Well "kids will be kids". Oh really? So Student S lied about the situation and said he didn't draw on my child's face. He drew on her arm because she drew on. This was not true and Miss A told me she believed her son. She was stumped that the story was different from what my daughter and teacher's story was.

Second, I told her that I investigated the accusation that my child was going around kissing other children. I called and asked the other parent and the teacher and other children's parents. The only child saying that happened was Student S. Funny how this came out only after the drawing on the face. I didn't call him a liar but I said perhaps she'd like to question his story again.

She said he didn't tell her the story but he was telling other children this gossip. I told her she needs to ask her son to stop telling the story. I did discuss this with the teacher, but I am still annoyed.

I don't know if I should bring up this boy is spreading rumors about my child. I can't believe we have to live next door to this family. Ugh. Thank god we are renting. This is a sign that we need more space from having neighbors.

Kindergarten Woes

November 10th, 2015 at 11:05 am

So my kindergartener came home yesterday from school a bit upset. I got an email from the teacher she and the boy sitting next to her got into a fight. He drew on her paper first and she retaliated by drawing on his paper. I know I laughed because it is the age. But then he drew on her face and she started crying. She was then set to the nurses office to clean up an calm down. The teacher sent me and email and said they had been sent to time out and had misbehaved and were both not allowed to finish the art project with pens but pencils as punishment.

I asked my DK1 what happened and she explained the story. The story I wrote above I emailed the teacher and it was confirmed. We explained to DK1 that it was wrong to retaliate by writing on someone else's paper and the correct thing to have done was to tell the teacher. We did say we were glad DK1 didn't retaliate and draw on the other child and escalate the fight. She wrote and apology note to the teacher today for fighting.

But DK1 refused to apologize to the other child. My DH and I are torn. Do we make her apologize? Allow her to not apologize and let her avoid the other child? I feel a terrible parent because I felt like laughing over something that has happened between my own two kids. So I get it. And between the two kids I make them apologize.

But now what? Besides the point DK1 has to get over it, we made her go to school today when she didn't want to and see the kid. Why? Because the kid is a neighbor that rides the bus too. FWIW he didn't go to school today.

It's starting already. Navigating the social aspects of school.

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