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Small amounts to ESA and apple stock

December 24th, 2023 at 06:11 am

The year is ending and I just thought I'd post about college savings and how small savings adds up.  Maybe to inspire someone, maybe because it's the simplest accounts we have.  My DK1 turns 14 in January.  I think we started her Education Savings Account or Coverdell in May 2010.  But Coverdell IRA or ESA are capped at $2000 a year contribution limits.  But you can invest in anything.  What have we invested in?  VOO.   Yep that's it. BORING.  Nothing special.  DK2 was born in July 2012 and I think I did her as well maybe a few months later.  So I've been tracking it for awhile. I have to go back to see how it was but 10 years ago...Realize we've never contributed more than $2k/year.

1/1/2014   DK1 $11,239   DK2 $6369

1/1/2015           $12,251           $6831

1/1/2016           $14695            $9105

1/1/2017           $16,588            $10,277

1/1/2018           $22,205           $14,612

1/1/2019           $24,801            $17,605

1/1/2020           $36,702           $27,169

1/1/2021           $39,668          $29,251

1/1/2022            $51,869          $38,691

1/1/2023          $43,940            $33,366

12/1/2023       $54,540             $41,945

total contri      $26,000            $22,000

So small amounts invested once a year for many, many years leaves to a doubling in 12 years.  It's supposed to double every 7 years but i'll take it.

As for apple stock?  DK1 sometime in 2010, again I think summer 2010, we were visiting in SF and DH's uncle.  He decided after meeting DK1 he would gift her 2 shares of apple stock and asked us to never sell it.  At the time it was $300 a share so he gave her around $600.  We didn't reinvest the dividends though we should have. I think we let the cash ride.  What's the $600 gift worth now from July 2010?  $11,891.  She has 60 shares from all the splits, but since I started reinvesting dividends actually 61.425 shares. DH's uncle didn't give DK2 but I did matching shares for her in a taxable account.  Those two shares of apple are the only reason why we had taxable accounts for the kids since we didn't plan on having enough money past the $2k/year ESA.  

Well now the kids have around $45k each in a taxable account and they have nice and hefty college funds with the ESA being a big chunk of it.  Turns out small investing can make a big difference in someone's life. We weren't born into any sort of money or inheritance.  But wow, just a tiny amount can make a huge difference. 

Imagine if either of our parents had gifted us even $500 or $1000 per year per kid for college or anything else.  I'm hoping to do that for our kids. Maybe be in the situation where we could gift the maximum per year to them.  Investing in their taxable accounts might make a bigger difference by the time they are 30.

Traveling as a family of four

September 6th, 2023 at 06:13 am

We had a lovely trip to Singapore and Thailand at the end of August. I'll post some photos and notes in the next few days.  But I have to write a bit about my experience reading blogs about travel and traveling with kids.

I read a lot of posts about "saving" money while traveilng.  Mostly about transportation cost, using miles, hotels, etc.  Of course there are a bunch of bloggers writing about traveling with kids first class because of miles and getting free airline hotel comps or cruise comps.  They aren't exactly average joes looking for a deal.  Their job is blogging and ads and evaluating where they are going.  So it's not really easy to discern how expensive traveling with kids is or how easy or hard it really.  And of course there are a ton of bloggers who are single or couples doing it super cheap not constrained by school schedules and use to paying for a family of four.

So I just wanted to put it out there reality wise for all those blogs I read about food, transportation, etc.

1.  When you travel as a family of 4 or 5, sometimes it's cheaper to use a cab.  No public transit is not cheaper.  I can prove it with my uber rides versus paying $2 a person for a one way subway and having to walk.  We did use the subway/bus/walk because of the experience and fun.  But the truth is that with 4 people it's often more economical to use a grab.  I made a conscious decision not to buy a $5 transit pass card because I suspected that using ubers would be more efficient and I was right.

Also after a long day it's often times easier to go straight back and not waste an extra 30-60 minutes navigating a subway/walking/waiting with kids and maximize rest times.

2. Hotels often in Europe and Asia are built for 2. It's way more expensive and harder to find rooms accomodating families.  You can easily get 2 rooms but then you are sharing with one adult one kid.  The rooms are smaller and meant for couples.

3. Food stalls are awesome as a single or couple. It's somewhat painful to go eat at food courts with a family where you have to get your kids food, navigate a seat, get your food, and navigate trying to accomodate everything.

4. Kids need down time. Even older kids aren't as resilient as adults.  A lot of flexibility and change need to happen.

5. Carrying around a lot more and spending more. I already had a backpack on the entire time filled with sunscreen, 1 water bottle, napkins, tissues, hand sanitizer.  And I still spent more than those couples/singles with their one bottle. I bought from vending machines and 7-11 drinks because it's awful to carry around 4 drinks.  I learned that years ago.  1 bottle of water to refill in case of emergency and you buy everything else you need along the way.  Water/drinks are cheap compared to the effort of carrying it.

6. Food - i missed the michelin star food hawker stalls in singapore because trying to find it and wait in line impossible. I had fantastic food and we had a fabulous time, but as a family? You have to let go and go with the flow rather than making perfection happen.

7. Sometimes you just do the experience in front of you instead of what you planned.  There were all these itineraries of "travel" warriors for seeing everything.  Couldn't be done with my two kids ages 11 and 13.  They just couldn't hack those days.  Our itinerary was jammed packed for a family, but it still didn't come close to what bloggers write.

8.  I paid extra to sit up front in economy going and we lucked out to have no one sitting next to DH and DK1 grabbed and empty row.  Coming back I forked over $450 per person for economy plus on our mileage tickets and it was worth every penny.  

9.  Find a hotel with an amazing pool.  We had three crazy pools and it was incredible.  We needed downtime to just relax.

10.  When you land you pay a premium to eat either in the hotel as a family or nearby but often you are too exhausted to care where or what you eat.  Our most expensive meals were when we couldn't move.

I just had to post a few thoughts on traveling with kids.  I guess I found myself a bit cynical after reading a lot of blogs about itineraries and ideas.  But none really hit on traveling with kids.  

FWIW, it's awesome and fun to travel with our kids.  We always have a blast and our experiences if you've read my blog the photos have been good.  But for anyone who thinks it's what other bloggers write? Or try to experience or do it on the cheap?

It's not.  Even reading about people going to disney?  There are way to do it cheaper but cheap? Or to do it the way some single or couples do it?  with a family?  Impossible.  So cut yourself a break and enjoy the ride.

Day of Joy

November 4th, 2022 at 07:26 pm

Today is a day of Joy and I have been blessed.  About a year ago my DH underwent genetic testing and was confirmed to have a specific mutation that he inherited from his mom, which lead to his retinitis pigmentosa.  This mutution is inherited in an autosomal dominant manner meaning that any child we had would have a 50% chance of inheriting it and having RP.  

When we had children 13+ years ago we had no idea what the mutation was and there was no way of knowing.  Testing was not advanced enough to genetically screen and find the mutation.  Fast forward to now and due to advances they knew where to look and last Christmas his diagnosis was confirmed.  He had been told since around age 12 when the dr was able to observe the RP phenotype.  

The fact we were told 13 years ago we would know around now, meant we've been waiting on pins and needles.  We've been waiting to see if any dr would be able to look into our kids eyes and tell us if they had it.  I know my DH has been worried, especially as he has aged and things have become more difficult for him.  The greatest fear and worry for a parent is the healthy and well being of your children.  

So a few months ago we were approved that insurance would test our kids for the mutuation.  We actually had been ready to pay out of pocket but the eye dr suggested we try insurance and she turned in the paperwork.  

It turns out both our kids are negative for the mutation.  They each had independently a 50/50 chance of having the mutation and being positive for RP.  So for DH to have two children not inheriting the mutation is amazing.  I had tears of joy when the dr called me.  

What a wonderful day.

Keeping up with the Jones summer camp

April 20th, 2022 at 07:48 pm

So I am not a keeping up with the Jones person or else I wouldn't live where I live and drive what I drive.  I alsotruggle with spending money on stuff I deem unworthy (it is an individual thing and I am not a spendthrift, nor frugal but I try to be cognizant of my spending). 

That being said I got an email that "your DK2 has been taken off the wait-list for the sleepaway camp, please register by April 23rd, 2022 to hold your spot."  The camp is a 1 week sleepaway camp and it's expensive. It's $1500 for the week not to mention getting there and back (although I may not have to do it since friends are going...)

That being said I don't put the kids in much camp because I am home and usually not working.  We enjoy hanging out and travel a lot.  Plan this year is hawaii for 2 weeks, Canada for 2 weeks (family wedding) and potentially a road trip up and down the west coast with friends?  So we are busy. I signed my kiddos up for 1 week of girl scout camp because that's the one thing we do.  I also signed up for a half day paddleboarding camp.

But back to the sleepaway camp I didn't sign up for initially because it's expensive.  Realize only one of my kids is going so it's not like other friends whose spending $3000 - $4500 sending 2-3 kids so we are not parent vacationing solo. I still have my older one who won't go (autism).  So I was like I could spend $3k on our vacation.

I don't know if this is something worth doing or completely ridiculous.

March 2-22 Wrap up

April 5th, 2022 at 06:27 pm

The market has rebounded nicely in these past few weeks  We are down 10% in retirement and 20% in our taxable.  But then again we also got our unexpected stock sale so we made some money.  Here is what we did with it.


35.74% to 529

5.71% to spending

9.52% to I bonds

48.05% to taxable savings

the 5.71% spending I just threw into our emergency fund.  I am going to use to it spend a little extra. I also will probably cut back on savings for the year since we basically saved 95% of our windfall and 66% of income for the year.  I'm thinking I do want to spend the 5% i earmarked and not just save it. 

Things I bought already tickets to hamilton, Jack white, red hot chili pepper concerts this summer/fall.  Tickets to Las Vegas for a weekend trip.  Tickets to Hawaii for summer.  I also would like to do a few more weekend trips probably SF and maybe an october trip to Disneyland.  Some of this we would have paid for and the rest will be covered by this spending.  That plus not saving more than $16k more this year for Roth IRA and ESA contributions. 

I'll still be doing $2k/year to each kid for college until age 18 just because but I don't think I need to be doing more than that anymore.  Our kids will have college 100% paid for now and extra for a house downpayment, wedding, or car.   The taxable accounts I started will be for something else.  We have 6 figures in each 529+ESA and they are 12 and 9 plus another $50k in taxables for them.  But I will no longer stress out about affording the future. 

Everything else is for us.  I know we aren't obligated to help our kids with college. I know that we are not obligated to gift them with a hand out after college.  But I've always aspired to be able to pay 100% for college and be able to provide a house downpayment, car, and maybe even wedding.  I always wished to have been so fortunate and a little envious of people whose parents were able to help them.  I understand DH and I families were not in the situation to help us and now if anything we are about to start paying for my grandmother financially.  But since we are in such a fortunate position I am thankful for everything and going to take advantage of it.

How to help your kids buy a house

February 22nd, 2022 at 05:57 pm

So I guess I live in a HCOLA, doesn't feel like but sure.  I certainly have always lived in expensive areas and my mindset has always been well you buy small, flip, and trade up.  I certainly never expected to be in a position to help my kids buy a house. I have always been worried about our own retirement and retiring early has always been the plan.  So the idea of forking over say $30-50k hasn't been on my radar.  Neither has been forking over $25k for a wedding or $25k for a car.

But circumstances change and opportunities change.  Now things are bit a different and perhaps we can.  My kids will certainly now be getting substantial help from my mom for a house or investment account. I know that she plans on leaving them her house.  She's 70 and hawaii real estate is valuable.  

But recently a friend told me in confience she helped her son buy a house.  He bought a $1.2M house and she owns 25% = $300k.  She put down $300k and her name is on the deed as owner for 25%.  Her parents did this for her and her brothers.  They did this and when her brother got divorced they had to sell the house and settle our with her father (her mother had passed by this time) his share of ownership.  

She said "no marriage is forever and she learned that watching her parents."  $300k is a lot of money to gift your child and have them lose in a divorce.  Instead she decided to be a part-owner in a house to help her son and daughter in law afford it and then if she and her husband die it'll be part of her son's inheritance.  She also has a daugther and would offer the same deal even if her daughter buys while single.

That made me think okay that's what I'm doing.  If we are fortunate enough to have that sort of money then I will likley help my children buy homes buy becoming a part-owner.  As per our prior post I'm not sure I'm comfortable giving them $300k to buy a house. I think I might need to be an "owner".

Have you ever heard of this?  Do you think it's a good idea?

can money ruin kids?

February 22nd, 2022 at 02:13 am

Something my DH and I are going back and forth with.  Can money ruin kids?  Will giving our children money or gifting them say free college, potentially a car, house down payment, or even a trust fund? 

I get that if you have tons of money that it's okay.  You can afford it.  You can afford to do something without impacting your own future.  That perhaps you are doing it to avoid future taxes.  But should you? I asked that question because I hate the idea also of paying taxes.

But at the same time I worried does giving our kids so much mean that we might ruin them?  Will they not learn the value of money?  Will they assume that everything in life is easy?  Will they expect everything in life asap because they never have to work for it?  

Or do we have to force them to have skin in the game?  Do we withhold everything and make them succeed on their own?  Is it really necessary? 

Has it been necessary for DH and I?  We were super fortunate in everything.  Everything has just broken our way.  Yes we are super fortunate and lucky but we did also make our luck by taking calculated risks.  But because we made some of our good fortune, we're honestly living the american dream. 

We've turned a corner and now the starting point for our kids is just so much higher than what we had or expected.  And because of it their starting line is so much further ahead.  They are where so many people we know started.  It's hard to explain but the help parents give children to start make such a big difference. 

Imagine never having student loans, car loans, or saving for a house.  Imagine not paying for vacations or saving for college for your own kids, or even saving for retirement.  Imagine knowing that you can choose the career you want and live where you want because you aren't worried about money.  

But knowing all of that does it ruin you?  Does it prevent you from working as hard or being as ambitious, frugal, or savvy?  DH and I had a date night last week and struggled with these questions.

We've hit a point where we might be able to do this for our kiddos.  But should we is the question I raised?  Right now truthfully I know my kids are going to be ridiculously well prepared.  Even I give them nothing my mom has continually mentioned disinheriting me and giving it straight to my kids.  So I know I probably am not getting her "house" but she's going to give the kids $200k each at a minimum.  I'm not sure that's enough to ruin them but that's not everything either.  But if DH and I give them more?  Will it be ruinous?

When your goal changes

November 16th, 2021 at 06:57 pm

So I have always said we'll save enough to pay for 4 years of college at a public in state university.  That has always been our goal.  It was a SMART specific, measurable, achievable, reasonable within timeframe goal.  I hypothesized $30k/year or around $120k per kid.  Potentially $40k/year so $160k.  We have 7 and 9 years left.  My DK1 has $104k and my DK 2 has $90k right now set aside for their college costs.  I think we are definitely on track with saving another $2k/year for the next 7 and 9 years.  5% returns gets us to $163k for my DK1 and $162k for my DK2 when they start college which is right on the high end of target.

But the equation recently has changed.  I realized (ephiphany) that I can't be so inflexible.  I do not want to forced my DK1 into a situation where she would be unhappy or set up to fail. Instead now I am looking at the situation retrospectively and thinking okay whatever she chooses we can manage.  We have a foundation to afford any college and I believe she'll go because she's smart and curious. I also think that perhaps a big public university is not a place she will thrive but she might need a smaller, more private setting.  I realize that we will not qualify for financial aid.  She might get a merit scholarship but I won't bank on that because who knows how she'll navigate high school.

But my DH has never wanted to quit earlier than the kids finishing college. To him he's seen that as the accomplishment of launching our kids.  For me? I thought he should be ready to quit by 50 if not sooner.  But as we've grown he's become more adament and I'm resigned that he won't be mentally able to retire or downshift until the kids are done.  I think moreso now understanding my older child and worrying about her future, he'll resist any sort of retirement until he feels she's secure.  

That being said I realize looking at things we might need to pay for a small private college.  Cost?  $60k/year?  Astronomically more than we ever planned.  I had hoped on gifting a wedding or house down payment and car.  Again in the cards but it means either we save and live more prudently or we work longer.  Also she might take longer than 4 years if she switches schools because it's the wrong fit.  I believe she's going to pick something that plays to her strengths and I believe that she will be able to accomplish any major she picks.  She's quite smart.  But I want her happy and I don't want her to also overload on courses so that could also determine if she needs longer to stay  than 4 years.

But what do to? I don't know. I need to look at a few more simulations of our portfolio, DH working, and decide.  Right now we are on cruise FIRE not saving much more than the minimum and on track to retire in about 13 years when the kids are done 2034.  But this new variable of doubling to tripling our college costs is quite difficult to prep this late in the game.

I'm embarrassed about myself

November 14th, 2021 at 07:21 am

 I'm writing this because something happened to me tonight and it really bothered me tonight and I didn't speak up. I realize I did the WRONG thing by not speaking up to offensive people.

I was sitting in a kitchen with a group of people, couple of neighbors and other moms/dads at a birthday party my DK2 attended. I realize that most of them might have been drunk and I did not drink anything. But I feel like people are being very honest when drinking and to be truthful I didn't much like any of the moms at that moment.

They were talking about a girl walking around the neighborhood calling her the "walk-around girl." That I could understand. This girl in 6th grade who walks around the neighborhood solo. That is fine a description when you don't know someone's name.  The name wasn't the problem.  It's how it was said, described, and the connotation.   It's the fact she was laughing that the girl was constantly smiling and occasionally it seemed flared/danced, or had a tic that caused her to behave a bit unusually while walking. I was curious about who the girl is because I wanted to speak up and say do you realize you are making fun of a child? And I didn't.

I feel sick to my stomach. The idea of this mom saying these things was offensive and I don't know her well but I knew I was wrong not speaking up to put that mom in her place. I should have and I probably would have ruined the mood of the party. Maybe I could have turned the mirror on them to reflect on their attitudes and mindset.

Is this because of my DK1? Yes and no. I would have felt offended even before because I have always been sensitive to knowing my DK1 was different. So I would never say someone else is different or make fun or comment because I always have worried about being judged.  Judged at how my DK1 behaved in public with some really bad meltdowns.  Judged at being a bad parent unable to "control" my kid.  Made fun of for my child that wore clothes that barely matched and marched to her own tune of just ignore all social conventions.  That "walk-around" girl could have been my child.  So no way would I ever say that.  I type this with tears in my eyes because I know this.

But yes I probably would not have been as offended before my diagnosis.  But it bothered me probably more than it should because of the sensitive place I'm in right now.  That now I can see even more clearly the kids who are "odd" and realize there are many other parents of kids who look "normal" who are struggling.  Who feel what I feel about being judged for my seemingly neurotypical child not acting "normal" but looking perfect.  That i'm a bad parent or neurotic for "giving" in to something that I know she struggles with like riding the bus.

I was wrong. I was wrong to sit there and listen. I was wrong to not speak up. But the question now is do I tell my neighbor that I was offended? I was going to tell her because our kids play together about my DK1 diagnosis and ask for an understanding in case when our children play something is said or misinterpreted. That's how another mom I know  said she does for her daughter. She will mention it to the other parent so they can can help smooth over rough edges for her daughter. But now I don't know. Would my neighbor even realize the offensiveness? Would they even care?

What happened to be kind? It's okay to be racially sensitive, gender sensitive? But mental illness or something like autism/add/adhd differences if not seen are ignored and allowed to be made fun of?   That being slightly different but looking normal is glossed over?

Should I say something?

weird thing

November 10th, 2021 at 11:51 pm

I got an economic impact payment of $1400 for my DK2.  It was weird. I filed a tax return for her because I wanted to carryforward losses I took for her in 2020. I want to capture some gains this year as well and pay minimal taxes for her.  So last March I sold VTI and bought VOO and QQQ.  I now have about 60% gains so I'm thinking of harvesting the VOO and buying SPY and then using the losses from last year to reset my basis.

These are just some tiny things.  But i'm wondering if I'm cashing the check makes sense? I wonder if I will have to return it.  We don't qualify for it.  Uggh.

How my daughter with autism was different

November 8th, 2021 at 06:51 pm

So my kiddo was different from an early age.  But there are lot of other things going on that meant there was always an excuse for everything.  Everything that seemed off or was different was explained away.  It sounds ridiculous but it really was.  I was the only mom of a girl in a special needs playgroup of boys with autism.  As I write this I feel like I can finally say to every mom who talked down to me there "hey now that I'm one of you, do you respect me??  Now that I have the same diagnosis as you, you can stop telling me we don't belong.  We are taking a spot from a kid who needs it?"  I really struggled a lot when she was younger because when you are the only mom of a girl in a group of boys, often times you are bit avoided and shunned, sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally.  But a big part is that often times her interests were different and she was different.  She was as different from boys presenting with autism as she was from neutotypical girls.

I knew she was different when she could never join in with kids to play.  She would stand there and quietly watch from the sidelines, or playing by herself.  She would sometimes come to me and ask to leave and I would say can we try?  Can we try to fit in?  I always called her my square peg trying to fit into a round hole.  I didn't get it at all, except we both tried to fit in.

She had physical problems which is why she couldn't speak clearly and we needed speech therapy from age 1.  Same problems that plagued her younger sister.  We also did OT because she had poor fine motor and sensory issues with sounds and severe anxiety. This was often the diagnosis, you have a super sensitive child with severe anxiety.  Since my mom has OCD and severe anxiety I went along with it I mean when you meet my family it's pretty obvious.

She also never present with ADD or ADHD.  We would spend hours reading in the library and our daily routine was going to every library read/sing along. She knew every book, song, and word.  I mean the general day was reading for about 3-4 hours.  She memorized every fact of dinosaurs and animals.  She was obssessed with giraffes like other little girls loved princesses.  But I was never into princesses so I didn't think anything of it.  She wore only leopard or animal print clothes.  She got over certain types of fabric and clothes going over her head and zippers.  She ate everything I put in front of her.  So we muddled along with lots of social pragmatics playgrounds, speech, OT.  This continued for years.  The psychologist said the speech and OT might have taught her to self mimic and pretend so well she could cover and hide her problems for years.  Especially since she was gifted and it didn't have any real impact academically but clinicall significant was the difference bewteen most of her scores and her social score.  She is 2 standard deviations between academic and social.  She basically failed all social communications.

I accepted their diagnosis of anxiety because it made sense.  Yes she had no friends.  Yes she didn't ever have a BFF.  She couldn't seem to get over her shyness and make friends.  She never played with others in a public setting, but my mom was a terrible germaphobe and my DH wasn't exactly into it so I brushed it off.  She was the type of child who needed "playdates" with the same children to get comfortable.  Okay fine no biggie.  

Then she outgrew her fears of movie theaters, dark rooms, loud noises, etc.  We could watch tv again, she was afraid of stories that we "dark" with villans.  She enjoys watching shows like cirque du soliel, the circus, plays, music events, etc.  It took until about age 6 for this to pass. But I didn't care. We had a second child who wasn't ready, it was hard to do things anyway.  

Also when I had the second child I was in post-partum depression for a year and I struggled anyway.  And I was glad I had a super easy child that was potty trained and quiet.  She didn't like going to preschool which is how she ended up in the social pragmatics group.  But they told us that it was because i was a stay at home mom and made her clingy with her anxiety.  They said it was good for her and montessori where she would have been allowed to never talk and do her own thing I could see was the worse possible environment. So we went to a normal preschool where there was a routine and structure for 4 hours a day 2-3x a week.

But then elementary came and we seemed to be "fine".  We were outgrowing the fears, we could finally go to bed before midnight.  We seemed to be "normal".  Then covid happened. I could tell she wasn't talking during online schooling but there was nothing to be done. I couldn't be a ventriloquist.  It was an awful year at home.  But at the same time she finally made a couple of real friends.  She got it.  The constant proximity and space meant that she had a chance to develop something deeper socially. 

But now at 11 almost 12 and in 6th grade?  My daugher still doesn't speak at school to kids or teachers.  She is pretty much selectively mute.  She always looks sad and unhappy and depressed.  She is not part of the girl drama.  Emotionally the psychologist said she is 12-24 months behind which I can see.  She's outgrown OT and speech.  And now we just need help moving forward.

I'm trying to figure out what she wants.  I have people saying let her be.  I have others saying "work" on being normal. I'm not sure what she wants.  The let her be folks say maybe she doens't want human interaction or social connections.  That people with autism do not.  But then there are those who say they do.  I'm not sure what the answer is. 

I like to think that I think she does want a connection. She lights up at the thought of inviting her friends over for a sleepover or being invited.  She does smile with them and laugh.  That yes the support of being at home and being there and having other children over more seems better received.  

But trying to explain this to other moms is hard.  Explaining to others who say "she seems normal and fine" is hard.  Explaining why we aren't surprised is harder still.  The fact she can fake it so well makes me worried about what's behind the mask.

my long journey with my aspie girl

November 6th, 2021 at 01:06 am

I guess this is more a reflective post and not at all about finance but somewhere to write my thoughts and perhaps put it out there for other mom's of girls looking for answers.  This week my DK1 was diagnosed with autism at 11 years old nearly 12 years old. I remember I wrote on this blog how excited I was to be pregnant, and secretly thrilled to be having a girl (I really wanted one).  I remember my husband just hoping for a healthy baby and we were blessed to have a healthy baby girl. Amazing.  Spectacular. I probably spent the first year taking a picture a day to commemerate her life. 

Life with my girl wasn't easy. In fact it was super hard for a variety of reasons physically, mentally, and emotionally.  She was so hard but I never felt like I could complain or say how hard it was when so many other parents had it harder.  I heard about others being diagnosed with a physical disability or autism early.  Instead I had many services of early intervention and I knew something was wrong. She never slept and had so many sensory issues. 

I always felt something was different and observing from the time she was about 3 I could tell she was different.  But every evaluation, therapist, counselor told me she was fine.  She had sensory issues but lots of kids have that.  She was smart, talkative, intuitive, seemingly mature.  She was stubborn and difficult but that would "serve" her well in the future and was her personality.  She withdrawn nature was called shy.  Her introvertedness was personality. Yes she was in social pragmatics group from age 3 for her shyness.  But she never failed her evaluations.  They kept telling us that she was fine.  That she was just shy and quiet and needed some social skills.  Multiple evaluators said this. 

But what changed?  I noticed since they she never fit into a group easily.  She was less socially skilled than boys her own age.  She was less adept at being part of a group and never really played with other children.  She also lacked a lot of emtion.  She was very logical, smart, stubborn, strong-willed, and difficult.  She masked a lot of problems by being quiet, but it just seemed off. While she can make eye contact she struggles holding it.  She struggles having a conversation even with me.  A lot of answers are one word answers and she struggles to vocalize what she feels or thinks.  She has a hard time making decisions.

So why the problems?  All the benchmarks and studies and hallmark evidence are based on boys with autism.  Girls present differently.  Yet are judged on the same scale instead of their peers.  If it had been peer based we would have been flagged much earlier.  She obviously and very evidently behind her male peers let alone her female ones.  Yet even I as a parent knew something was wrong and worried.  But I let all the "professionals" tell me it was fine.  Tell me that we didn't need our IEP anymore.  That she was just quiet, shy, and introverted.  Nevermind that my mother's intuition worried me.

The mantra I've had has been I only want her to be happy. I really have felt tis way. I didn't care about her education and I was right.  She's gifted.  It compensated for a lot of things.  Turns out that her speech therapy and occupational therapy also might have helped masked the problem by teaching her to "mimic" appropriate behavior and responses.

On the autism scale she's not severe.  Instead she just has complete lack of social skills and social communication. Her verbal communication score was "very high" 95%.  Her verbal skills and matrix math skills were all 95%.  It's obvious when you ask her and force her to explain things.  But to hold a conversation?  Impossible.  Even now in school she struggles about talking to a teacher or other students.  This year she tested and did 8th grade math and english but according to the teachers hasn't talked to any students.  She placed at the 80% of 8th grade math as an entering 6th grader.  Her IQ score was 130.  But she hasn't spoken in school yet when she has to write and tested she was "very high" 95% again.  She also apparently has no friends.

She also looks so normal. She is physically perfect.  No ticks. no repetitive behavior, nothing out of the norm.  She is cute, nice hair, skin, teeth, great clothes.  Since we are "upper" middle class it shows in a way that being poor showed when I was younger.

Covid was hard and good at the same time.  It allowed her to develop a best friend. Something she's never had.  She's never had a close friend.  But this girl lived across the street and her parents both worked full time so she came over everyday.  It took about 2-3 months for her to finally break through my DK and start really talking but then she did and they became I think friends.  That BFF has been a godsend and amazing.  She totally gets my kiddo.  Her emotionally EQ is off the charts.  To understand that my kiddo can't talk to others she tells to others and explains.  She joked with my Kiddo and got her to smile for her school photo.  

But now the journey is different. It took us a long time to get here.  The struggle was and is real.  I guess I needed to vent and write about being a mom to a girl with "autism".  That I am a mom with an aspie girl and it was hard to get here.  The journey forward is just as challenging but in a different way.  Perhaps this is where I write it.  Perhaps on a blog. But now i'm just curious to see if others have found the same challenges for having a girl with autism.

sometimes i just wanna vent..

September 8th, 2021 at 11:52 pm

Nothing financial.  Nothing about finances but just write a vent.  Please read with a grain of salt that this is just me complaining. I've lead my DK1 girl scout troop for 4 years now. I have lead it solo for the past 3 years.  Even the 1st year I lead it (2nd grade brownie) I did everything and the co-lead showed up.  Since then we've done a rotation of parents signing up to stay and help but never lead.  Okay I was with the program but it's exhausting. I have always had 12 girls until this past year and covid. I started September 2020 with 8 girls and the parents were great.  But it was mostly virtual until around May 2021.  I had 3 girls drop/move away.  So I was left with 5 pretty dedicated girls. I had 2 that I lead to a Bronze award (yay! cheers!) and the other 3 contributed intermittently.

That being said with such a low number and hoping I could finally have help yesterday I met with another troop out at a playground for pizza to see if we couldn't run meeting in parallel or merge.  The other troop had 3 girls and 1 new girl.  We had previously been combined but due to high interest split.  

Well the girls got along great.  But the other troop leader and new "co-leader", I was happy at the thought of not leading anymore weren't really interested.  We discussed when we would meet and the answer was "whenever we feel like it."  Where we would meet?  Outdoors and then when the weather turns who knows.  It's too far in advance than tomorrow.  I said have we settled on how many times or how long or are we always masked and space?  The other mom said to me "i don't know about anything more than today."  It's too much planning.  She said it's not about earning badges, learning things, activities.  They just wanted time to socialize and get together and hang out.  A clear case of this was her thought that she had earned a bronze award badge for doing paint collecting, but hadn't bothered to read the requirements or process to do it.

I went home disappointed.  Fortunately I got a text saying we were way too different in expectations of running a troop.  When I had heard of her activities I thought that it's because she's low key. Instead a lot of activities were just watching movies at home, eating pizza, playing, no camping, no learning, no contributing to society. I get it, it's a social activity and the main purpose is to make friends.  But I sort of wanted something more.  An expectation of doing more.  

My husband gave me a hard time when I got home.  Yes I'm a little controlling.  But he also said truthfully there's a reason why people drop it?  And this totally fits the troop leaders personality.  Why didn't I see this?  I don't know but I am thinking maybe it'll be totally easy and manageable with the girls getting older and 5 girls who seem to really like it?  It's a big difference than babysitting those who don't want to do it.

the financial considerations of private school

May 18th, 2020 at 09:41 pm

Okay so I'm really considering private school. I'm torn because as I said before my DH is anti-religion so parochial schools he's been a hard no. He wouldn't even consider it. Now. Maybe.

But even then I'm not sure. Our kiddos are 2nd and 4th grade. What would the costs be? The closest secular traditional private school is $37,900 not including extra fees. So let's say $40,000/year per kid $80,000 for 2. Parochial school will cost us $28,430 for 2 kids.

I believe we might be too late for the fall unfortunately. So assuming we apply in the fall for Fall 2021 is what will be most likely.

First off if we save that money $80,000/year for the 7 years and $40k/year for 2 more years is $640,000. I'm not sure that's feasible. Maybe if we moved into a cheaper neighborhood. Honestly I'm struggling over the price.

Second the parochial school will cost us $227, 400 until my DK2 graduates from high school. That too is a lot of money.

I don't know. I mean I think for $14,000 a year I can pay a tutor 52 weeks $26/hr for 10 hours a week. Is it more worth it than paying for private school? Or should we look at paying at least parochial school tuition?

Right now we hired a tutor to help and it appears to be working. I sit and watch the tutor and help the kids. I also help with all the math. Interestingly my older one is motivated to do work faster but lazy. She'll get anywhere from 40%-80% right because she does it all in her head and then just put down an answer. Today I am making her sit down and repeat every single question she got wrong. By the 3rd one she admitted that if she had bothered to get a pencil and paper she could have done it. aahhhh.

lowering expecations

May 12th, 2020 at 09:56 pm

Great ideas and thank you for the comments last post. I want to say ML is a good guy. He's very easy going and a lot of stuff I do because I want to do it. He never tells me what to cook, clean, or anything. He doesn't care. He says I don't care and you do it. Which is how I end up doing it. To him we can live in a mess, dirty, etc. He said don't stress out it's fine. Even the kids are fine. He literally was on a call during lunch came upstairs with phone and headphones and then ate the leftover noodles and curry and rice all thrown together and went back to work. Same with last night I had a mishmash of other leftovers he just ate kissed my cheek and said thank you for lunch.

The kiddos I don't know it's mostly my 2nd grader who has a lot of problems focusing and so if I don't sit with her she tends to not do any work. And we take a lot of breaks usually not more than a 45 minute "work" then break. My older one is fine but we've had a lot of IT issues with not having any touchscreens to work with. So everyday I was trying different computers, different browsers, etc. Then 4 weeks ago? DH just bought her a surface pro for $1200 and said here forget the daily complaining I was doing. I also got a computer because I was also have IT issues. And this week with the lost work we are now 4 weeks behind on the Dk1 writing narrative and the deletion of pages happened this morning. I was on hold with IT for the school district another hour.

I probably should lower my expectations. DH told me today get the cleaner (who is now able to come in) in weekly. Order out more and deliver groceries. He said "i told you to stop. Let it all go. I don't want to do it. I don't expect you to do it. Just let it all go."

He's the fun guy. Last weekend while I worked he cleaned with the kids. His cleaning for all day? They sorted legos and reorganized the bins, set up the sets they built, and made a list of pieces missing that I had to order. The kids just make a mess and then he and they don't bother cleaning because whose going to see it? No one. No one has seen our house since march 8th.

That's the problem. The house is as clean as one partner cares. DH doesn't care if the toilets, shower, sheets aren't done. He never tells me anything. He never complains and says you should do anything. As long as the kids are happy and do something, we have food (including takeout) he's happy. He just doesn't see any messes or problems. The kids help me unload the dishwasher and put away their own laundry but their rooms are messy.

So I did tell DH and kids to do more. But I got ideas for how to not do more but do less. Don't room parent, don't lead girl scout troop, etc. DH was like you do too many things and expect everything perfect. It's fine. We can eat out, deliver groceries, and get help. He said he's enjoying watching tv and playing video games (he created a roblox and minecraft world and server for our kids and all their friends) with kids 6-9 pm and usually works most nights 9-12 pm after they get ready for bed.

So yes I do feel guilty. I feel like I need to work harder at cleaning and doing everything because DH will sit and work more. He loves his job. He does work weekends. He will pull out his phone and constantly answer messages and emails because of it. I've driven on vacation and DH has worked in the passenger seat while I've driven to where we were going. He's worked in our airport lounges while we are waiting. So i feel this pressure to do everything else. How can I watch him work and sit there doing nothing?

But I'm thinking I'm going to forgive myself and stop worrying my kids are going to be way behind everyone else. That they may need to repeat 2 and 4th grades because by september they'll have forgotten everything.

childcare and second income/no income question?

May 11th, 2020 at 10:55 pm

So I'm going to tell you what it's like being a parent trying to work even part-time and have kids at home who aren't able to self-sufficiently do work on their own. My kids are in 2nd and 4th grade. I have to sit with them and do their work. I have to troubleshoot any problems. I have to help my 2nd grader with a pretty in depth schedule because she has a lot of anxiety.

My 4th grader is independent learner but this week has started off poorly and we had a problem with OneNote. She lost all her previous work and everything she was building for her writing narrative for the past month. I spent about 4 hours this morning trying to figure it out until Lunch. I then called the tech support and they started a ticket. This is after another hour sitting together looking through everywhere we thought it could be, going through help, etc. So now we have to start again.

Then I made lunch. Then I helped her record her band video for upload to flipgrid. In between I snuck in reading a couple of pages of SA and now this blog at 3:30 before they have class at 4-6 pm. During that time I need to get dinner ready and then tonight after dinner at around 7 pm I might be able to finally squeeze in work. I might do it now and feed everyone something lazy like leftovers.

I also spent time this morning walking/feeding dog, organizing and scanning in kid and our docs, and pulling my docs and reading my work email. I also made a couple of calls to pay some bills while I washed dishes, folded some laundry, and cleaned up after the weekend (i took a break sunday.....well it was mother's day...).

But seriously that's how it is, whether you work full or part-time. The person with the crappier pay/job pulls more weight at home. They do the cleaning, cooking, kid stuff, grocery shopping, etc. I've felt it more during this pandemic than ever. My DH has commented that I do a lot more than him and he says "I don't feel like I"m being productive enough at work. I need to work at night. Lunch and dinner and breakfast he eats and runs to work downstairs and says sorry can't clean." Unless I'm desperately needing him to really be with kids, which usually I try to shop before 9 am, he is busy. I get it.

Yes working at home there is no commute. But it's harder to focus. Harder to be efficient. There is more pressure to produce because you want to stand out and not be called out that you are "child rearing" intsead of producing.

But then what? It leaves the second parent in a difficult place. I speak from experience. My job is important for my mental health. I like it. I like stimulation. But at the same time it doesn't pay the bills, have health care, etc. So I am the one doing grunt work more. Maybe my DH should pull his weight at home more.

I mean I do everything. I don't mean like those stay at home mom's whose husbands pay bills and manage finances. I do all that. I do the insurance, will, investments, talking to banks, trip planning, etc. My DH doesn't care nor does he really mind. He signs on the line and I even order and pick up food and even if he has to pick up food "on the way home from work...I'd have better paid and order it for him so he stops and does nothing else."

Us at SA whether you are male or female we need to be the OCD alphas when it comes to finances. So it's something that just happens.

But I wonder do others with kids and lower second incomes or no income feel the same? Do you feel like you do more than your half the work? Has it gotten worse during the pandemic? Do you do more work because the primary "breadwinner" feels pressured to work more? Are they pressured to work more?

I think it would great if we were both home without our kids. But this insanity of trying to homeschool but to the school's specifications is horrific. Maybe if I had my own curriculum then it would be less stressful and I could relax. Or if the kids were fully self sufficient. Or if the kids were super small and not needing any schooling that would work. Then it would be physically exhausting.

What do you think?

stop growing older...

January 28th, 2020 at 01:20 am

My DK1 turned 10 this weekend. I posted a photo on FB and called it my lost decade. I can't remember what happened. LOL. But truthfully I don't know what happened. I swear I was just carrying the baby carrier and walking the dog and suddenly my 10 year old was running away to her party and I was standing on the sidelines hoping to be invited to play. It's breathlessly stunning. I'm sure some of the other bloggers reading are blinking back tears like I am going what happened? I see more grey in my DH's hair last night as well. I'm very grey but I don't feel a decade older. I desperately want life to slow down but I feel like it's only moving faster. The first year I felt like every day was in slow motion and I was moving through a sleep deprived trance. I don't know what happened except I have photos to prove it. But now I blink and the school year is half gone and I have a kid in double digits.

Anyway I just wanted to share something important to me and my feelings. I wonder how much longer will she humor me and have a party? How much longer till she says give me cash to buy what I want. I swear I could feel her thinking about it. How much longer do I have until she's done? Some of throwing the party was to chat with other parents and just enjoy her having fun. Part of it is me not ready to let go. To do the "sleepover", fancy dinner for 3-4 others, movie out, a grown up party if you can call it that. She's been invited out for stuff like that and I guess I'm not ready.

I watch also as she peruses the adult menu as we go out to eat. Her shoe size is almost an adult and she's so tall. Soon she won't be a "child" but teen and then adult.

I know it's coming because I watch the money I've been saving for her grow but it's seemed surreal. It was meant to grow but I hadn't thought about it growing as she was growing.

There was this movie called "10 things I hate about you," and the dad tells the main character a senior in high school "you don't need me. I've been benched for years. Your sister still lets me play a few innings. But when you go away I won't even be able to watch the game."

I sort of felt like that watching the birthday party. Next post about how much I've been spending this month....oh the shame.

I won my small claims

January 10th, 2020 at 09:34 pm

I forgot to post this about a month ago. We ended up at small claims court with the private school my DK2 went to. She had been bullied at school and we had been constantly talked with the principal/owner and teachers. They had refused to return our money and finally in June with 2 months, the other child bite my DK2 and scratched her on the face. I pulled her out and kept her home with me asap. I couldn't let her go back. We had prepaid the tuition for a year so we "lost" out on $2500 for 2 months July and August. I had asked the boy and her be separated classrooms and they refused. I had multiple emails since december asking for solutions.

Turns out I did everything right and they breached the contract by not coming up with a reasonable solution. So they are being forced to refund us our money. We had offered many options but school refused to do any of the suggestions. I think a lot had to do with the boy being the son of one of school's teachers. Whatever.

I have to admit it was a good day. I sat there and didn't explode when the principal/owner called my child a bully, on the spectrum, problem child, unaware of social etiquette. It was horrible. I did not use the word bully at all in the court and I said there were these situation x, y, z. And I had photos and proof by both email and letter from other child apologizing for incidents. I honestly didn't hold the child/parents responsible I never talked with them. I held the school for not doing anything.

It's been almost a month and they haven't paid me. I'm not surprised. The principal/owner was so pissed she was spitting nails. I can also now after getting my money post about her losing in court on social media my review of the school. I'm just waiting.

It just came up because her month grace period to pay me is almost up. I have to admit I savor the win because it means I didn't overreact, nor did I do something completely irrational. Nor did I do anything that was helicopter parenting.

What to do with money? I think DK 1 and 2 deserve extra money saved for them.

Right now

DK1 $36k College
$20k taxable
$1k cash in bank savings accounts

Dk2 $27k college
$19k taxable
$1k cash in bank savings accounts

Gosh if I had that much saved for me when I was growing up I can't imagine how much further ahead I'd be right now. LOL.

Anyway though it isn't the $2600 but rather how much the school/owner pissed me off. She told me kids will be kids. That there is nothing that could be done. That it's expecting too much. That I'm being completely unreasonable. That I signed a contract and she never gave back money to anyone. I'd have to just suck it up. And then to later sit there and call my child names in court and talk about her being the problem. To claim she's special needs and that she had been a problem from day 1. Not true and we had progress reports scanned in showing she was a model child and good socially. To suddenly misbehaving and instigating all the incidents.

Really? My kid asked to for her jacket hood to be pulled so she fell at recess backwards? She asked to be teased? She asked to be scratched on the face? She asked for glitter to be poured on her lunch? She asked for her hand to be bitten? She asked to be pushed down on the playground? I get the little boy was 4 turning 5 and younger than her by a few months. But then he shouldn't have been in kindergarten he should still have been in Pre-K where he belonged based on the state age requirements for school.

I'm hoping this principal just pays me in the next week and I don't have to figure out how to collect my money. I'd rather not waste my time. But out of principal I will...

10 years of finances - thank you

January 3rd, 2020 at 11:26 pm

So I feel like I have grown a lot with many of the people on the board. My life has gotten significantly different and changed and I'm thrilled to have read about your lives as well. It's amazing to see people's lives and know that though we haven't meet I feel like I've been given a front row seats to important events in your lives. Anyone who reads this certainly has been given a front row seat to my life. Anyway thanks CCF. I have read about your girls since 2006ish and I cannot believe you have one ready to graduate college. It brings a tear to my eyes. Disneysteve I recall reading about the planning in his daughters baht mitzvah and now she's a young adult working. It's been quite a ride. Monkeymama had two small monkeys who are rather large now! I've read many of you getting married, moving, divorced, and joys and sadness. Thank you for sharing it with me.

Things have changed a lot for me. 10 years ago I was 8 months pregnant and eagerly awaiting the birth of my first child a girl. DK1 was born end of January but was due end of February. I was about to defend my thesis but had been mommy brained and lazy. I finished my thesis and defended in June of 2010 (yeah me!). Notice my biggest thrill this decade was becoming a mom? Anyway having a child changed my DH and I a lot. We lost 1 income and still haven't gone back to 2 full time incomes 10 years later. We added a second child in 2012, moved cross country, changed careers (both of us to entirely different fields), and didn't work or have income for an entire year! 8/2015-8/2016. OMG!!! If we had we'd likely be further ahead but we wouldn't be as happy as we are now. Something I tell people, we took a sabbatical in the the middle of our life rather than retiring a year early.

Finances 2010
LAL Roth IRA - $21,820
DH Roth IRA - $74,170
DH 401 - $100,378
Total - $196,398

Taxable Assets excluding home - $5k

DH has just finished his MBA which we cash flowed and he had NO LOANS. We spent $85k on this MBA. Our Net Worth was $201k. We took out a loan in 6/2010 to buy a subaru outback. And I think at that time we probably had $200k in home equity. We had maxed out the IRA and 401k since 2006 for $98,500 contributions and had $100k in gains.

Finances 2020
LAL IRA - $146,988 ($78k contributed)
DH IRA - $346,776 ($78k contibuted but some rolled over and paid taxes from old 401k)
DH 401k - $542,361 ($258,500 contributions from 2006)
Total - $1,036,129

Taxable accounts - ~$422k. So about $1.4m not counting home equity. So increase of $1.2M in net worth not counting home equity. Not bad for 9 years of savings and spending $100k that year for living. $60k living, $20k DH's course, and $20k for moving and expenses. It was crazy that we managed to break even 2015 and 2016 with investment income and savings from DH starting a new job.

2020 goal hit $600k in taxable accounts. I think in about 5 years we will hit $1m. I'm still on the fence with buying an investment property. Still looking.

Happy to read about everyone else! Have a wonderful 2020. I am soon celebrating DK1 10th birthday and I don't know where the time went. How can I be 40?

I certainly didn't expect my life to take these turns!

christmas gifts wrap up

December 28th, 2019 at 04:33 pm

DK got lots of small toys from my parents. They also got gifts from a few other relatives So they were good. From us? 3 stocking stuff toys each between $8-12. Pikmi pop, curlylocks, and LOL ball. Then they had the build a bear I get them every year $75/each, Lego Advent $30, and a big toy from Santa $20 (shopkins) and $20 gift from us (shopkins and calico critter) and weirdly socks and blanket. That does not include the cirque du soliel show tonight or any other activities we've done. I guess with everything I've spent $300 or so on each kid. Which is a lot considering it didn't seem like a lot of gifts. Of course it wasn't things but show and building a stupid bear was ridiculous. I did get the $75 bear for 40% off buying the gift cards from costco at $60 for $100. I forgot the mani-pedi for each $15.

Anyway I'm hoping to teach the kids appreciation. It's so hard when you have so much. When I have more time I'll write my thoughts on the kids paying their way and rant on retirement.

What did you spend on the holiday? I did spend more than that with my parents, eating out, the show, etc.

no gifts

December 17th, 2019 at 07:09 pm

So I run a Girl Scout troop and we are hosting friends and neighbors this weekend Saturday friends and Sunday Neighbors. I told my troop NO GIFTS. No Secret Santa. I didn't want to.

Then our friends and neighbors asked me the same thing and I shrieked again NO gifts. Not for me or the kids.

I recall in college my roommate and friends I looked them in the eye and said I don't want to do gifts. I have no money and I don't like it. So we ate dinner together and ENJOYED each other's company.

5 years ago we moved and the kids got a tree and we stopped going to hawaii. As of next year I think we are going back to flying to hawaii. UGH. That means gifts for the family. Right now I don't do it. I send gift cards and a card.

5 years ago I got the kids 5 gifts including a lego advent which I did again and Christmas pajamas. This year I did lego advent but no pajamas. I'm debating doing it. I got them 1 santa gift, 2 gifts from DH and stocking stuffers.

This year I picked up a blanket for DK 2 and DK1 got a book. I don't know I'm buying more.

I know I feel like a scrooge but seriously! I think my kids get a lot from my parents. I give them a couple of gifts and my siblings and BIL give them gifts UGGGHH (did I mention I send gift cards to my neices and nephews). Enough. I peaked at one of the gifts was a decorate your water bottle. Another was make your own jewelery. I don't want crap.

A friend said do me do I really have no presents under the tree? I said yes. And if anyone coming over has a gift for us I'm didn't buy them one. I am done. I don't' want to.

I started at 18 years old and I haven't changed. When I first had my kids with other friends I did the same thing. NO GIFTS.

Am I really that weird? Now it's not about the money But I honestly hate even shopping for teachers. I just shove a gift card and I make cookies or a pie.

Have you changed? This is in response to laura and her new traditions. I feel more like a scrooge but I haven't changed in 20+ years. I kind of like no gifts.

FWIW DH is going heli skiing and we are taking a ski trip over new years. We are also seeing cirque du soliel with my parents and we are doing an overnight at a fancy hotel I paid for. Plus we are going out to eat and hosting 3 christmas get together.

I don't feel like I'm cheaping out. I feel like I'm doing stuff that I enjoy rather than buy gifts. I admit that I buy what I want when I want it always. But that's not why I don't shop for Christmas. I just don't need more clothes and I already stress about the toys the kids have.