Archive for July, 2012
My 35th birthday is right around the corner and I feel happier than ever before.
I’ve always been a very serious, driven and competitive person and I’m sad to say that happiness didn’t seem to match my personality type much in my younger years. In fact, though I recall many moments of happiness I don’t believe I was an overall happy person.
My state of mind changed dramatically seven years ago when I unexpectedly fell ill. Faced with an unknown future I slowly began to realize that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed so I sure has hell better learn to live for today.
Although I consider myself unbelievably lucky and blessed I think it was my change in perspective that made me happier than anything else. After all, I know some very wealthy, healthy people that are downright miserable, so having either of those two things in life is not necessarily a recipe for bliss.
I feel happiest when I live in the moment. I know so many people that are waiting for something. They are waiting for love, money, better health or better friendships. They spend so much time looking forward to the the next thing that they never stop to appreciate today. It’s those little moments in life that need to be appreciated. I try my best to live fully in the moment, whether that moment is cooking dinner with my husband, playing peek-a-boo with my son or spending a lazy Saturday afternoon watching the Olympics.
I also know my faults and flaws and accept who I am as much as possible. I’m the kind of girl who needs a lot of space. If I go on vacation with my entire family, which I often do, I know that I need at least thirty minutes of time all by myself. If I can’t get this by waking up early and staying in bed, sitting out on the porch on a warm summer morning or trying to sneak in a few extra minutes at the pool then I’ll excuse myself for just a few minutes go into my bedroom and close the door. Do my in-laws think I’m being rude? Probably. Do I care? Most definitely not. We all have our own needs and in order to be a happy, healthy functioning individual I know that I need time to myself.
I spent the first ten years of my marriage trying to please my in-laws. Eventually I realized they wouldn’t be happy no matter what I did. There will always be some flaw, some issue, some problem with what I say or who I say it to. I now do and say what I want much more often. If I’m in the doghouse anyway I might as well enjoy myself on the way out the door. A few months ago I stopped worrying so much about what other people think.
I am amazed by how many of my friends still worry about how they are perceived by others. They are so afraid of the reactions of their friends and family that they stop sharing their lives with them or lie about their situations. In the end they only drive people out of their lives. They may not realize it at first, but true friends can tell each other anything. The longer people stay in the shadows the farther their lives pull apart. If people don’t react well to the truth then you may want to question why you are friends in the first place.
At the end of the day my perspective certainly helps me stay happy, but my life is also filled with lots of joy. My son, husband, family and friends all fill my world with happiness. A healthy emergency fund and money in the bank certainly helps too as does a relatively healthy body.
Unfortunately, not everyone is as happy as I am and my heart aches for my friends and family members that seem utterly miserable with their lives. Are you happy with your life? Are you miserable? What are your recommendations for those that can’t seem to find any joy in their lives? Where and how do you find joy?
I made to the finals in the GoBankingRates.com PF Olympics! Thanks for all your votes! The next round of competition centers around one question
What is the one financial “golden rule” that you’ve since abandoned in our post-recession economy?
I need to submit my answer to that question by August 5th. Then I’ll need your help again. Voting for first, second and third place will begin August 6th.
Wish me luck! I’m definitely going to need it!
The past few months have been filled with unexpected expenses. First we had trouble with the car, then extensive work was required to repair cracked pipes that left our house smelling of sewage, the pipework left huge holes in our walls so then there were costs for repair work and now on top of everything else our air conditioner stopped working! I’ve been hesitant to review the numbers but today I decided to add up the total.
Pipe Work & Plumbing (Due to Sewage Smell)
- $900 – Original Fix Replaced Toilet & Resealed
- $4700 – Replacement of Cast Iron Pipes to PVC
- $165 – Drain Cleaning
- $700 – Replacement of Metal Sink
- Total = $6465.00
- $2200 – Repair and Painting of Walls Damaged From Pipe Work
- $143.69 – Paint Required for Damaged Walls
- Total = $2,343.69
- $875.19 – Car Maintenance Costs
- $40 – Diagnostic Cost for Car
- Total = $915.19
- ?? – Analysis Performed Friday (Fuses Replaced)
- $4000 – New Air Conditioning Unit (Fuses blew again)
- Total = $4,000+
Total for unexpected repairs so far: $13,723.88!
In addition to the unexpected expenses we also refinanced two properties which will cost us an additional $7,000 or so in closing costs. Refinancing will save us $151,000 in interest over the life of the two loans, but right now an additional $7,000 in costs stings.
Add it all together you see $20,000 in unexpected and unusual expenses for the month! That’s a crazy amount of money!
10 years and 2 months from now my husband and I should be mortgage free. We recently refinanced our beach home from a 15 year fixed mortgage at 4.5% to a 10 year fixed at 3.5% (Note: interest rates on second homes are typically higher than on primary residences.) In the next month or so we also hope to refinance our primary home. That mortgage will shrink from a 15 year 4.5% mortgage to a 10 year mortgage at only 3.0%!
My birthday is in August, so if all goes according to plan I will be mortgage free one month after turning 45!
Now I realize that nothing in life is guaranteed, that anything can happen and that we certainly should NOT count our chickens before they hatch, but I can’t help but smile at the thought of being mortgage free in just 10 years.
In the state of Maryland you can no longer start kindergarten if you do not turn 5 years old before September 1st. That means any child born in September, October, November or December will not start kindergarten until they are nearly six years old.
I understand the need to ensure that children are capable of attending and succeeding in school, but the September 1st date seems as arbitrary as any other. By that rule a child born September 1st is ready for kindergarten but a child born September 2nd has to wait a whole extra year before attending.
There are procedures for early admittance to kindergarten, but a child must be born between September 1st and October 15th to take advantage of that option. Our son falls just shy of that date range, so early admittance wouldn’t even be an option for us. The state makes it very clear that any child falling outside of that date range will not be permitted to take the test.
I had no idea that the school system had changed the rules. (I guess I was living under a rock.) I am blessed to have my son and it is not the end of the world that he has to wait another year to start school, but it does mean I will have to stay home for an extra year with him or place him into daycare. Who knows what will happen five years from now, so I’m not going to project that far into the future, but a whole extra year of daycare costs or time out of the workforce amounts to quite a lot. (Of course, if we have another child I may well stay out of the workforce for an extra year anyway.)
I was surprised to learn that a lot of other states have created similar rules. The belief is that all day kindergarten is much harder on children. The rigors of learning to sit at a desk all day require an older, more mature student. When I started school kindergarten was only half day and we had students in our class who were born anywhere from January to December.
I wonder why the new rule was created. Did they really find that children born after September 1st were falling that much father behind their peers? Did that four month difference for a child born in December make him or her incapable of keeping up? If all day kindergarten is so rigorous does it not make you think that we should return to a half-day schedule?
I’m interested to hear from anyone who has a child born in the last quarter of the year. Does your state have similar rules and if so what was the impact on your child?
My son is only nine months old right now so school is quite a ways off for him. Who knows what the rules will be in five or six years. The good news is that he won’t be the only one held back from starting school. There will be lots of other children born in September, October, November and December waiting out an extra year alongside him.
I really enjoyed clearing my head in last week’s Random Thoughts on this Rainy Afternoon and thought I’d perform a similar brain dump. Here it goes…
- I currently rank fourth in the Cutting-Edge Banking Technology category of the PF Olympics. Thanks to all of you who previous voted! If you haven’t voted yet you can do so by clicking the image below. Once the screen renders just click on the ‘Vote for this article‘ button on the left hand side of the page. The top three articles in each category will move onto the next round, so if you haven’t already voted please vote and give me a boost!
- I guess people don’t write letters anymore, because I went to five stores and couldn’t find any stationary worth buying. My husband and I are in the process of hand writing letters to my son and I’ve been in search of pretty paper for over a month now. Any ideas?
- On my way back from the store I was lured into buying fast food. I know shame on me. I’m trying to reduce my consumption of greasy grub, but stopping on the way home was SO easy and a coupon for a free chicken sandwich was calling to me from inside the dashboard.
- I stupidly placed my iPhone on top of the hood of my car and watched it crash to the ground a few seconds later. The car was parked on a slant and that shiny iPhone slid right off. I tried to catch it, but instead it came crashing down to the pavement. In my pre-baby life I would’ve wrapped it in scotch tape and called it a day, but with shards of glass falling out I figured I should ask Apple to fix it for me. Final cost: $30 plus $5 for an iPhone case that should prevent future breakages.
- My son has been saying ‘mama’ on a consistent basis for a few months now. He doesn’t know what it means yet but I love to watch his little mouth form as he makes the ‘m’ sound.
- BlogHer recently featured How Would You Grade Your Life on the career section of their site. I am honored to have my article selected.
- I am hosting a giveaway for a $50 Gift Certificate to NOVICA. So far I have very few entries so if you enter you have a GREAT chance of winning! I plan to host another giveaway to celebrate my upcoming 35th birthday. So stay tuned for it.
- If you are looking for new PF blogs check out Wise Bread’s Most Popular Personal Finance Blogs list One Frugal Girl is now ranked #508th. Smack dab in the middle of the pack.
Ten years ago I began a gift journal. At it’s very core the journal includes every item I’ve received over the past decade. I write down the name of the person who provided the gift and the item I received. I started the journal for two reasons. First, it was an excellent way to keep track of the thank you notes I needed to write. I kept a little area in the left hand margin where I could write a check mark when notes were complete. Second, it helped me feel grateful and thankful for everything I received.
In the blur of opening birthday or Christmas presents it’s easy to lose track of what you receive and who gave it to you. We often head to the beach on the day after Christmas so Christmas night becomes a blur of washing, folding and packing away all of the items we received. One night after putting everything away I could barely remember what we’d gotten. That very night I started my gift journal as an extension of my gratitude journal.
I now maintain two journals. One includes a list of all of the things my family receives and one contains a list of all of the gifts I’ve purchased for others. The mere act of writing things down helps me think more creatively about my purchases and ensures that I spend a little extra time and energy purchasing gifts for the people I love. Plus reading through a decade’s worth of gifts make me feel grateful for all that I have received and even more blessed for all that I have given.
Every time a birthday or special occasion looms on the calendar I review my past purchases. This helps ensure that I purchase unique gifts year after year. It also makes me realize that I am in need of a few unique ideas.
That’s where NOVICA comes in. NOVICA works with National Geographic to give talented artisans around the world a place to express their talents and provide access to the world market. They sell a huge range of unique, hand crafted items including belts, women’s hats, women’s accessories from India, knee length dresses and modern and abstract bracelets.
I’ve bought a number of gifts from NOVICA including beautiful flowered necklaces and pearl drop earrings. Here is one I absolutely love:
If you find an artist who’s work you enjoy you can add them to your list of favorites, search for their creations or even sign up for an RSS feed so you can receive alerts when they create something new. I personally love the work of Busarin. Three of the four items I bought from NOVICA were designed by her.
If you’d like to win a $50 gift certificate to NOVICA feel free to enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter entry system below. One lucky winner will be selected on Monday, August 13th.
The winner of this prize has been selected and notified.
I want to thank all of you who provided comments on my previous post about my son’s inability to sleep through the night. My husband and I decided that we were definitely responding to his whimpers a bit too quickly.
I still rock and nurse him to sleep, but I make sure he’s ever so slightly awake when I put him in his crib at night. The first night it took him less than 10 minutes to fall asleep. He moaned a bit but no tears were shed. I couldn’t believe he fell asleep so easily and I now think that trying to rub his back and ‘shh’ him to sleep were actually making it more difficult rather than easier for him.
We also changed our habits once he falls asleep. Rather than running up the steps at the very first sound he makes we let him move around and even moan if necessary.
As crazy as it now seems he never even cries. Instead he loudly whimpers, moves from side to side, flips from back to belly and back again, finds a comfy position and puts himself right back to sleep.
I don’t want to jinx myself, but now he’s falling asleep on his own and staying asleep for eight to nine hours a night. He still has a knack for waking at 5 o’clock in the morning, but he tends to breastfeed and then go right back to sleep. Then he’ll typically sleep for another two hours.
Thank you all for the advice! I think it’s so funny that I was afraid to let him ‘cry it out’ and he never even cried!
Oh it feels like one of those days…
- The final cost of my plumbing repairs came to $6,465. The contractor came today to check out the damage and intends to send me a quote early next week. What are the odds that the cost to repair the walls will be more than $6,465? I bet we’re looking at $12,000 to $15,000 worth of costs for this little sewage blunder. (I am thankful that the smell of raw sewage is finally dissipating.)
- I planned to post about an upcoming giveaway (wrote the post and everything), but now the company who offered to host is no longer responding to my emails. I’m going to try to reach out one more time, but if it doesn’t work out it’s a total bummer.
- My son turned nine months old this week! I cannot believe how fast the time has gone. I am so thankful and grateful for my time with him.
- Babies really don’t need much in life. My son is thrilled with plastic storage containers, cardboard boxes, books, a big yoga ball and my twenty year old hula hoop. Luckily most of our toys were hand-me-downs. At this age he really doesn’t seem to need many.
- My post is currently running in the Personal Finance Olympics. If you are a fan of this blog I’d love for you to vote for it. If you do vote leave me a comment.
- My husband and I purchased a new upright freezer to replace the chest freezer in our basement. This was completely unnecessary, (our old freezer was functioning just fine), but it was becoming more and more difficult to keep our food organized. The new freezer is less energy efficient (BOO!) but does help us keep things neatly stacked and in plain sight.
- I read this article and couldn’t wait to clean out my pantry. As neurotic and crazy as it sounds I wrote down every item stacked on the shelves. Lately I find myself buying duplicate items or not buying items after we run out of them. I hope my new spreadsheet will help me avoid those problems.