Thursday, January 30, 2014

Living on a Budget

What an awful phrase..."Living on a Budget". It brings up images of scrounging, feelings of deprivation, going without, right?
WRONGO! For me, and for many I know, living on a budget, not just the vague idea of one, means freedom, security, and a future that is brighter than the past.

My best friend had come when I was at my most desperate and sat down with me and taught me how to draw up a budget.(she also brought Jane Austin Movies and alcohol LOL. She loves me!) We took our monthly income and subtracted our fixed expenses and then budgeted out for groceries, gas, entertainment, school, incidentals, and first and foremost, 10 % off the top for hard savings, our retirement. Being married to an artist and having been a stay at home mom for the last 5 years, we NEEDED a budget and NEEDED to learn how to save and spend responsibly. She suggested that I take this budgeted money out of the bank in cash and keep it in envelopes. Then I could SEE what we had to spend. And when the envelope was empty, then it was gone for the month. That might mean that we don't go anywhere non necessary due to the gas money being gone. Or that when the grocery money is gone, then we have to get creative with what we do have in the house. This really worked. It was hard at first. But you what? We didn't miss that 10 % and it has grown over the last year. I am amazed!

Another wise woman prayed with me in this time of high stress. It was when I was looking for a job and then she told me about a book called "The Richest Man in Babylon" She shared with me her own story of how she and her husband had fallen into a HUGE amount of debt and how someone told her about this book and how it helped her on a path to digging out of debt and never going back. So I read this book and what do you know...a lot of it made sense.

We prayed that something enjoyable would come along for me and low and behold, the next day, the principal of my daughters school told me about an opening in their Autistic Preschool that I could have if interested. I would be assisting the teacher. It was regular hours, I would be off in the summer, off for snow days, and home by the time my daughter got off her bus! It was perfect!

So here we year after I was physically ill with stress and living on our budget. We are nearly out of debt, we live credit card free, and we live ON OUR BUDGET. I have gone back to work, my husband has taken on some new shows that allow him to demo and sell his artwork, and things are going well. We didn't go on vacation last summer, but we replaced our dying refrigerator, fixed some things that needed fixing, bought a new badminton set for the yard, and enjoyed our summer, even without any family trips.We also were able to pay off more debt. This year, we are heading to the beach. I budgeted for it and we will have the money this summer to enjoy ourselves.

I am about to reread The Richest Man in Babylon as we are ready to move on to the next steps and make our money work for us. We are sticking to our budget, the bills are being paid, we are still living credit card free, and we are NOT deprived, or lacking, or over stressed. I love what I now do for a living. I am still able to homeschool my children, and without all the super stress, my husband and I are able to laugh together and not just talk numbers and bills.

If anyone is having money issues, debt, or just need to budget, I strongly urge you to put it on paper, go get some envelopes, and "The Richest Man in Babylon" by George S Clayson.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Day in the Life (with a 6, 10, and 12 yr old and working part time)

So I have been reading alot of "A Day in the Life of...." blogs lately and have had a few people ask me personally, "How do you do it all?" So I thought I would post a typical day in our life, although, no day is typical...each day I try and add a zing, or rush, to it to keep things interesting!

But here goes....
6am the alarm goes off....and at 6 30 another goes off....and 10 minutes later I get out of bed.
Our youngest has a feeding tube and feeds through the night so I go and turn it off and unhook her and rub her back to try and wake her. Daddy will get her up and dressed and downstairs by 7 15.
Meanwhile I get myself ready for work and make my lunch.
7:25  it is time to brush the "baby's" hair and get her AFO's (leg braces) on and Daddy takes her out to wait for her bus to our local public school for children with severe special needs. Our youngest, who is 6, suffers from Mitochondrial disease of the brain cells, has seizures, is non verbal, non ambulatory, and is developmentally around 1 year of age. Here she gets her physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and a few others. I contemplated homeschooling her too, but we would have spent more time waiting to see therapists than being at home...and besides, she loves going to school and thrives there.
7:40 I get on the road so I am not late for work ...did I mention I work at my daughter's school? I an instructional assistant in the autistic preschool program there. This means I get to peek in on her throughout the day and am on hand if she has any real issues like seizures, etc. I work Mon. thru Thurs.

8am Daddy wakes our 10 and 12 year old and they get up and complete their morning chores, get breakfast, and then have a chance to read or play (non electronics) until 10am. Chores include feeding pets, cleaning rabbit cage and litter box, emptying dishwasher, making beds, tidying rooms(if it didn't get done the night before)

10am-12:30 The children get started on the schedule list of work that I have left for them. Daily they cover Math, Grammar, History, Science, and Language Arts.  This typically means: 1 Math lesson with 10-15 problems, 1-2 pages in Grammar workbook, Reading a book or part of one pertaining to whatever we are learning in history, reading part of a biography dealing with someone we are covering in History, Reading their science chapter or doing a worksheet pertaining to the chapter, and writing of some sort for LA. We have things that we do once a week and rotate such as Time For Kids (reading the magazine and doing related worksheets), Picture and Paragraph (where the children illustrate and write a paragraph on a book they are reading for pleasure or on a field trip they have taken recently, etc), and Lives of Extraordinary Women (this homemade book is where they write a paragraph and illustrate one woman a week. We are currently working on WW II so they are reading biographies of Anne Frank, Queen Elizabeth, Eleanor Roosevelt, and various other women who hid and smuggled war victims out of Germany)

11:30 On my lunch hour I text the children hello and they respond with any questions they have concerning their assignments. Sometimes they text earlier but I don't always have a moment until my lunch to respond.

12:30-1 the children take a break to play
1-2pm the children make, eat, and clean up from lunch. If they are done before 2pm, they can play some more before finishing school.

2pm-3:30pm The children finish any schoolwork they have and do their extra chores. These vary from day to day but one day a week they dust, vacuum and clean their rooms, vacuum the other upstairs rooms, and scrub down one bathroom each.  The rest of the week they do things like gather the upstairs trash (the day before it gets picked up), wipe kitchen counters, sweep kitchen and dining room floors, put away their laundry, and when it is warm, clean up the yard of toys or sticks (if I am cutting the grass when I come home from work)

3:30 My day of preschool is over and I head home to my lovelies. The baby takes the bus home (she loves riding on it and often giggles the whole trip--this also allows me to run to the store if needed after work without hauling her and her wheel chair with me)

4:00pm Daddy gets the baby off the bus, I have a hug and snack with my three kiddos and I check emails and snail mail, pay bills, etc Once a week my son has piano lessons and during Cheer season, my daughter has cheer twice a week. Also the baby rides horses in Fall and Spring for 8 week sessions.

4:30pm Up in our schoolroom, I check the kids work and we make any corrections needed.

5pm I prep and make dinner for 6:30. Some nights we have a family movie, some nights we eat at our dining room table and share our day, etc We ALWAYS eat together and pray together before eating. We also try and spend family time for a bit every evening, including the baby in everything we do. She loves to wrestle with her brother and play with the cat and generally terrorize her big sister by getting into whatever she is doing LOL

After dinner, the big kids and I head back up to the schoolroom and we have a lesson, or study for end of the week quizzes in history or science, or we do an experiment. I then go over the next days schedule with them so they know exactly what is expected in their lessons, answer any questions they have, etc.

8:30 Daddy and/or I get the baby's meds all ready and one of us puts her to bed.(quite honestly, it is usually Daddy as I am still in the schoolroom with the big kids)

9pm I have the big kids get ready for bed and read (lately I have been reading aloud to the 10 year old. We are all working our way through the Mysterious Benedict Society books. Currently we are on book 2. I don't read fast enough for my 12 year old who prefers to read on her own).

10pm: lights out for the big kids. I take a hot bath sometimes but mostly I come down and snuggle on the couch with my husband and we stare at the TV for a few hours. I order books from the library, answer emails I didn't get to, make grocery lists and look to see who has what on sale, play on facebook, etc. I often fall asleep here and then it is ...

1am: head up and hook the baby up for her overnight tube feeding and fall into bed, happy and exhausted.

On Fridays I have off and try and do things with the big kids that are more difficult to do with the baby along. In the spring and fall we hike. We go on field trips, and we belong to a co op that meets for a 10 week fall and 10 week spring semester. There I teach Music and Movement to preschool aged homeschoolers and my children take fun classes like engineering, stop motion movie making, Italian Cooking, knitting, drama, etc. During co op semesters, I try and make our homeschool only 4 days a week, although sometimes I do a lesson or test on the weekends then.
Fridays I also start the laundry ( I like it done and folded by Sunday so the kids can take it up and put it away Monday morning. Then no one can say "where is my....?"  throughout the week. It was clean when we started! hehehe) I also make appointments, and make phone calls that I couldn't throughout the work week (like businesses that close by 4pm)

Most Fridays we go to the library. This could mean a full trip in or just a quick trip through the drive through. We have around 120 books, tapes, and DVDs out at a time throughout the year. Each week we return or pick up a pile. We have a rule though. Each child has a book box by their bed. The current book they are reading (or books) live there and only there. The school books live on ONE table in the schoolroom, and DVDs stay on the shelf with the DVD player at all times, until I pop them into the library bag. It may seem strict or OCD, but I don't like fines.

It is a busy life, but a fun life, a fulfilling life. I don't work in the summer and I try and give my kids off from mid May to the end of August. We spend our days at the lake, or visiting friends and family, camping, traveling, etc. We may not not be rich in money, we may sometimes feel harried with time, but we are blessed, we truly are!