5.25.2015

"Mama...work?"

The Job
A. Sarnoff
When my baby was 2-1/2 years old, my old job called to see if I could fill in for two and one-half weeks while someone was on vacation.  Lured by the easy money, I readily agreed.

I was to begin on a Wednesday, so my DH took off Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.  I left a full fridge, no dirty laundry, and a sparkling clean home.  I was gone 10 hours.  I came home to dinner and a clean home, happy to see baby and daddy.

Thursday, same scenario, except the house was no longer sparkling.

Friday, I came home to no dinner and a messy house.  I was exhausted, and as I hadn't made the mess, I went on strike.  I wasn't going to do any dishes, laundry, or housework on my weekend.  I did take over caring for baby.

For the next two weeks, daddy took baby to grandma and grandpa's house.  Then he went to work.  When he picked little one up, grandma had dinner ready and waiting for him.

I began working 12 hour days.  As long as I was away from home, I might as well earn as much money as possible!  Still on strike, I had my lunch and dinner out.

The Experience
I'd give a kiss at 7:30 am, then a kiss at 8:30 pm.  But when it came to putting baby to bed, he no longer wanted me.  He wanted daddy to do ALL for him and I was GLAD!  As soon as I got home I felt exhausted.  I was gone 5 hours longer than my husband and felt that I had worked much harder.  I wanted nothing to do with rocking baby, changing diapers, or storytime.  Grandma had already bathed him.  He would pull away from me to get into daddy's arms.  (Daddy was loving it.)

When my 2.5 weeks were up, and I stayed home on Monday while daddy went to work, I held baby close.  He pulled back.  In trepidation he asked, "Mama...work?"

"No baby, mama is never going to go back to work again."  He asked me this every day for almost two months.  I think he liked hearing me say I would never leave him again.  He had fun at grandma and grandpa's, and he was well cared for and loved.  But we both missed our special relationship.

Was it Worth it?
Was the money worth it?  It paid an entire year of home and car insurance, and property taxes?  NO.
Was the experience worth it?  YES.

The experience helped me remember what my husband goes through daily to support us:
early mornings,
some late evenings,
watching the clock,
bumper to bumper traffic,
lack of sunlight,
lack of exercise,
lack of spontaneous fun.
The best hours of the day belong to someone else.
Having to do work that is no longer fun or challenging.
Only getting a few vacation days.
Being grouchy.
Not feeling a part of the family circle.

I was able to put myself in my husband's shoes, an experience I won't soon forget.   
That helps me to:
  • not complain; 
  • set a good mood in the home; 
  • keep up with laundry and dishes; 
  • make home cozy; 
  • keep decluttering.  
  • And it especially helps me to be thankful to him for working to keep me at home with baby.

It also was a great experience for him - he got a taste of how impossible it can be to care for a toddler and keep a clean home.  He found out what I did all day, first hand!  (If you have a child under five, you do not need to volunteer for anything at church, school or in the community.  Caring for a toddler is enough!)

Will I do it again?  Never.  The severing of the emotional bond we experienced will never be worth any extra money.

I learned, with God's help, to instead cut our budget by 60%.  I say with His help because I prayed over everything I bought, including groceries, and He brought me resources and books, free clothing, unexpected financial gifts, ways to make money from home like pet sitting and e-bay selling, and doing all the things I outlined in my Living on one income post. 

One more thing.  I think tithing is super important.  All the people I know who have been successful staying home on one income, and not in debt (or are working out of it), are Christian tithers.  Just begin, even if it is at 1%, and work your way up.  I mention this more in my post On Being Debt-Free.

If you are a Christian and you WANT to stay home, God will help you find a way.  



“Today’s wives and mothers have found their total freedom.  Freedom from tyrannical bosses. Freedom from unfair wages and promotions.  Freedom from dividing our hearts, minds, bodies, and souls between work and family.  We’ve found our freedom by coming home.  Here we are truly free:  financially, emotionally, and creatively.  Our hearts are free to love, free to give, free to be and become who we really are, free to get to know who we really are, and free with our schedules. We manage all of these freedoms with perhaps more skill, professionalism, and resourcefulness than ever, and it’s healing us, our families, and our nation.” ~ Mrs. Wayne Hunter from the Article “The New Women’s Movement: We’re Coming Home”






5.18.2015

On Being Debt-Free

I used to pay off a credit card, and then, as soon as it was at zero, I'd go out and shop, spending more each time.  When I confessed what I had just done, a wise friend told me I was more comfortable with debt than I was with being debt-free.

I wasn’t comfortable not being poor.  Being poor, I could commiserate with friends.  Research has shown that poor families are happier than rich families.  Poor families give more than rich families.  Poor was good.  Rich was bad. 
A. Sarnoff, artist

This conversation took place 20 years ago.  I took to heart what he said.  My problem in my 20’s was Nordstroms.  After that conversation, I paid off my bill (took about 1 year), and for the first time I did not get back into debt on that card.  Over time, I learned to not be in any credit card debt.  I did this by brainwashing myself:

Automatic Millionaire
Renee Ellisons’s CD on money
Mary Hunt’s newsletters and books
Your Money or Your Life book
Developing a Prosperous Soul, Vol 1 & 2 by Harold R. Eberle
Finding Your Way Home
There’s No Place Like Home
money principles from the Holy Bible ( http://www.biblicalmoneyprinciples.com/verses/ has some of them)

Some answers to prayer from 2005-2009:
Received an unexpected paycheck from unused vacation days (an audit discovered this)  $1500
An unexpected $700 refund from home insurance
Unexpected gift from a relative to cover dental work
An unexpected tax refund check (because I quit working the year before and I had overpaid!)
An unexpected $1000 from a relative’s will
Husband received an unexpected raise
Retirement plan changed so that work now pays more
An old friend repaid a very old loan
We brought our giving into alignment (only 10%) (we were actually giving more than we could afford; Eberle’s book taught me how to figure this out)
We no longer buy the cheapest thing – like tires – but more quality items that have to be replaced LESS often (Eberle also taught us this)
Unexpected gifts of cash – always just enough to cover what we need
Doing odd jobs and getting paid more than contracted for
Pay cycle changed from every twice a month to every 2 weeks – we learned to live on less and the “extra” 2 paychecks paid insurance for the year – just when we were wondering how we’d pay it
Overtime checks
Debts paid off – freed up money to cover living expenses
Rewards on visa card to help PAY the card off each month (not buy another item or get a gift card)
Utility payments down due to good weather, and avoiding peak times when possible

Now, lest you think all was peaches and cream, this is how many of my entries read from my journal:

2/1/08 2:30 am (I couldn’t sleep as usual for fear of not being able to pay bills).  Well, it’s happened.  We don’t have enough to pay our bills.  As usual we are approximately $1500 behind.  I’m going to have to pay a credit card with another card’s check.  We’ll see what the fees are.  Zero percent, but fees.  We’ve been careful this month with putting things on the card.  We’ll see.  Had electrical problems.  Cost $500.  3 installments of $165.  Car insurance due – first time we can’t pay in full.  I’m disillusioned.  I got asked to work.  I don’t want to, but the Lord doesn’t seem to be providing.  What am I to learn?  What is DH to learn?  I’m jealous of others.  I wish we didn’t have a car payment – that would help.  Lord, please help us work out how to live on his income.  I’m cleaning things out to sell on e-bay, and because I think we will have to move (we didn’t!).  Show us how to pay our bills, Lord. 

SAME DAY  2/1/08 9:00 pm  I’ve been reading about God being our provider today.  I’ve been conversing with Him about our bills.  I read that God is slow.  But never Late.  I didn’t have peace about paying a credit card with another card.  Bill is due 2/7.  The Lord just told me to put all my bills on a calendar – pre-write them on their recurring due dates in so I don’t forget to pay them – not just to list my bills on a piece of paper.  Then He said to pay just the bills that are due.  Lo and behold I realized that the paycheck on the 13th CAN cover the house payment due on the first – but not LATE until the 15th!  It’s cutting it CLOSE, but I think it will work if I set up an automatic payment on the 13th.  Putting this off leaves enough money to pay all the bills.  Plus!  Grandma sent money for toddler classes for something fun to do!

3/14  I got a $1 calendar to use just for bills.  Just by rearranging my dates and pay periods we are going to have enough.  I called all the utility companies to move the payment dates to correspond with our new pay periods – instead of being due on the 28th, they will be due on the 3rd.  It was so easy and it solved my dilemma!  I’m no longer behind!  I made the last payment to the electrician today.  But then how will I pay the visa bill?  Ugh! It’s a never ending cycle. 

3/14 PM   DH was invited to Rotary.  They had a raffle.  His friend bought him two tickets and he won $140!  That pays the visa bill!  And buys a new toaster that broke last week!

5/31  He got a raise!  What an incredible surprise!  Every little bit helps! 

3/11/09  Well, somehow we keep making it, in spite of all the things that keep breaking down.  Both cars and the dryer on the same day! Luckily, both cars just need batteries.  We got a great deal on a dryer – the catch – it won’t be delivered for a month.  We gave $1809 LESS than last year, but still gave 10%.  I haven’t been worrying, since we are doing okay.  I’ve been home 3+ years now.  Plus, I just won a $100 gift card (to a seaside town 3 hours away).  The hotel for 2 nights will be $328.  The hotel will give us $25 for gas.  The $100 gift card pays all of our food and the rest of the gas.  I brought in $334 doing typing and proofreading for a friend.  Thank you, Lord, vacation paid for!  First one in YEARS!  Whoopee!

8/23/10  Called phone company to complain about internet charge going up.  Held for 5 min.  They reduced it, and now I can pay for the class for little one!

God is obviously providing for us in so many little ways….we pray about it, and eventually our answer comes.  The only clothes I’ve had to buy little one is pj’s, socks and underwear.  All else come from friends and the free table.  If I was rich, I would miss seeing God’s provision….I would depend on our paycheck only. 

Little one asked if we were rich, and I said, “Yes, we are.  We have everything we need, and I am at home with you.  Our roof doesn’t leak, even though it is 50 years old.  Our car runs, even though it is 15 years old.  Our pantry is full…I haven’t gone hungry since 1999, and you’ve never gone hungry.  Daddy has a job.  You have toys.  We have friends, and our family, and our church, and our health.  We are very, very rich.”   He then asked for something outrageous…and of course I said, “no dear, we can’t afford that.” 

Make a great deal over little pleasures.  People need joy.  ~Unknown

2015:  The kicker is that we live on less than we ever have before, but we have learned to live on less and watch God provide.  We are now out of debt and we seem to never run out of money – we always have JUST enough.  It is simply amazing.  Over this last decade God has taught us so much about finances, greed, jealousy, trusting Him, self-control, waiting on Him, praying things in, grace, giving, compassion. 

When you are in the midst of debt, life is hard.  If you are in debt, and you are a Christian, please prayerfully read the Bible first, then the books I’ve mentioned above.  If you are not in the habit of giving, begin with 1% and work up to at least 10%. 

Before I met my husband, I lived in financial fear.  I began tithing 1%.  I went to 2% 6 months later.  Then   3%, then 4%.Then I paid off a huge debt.  I asked myself how much 10% giving would be and without this debt, I jumped to 10% and my financial problems diminished.  When I married we had plenty of money, but then I came home with little one.  I had to learn to live on one small income.  My post on that tells it all.  

A. Sarnoff
You have to DO.  Read, pray, and DO the baby steps.  Don't just read and wish.  Read how I paid off the car 6 months early for more encouragement to BEGIN.  I want everyone to be debt-free!

That man is the richest whose pleasures are the cheapest.  ~Henry David Thoreau

5.08.2015

Mother is My Favorite Pin-Up Girl!

Children think their mothers are beautiful!

We are so very beautiful to them, no matter if we have make-up on, are overweight, or are wearing old pajamas with holes in them.

They say the sweetest things about how we look that are highly exaggerated.   Write them down!  I keep a small book in the kitchen of all the funny and sweet things my son has said over the years, and funny events, comics, etc.  (I began with scraps of paper I threw in a box.)  How we giggle when we go through it!

He just told me I didn't look any different with make-up on, so why do I wear it?  "It's the same old, adorable, beautiful face!"  Ha, ha!

When I saw this boy's pin-up, I realized that is truly how our children see us - we are the most beautiful gal in the room.

both ads by A. Sarnoff
Happy Mother's Day!  You are blessed!
 “Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.” -C. S. Lewis


“Love me when I least deserve it, because that’s when I really need it.” -Swedish Proverb

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” -Nelson Mandela

“Every kid is one caring adult away from being a success story.” -Josh Shipp

“Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.” -Neil Postman

 “Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do, but someone you raise.” -Andy Stanley

5.02.2015

How I Paid Our Car Off Six Months Early

He who waits to do a great deal at once will never do anything. ~ Charles Simmons

Artist - Sarnoff

Six months doesn’t sound like much, but boy did it relieve our budget.  When we obtained a loan for the car it didn’t seem like much.  But now I was at home with our toddler and the car payment seemed to be going on and on.  With taxes and interest it was too much. 

What I did is simple, so “yes, I know that, duh, I’m looking for something big that will pay my car off today…,” but really, this is the only way I know how to do it that works.

I committed to go to the bank EVERY Monday.  I deposited every spare penny – I broke two old piggy banks that had several dollars of pennies that were taking up space.  I found pennies on the sidewalk. I took my husbands change from his pockets every night.  I gathered every stray penny in the house and garage from junk drawers, in amongst paperclips, etc.  If my budget for groceries was $140 and I only spent $130, I put the $10 with my pennies.

Then I went to the bank, deposited it, and immediately wrote the check for the same amount or even a few dollars more.  I had pre-addressed envelopes and payment coupons, and my stamps were a collage of every old stamp I could find in the same junk drawers – the 1 cent stamps, the 29 cent stamps, the 4 cent stamps… I used them all up.  On the way home from the bank, I mailed the coupon and payment.

WHY didn’t I use online banking for this?  Because the car company HAS to understand that this is an EXTRA payment – it is not to be saved until the full payment comes in once a month.  My car payment coupons had a line that stated this, and I was sure to fill in that correct line of payment. 

The same holds true for making an extra house payment.  I have heard tales of lenders holding back the extra payments until the full amount came in. 

With credit cards you should be fine just using online banking.  They credit immediately. 

If you are disciplined enough, then keep the extra money in a jar, deposit it once a month, and then add the extra amount to your regular car payment.  But temptation runs high to spend it on something else.

I got so much satisfaction sending in extra payments that it helped me spend less and less of our real budget so that I had more to send in.  For me, it worked really well.  And it was a big surprise to my husband when the pink slip came in the mail six months early.  He had no idea I was making extra payments. 
A. Sarnoff

I used Mary Hunt’s Rapid Debt Repayment Calculators to encourage me and watch the balance fall.  Every time I made payment I plugged it in and re-ran the payoff numbers.

You can do the same thing with savings.  You can add to savings $1 at a time, or you can increase automatic savings $1 at a time.

REGARDING BANKS and COINS:
I know that my credit union does not accept coins anymore.  They have a coin machine that we must deposit it in.  At first, we could do this for free.  Now they take a percentage.  But they don’t take a percentage if CHILDREN use it.  So today, I take my child with me, we deposit all our change, and take the receipt to the teller.  If it is for $11.83, then we take out $11 and my child gets to keep the change in his account (because they don’t give out change, and I’d rather pay my child than the bank!).  Of course, many times we keep more than the change in his account.

If you don’t have a child, perhaps you can set up an account for a niece or nephew, or even a neighbor, and do something similar.  Better to borrow a child and encourage him to save, than pay a bank fee!

So the bottom line in paying something off early is to be DILIGENT.  Keep plodding and planning.  Don’t take on any more debt.  STOP LEAKS!  YOU HAVE ENOUGH!

The only way to pay it off early is to begin with baby steps.  I’m amazed to say, that today, this very minute, I have absolutely no debt.  Not one cent.  All my bills are paid in full.  I am AMAZED. 

He who waits to do a great deal at once will never do anything.  ~Charles Simmons