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 Post subject: Re: The year of increasing the emergency fund- continued
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 9:54 am 

Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2011 7:37 am
Posts: 446
However judging from the fact I was up half the night wondering how I can save an additional 3K this year in addition to paying a higher mortgage after the refinance, AND regular biweekly contributions to the emergency fund AND fund martial arts lessons for the kids, I'm stumped.

I really don't want to spend the next year stressed about money trying to reach unrealistic goals. I also don't know if I feel comfortable spending 10-12K on a single trip, no matter how awesome it is. I told hubby this morning if we happen to be particularly lucky with money this year and feel comfortable doing it, then yes all go. But the default will be just me going with my father on this trip because it won't ruin our finances and this is something personally important to me. In exchange I'm willing to consider using the remaining house fund for ways to make attic is a more useable space.

I still feel that we still have a hard time talking about money. In some ways us talking about money was easier when we had none (bare bones budget) but now that we have a little, find out we want to do different things with it, and haven't come to an easy way to make decisions without hurting the others feelings.


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 Post subject: Re: The year of increasing the emergency fund
PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2012 3:03 pm 

Joined: Sun Jan 01, 2012 9:50 am
Posts: 98
I don't know how old the kids are, but perhaps they can save/earn some money for them to come along? In that way you're not paying for the whole thing, teaching and involving your kids in money management, and getting the family holiday.


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 Post subject: Re: The year of increasing the emergency fund
PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 11:03 am 

Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2011 7:37 am
Posts: 446
My children are 9 and 5. the oldest has made small amounts of money and has an allowance, but that won't make a dent regarding affording or not affording the trip. They are actually fine about staying home. The main thing is I don't want to spend my time this year stressing about money. I'm going to focus on being good about money, but don't want to make it my main focus. I probably will not have full information until closer to the date we are talking about to see if it is feasible, and the number of people going. So, I'm hoping to wait until 6-8 months before the trip, to make final decision whether going and booking things, unless there is a compelling reason not to wait that long (prices dramatically increase). I also need to look into trip insurance.


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 Post subject: Re: The year of increasing the emergency fund
PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 9:00 am 

Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2011 7:37 am
Posts: 446
I was driving myself crazy reading this lonely planet guide to Greece, realizing all the places I want to visit, but they were so spread out I couldn't figure out how I would do it in the restricted time, too many decisions, and I just need to put the guide down. Also my sister sent me some living social couopon for a very inexpensive trip to the Mexican Riveria, and I'm like wow, we can afford a trip like that, which then made me look at stuff for the internet, fantasizing about a couple only trip... But need to put the internet down.
January due to being inspired by future travel trip did manage to spend very little on wants. However our grocery and restaurant ballooned up to 980 and 463 respectively. However since so little was spent elsewhere we had a surplus of 1300 in checking. So, putting 800 towards travel fund, 300 towards 529 contributions, rest left in checking.
kid #2 has officially started karate lessons, yay! Kid #1 is coming around to idea of piano lessons before violin lessons (what we need to start next).
Against the objections of hubby, I renewed membership to Costco. I made a run and ended up spending $266, but primarily used it for stocking up on things it seems we are constantly running out to store for: kids snacks for lunches, coffee, beer, frozen food to eat when nothing else has been planned. I'm hoping that it will pay off in lower grocery bills in the long term. Husband was actually a bit positive after I came back and said would be willing to make list for things that I get at Costco for (he said every other week, I was like, how about once a month?)


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 Post subject: Re: The year of increasing the emergency fund
PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 9:10 am 

Joined: Sun Jan 01, 2012 9:50 am
Posts: 98
Don't try to see everything in Greece. Just accept that you will not see everything, and start with the one or two things you don't want to miss.

Our running joke about American tourists is that as they try to see the whole of Europe in two weeks all they see from the Netherlands is Madurodam (minutures of all cool places and buildings in NL, which stops being fun once you've matured past 12 years old). You'll enjoy your holiday a lot more if you take time to enjoy as well, rather than just race from place to place.


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 Post subject: Re: The year of increasing the emergency fund
PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 12:55 pm 

Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2011 7:37 am
Posts: 446
Yeah talking to my sister, I was like we can see like 2 or 3 places. But of course her 3 places are different than my 3 places (which I'm sure are different than my Dad's 3 places). I'm actually willing if this happens to give a lot of control up, because I think the main thing I want to experience, is just being in a different place that holds history for my family; to breath the air, to eat the food, to sit and possibly talk to someone else, walk the streets...
As far as historical places, there are too many. I was thinking of at the least Mycenae, the Olympic fields, and Knossos in Crete, but my sister wants to go to Rhodes and Athens. It is like trying to see all of the US in 2 weeks, its laughable. I want to soak things up, not just collect postcards. Even if I can't be in Greece I can do other things that make me feel that way, like this weekend made myself lamb chops greek style :P


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 Post subject: Re: The year of increasing the emergency fund
PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 1:49 pm 

Joined: Sun Jan 01, 2012 9:50 am
Posts: 98
Did you know there's actually services that can photoshop your pictures into the greece backdrop? You can skip all the highlights and still have the pics to prove you've been there :)


In your case, start with a top 1 for all three of you, then find other cool stuff near there.


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 Post subject: Re: The year of increasing the emergency fund
PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2012 9:57 am 

Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2011 7:37 am
Posts: 446
Had my first "breakdown" of spending money since being good with it. This is something that only middle class American moms will understand, but my youngest has wanted an American doll for the past year. Pretty much all the rest of her cohort she spends time with (except for one 4 year old) has an AG. I held off for her birthday and Christmas, which I was proud of. She does have an Our Generation doll (Target version), and inherited a 2nd our generation doll when my oldest got her AG doll. She has been pretty happy with this EXCEPT, she has really gotten into phase of wanting to style and brush their hair, and these doll's hair are horrendous. I spent hours working on them; one eventually got a haircut, but it's just not enjoyable anymore.
So I pulled the trigger and got her the current doll of the year, which is supposed to have nice hair for styling. I'm still a little on the fence. She seems ready for it but is on the young side (5 1/2) so it is possible the doll may get messed up. Personally I'm not a collector so as long as she gets $100 of "fun" out of it I'm OK with it. And it will make these winter days of "girl's nights in" more fun for all.


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 Post subject: Re: The year of increasing the emergency fund
PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2012 7:18 pm 

Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2011 7:10 pm
Posts: 14
Don't be worried! I got my first American Girl doll at 5 and my second one at 7 (for the second one I had to save my money and pay 50%). I'm only just 22, so I was in the early group to get them -- before Mattel bought the company and made it more commercial and less historical-focused -- and remember them well, plus my younger cousins love them.

If your girls read the books they'll learn a lot of good history as well. For example, Samantha's best friend Nellie is a poor girl who works as a servant and then at a mill (I think. Some factory). You don't learn about that stuff in school until you're older, so it's a good way to get extra history.

My dolls are in great shape because my mother strictly limited what I could do with them. They weren't play-outside dolls. They were not dolls that could come along on any trips, even on most trips to friends houses. They're fairly robust dolls, my just-six-year-old cousin changed the clothes on mine at Thanksgiving and it was fine.

A tip: the American Girl doll accessories are EXPENSIVE. And there are a LOT of them. But you can mitigate it! Here are some things you may already know, but just in case....1) Your daughters can make their own stuff. I used cloth and cardboard and made my own versions of everything Felicity (now discontinued I think) had. 2) There is lots of 3rd party stuff that is VERY similar. I got a bunch of doll furniture from relatives from cheaper places than American Girll, plus hand-me-down furniture (doll bed from my dad's sister) and homemade items. 3) You can get stuff from eBay, which is something my cousin does for her daughter a lot. 4) You can get stuff from etsy. I had a ton of AG doll things, but a very small percentage was from the actual company.


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 Post subject: Re: The year of increasing the emergency fund
PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2012 9:43 am 

Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2011 7:37 am
Posts: 446
Thanks Alice! The girls actually got a bunk bed with trundle that fits the dolls for Christmas, and it was from Target (for around $40?). I bought some cotton flannel and polarfleece and we cut some sheets and blankets. They have a couple doll pillows I sewed earlier but I need to make a couple more. I was tempted at the AG site to buy a hairstyle helper for dolls ($20). While I did buy a brush ($7) and two outfits on the site (dont ask!!!), I went to a local dollar store and bought some small hair ties and barrettes (for all of $2) instead.

Other things we will be spending money on this month is summer camps. One week for around $220 for one child (done), and $260 for 2 week half day art camp for youngest (still need to do). Husband is also planning on starting piano lessons this month, but we need to first get the piano tuned (estimate 100-$200).
Both cat and dog are (over) due for vet. The above is what we will be spending a chunk of our tax refund on.

Lastly, we want to plan a few day beach trip for the summer. Although we won't need to pay for it now, will need to decide and put at least a small deposit to hold our place. I put out feelers for my mom if she wanted to arrange a trip to come down, but she is undecided. If my Mom comes down it will be more expensive (either larger room or seperate room) but Grandma and the kids love to see each other. We'll see.


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 Post subject: Re: The year of increasing the emergency fund
PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2012 9:50 am 

Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2011 7:37 am
Posts: 446
In case anyone is wondering, we live in NC. The cheapest ways to visit the coast is in off or shoulder seasons (late summer, fall is wonderful) and by the week by getting a rental (condos or houses). Unfortunately since I have limited time off from my job (and want to save time for next year's trip) we won't be able to take advantage of that and will most likely get a hotel room. But - if I had lots of time/was retired I would definitely be at the beach for a week at a time, especially on the shoulder/off seasons!
And all the locals are friendlier during the off seasons because there are less tourists there.

The only bad thing about when we book is it is hurricane season. it's a gamble but I love that time of year.


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 Post subject: Re: The year of increasing the emergency fund
PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 6:08 am 

Joined: Sun Jan 01, 2012 9:50 am
Posts: 98
I actually love the beach in winter. It's much quieter and less people around so it's easier to walk around. (Also, because I get a sunburn in like 2.5 seconds in summer..) But I have to admit that's more of a 1-2 hour type of thing than a full day.

So if you're not too far away from the beach that'd might be nice as well.

I used to live about 15 minutes by bike from the beach, now it's closer to 30 minutes by car, which feels very very far away. We went last week when there was snow out (generally get about 3-4 days with some snow per year) and it was really beautiful and freezing, but really nice to see. I can definately recommend it.

---
Regarding to your trip to Greece I was wondering how much you're taking into account the current social unrest there? There's been massive strikes in the last year or two but really bad in the last weeks, stranding tourists and inhabitants due to lack of gas for transportation. A nationwide strike last week also closed all tourist attraction for the first time, so far strikes had been with less consequence for tourist. There's also been riots in a lot of cities due to the proposed financial reforms. Not to mention the increasing chance that Greece will be kicked out of the Euro...

I'm definately not suggesting to cancel your trip, but it might be something you want to look into (especially before booking).


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 Post subject: Re: The year of increasing the emergency fund
PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2012 10:19 am 

Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2011 7:37 am
Posts: 446
Sonja, that is a very good thing to bring up. Even my Greek cousin, when I brought up visiting, while wanting us to visit was regretful saying she wished we could have visited 5 years ago, she does not like the way Greece is changing...
There are a number of hurdles for us even to take the trip, and I will definitely take the political climate into account before booking anything "hard". Already I was thinking of limiting time in Athens, focusing on less urban areas of the Peloponnese. If things look bad and we are still going, possibly switching out Chania (Crete) for smaller islands, which may be less affected by strikes affecting the bigger cities. Regardless, we will be coming in and out of Athens, so if things are really bad we may not do the trip.
Regardless, we know we may not be cleared for a long plane trip for him, in that case I would use the monies for a nice trip with him somewhere else (and just getting the Greece backdrop out ;) )


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 Post subject: Re: The year of increasing the emergency fund
PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 8:14 am 

Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2011 7:37 am
Posts: 446
Went out on child-free date with hubby, the first in months (maybe since my birthday?). We have developed a not so great dynamic around the kids which is just about getting things done, and not necessarily being nice to one another. So it was good to realize we do enjoy each others company, and we need to set aside time to do on regular basis.
Hubby wants to take a week off to see his brother. I got huffy, thinking this was in direct competition for me saving leave to go to Greece next year, because I would need to take time off work to watch the kids (it will be during summer break). But we talked and we will see if there is a way for him to go that doesn't rely entirely on me doing childcare. In turn, he is ok with us doing a short beach trip with my mom, either late spring or later summer so she can have a beach visit and see the kids.
Went to Costco a 2nd time, so now fully loaded with staples. I won't need to make another trip there for awhile. Picked a Speedo suit for $20, but it fits rather tight so not sure if I need to exchange for the next bigger size.
Despite expensive dinner date, big Costco trips and paying for some camp expenses, we are still doing OK, so made another deposit of $600 to vacation fund.
Had a day off and so was able to work on comics, inked 2 pages. It made me feel 100% better.


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 Post subject: Re: The year of increasing the emergency fund
PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2012 10:43 am 

Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2011 7:37 am
Posts: 446
Lots of stuff going on with family. Dad coming to visit next week (yay!). Everyone seems to be working/busy that weekend, including hubby (boo!).
Lil brother is serious with girlfriend. Not sure what this means in the long term because my dad lives with little brother, and she has children. Brother made hints he is trying to renovate the house to create an additional bedroom while my Dad is away. It will be a "surprise".
The type of class my mom specializes in at the community college are being phased out. Unclear whether she will be allowed to transition to other classes. She is too stressed to make a trip, but doesn't want to actually cancel/make a decision, so I'm going to make an executive decision and cancel the reservations that involve her. She doesn't mind me (and my kids) visiting her. I don't mind, but my family is a little chaotic in the best of situations, but it may be even stranger given by the time I visit her she may be a) not working and stressing about it b) working another job c) actively in process of fixing/selling her house. I don't mind, but I'd like to know if my trip is going to be a vacation or an intervention.
So, travel plans for this year are still completely up in the air. I guess I need to talk to hubby and see if we can come to any resolution.


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