Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Working Girls (and Random Updates)

Sylvia got a job! Yes! Just at a fast food place, and she's only been doing it for a week, but so far so good!

Riley has also picked up some pocket money babysitting. Not a regular schedule kind of thing, but she likes doing it, and it's a really good fit for her because she loves caring for others.

We are getting to the point where they teach me nearly as often as I teach them. Riley has taken on cleaning out the caches (or whatever) of my iPad and iPhone. Sylvia tells me who the famous people are now on red carpets, because I sadly don't know who many of those people are anymore!

Of course, my favorite is when Sylvia now tells Riley the things I was telling her not that long ago. Like to take the clothes out of the dryer as soon as they're done and not waiting. Apparently, Sylvia now agrees that it's a wise decision. (How Riley feels about that is another story. But she, too, has a valid point now that we have our own washer and dryer :) and our dryer has a Wrinkles Prevent option which will keep the clothes tumbling after drying is complete.) On the other hand, sometimes it makes me want to tear my hair out that each generation still has to learn all the lessons the hard way.

I am trying to teach both of them how to effectively manage their now-earned dollars. Sylvia has her own YNAB budget, and she has certain savings goals in mind. Some are for fun things, like her prom dress, but others are more grounded, like community college and continuing her dance training. They have now memorized one of my favorite quotes from Afford Anything: "You can afford anything; you just can't afford everything." With that in mind, we are striving to ensure that our budgets prioritize what's most important to us.

On the YNAB Forum, one member hosted a Values Summit. You basically take all your budget line-items (or, in YNAB speak, categories) and rank your Top 1-10, then 11-20, and so forth. Some members spent a lot of time on each number, but I decided to just go with my gut and realized that some categories that scored high aren't even funded on a regular basis. That will change next month.

Speaking of dryers (even though it was like 3 paragraphs ago), I'm pretty happy with these dryer balls I bought. They're supposed to last up to 1500 loads, and they work just as well (if not better) than dryer sheets. They do make a bit of noise, but it's not annoying at all. Plus, it adds an amusement factor when one of the balls ends up in the pocket of your sweater! [And, of course, if you buy with the link provided, I get a very small monetary token of appreciation from Amazon.]

Another budget-friendly thing I'm loving is Budget Bytes. My absolute favorite is the Creamy Vegetarian Enchilada Pasta, which I seriously crave from time to time. The girls really like Joe's Special and 5 Spice Chicken. Really, most of the recipes have been great, but those are the ones we make most often.

Speaking of grocery budgets, I am now using the $5/day/person method, which seems to be working well for us. That includes non-food items picked up at the grocery store, but not our Amazon Prime Subscribe & Save items. And, to be hopelessly repetitive, it really helps to budget the month in advance so even if I do go over a few dollars one week, I can usually make it up the next. In fact, this month should end with a surplus!

So yeah, that's us these days. Working, planning, enjoying the little things in life. And it totally makes me smile!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

How We Spent Feb 14

aka Valentine's Day. Aka, according to Sylvia, Singles Awareness Day. Regardless, we spent it planning our funerals.

Okay, so maybe a little background is necessary. Their dad's mother died recently. Thanks to their aunt, they were able to attend the services. Riley made up with X, and I'm glad because I knew her anger, though completely understandable and frankly a good form of self-protection, was weighing her down. They got to re-connect with X's family, and they got to say good-bye.

On Saturday, we got to talking about the service and she was relieved that there was no drama about it. I said it was probably because her wishes were known and carried out. So then we talked about what I would want, then what Sylvia and Riley would want. We wrote things down and the girls saw my will and we talked about possible changes after Sylvia's 18 birthday. We actually ended up laughing a lot.

Not to say that it's a laughing matter, but consider this my latest PSA on taking care of this business already! If you don't have a will yet, by all means, get one. If you have children, married or single, guardianship wishes have to be specified. If your children are now grown, it may be time to re-visit and update.

I'm also glad that the girls now know where the will and other important paperwork is. They're old enough now, and they're glad they know, too.

Of course, they also understood why I wasn't as willing a participant in discussing their own services. We all hope I won't be around for those!

So now that the love-fest or what have you is over, it's time to focus on what really matters: ensuring drama-free funerals for all!