Tag: family (Page 1 of 3)

Why I'm a Stay-at-Home Mom (and the financial implications)

Why I’m a Stay-at-Home Mom (and the financial implications)

One of the things that makes our journey to early retirement unique is that I’m a stay at home mom. Though I do have some income (I’ll get to that), I am not a major financial contributer to this journey. Yet I’m the one that manages all the finances and makes all the plans for Mr. T to retire early. Here’s a bit more of the story behind that.

How I chose to be a Stay-at-Home mom

Penny, our oldest, was born while I was in graduate school. Because of the timing, I had the opportunity to decide what I wanted to do before ever starting a corporate life. Because Mr. T and I were both in school, we balanced parenting duties equally and made sure our class schedules worked around each other so we could pass off the stroller on campus between our respective classes. After Mr. T graduated, we moved to the Northwest so he could find a job and I could finish my masters thesis. We didn’t count on our long stint with unemployment at the same time. I graduated just before Penny was 18 months old and the next month, Mr. T got a job in Alaska.

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Healthcare Costs: The Wild Card

Healthcare Costs: The Wild Card

I know you’ve probably read a million posts on this topic lately since the future of healthcare in the United States is so uncertain, but healthcare is a big topic in the preparation for retirement, so let’s look at our situation:

Retirement Healthcare Cost Estimates

A recent Fidelity analysis estimates that healthcare will cost $275,000 per couple. This estimate only includes ages 65-88 at the latest. That averages out to $11,957 a year! Say you retire at 40 and live until 100 and spend the same amount of money annually, you’re looking at a whopping estimate of $717,420! Do I think this is reality? No idea. The answer is that we have LITERALLY NO IDEA what healthcare will look like in the United States until we die. That makes planning for it in calculations really, really hard.

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Living More in the Present: A Success Story

Living More in the Present: A Success Story

As I stepped away from the blog this summer, my focus was on enjoying the moment more. Sometimes being so involved in this community of awesome optimizers and hustlers becomes a whirlwind of motion. It’s good and it triggers important change, but sometimes it’s hard to really focus on the progress we’ve already made and enjoy what we have now.

Living More in the Present this Summer

This summer, I stepped back from pumping out posts on optimizing your finances or seeking entrepreneurship. I only calculated my expenses at the end of each month for the monthly plan updates and only checked my accounts a few other times each month. I stopped actively following all my favorite blogs (though would often binge because I can’t stay away for too long!). In short, I stepped back from the current hustle and started living more in the present. The break was tremendous and I learned a great deal. Here are a few things I learned:

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How I use Evernote for Everything

How I Use Evernote to Organize Everything

Evernote is another free tool that I use extensively every single day. While Evernote is free (in the basic versions), I do recommend purchasing the basic version of Evernote Essentials. I paid full price for this guide to Evernote and it was totally worth every penny.

An Introduction to Evernote

Evernote is a note-taking service that is SO. MUCH. MORE. When you open an account, you start with just a blank slate and the ability to write notes and create notebooks (notes in notebooks and notebooks in notebook stacks is the filing system of Evernote). It’s basic. It’s easy. Maybe TOO basic and easy. This is where Evernote Essentials comes in. Brett Kelly tells you all the ins and outs and cool things you can do and how to get started so you don’t regret your notebook structure later. (Evernote actually hired him to work for them after his first version of the book!) Evernote allows you to write notes, lock notes, make checklists, clip websites directly, link with Google Drive, and a whole bunch of other cool stuff!

My Recipe Book on Evernote

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How I use Google Calendar

How I Use Google Calendar To Stay Organized

Google calendar is a free tool available through your Google account. Maybe your Apple calendaring system can do the same things, but we’re a heavily Google-integrated family (our budget is on Google drive) and here’s how we use Google calendar to stay organized.

Keeping Two Adults in Sync

Mr. T and I have totally different things going on. He goes to work, I juggle all sorts of things during the daytime and we each have different responsibilities with work, etc. We keep it all in line by having synced Google calendars. I keep mine updated and so does Mr. T. As soon as I make an appointment, it’s in the calendar. This means that we both know what the other is doing. When Mr. T sees that I’ll be at a Church youth activity, he knows he has to be home during that time. When I see Mr. T is helping someone move on Saturday, I know that I’m home. It’s implied with 3 kids that we’re going to work together on taking care of them. If there’s a scheduling conflict, that’s when we have an actual face-to-face conversation about the calendar. “I just found out I have a work meeting the morning you scheduled to ride your bike to work. Is it possible to switch bike-commuting to the next day to help get the kids to school during my meeting?” Because we’re both awesome, these conversations are quick and solutions reached easily.

Keeping the Kids Organized

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Your Breakfast is Robbing You

Your Breakfast is Robbing You

If you haven’t yet calculated it, your breakfast is probably costing your family much more money than you think it is. Stop eating expensive breakfasts and switch to some cheap breakfast ideas. I’ll share the numbers of how much cereal could cost us and how much we actually spent last year on our inexpensive breakfast alternative (and how oatmeal can actually be yummy).

Cereal is Expensive

About once a month, we eat cereal for breakfast as a family. That’s right. Once a month. The last time we did this, I realized our family of five goes through the equivalent of one Costco box of cereal each time we eat cereal.

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A Day in the Life of a Work-at-Home-Mom

A Day in the Life of a Work-at-Home-Mom

If you know nothing about me, you need to know that I have three children (ages 3, 6, and 9) and that I work part-time from home for a behavioral economics firm in the Midwest (I live in Alaska… if that wasn’t abundantly clear). I am privileged to be able to be a stay-at-home mom for my kids, but also earn some income doing something I love. That does not mean my days are easy. Today, I’m going to give you a typical “day in the life of Maggie.” I bet you can’t wait!

The Life of a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom) and WAHM (work-at-home-mom):

5:45 AM – Get up, brush hair, throw on a sweater and set up my computer at the table for a 6AM work meeting. I keep my pajama pants on and have a heated blanket in my lap because the heat in the house doesn’t turn on until 7AM.

6:00 AM – Skype with a group in the conference room at the company’s office. (Until last week, I could just phone in to meetings and stay in my bed for them… but unfortunately, they just got Skype working and now I have to pretend I’m put together).

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Last Minute Frugal Valentine’s Day Ideas (for kids and spouses)

When is Valentine’s Day again? TOMORROW?! Don’t worry… I’ve got your back. I literally don’t do a THING until the day before to prepare and I don’t spend a penny on this holiday!

(Insert: rant about commercialization of a made-up holiday designed to make you spend money to prove your love…)

Valentine’s Day Decorations

Okay, fine. We planned a LITTLE bit ahead on this one, but I still had to share it because it is literally the GREATEST IDEA EVER (I can’t take credit… I found it on Pinterest years ago and I can’t find the original source…).

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Northern Expressions

Northern Expressions: The Right Investments

Investments in marriage, family, and success at work are almost certain to pay off.

Happy Friday, friends!

Today’s Northern Expression comes from Helaine Olen & Harold Pollack in The Index Card:

Your time is valuable. Your happiness and economic security depend on your marriage, your family, your success at work and in your relationships. Investments in those areas are almost certain to pay off.

Every choice you make with your money or your time is an investment. If you invest too much time into something, you inevitably neglect another. Make sure your life asset allocations align with your priorities.

It’s possible to be economically secure AND happy. This balance requires prioritizing. You vote for your priorities with your time and your money. Vote wisely.

Love, Maggie

The Privilege of Being Santa

The Privilege of Being Santa

Thanksgiving has been devoured and that is the official start of the Christmas season in the Banks house. My kids are dancing to Christmas music and throwing stuffed snowmen back and forth as I type this. And they look forward to the coming of Santa Claus, as most children do.

Santa is Magic

As an adult, I tear up a bit when I’m talking about Santa Claus. For me, Santa is the embodiment of what I wish the world could do all the time. Santa is a worldwide agreement that for one night, everyone will help make the world a magical, wonderful place. When my kids ask me if Santa is real, my response will be: “We have the power to create magic and Santa is the perfect example. The actual person named Santa does not exist, but he exists everywhere and now you get to be a part of the surprise and help create that magic for your younger siblings and for others!”

In Alaska, Santa is VERY REAL. We have been to his house in North Pole (a pretty elaborate gift shop).

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