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Category: Earning & Managing Money

Becoming a WAHM: What Are Your Passions, Skills, and Gifts? – Part 4

Once you have determined you’re willing to put in a tremendous amount of effort in order successfully work from home and you’ve streamlined your life and developed organization, and started living on a budget, you’re now in great shape to pursue planning and preparing for setting up your business.

There are thousands of possibilities out there so where do you begin? I recommend you spend some time praying and seeking the Lord for direction, talking things carefully over with your husband, and doing some in-depth evaluation of your own heart.

What are your goals for working from home? How much time do you want to invest? What kind of income would you realistically like to be making?

After considering your basic goals and guidelines, take a few weeks to map out your ideas. Don’t worry about being thorough and organized at this point, just get your ideas down on paper. Just for the fun of it, I encourage you to also write down what your dream WAHM job would be.

Hopefully by the end of a few weeks of thinking through this, you’ll have a fairly large list compiled. Take this idea list and think about it in terms of what your life goals are, what your abilities are, what you are passionate about, and what your likes and dislikes are. If you are married, ask your husband for his counsel and input. Also, ask your close friends for their thoughts and ask other home business owners for input.

It is very important you take your time when thinking through all of these things. The last thing you want to do is to be hasty in your decision-making and end up rushing into something which you quickly find out was not at all what you enjoy.

At the same time, though, don’t get so caught up in the planning and preparation that you never do anything. You’ll never go anywhere if you never do anything, so don’t get stuck in a rut of spending months or even years planning your new business venture and then end up never doing anything. A month or two of planning and thoughtful decision-making should be plenty.

For those of you who currently work from home or own your own business, how did you first decide to do what you are doing? What has been your greatest source of inspiration and how have you meshed your passions and gifts into a marketable skill or business venture?

Living like no one else

I just got a less-than-nice comment from someone about our van situation. The basic gist of the comment was (I’ll edit the part out calling me a liar, etc.): "Why on earth if your husband is an attorney and you make money from home can you not just go out and get a new vehicle??"

Since there are quite a number of people who read this blog, rude
comments are pretty normal and I’m pretty used to it–it’s part of blogging in a public forum. However, after I deleted the comment, I got to thinking…

You know, we could go buy a vehicle. We could take our emergency fund money and go buy another used vehicle or even a new vehicle. We could take our house savings and go buy another vehicle. We could even do what most normal Americans do and just go take out a loan for a new car.

But here’s the deal: while we have money in our bank account, we don’t have money saved or allotted for a new vehicle or even a used vehicle. And guess what that means? We aren’t buying a new vehicle or even a new-to-us vehicle. Not right now at least.

We had money to pay for the car repairs, we don’t have money to pay for a new vehicle right now. We’re very hopeful that the mechanic will have our van in good working order by tonight and we’re very hopeful that after replacing just about everything there is to replace on it, the van should run beautifully like it used to.

What we thought was a small problem with the van has mushroomed into weeks of work. Just when we thought it was fixed, something else would go wrong with it and we’d have to take it back to the mechanic again. It has been a much longer and costlier process than we were ever expecting and yes, it’s been frustrating, but that doesn’t mean we just throw in the towel and go buy another vehicle.

Have we considered buying a new vehicle? Absolutely! Do we wish we had piles of cash sitting around without a name on them so we could just go buy a new vehicle and forget all the hassle of trying to get our much-used van fixed? You better believe it!

But you know what? Waiting until we can afford to buy something and trying to make do with what we currently have is how most people used to live. We’re learning patience, we’re learning flexibility, and we’re learning to be content with what we have.

We still have one running vehicle and if need be, we can go back to being a one-car family again. It’s not my first choice, but we did it for a few years and I’m willing to do it again.

Yes, we’re "living like no one else". Yes, a lot of people think we’re really crazy. Yes, sharing what I share on my blog means that some people aren’t going to understand, are going to question why we’re doing what we’re doing, and some people will say rude comments about our life choices.

You know what, though? While I don’t like car problems and I’d not have chosen the kinks in our plans they’ve resulted in the last few weeks, I’d much prefer to wait until I can afford something before I buy it. I much prefer not having to live paycheck-to-paycheck. And I much prefer not being slave to the bondage of debt.

We’re living like no one else so that someday we can live and give like no one else!

Financial Shape in 2008: Monthly checkup

It’s July and time for another Financial Shape in 2008. The year is halfway over! How are things looking for you financially?

Here’s our update:

Short Term Financial Goals for 2008

1) Have our fully-funded emergency fund in place (6 months’ worth of living expenses) by the end of April. As of March 11, 2008–DONE!
2) Switch health insurance plans and open an HSA. We
were approved for our new health insurance plans in April and have also
set up our HSA. Done!

3) Start up an IRA and invest at least 5-10% of Jesse’s income in this. Started in March. (We plan to increase this to 12-15% of Jesse’s income as soon as we purchase our home.)
4) Open up a mutual fund for each of our children and invest $50 per child per month in it. Started in March.

5) Save up and invest $30,000 this year towards paying cash (100% down) for a house in 3-5 years. Now
that Goals 1-4 are finished, we’re working super hard on Goal #5!

It seems like the story of our life recently has been unexpected expenses! Between medical bills, increasing costs, and car problems after car problems after car problems (oh and did I mention car problems?!), it’s been a little mountainous here and I’ve had to fight the urge to feel frustrated. I know God is allowing these things to teach me patience and perseverance.

At any rate, I am here to tell you that we put a whopping $0 in our house savings fund this month. I’ll be honest and tell you that I’ve struggled to not feel incredibly discouraged about this–especially because I had high hopes for this past month. However, I am trying to learn to turn my would-be frustrations and discouragement into gratitude.

While we ended up spending a lot more money than we’d planned on and we didn’t save anything like we’d hoped, we have so many things to be thankful for: a nice rental home with air-conditioning, plenty of food to eat, an emergency fund, steady income, two beautiful daughters, one running vehicle (currently!), good friends who’ve encouraged us so much recently… the list could go on and on. We have so much more than we need; we are truly blessed!

Hopefully next month I’ll have some savings to report, but for this month, I’m trying to focus on counting my blessings instead of calculating our lack of savings.

———————————–
How did you do in June? Whether
or not you posted financial goals for 2008, please take a moment to
post about your financial successes and failures in June and the areas
you hope to improve in July. Then, come back here and leave your link
below. If you don’t have a blog or would rather share anonymously, feel
free to leave your update in a comment. Let’s all keep each other
accountable to be better stewards of
our resources!

Reader Tips: Family Dollar, All You Subscription, Wal-Mart School Supplies, Aunt Millie’s Bakery Outlet

Family Dollar: $5/$25 – From Richael:

In
this weeks family dollar ad (which came in the mail on Wed. here, NC)
there is a $5 off $25 coupon. My CVS says they honor competitor’s
coupons (but not sales ads), so I’m going to try and use it this week.

All You: Magazine Subscription Deal – From Jana

I’ve been reading about how you and others really enjoy the All You Magazine, so I finally picked one up.  Now I love it, so I searched online for the cheapest subscription I could find and I found one that is a great deal!

Get 2 years (24 issues) for only $20 (most others had that price for only one year!). I found it here. I clicked on "shop now", then it even let me pick my local school to receive 40% of the cost for their fundraising.
It was very simple, and I’m hoping all goes well and I should receive my copy in 8-10 weeks!

Operation Smile: Help Children Around the World Through a Simple Click – From Bethany:

Oral-B will donate one foot of dental floss to Operation Smile for every
visitor that clicks through this link on their web site. No strings
attached, no personal information required.  It takes less than 5
seconds. Operation Smile is an organization that helps repair facial
deformities in children throughout the world. 

Wal-Mart: School Supply Deals – From Margaret and Sarah:

 

I was at Wal-Mart this morning and they were busy setting up school supplies. Even though the sales flier hasn’t come out yet I could already buy supplies at sales prices and beat the crowds. I couldn’t resist the 24 pack Crayola crayons for $0.22, RoseArt washable markers
11 count for $0.60, 10 count PaperMate pens for $0.50, etc. -Margaret

I went to Wal-Mart this afternoon and they had school stuff out and on sale!  Here are the few things I remember:

Crayola Crayons (24 ct.) were 25 cents
Rose Art crayons (24 ct) were 17 cents
one subject notebooks were 5 cents
2 pocket folders were 15 cents
Elmers school glue was 22 cents
Crayola colored pencils (12 ct) were 88 cents

-Sarah

Aunt Millie’s Bakery Outlet – From Dawn:

I have been shopping at the Aunt Millie’s Bakery Outlet
for quite some time and feel the need to share. Aunt Millie’s brand has
bakeries in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Kentucky and Ohio. Where
there are bakeries, there are outlets or thrift stores for their
bread. The ones near me in Ohio have "Monday Madness" and all their bread is 59 cents (this includes packages of:  donuts, bages, english
muffins, whole grain loaves, sub buns, hamburger/hot dog buns, potato
bread, onion rolls, pita pockets, etc)  All of their food freezes
exceptionally well and is so worth the drive! It definitely helps the
grocery budget when I can spend $4 and get enough bread for several
weeks if not a month if I do it right!

So, from what I could find on the internet, there are bakery outlets in
Indiana: Muncie & Warsaw
Illinois: Bolingbrook
Michigan: Bay City
Ohio: Sidney, Greenville, Celina, Dayton

Becoming a WAHM: Budgeting – Part 3

Once you have determined you’re willing to put in a tremendous amount of effort in order successfully work from home and you’ve streamlined your life and developed organization, you’re not quite ready to jump headfirst into beginning your business. There’s one more thing which you need to have in place in order to have a strong foundation for a successfully working from home.

What is that one thing? It is that you need to be operating on a workable written budget. I’m not speaking of a budget for your business here, I’m talking about you personally living on a budget.

Why is this so important? Well for one, I’ve seen a lot of families who think they have an income problem when really they have a disorganization and self-discipline problem. You see, if you think you can’t make ends meet and you need to dramatically increase your income and yet you don’t even have a plan in place for your money, how do you know you can’t make ends meet? Perhaps the ends would meet just fine if you’d buckle down and start giving every dollar a name.

There will never be enough money for those who lack self-discipline. Increasing your income won’t fix the problem if the problem is that you aren’t willing to work hard and wait until you can afford something.

As I wrote earlier:

Why am I such a big proponent of living on a budget? It is because I know
that were it not for our budget and the grace of God, we would very
likely be up to our eyeballs in debt right now, barely making ends
meet–just like pretty much all the rest of our law school friends are.
We wouldn’t be living comfortably well below our means, we wouldn’t
have an emergency fund of six months’ expenses in the bank, and we certainly wouldn’t be on a savings plan to pay 100% down for a home in 3-5 years.

Yes,
we’re frugal (I came into the marriage frugal, my husband has learned
to be out of necessity!), but we would be miles behind where we are now
without a written budget. I know this because we’ve done the math and
we know without a doubt that having a written budget, giving every
dollar a name, and putting it on paper, on purpose (to quote a few Dave Ramsey lines) has saved us literally thousands of dollars over the last five years.

Setting up a cash-flow plan is imperative before you start a business because it enables you to make your money work for you. Instead of you being a slave to a mountain of ever-increasing bills, you are at the helm of the ship with a written plan in place for every dollar you make. Your money will go farther, your stress levels will dramatically decrease, and you’ll be in great shape to become a WAHM!

Note: If budgeting is new to you, start with this post. Then go get yourself a copy of The Total Money Makeover. Dave walks you step-by-step through a plan to revolutionize your life and experience financial peace. In addition to The Total Money Makeover, I highly recommend this DVD on Cash-Flow Planning (this DVD was one of my first exposures to Dave Ramsey and it completely won me over! If you are a visual learner, this will especially be helpful.)

Just for fun: How many of you live on a budget? What has been the single greatest benefit your family has experienced by living on a budget?

Reader Tips: Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Program, Bank of America “Keep the Change” Program

Barnes and Noble: Summer Reading Program – From Jenny:

If your children (Grades 1-6) reads eight books this Summer, they can earn a free book from Barnes and Noble. Details here.We did this last year with the kids. There is a list of books to choose from and both of my children were both able to find a book they enjoyed. 

Bank of America: Keep the Change – From Lena:

Bank of America offers a program called Keep the Change. It’s
where anything you spend gets rounded to the nearest dollar and that
extra change gets put into a savings account. So, if you spend $20.01,
then $0.99 would be transferred to savings.

Here’s the cool part:
For the first three months you are enrolled, Bank of America will match
what you transferred to savings. So, you get FREE MONEY just for
signing up for the service. I already banked with Bank of America, so
I don’t know if it would be worth it if you don’t already bank there,
but I thought maybe someone else could use the tip!