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Monthly financial check-up

How did you do in January? We finally sat down together with our financial advisor and got some things straightened out/set up for our businesses and retirement savings. It feels good to have that all in place and to now be saving 10% of our income towards retirement. Lord-willing, this will allow us to not be a burden to our children financially when we are old and feeble someday!

We’re now working hard at funding our children’s educational savings accounts. We decided to do something rather out-of-the-ordinary and actually fund them in the amount we’ve both agreed upon in one lump sum, rather than just put in a yearly amount. Since our children are still young, we realized that compound interest is going to play out favorably for them over the next 12 to 17 years, so it would be less expensive for us to go ahead and just put in one lump sum for each of them now. This also will allow us to have one less thing to have a budget category for once we are finished saving the amount we’ve determined we feel we want to put towards their education.

We are not putting this money in typical educational savings accounts, even though it’s a little less tax efficient because we don’t want it to only be ear-marked for college. We definitely expect that at least some of our children will attend college, but some may be more entrepreneurial and may want to start a business in high school or pursue learning outside of college (such as a hands-on internship).

While I definitely think that college is a wise choice in many circumstances, since I didn’t go to college, I tend to be rather counter-cultural in believing that traditional college is not necessarily a necessity for every single young person. We hope to encourage our children to seek God and determine what their own bents, interests and passions are and then we want to help them out financially as they pursue those — whether that be college or some other route.

At any rate, here’s our financial goals update for January:

1. Give generously to the needs in our community and around the world. (This is an ongoing goal that we’re seeking to make a priority each month so we’re not checking it off.)

2. Pay cash for a replacement washer and dryer for our very used set. (DONE)

3. Pay cash for a replacement for Jesse’s van. (DONE)

4. Pay cash for a couch for our basement family room. (DONE)

5. Pay cash for bunk beds for the girls. (DONE)

6. Fully fund our IRAs. (DONE)

7. Bump up our retirement savings to 10% of our income. (DONE)

8. Fund our children’s educational savings.

9. Double our Emergency Fund Savings (Instead of having around six month’s worth of expenses set aside, we’re planning to set aside a year’s worth of expenses.)

10. Save 40% towards our goal of paying cash for commercial real estate.

We’d love to hear about your recent financial goals and successes! You can post about it on your blog and leave your link in the comments. Or, just share about your progress/goals in the comments. Let’s all keep each other accountable to be better stewards of our resources!

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225 Comments

  • margaret says:

    interesting topic.. while I do agree that a college education isnt a NECESSITY and that it is not for everyone one, how ever, in todays society it will be impossible to get a job with out have a degree, a job that will pay a decent wage that is.

    • RuthS says:

      Not true. Hubby has no college degree and is making plenty of money 🙂

    • Whitney says:

      A college degree would not only help out with finding a job, but also help when making post on blogs. 🙂 And also…I have many friends without college degrees who make much more than my friends with degrees.

      • Heather @ Family Friendly Frugality says:

        My husband makes pretty good money with no official college degree (a few credit hours short). I’m also doing pretty well for myself without a college degree!
        It definitely is not the guarantor of income potential some make it out to be.
        That said, I do hope my children go the college route. If they choose another route though, I won’t think their futures are wasted. Mine certainly is not.

    • lalalalala says:

      This is Crystal’s point though – in case one of her children chooses a different route than college, they can still help them with their life goals. Not all of us are interested in the clear cut careers that degrees often afford – like Crystal said, one of her children may choose to start up their own business or go to automotive or beauty school or etc. If she set up an education savings account, it’d be limited to college. I don’t think there was ever any question as to whether or not it’s easier to have a degree, it’s just a matter of being prepared for all outcomes.

    • Crystal says:

      It’s not like it’s that big of a deal. Crystal and Jesse are just seeking to give their children more options. The money will still be there either way. And what about daughters? I can truly say that having a college degree helps me in no way in the work I do. The only reason I don’t consider it money wasted is because I met my husband while attending college.

      • brookeb says:

        While I don’t think everyone should have to get a degree, I do think it’s problematic to just split it up by sons/daughters. Maybe they’ll go on to marry young and have children, but that’s not the plan for everyone’s life, and that needs to be considered too.

        • Crystal says:

          I wasn’t setting any sort of standard for either sex. I was just using my own experience as an example of why it might be beneficial not to have the money slated for the specific purpose of attending college.

    • Ginger says:

      Not true. I make more money than most of my friends (two of whom have masters degrees). I was mentored and trained in a skilled trade that’s highly in demand, and I work from home doing it.

      I applaud you, Crystal, for not stuffing your children into that college box. They might want to be a professional dancer or photographer or electrician (who make more than college professors, BTW!) or an excellent mother.

      • Judy says:

        I think it’s fantastic that, because Crystal and Jesse have the means, they are doing what they can to be prepared. Like Crystal said, if they don’t go to college, it’s not the end of the world, but it’s sure going to be nice if and when one or all of their children do decide to go to college, they will already have that paid for. It’s a wise financial choice that will benefit them no matter what their children choose to do as they grow up and leave home.

      • brookeb says:

        Actually K-12 teachers often make more than college professors. We’re pretty easy to out-earn, at least away from major research universities!

        • Courtney says:

          Wow, what an incredibly rude thing to say about Crystal! I disagree completely. I have been reading this blog for a long time now and have never once thought that her writing or speaking makes her appear uneducated.

        • Lise says:

          Margaret, I am college educated with an MBA. Crystal’s writing is on par with an average college graduate and better than many. She is not writing papers for journal publications so the style and content are appropriate for her subject and audience. While I do not share her relaxed attitude about whether or not my children attend university, I agree with the sentiment that not everyone is college material. I wish you could have articulated your point without resorting to insults.

        • Celena says:

          I agree that it is a very rude comment. I DO have a college degree and choose to stay home with my children. I absolutely disagree that college or even trade school is the best way to go. Most of those people end up working for someone else for the rest of their lives. There are tons of VERY successful people, who started a business and work for themselves, and who don’t have a degree. After all, who says you need a degree to do your own thing? I’m not saying college is never a good thing, but for more enterprising people it would do more to hold them back than anything else.

        • brookeb says:

          Really? I think her writing and delivery is pretty decent. 🙂 Compared to a lot of blogs, I’ve always been impressed with the organization here, and just simple things like spelling properly and good grammar.

        • Erin says:

          That’s pretty rude. I work with many people who are “college educated” and can’t even write a simple email without misspellings and grammar errors. I’d like to know what you think a “college educated person” would look and sound like. She certainly writes with fewer errors and better grammar than your comments…

        • Emily Thelen says:

          Crystal – you are a very talented writer and very articulate. While I do not usually comment on this blog or others, I jut want to step in and say that you are awesome and have a gift!

        • whitney says:

          What’s amazing Margaret is that you have made so many spelling errors on your pos!t You have kept my husband and I laughing all night!!! I said “she is one to talk about a college education, when our first grader can write better than that!”

        • melissa says:

          Respectfully, I disagree. I had no idea Crystal wasn’t college educated based on her blog and I tend to be quite critical of writing mistakes as it is quite irritating to me. In my opinion, it is quite impressive how few writing mistakes she makes when you consider the sheer volume of things she posts every day in addition to balancing a busy household. In contrast, many “college educated” posts are riddled with mistakes in punctuation and grammar. Ironically, I have two degrees and I would say that while I am well educated, public speaking is not my forte so I don’t see that as an indication of whether or not someone is well educated. I applaud Crystal for her wisdom in finances which has put her well ahead of many “educated” people. I think it could be a wise decision to set aside finances this way as one never knows what the future holds. What if something unforeseen happens that prevents one of her children from attending college? My husband and I are also contemplating the wisest financial decision and see a lot of wisdom in this thought process and we certainly value education as my husband has a masters in business. We just recognize that God has created everyone with their own special niche and I certainly don’t want to limit my children in any way.

        • Sunny says:

          I really think Crystal did a wonderful job on her blog. I appreciate her openness about her life to help many! Even though she doesn’t have a college degree, God has used her in an amazing way! I have learned so much from her blog. I have a master degree in mass communication, it doesn’t mean that I can write better than Crystal. I honestly think that she writes so wonderfully because of her WISDOM through following God! I pray that my daughter will follow God at a young age. God is the One who will ultimately help and guide her life, not the college degree. I love my experience in college and graduate school. My husband does too. I hope my daughter will go to college simply because it is a very precious and enjoyable experience.

        • jessica says:

          With all do respect, college doesn’t teach basic manner……

          Maybe you haven’t heard of the old saying if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

          I believe I can speak with others when I say if your going to be disrespectful, do it else where.

          PS….. I have 2 bachelors degrees and am working on a masters. Communication is not my strong point. I recognize that, but never the less I am very good at my job!

        • peever says:

          So, so, SO rude! I thought cyber bullying was for middle schoolers. Sheesh.

          I respectfully disagree as well. Crystal’s blog is my favorite to read for content. She is wise beyond her years and I’ve always thought she was a good writer.

        • Spendwisemom says:

          Why are people so defensive about a college education or not. We all choose our own path and you don’t have to worry about what is right for others. You have to look at your goals too. Is the end goal to make money or have the education? Just be at peace about what you do, and don’t try to convince others that their path was wrong. We are all in different situations and some of us may not have had the chance to get an education. College education is value to my husband and I, but that doesn’t mean that others are less valuable or less successful without it. We live with the consequences of our decisions, and so do others. We should support and compliment each other instead of arguing about who’s way was right or best.

          • Erica @ Just Call Me Cheap says:

            Well said!
            My husband and I do not have college degrees and are doing very well but that does not mean that we expect others to follow our path nor do we expect our children to follow our path.

            People need to do what is right for them and their families and it is not one size fits all. As long as my children are hard workers, good people and can support themselves when they are adults I will be proud of them and will support them however I can.

            • Crystal says:

              I agree. There is no “one size fits all” plan and we’re hoping to give our children a variety of options. We want them to be well-educated, but we moreso hope that they are people of strong character and work ethic.

        • Crystal says:

          I definitely have much room for improvement when it comes to writing and articulation. That’s something I’m constantly seeking to improve in as I know I have a long way to go to be where I hope to be. 🙂

          However, that said, I don’t regret my decision to not go to college. I was able to gain a great deal of real-life experience during those four years which I feel has been much more beneficial to me personally than four years at a university would have been — especially since I tend to be a very “out-of-the-box” thinker.

          Since each person is so different, though, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the path I chose to others. We’ll just wait and see how God leads our children once they are old enough to be considering college and higher education.

        • Rachael says:

          I’m a college educated person and Crystal far surpasses me in household organization, homemade meals for her family, and spending time with her children. She has a real talent here and has helped me run a much more efficient household. And I rarely notice grammatical or spelling errors. Thanks for all you do, Crystal!

        • Emily says:

          I work at a university (and, granted, it is a major research university) and my bosses all make 150-250k/year.

      • Rachael says:

        I am just completing a Ph. D. in hopes of becoming a college professor. Teaching is my passion, and I believe the rewards of being able to teach far surpass the amount of income I will be making. As a graduate student on a tight budget, I personally can not wait to making the college professor salary 🙂

        • brookeb says:

          It’s really a pretty sweet job — the benefits there far outweigh the financial ones. 🙂 That first letter from a student letting you know how happy they were that you were there to help them succeed is worth it all.

    • whitney says:

      Margaret- Your college education must have taught you “isn’t, however, and without.” If not, your first grade teacher should have!

      • whitney says:

        I am just making the point that you are sitting her talking about education, when it seems you lack in that department.

        • Brenda Z says:

          Whitney- it really amazes that me someone would take time out of their day to make fun of someone’s blog comments. If you were out in public and someone you were having a conversation with (or was having a conversation next to you) mispronounced a word, would you laugh and make fun of them? If so, I really hope I never run into you in “real life”- though the fact that people compartmentalize online living and in-person living and treat people differently online is really sad. I guess going to college doesn’t teach you how to be a decent human being.

      • Chris says:

        Wow! I couldn’t even bring myself to read after the first few posts- so negative! I have a masters degree and teach high school- compared to many (especially after all the years of college) I make very little money, but I LOVE WHAT I DO! I agree college is often the better option, but as I tell my students, if you can follow your heart by not going to college, then why go? So many intelligent and inspirational people don’t have higher degrees! You have to do what makes you happy and money shouldn’t be the ultimate determining factor. Like Crystal I set up savings accounts for my children because I didn’t want it to be only usable for college.

    • Kelly says:

      Margaret I have to disagree with you that it will be impossible to get a job without a degree. I have a degree in accounting and have instead chose to be a self-employed housekeeper. My husband never furthered his education after high school and has a very good job at a local power plant. Both of our jobs are decent wages.

    • Julie says:

      Not true; it really depends on what your field of expertise is…my husband is a firefighter and has no college degree. On top of that, he makes about $5,000 a year more than I do and I have a Master’s degree!!

      • Tiffany says:

        Margaret, I really hope you feel remorseful for the uncanny comment you made. While it’s easy to sit behind a computer and make such bold comments I wonder if you’d have the audacity to make such remarks in person. Crystal is a real person with feelings and attacking someone deliberately is uncalled for and it was totally unmerited. I can’t help but feel sorry for you.

        • lori says:

          I agree. Happy people do not seek out ways to attack others. If Whitney and Margaret felt good about themselves, they would not make comments like these. Hurting people hurt people.

  • Amy says:

    Way to go!

    I don’t have our January Budget Review up yet but I did just finish our Grocery spending for the month! One budget category complete!

    Here is our Grocery Totals:

    http://www.livingthedomesticlife.com/2011/02/january-grocery-totals/

    I hope to start our retirement savings next month after we meet with a finical advisor! Planning ahead is so rewarding!

  • Janine says:

    My fiance and I are in the process of saving $16000 for our wedding 9/10/11. Were doing well!!

    We budget well. I do the groceries and with him and our son we don’t spend over $40/week in our food.

    TIGHT year though!! Itll be worth it!!

    up next…saving for our basement!

  • Nony (A Slob Comes Clean) says:

    After we finished building our emergency fund last spring, we started several separate accounts for the different things we wanted to save for. We have a car account, a vacation account, a Christmas account, etc. I know others who do this all within one account, but we need the money just to automatically go into its own account monthly. It’s been exciting to see these funds grow, but we’re still adjusting. I did schedule our DisneyWorld vacation, though, and we were so excited to see that the amount we are saving will be just what we need!

  • Jack says:

    Thanks for the idea! I had never really thought of funding it in a lump sum. Definitely something to think about for my daughter…hm 🙂
    We’ve started paying off our house this year and are really excited about it–thanks for the inspiration!

  • Debbie says:

    My youngest, a junior in high school, announced a week ago that he does not intend to go to college. Instead, he would like to pursue a career in automotive technology (mechanic). I’ve come to realize that college is not for everyone, although I’m college educated. Right now we are paying for a college education for my oldest son and plan to pay for vocational school for my future mechanic.

    • Julie says:

      We have a an Auto Diesel School near where I live in Nashville where people go to learn to be mechanics and it’s more expensive than our state university. Just to make sure you you don’t underestimate the costs of an non-traditional education. They are highly sought after out of that school too.

      • Debbie says:

        Those schools are very expensive; we’ve been researching schools for him. He is taking auto tech in school and many schools have come to visit to “sell” their programs.

        • Jeni says:

          Just a point to keep in mind, my BIL went to auto tech school (Wyotech to be exact) and in the course of under 2 years came out making almost as much as my husband and I combined. I am a school psychologist (with 7 years of post HS education including a M.Ed. and Ed.S) and my husband works as an IT director and has a BScience degree. While the programs are expensive, his investment has definitely payed off more than our investments have in terms of a “money made to college debt/cost” ratio!

  • Amanda says:

    January was month 4 of following Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover plan in our household. I will admit, it has been tough!! Using the cash envelopes is a challenge in terms of planning ahead and juggling, though we are much more aware of our spending now which is definitely a . The first debt we have been attacking is one of my husband’s three student loans (2 for undergraduate and 1 for graduate school). If we continue at the same rate we’ve been going, we should have that first loan paid off in another 3-4 months!! Very exciting, considering that we expected to be paying for another 20 years. The next debt to attack will be his second undergrad loan—our goal is to have that paid off by December. We are so excited at the prospect of paying off his entire undergraduate debt by the end of 2011!! Even though we can see progress, we sometimes get discouraged thinking about all the things we would rather do now with that money. We have a LOT of student loan debt (we both have Master’s degrees) so we’re looking at probably 5 years to get it paid off, which seems like an eternity when you think of everything that could come up. On the other hand, what’s our other option? Go back to minimum payments ? NO WAY!!! We will just keep plugging along and have faith that God will provide and help us see it through. It might be hard now, but in the long run this is better for our family and our future.

    • Liz says:

      Amanda, try not to be discouraged. My husband is a pediatrician, and we owe more on his med school debt (around 200K) than on our home. It can be discouraging at times, when I feel like after our mortgage is paid off, that we still have to pay an even bigger debt than that! But, we have always tithed from our first fruits, and so God has always blessed us and provided. And it seems like the more we give to others, the more we get in return. I try to stay positive and look at our very large amount of debt as an adventure, and try to remind myself that every penny counts. Just this past month, I used about 350 coupons and saved almost 900 dollars just in coupons! It’s exciting how I can help to contribute toward paying down our debt, even though I am blessed to be a busy, stay-at-home mom. 😛

    • Meredith says:

      Hang in there, Amanda! I know exactly how you feel. It seems like it’s never going away, but it DOES! My hubby and I finished our debt snowball in October. We paid cash for Christmas and now we’re saving up our EF and for a new deck. It’s so liberating!!! Plus, there’s soooo much less anxiety. You’ll get there! Good luck!

    • Dawn says:

      We always hit our financial goals months sooner than expected. Keep plugging along and you will see God bless you in ways you never thought possible!

    • Crystal says:

      You are doing a fantastic job. Short-term sacrifices for long-term benefits are very hard, but so very worth it. Keep it up and you will reap incredible rewards!

    • Shantique says:

      You are doing a great job. My only thought is if you have other types of debt, you may want to attack that first. I’m sure you went to get out of all debt as soon as possible, but the interest you pay on the student loans is a tax deduction. So IF you have credit card debt or other consumer debt you are wanting to pay off, it’s better to pay that first since there is no tax benefits to those. If student loans are all you have then that is great!! Good Luck!

      • Kristin says:

        Only certain people can take the tax deduction on student loan interest. I make too much money to receive the deduction.

        However, student loan interest rates are usually quite low, so I would agree with you, just for a different reason.

    • Amanda says:

      Thanks for the encouragement, everyone! Thankfully we don’t have credit card debt anymore, so our debt snowball includes student loans and one vehicle (with a very low interest rate). Last night my husband and I ended up having a really good talk and I told him that I was feeling frustrated about our finances. Like I said, even though I know we’re doing the right thing it’s still hard! He told me he is feeling “awesome!” (his exact word) about how we’re doing financially. In fact, he feels like we are in the best financial shape we’ve ever been in because we are DOING something about that debt instead of feeling helpless. He’s right! It was a real relief to hear him say that and a good boost for me. I have so much to be thankful for that is not even related to money and want to do a better job staying focused on those things. 🙂

  • Jennifer says:

    I just want to tell those of you who are stuggling there is hope! After 10 years of marriage and countless ‘stupid tax’ blunders, we are finally debt free with 3 months expenses. I know some of you see bigger paychecks and think ‘oh, that’s how they do it..’. My husband’s income has averaged about 31k, and even though he was recently blessed with a raise, God really does bless those who are faithful ‘in the small things’. I have seen his hand of faithfulness meeting ALL our needs when hubby brought home more like 18 k, but now we are in a different season there is even more discipline required to make the most of what we’ve been given. We look forward to next month starting slowly to put 10, then 15 of our income in savings/retirement. Really, I think some people have no idea. I would pay off some CC and just sob, thinking of all the stress lifted off. Please please please, at tax time, do without, make do, do whatever you have to, but if you’re getting a great refund put it to work for you. We never seemed able to squeeze large amounts through the year, but last year most all debts were paid off, and now with this tax refund we’ll be funding our emergency fund. Our ‘work’ sometimes seemed like not putting groceries on the credit card, something Crystal has made so much easier. THERE IS HOPE!!

    • Crystal says:

      Great job, Jennifer! How exciting!

    • Lyn says:

      Jennifer, good for you! 🙂 We do the same. Living on a smaller income if we did not save monies like tax refunds and such, we would not be able to be debt-free as we are right now. Sacrifice is not easy, but in the end, it has really helped us so much. We were able to pay off all our debt by putting every extra amount towards it. This year will be our first year that we can save our tax refund instead! 🙂

  • Laurie says:

    Since you opted to not do a 529, where did you put the “future” (possibly college) money? we are so torn what to do. Right now we just have online savings accts for both kids, while we try to figure out where to put the money. The rates were good when we opened the one acct, but now not so much. We need to do something but our indecision has caused us to not really do anything to change it!

    • Lisa H says:

      We’re in the exact same boat! I hate to have all the money tied up in something so specific if life takes our girls in other directions. (And I have that degree, and do hope they choose to attend college!)
      We started an ING account for our older daughter (4 in a few days) and for the baby, but I know we should do a mutual fund or something to earn a bit more since they’re so young.

      • Lisa H says:

        And, I should have mentioned too – Crystal, I’m a regular reader for two or three years now. My (expensive private school) degree was in journalism, and I was a newspaper reporter (WRITER) for seven years before children. I think you write very well! I’m another girl who would be annoyed (and quite reading) if you had grammatical or spelling or syntax errors. I definitely believe you present your entire blog as if you have had a great education!
        Thanks for all you do to help us save money. I highly respect you, and, as you already know, you just have to ignore and feel sad for the people who choose to voice the rudeness in their hearts.

  • Jennifer says:

    May I ask, if you didn’t put it in a traditional education savings account, what kind of account did you put it in? Just curious…

    • Annie says:

      I was wondering the same thing, Crystal?

    • peever says:

      I’m wondering the same thing as well. My husband went to a trade school and is now self-employed and does very well for himself. I have an Associates degree and am a stay-at-home mom now. We both feel the same way that you do. It would be wonderful if our kids go to college, but we know that it’s not for everyone and we don’t want our money to be “stuck.”

    • Brooke says:

      Our financial advisor encouraged us to put money intended for college savings in a RothIRA. Funds can be taken out without penalty for various things, including education. This way we can use the money saved for college, if needed. If we find we do not need to use it for college, it will just stay there for our retirement.

      • Shantique says:

        Brooke that is true up to a certain amount. Any money YOU contribute to a Roth can be withdrawn without penalty after 5 years. If you withdraw more than that for education, you usually are limited to a max withdrawal of 10% for education expenses. Any advice a financial advisor gives you, should also be addressed with a tax accountant to ensure you are getting the best out of your money. Financial advisors are trained in investments, but generally can’t offer full picture tax advice (unless they have a CFP designation).

    • Amanda says:

      Our son’s college savings is also in a Roth IRA. One thing the financial advisor told us is that when it comes time for your child to complete the FAFSA for financial aid, you don’t have to list IRA’s as assets. A 529 does have to be listed as an asset, which can decrease the amount of financial aid your child will receive. Now ideally we will all have enough in our kids’ accounts that they don’t need financial aid, right? 😉 But just in case that doesn’t happen, I was interested in this aspect of the Roth IRA. Then if my child doesn’t go to college, I can use the money for retirement!

  • Tabatha says:

    So after looking at January’s budget and the simple goal we have right now of just getting into the habit of saving we were able to put $300 in savings!! Saving is a difficult thing for us, we’ve always had some sort of excuse as to why we couldn’t put the money away. At the beginning of this year I sat down with my husband and said enough is a enough. We had many things come up last year that had we had some savings it wouldn’t have put such a strain on us. So for right now our goal is to just get into the habit of saving money- meaning actually putting it into savings not just saying “hey we saved $10 bucks today at the store”. So far so good I think!! 🙂

  • Carolynn @ mylittlebitoflife.com says:

    We have 529 (or equivalents) set up for all of our children, however, the main reason we have them is because my husband’s great aunt left money for educational purposes, so we have set those up with this money and then I plan on opening up a different type of accounts when we are at a place to start contributing. The accounts we have can be transferred to someone in the immediate family or even used for vocational training, so I figured even if they decide not to go, then my husband could use it to get an undergrad, or I wouldn’t mind getting a masters! I figured, it wouldn’t go to waste!
    As for our current financial goals, I am a little depressed about it, we have done some to pay more on our car loan, but not much. I wish we could do more and I wish I could feel more financially comfortable, but I guess that day will come, eventually! For now I’m just plugging on and know that even the slightest move forward is better than backwards or stagnant!

    • Carrie says:

      God honors commitment! Keep plugging away at it, and He’ll provide ways for you to increase that amount. He did for us. Right about when I thought we weren’t going to make it. I should never doubt, and I’m getting so much better at not! Keep it up! You have a great story to tell! You’ll inspire someone, someday, somehow!

    • Kassandra Wood says:

      I LOVE the last sentence! You’re exactly right! It is MUCH better to remain where you are or make a little progress than to regress! Every dollar counts! Keep it up and you will see big things in NO TIME! XOXO

    • Crystal says:

      You are so right that the slightest move forward is better than standing still or moving backwards!

      Keep plodding forward and keep your eyes focused on your goals and where you want to be instead of being discouraged at the slow pace you may have to be taking due to circumstances outside your control.

  • Angi says:

    Very inspiring, Crystal. Keep up the good work.

    Our oldest 2 are now in high school and we’ve been talking about what’s next (actually we’ve been talking forever, but they are now talking, too.)
    The oldest one wants to be a jeweler and the younger one wants to be an actor ~ seriously! Some days I wish they would just pick something “normal” so we could have a clear plan of action. And yet, I really respect them for wanting to follow dreams. I’m sure their vocations can change over the course of their lives but as long as they are walking with the Lord, it doesn’t matter to me what they do for a vocation.

    • Carrie says:

      Amen, Angi! I just want to “High Five” you ladies for respecting that each person has their own goals and dreams, and just because it doesn’t fit the “norm” doesn’t mean that it isn’t what they were designed to do by Him 🙂

  • Carrie says:

    I’ve also started a “Financially Fit Friday” segment on our blog. I get so much inspiration from reading other people’s stories, whether they are just starting out, in the midst of it all (like us) or have paid off their debt and are working towards other goals!

    Nice work! I love that you put it out there. I’m taking it one step further for me, and writing the amounts in (but we are paying stuff off, if we were investing, I’m not sure I would do that).

    Last year, on two part time jobs and 4 children under the age of 6, we paid off nearly $20,000 in stupidity debt. If we can do it, anyone can!

    PS – I love that you believe that college isn’t for everyone. My husband and I ran 2 dormatories for a college and so many kids were “forced” by their parents to go when they weren’t ready for that step, nor was it good for them (they were more hands-on tradesmen, or they were more into owning their own businesses). Bless you for realizing that now, that God’s Will and your will may not be the same for your children. :o) Your site just officially became my favorite to check every single day! I wish we lived closer, I could use more friends that think like you do around. :o) Blessings to you!

  • julie says:

    What type of account are you using?

  • Katie says:

    We are very fortunate to both have jobs that give us year-end bonuses. Each year we put all of our bonus money in to our savings, so now, if we both lost our jobs tomorrow, we could live for 1 year. It’s a great feeling.

    This year however, we are going to do something a little different. We are putting all of our bonus and tax return money towards our second mortgage. Then whatever is left on our second mortgage after that, we will pay off out of our savings. We will then “pay ourselves” what we used to pay in our second mortgage to replace the money out of our savings. We also just refinanced our primary mortgage, so we’ll use that money saved each month to “pay ourselves” too.

    We should be able to pay off the second mortgage in March (once our tax return is in). I can’t wait! That is our only debt (besides the primary mortgage) and I can’t wait to get it off our back!

  • Brooke says:

    Have you always had a good experience with MyPoints? Is it scam? Should you set up a separate email account for this website?
    Thanks!!

    • Chris says:

      I’ve had good experiences with mypoints. I would use a separate email account, though for just their emails. You don’t get a bunch of non-mypoints spam because of them, though.

      • Brooke says:

        Thanks Chris!!

        • Anna S. says:

          I’ve been doing Mypoint for awhile and I like it alright. In a couple weeks I will have earned enough for a $25 giftcard. It will have taken about 5 months to earn that, but I don’t think it is too bad since I am a stay at home mom right now- One thing, I would not bother with their surveys because they take a long time for not that many points (usually 50). Anytime I have tried to complete a survey, it asks me tons of questions and then says I didn’t qualify, so I always try to not qualify for them now.

    • Milk Donor Mama says:

      I’ve been a MyPoints member since 1998! They are totally legit and I’ve never had a problem receiving the rewards gift cards. Very nice program.

  • Budgeting Newbie says:

    How does anyone keep track of expenses? We’ve just set up our online banking and it was a huge wake up call, but we still pay all the bills by mail. Where do I start (for free, not with a Dave Ramsey method)?

    • Katherine says:

      A lot of Dave Ramsey’s resources are free on his website. But let me tell you, his Financial Peace University is ABSOLUTELY worth the $100 it costs.

      • blessed-with-3 says:

        If you have a Sam’s Club nearby you may want to check out their book selection. I saw the Dave Ramsey FPU “kit” in their self-help section and it was under $40.

      • Ace1234 says:

        I checked Dave’s books out of the public library first to see if I considered them worth purchasing…. bought them almost immediately at Half Price Books. Cannot say enough good things about Dave… and I first heard about him here on MSM… Thank you, Crystal! We’re debt freeeeeeee! since (Nov. 2009)

    • Kim says:

      Best way to do it for free is paper and pencil. Write down every expense you have, mortgage, electric, phone, groceries, gas, baby sitter…. If you’ve never tracked your expenses before you’ll have to do it a couple months before it all works out nicely. For years I have always written down all utilities and so I know on average what our bills will be in any given month. Many things are the same every month or close to it. If you are trying to track grocery expenses keep all your receipts and do it that way. Any way that work for you will work. Some people want it to be all fancy and complicated but it doesn’t have to be. When we started really budgeting and watching out expenses we didn’t have a computer and so paper and pencil was our only choice. Now that we have a computer I still use my paper and pencil. Good luck.

    • Davonne says:

      I highly recommend The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. You can probably borrow it for free from your local library.

    • Amanda says:

      Mint.com is free and awesome! You can link all your accounts there- checking, home loan, credit- you name it.

    • theresa says:

      we checked dave’s books out from the library and use his free downloadable forms from his website – we never spent anything outside of printer ink and pencil lead to use dave’s steps and next month, the Lord willing, we will have paid down $15k in 7 months – and the five of us are living on around $32k/yr!

      • Dianne says:

        I can’t tell you how encouraging that is to hear. We’re a family of 3 looking at about $15k debt and we live on $26k. It’s very motivating to see that someone’s been there.

        • Deven says:

          We have a family of 7!!! Together, my husband and I bring home 70k per year. However, 20k goes to daycare and a minimum of 20k goes to paying off debt. It is tough; but we are doing it. By the way, 3 of the seven are in diapers and last year, we were funding diapers and formula.

      • SDavis says:

        Theresa,
        Thank you for sharing – it was very encouraging to hear. We’re slowly working our way out of a mound of business debt. It can feel overwhelming with a salary in the 30Ks, but we know that the Lord is faithful to provide.

        My success for the month of January – I was only .08 overbudget on our grocery/household budget of $50/week.

  • Sass says:

    January was a rough month….. with high heating bills, I managed to only come in $10 under budget total. I had hoped to do better, but exceeded my grocery budget and heating budget. Fortunately I came in under budget in several other categories, so it balanced out a bit. Hoping to do MUCH, MUCH better in February….but so far, that’s not looking so great!

  • Jillbert says:

    I’m curious how you are determining what amount to set aside for education. I understand your not wanting to share specific numbers but are you basing your number on having a set amount down the road — i.e., the cost of 4 years tuition at a state university (and figuring out what that amount in todays dollars would be….and what college costs are expected to be….) or just a certain lump sum per child to help them on their way? We were gifted a large lump sum for our oldest child when he was 1. At the time, it seemed like that amount would see him through college. He is now 12 and while that lump has grown considerably, tuition has outpaced it. We are also debt adverse and would love to see our kids educated without debt (on their part or on ours….).

    • Carolynn @ mylittlebitoflife.com says:

      My dad’s plan (although it didn’t work out) was that we would pay for four years at an in state college, any amount over that would be our responsibility! I think this is a good & fair idea! I know this doesn’t really answer your question, but thought offering a certain perspective may help! 🙂

    • Tanya says:

      I’m curious about this as well. By the time my children reach college, I wouldn’t be surprised if the costs of four years at a state school reaches six figures. I’m a CPA so I understand the time value of money, but that’s going to be a huge amount to fund at once. We chose to do 529’s for our kids, I’ll admit…my heart is set on my children graduating college. It’s made a tremendous difference in my quality of life.

      • tina says:

        Tanya,
        I have had 3 daughters that attend college and the best advice I can give you is to make sure that they:
        Apply for federal and state grant money
        Look into the school’s scholarships
        They can take out loans from federal government
        Get very GOOD GRADES-I can not express the last one enough! GPA is like money in the bank!
        Being involved-leadership schools like to see that your child is involved in the community and not just centered on grades!

    • Melissa says:

      My parents did the same- they promised to cover all expenses for four years of an in-state university. They saved the money in a mutual fund account in my name (but not specifically an education account- I’m not even sure if those existed) so that if we didn’t use all the money for college we could be free to use it other ways. I was blessed with scholarships, so that “college” money has paid for me to move, get married, go to graduate school (combined with grants), and there is still money left over that is now designated for my son. I feel tremendously blessed by their financial gift.

      • Melissa says:

        I should also note that my father was a pastor and my mom stayed at home. This money was saved little by little over the course of 18 years of careful budgeting. I just want everyone to know that you can do it too!

    • Shantique says:

      Good ways to save on education expenses is to go to a community college for the first two years. Basic classes toward and associates degree are going to be pretty much the same anywhere! And a community school is so much cheaper than even the state universities. When they are ready to move on toward there specialization, then you move on to a school that offers a good program for it. Community colleges also usually keep kids at home, so that’s a big chunk of money that is not lost on room and board!

      I admit that I really would prefer that my children go to college. I did not finish and for the field I am in, I am definitely at a disadvantage when it comes to promotions and salary. I will grow and cap out a much lower rate than somebody with the same experience and a college degree. The one thing that saves me is that, although I’m pretty young, I have spent more than half of my WHOLE life working in my industry!

  • Stephanie says:

    Hi, I’m not sure of the ages of your kids. I would assume 8, and 1 and there’s another??? How do you determine the lump sum you will allocate to each. Are you going to fund the oldest’s first because she has less time to compound or grow her funds? A little more explanation would be interesting. I have three year old twins. I started 529 accounts with their christening money. It’s not much as I haven’t added much to it. Mainly because I don’t want to overfund it if they don’t go to college. I guess I don’t fully understand the options we have if they don’t go. Maybe a good question for Jesse? Thanks, very interesting post.

    • Dawn says:

      Her children are about 5, 4 and 2 I believe.

    • Jessica says:

      Hi Stephanie, here is a summary if you take money out for a reason that is not college related from savingforcollege.com. The penalty is basically 10% of earnings.

      There are a range of taxes and penalties you’ll incur if you withdraw money from a 529 account for anything other than educational expenses. A great deal of your consideration depends on whether your plan has lost or earned money.

      If you have earnings: You’ll take the most severe hit if you’re one of the lucky few who have earnings on your 529. First, you’ll incur a 10-percent tax penalty on any earnings you withdraw (though not the principal). In addition, any earnings that you withdraw will be taxed as ordinary income — on state and federal taxes. Finally, if you received a state tax deduction as a result of your contributions, you’ll be required to pay taxes on the contributions as well.
      If your plan has lost money: If the bum economy has pushed your 529 account’s balance to a level that’s below your total contributions, there could be a silver lining, says Joe Hurley, founder of SavingForCollege.com and vice president at Bankrate.com. You won’t owe a 10-percent penalty, you won’t owe federal taxes on the withdrawal, and you will only have to pay state taxes if you received a tax break on your contributions. “You don’t suffer too many negative consequences [under those circumstances] for taking the money out for something else,” he says.
      According to Hurley, in some cases, you may find that taking the money out actually has a tax benefit. “If you cash out entirely from your 529 plan, the IRS allows you to claim your loss as an itemized deduction,” Hurley says.

  • brookeb says:

    I think as long as you’re saving equally for all of your children (as opposed to assuming what each would do), then there’s nothing at all disagreeable with what you’re doing. I’m a college professor and even I would say that college is not for everyone, although I do think that most anyone would benefit from certain basic classes like writing or computer skills (which are often taught at tech schools, & 2- and 4-year colleges, both online and brick & mortar). Besides, even if all of your children go to college, one might have a full scholarship, another opt for a private school, another a low-cost public program, etc. This kind of plan allows for the most flexibility.

  • Conni says:

    Here’s some food for thought: many financial advisers (both christian and secular) recommend helping your child buy his/her first home over funding their college education. Many young adults do not take their education seriously when Mom and Dad are paying for it, often adding an extra year or more on to their studies, skipping classes (because they don’t want to be there, but Mom and Dad expect me to), and often they are just trying to figure out what they truly “want to be”. I have, personally, seen this time and again when my own children went through college (which we did not pay for!). You could often tell who was personally paying for their education, and who was going on Mom and Dad, or Grandpa, or Mr. Trust Fund.

    My comment is not meant as an absolute, as I know there are exceptions to this, but as something to think about. I like Crystal’s idea of not putting their money into a designated college fund, which gives them flexibility in helping their children in ways that God would lead, even outside of funding their children’s education.

    • Tasha says:

      I agree with above. My parents have never had a lot of money and from the beginning it was clear that we would all have to pay our way through college as they both did too. Since we knew ahead of time that we would be required to fit the bill, we worked hard in high school to earn scholarships to help with undergrad. I thought it was apparent to see those who were paying for their education and those whose parents paid for them, based on the amount of fun vs. hard work invested into their classes. Those who didn’t have to pay and were pre-med as I was ended up not getting into med school because they spent more time having fun than concentrating on their studies.

      Not each of my siblings have received enough scholarships to pay for school, others have joined the military or worked full time while attending school, but we have all learned to work hard for our education. In addition, paying for college becomes a slippery slope: some parents also give their children a stipend in addition to tuition!

      My husband and I feel that telling our children that they will be expected to pay for college through savings and scholarships and surprise them with a generous high school graduation gift AFTER they have saved as much as they could.

      • Missi says:

        Not meaning to disagree or combat your experience, but I just thought I would offer another perspective! My parents saved for college, wedding, car and other expenses for my sister (she’s still in high school) and me. We were both told in high school that school was our “job” and we needed to do our best to try to receive scholarships. I received a scholarship for tuition, but there was still a lot of expenses that I needed help with like dormitories, books, etc.

        My parents focus was on education and raising us to have strong morals and character. Although I did have summer jobs and did things like babysit, which allowed me to have a small savings, my primary focus was on education. Because of this mindset instilled by my parents, it never occurred to me to do otherwise in college. If it was apparent from my grades that I was partying and not studying, I have no doubt they would have told me that the “Bank of Mom and Dad” is closed.

        On the other hand, I had many friends in college whose parents didn’t help them and they instead took out student loans. Student loans often include living expenses so they had lots of extra money to spend on going out; it showed in their efforts/grades.

        Perhaps college achievement has less to do with if our parents give us money and more to do with the values our parents have instilled in us.

        • Lea Stormhammer says:

          I agree!

          My parents paid for 4 years of college for me out of pocket (not with saivings) on $40,000/yr income. Fourteen years later they still say it was the best money they ever spent!

          Like you my parents told me “school is your job!” I did babysit, cleaned houses and our church, cat sat, etc. for spending money but didn’t have a “real” job in high school. Their stipulation for me working in college was that I worked on campus – guaranteeing me a certain number of hours, experience and the flexibility around my classes. I did that for spending money in college at a wonderful on-campus job that gave me valuable work experience.

          My parents also knew me. At that time, working while going to school would have been too much for me and I probably would have dropped out. Loans would have bee too tempting – see how ‘extra’ money I have now! This was the best situation for US.

          I graduated with no loans and have never had to ‘borrow’ a cent from my parents for anything! I’m very pleased with that since most people I know (I’m a few months away from a PhD) have so many loans from school that they have to borrow money for just about everything – not just a home and cars!

          I think having my parents make that decision for me and them was the right one. It might not work for everyone, but for us it was the right thing.

        • Emily says:

          I agree, too. My parents paid for my tuition and I paid my living expenses. It was wonderful to graduate debt-free. Many of my friends are still paying off debt 15 years later. And imagine how hard it would be to pay off that debt for those graduating now, with so few available opportunities!

  • Emily L. Freelove says:

    Education is important, degree or pedigree is not. Corporate America is focused on degrees but then again Corporate America employs less than 1/3 of the workforce. I think that companies are finally realizing that they should hire Character and not credentials.

    Our goals/plans/unexpected circumstances are outlined here.
    http://www.savingwithaplan.com/2011/02/january-financial-check-up/

    • M says:

      I totally agree with your comment, Emily. It is not which degree or how many of them you may have, but whether or not you can solve a problem, communicate effectively, and apply yourself to the task at hand that often leads to success in your chosen field.

      I spent many years in college – nine, to be exact. I have a huge amount of debt to pay from that, but I also have 3 degrees that have gotten me “in the door” of where I’m currently employed. I’m almost in the field I studied – and that is close enough for me! College taught me the importance of being able to present yourself and your ideas in an effective manner, and to be able to “problem solve” in a logical way. As an operations engineer for the USPS I now have the opportunity to use all of the skills I’ve learned throughout my entire life – not just what I learned in college. And, I will say, most of what I do involves listening, finding a solution to whatever issue I’m tasked with, and then presenting a solution in a way that everyone is able to understand. Those skills aren’t necessarily something I learned in college. That said, I would not have gotten the position I have without the degrees as they were a requirement.

      Since graduating, I have worked in at least five different areas of engineering. I worked in a truss plant where the owner would come in the office and start yelling at someone, using profanity, calling his own sons obscene names. This man had a college degree and owned a business and I worked for him for exactly three months before I stood up one day and walked out. College did not make him a success and I’m fairly sure his business survived only because a few good people worked for him. And yet, his sons – two of the most intelligent and polite college students I’ve ever met – certainly had potential. Character makes you a success or failure – not a degree.

      I wish everyone commenting would stick to the topic and not drift off into the sniping and rude behavior – it’s not polite and it’s not productive.

  • Katherine says:

    Here is our financial update for January: http://faithfulsojourners.blogspot.com/2011/01/monthly-financial-update_31.html

    It wasn’t as exciting as past months, when we’ve paid extra on our loans, but I’m thankful that God has been faithful just to give us the funds to pay any money on our loans and bills at all. We are still plugging along and are crossing our fingers and toes to be debt free by this summer! 🙂

  • Melissa says:

    It is so inspiring to see you continually reach your goals. Nice work!

    Here is a recap of our financial goals:
    http://www.momsplans.com/2011/02/january-2011-financial-goals-update/

  • Diana says:

    Lovely entry Crystal. I believe that education is important, however college is not a necessity.
    http://howmuchisenuf.blogspot.com/search/label/Education
    Everyone has a different path in life and god needs every single person to follow that. Teachers could not teach without mom’s having children. Business owners, markets, farmers would have nothing to sell if people didn’t need things and to eat… We are so dependent on every other person in this world and we all have different gifts to contribute!

  • Hunie says:

    http://dearmarmie.blogspot.com/2011/02/january-review.html

  • Lauren says:

    My parents saved some, but not enough for me for college. I got a full tuition scholarship, so I didn’t need all of the money they saved. Because of that, I was able to do a study abroad semester, and the left over funds helped my husband and me make a down payment on our first house (it was in an UTMA account). I am so thankful for what my parents saved!

  • Beth says:

    My husband and I both have professional doctorate degrees, but know that college is not necessarily the best route for everyone. Who knows what kind of person our
    children will grow to be? We are also putting our children’s “educational” money in a non-educational account. Another thing to consider…what if your child is brilliant and gets a full ride scholarship to college? If our children don’t need the money for education we could help them buy their first home or even go on a retirement trip around the world. 😉

    • abbie says:

      Do you mind me asking what you put the money in? We have been going back and forth with where to put our children’s savings. Thank you!

  • Lise says:

    One point of clarification…many entrepreneurs greatly benefit from having college degrees both from knowledge gained and the credibility a college degree provides. Not at all saying it’s a requirement but they aren’t mutually exclusive either.

    I wish the public education system provided a better balance between college prep and trade. College isn’t for everyone and starting vocational education during high school would really give those who aren’t college bound a great start to promising work.

    • Rebecca says:

      Yes, yes, yes. I have a college degree (in English, of all things), and I am self-employed. I worked for a S&P 500 company for two years after college, then left to be a freelance business writer. My former employer has become a client (4+ years now) and various folks have referred others to me over the years.

      Last year, I made $47,000 working an average of 18 hours per week. The rest of the time, I was home with my children. This year, they’re both in preschool/lunch-program for 6 hours per day, Monday – Thursday, and I have already brought in $15,000 (since Jan 1).

      I should add here that my degree is one of those “worthless” liberal arts degrees–I was an English major. Before I went back to college, I never earned over $27,000/yr working full-time hours. Not even when I ran my own business (different type than today).

      My writing was nowhere near what it is today, either, despite being a lifelong voracious reader. My skills were tremendously improved by working with some good college professors.

      If we had a child who wanted to run a business, I would still strongly encourage that child to attend college. An education is only wasted by choice, but you can easily waste tens of thousands of dollars trying to start a business without knowing what you’re doing.

    • Crystal says:

      I definitely agree that they aren’t mutually exclusive; I’m sorry if my post seemed otherwise. My husband is both an entrepreneur and an attorney. And he definitely couldn’t be an attorney running a successful law firm if it weren’t for his seven years of schooling! 🙂

  • Mona says:

    Hi Crystal,
    I want to ask you regarding having a financial advisor. How much do you pay for one? I just want to have an idea because my husband and I also want to start having IRAs and start saving double time. We already have some savings but I wanna be able to have a sense of direction, thus I am very interested to have a financial advisor that I can trust.

    Please help. Thank you in advance!

    • Kelsie says:

      Hi Mona! My dad has been a financial advisor for about 30 years and has 25 agents working out if his agency. Both of my brothers are advisors and I just got licensed last year as well!! Can I ask, where are you located? If you go to Dave Ramsey’s website, daveramsey.com and click on Investing Endorsed Local Providor (ELP) on the right hand side you can find an advisor that is endorsed by him. You don’t pay advisors by the hour or anything like that. They simply set up what you need (such as a ROTH IRA) and are paid by commission. Small chance, but if we live in the same state I would love to help!

      • Mona says:

        Hello! Thank you for the reply. I am located here in Antioch, CA. I tried searching for an ELP but I really like someone that is referred to us and be sure that they are trustworthy. Anyone you can refer? I really want to start young with the IRA. We are in our late 20’s so I know we still have a big shot of being able to save alot for retirement.

        • Kelsie says:

          Do you have any retirement savings program through work? If you have a 401k or any pretax contribution plan I would highly recommend contributing up to the company’s match and then putting the rest into a ROTH (after tax contributions). That way, come reitrement you’ll have your income from your 401k that is being taxed as it comes out and you have your ROTH that is NOT taxed as it comes out. You can control your income tax a little better rather than having all income taxed during retirement. I hope that made sense. I’ll ask my dad if he knows anyone in your area that he would recommend.

      • Missi says:

        While there are commission based financial advisors, there are “hourly” advisors as well that can help you select retirement plans, life insurance, etc. The benefit to this would be that they have no financial incentive to endorse a particular investment over another, but instead to help find a plan that best fits your needs. There are MANY financial advisors that still recommend the best plan for you, but unfortunately there are just as many that do not.

        (Just to give some perspective: I DO use a commission only financial advisor with a company I trust, but this may not be the best decision for everyone. I have interned for companies that have well intentioned advisors that I believe to be solid people, but that recommend investments based simply on what’s best for the company because it’s their job.)

    • shannon morales says:

      We recently rolled a traditional IRA from one company into a Roth with another big name company. The lady we worked with has been a wealth of information on financial issues. She does not charge us anything and no question is too small for her!

    • Crystal says:

      Ours is paid on a commission basis. We’ve had two (one in Kansas City and one here). Ours here is not affiliated with Dave Ramsey’s ELP program, he’s just someone highly recommended to us by a trusted friend. And so far, we’ve been very impressed with him.

      We did our own research ahead of time so that we could come in with a good idea of what we’re wanting, what direction we want to take and make sure we’re not being suckered into something which isn’t in our best interest.

      Good financial advisors are definitely out there, but you have to be careful to make sure they truly have your best interests in mind.

  • Amanda says:

    We paid off another over $1K in student loan debt…WAHOO!

    But, now we are facing some potential job changes, which could mean a drop in income (or who knows, maybe a boost :)).

    I’m trying to decide whether to bump up our emergency fund (we have 3 mo. of expenses) or keep to our commitment of paying off debt….any thoughts??

    • Carolynn @ mylittlebitoflife.com says:

      I have gone to Dave’s site and found an ELP (I think that’s what they’re called) through his site. I think it cost us around $50 per account to get it all set up, however, we just put money into education accounts. I hope this helps! 🙂

    • Michelle says:

      I know that Dave Ramsey’s steps are $1,000 emergency fund, then pay off all debt (except house) then build up emergency fund to 4-6 months of living expenses – in that order. As long as the potential job changes would not be a big enough cut to deplete 3 months worth of savings anytime soon, I would continue trying to knock out the debt. If there is a drop in income, have a plan to cut monthly expenses to cover the drop. If the job could be lost in 3 months and then unemployment for 6 months, I would get back to minimum payments on debt and beef up the emergency fund. It is never cut and dried because everyone’s circumstances are different.

    • Crystal says:

      Way to go!

      Do you feel comfortable with three months expenses for your Emergency Fund? If that doesn’t feel like enough, I’d say you could bump it up a little just to give you more of a cushion and peace of mind. And then go straight back to intensely paying off debt.

  • Jen says:

    My husband and I are in our early-mid 50’s. We have worked hard to save money for retirement, and were looking forward to our “golden years”. Unfortunately, our lives were turned upside down last summer when he was diagnosed with myeloma. He will be on chemo for the rest of his life. Yes, we have insurance, but the bills we’ve already had, have taken a huge amount of our savings already. It sucks.

    • brookeb says:

      That’s sad to hear Jen. 🙁 Warm thoughts to you and your husband.

    • carla says:

      I am also sorry to hear that. I pray God will show you how He will meet your needs. Life is very uncertain, isn’t it? I am thankful to the Lord for His direction and provision in times we don’t understand.

    • Crystal says:

      🙁 Hugs, Jen!

      Do you have a good community of support around you during this difficult time?

      • Jen says:

        Our friends and family have been great during this difficult time in our lives. I’m sorry for sounding like such a grump, Crystal. As Carla said, life is very uncertain. Like so many others, I think we were just sailing through life, thinking “cancer doesn’t happen to us; it happens to the guy down the street, or the lady you see at the grocery store, but not me.” Spending so many hours at the cancer center and in the “chemo room” over the last seven months has really opened our eyes. Once you, or your loved one is diagnosed with a life-altering illness, you look at everything in a whole new way.

        • Crystal says:

          My husband is a brain tumor survivor and his mother died of cancer when he was young, so he has definitely reminded me often that life is short and uncertain. We want to cherish each day that we are healthy, because you never know what tomorrow holds.

          My heart goes out to you but I’m so grateful to hear that you have friends and family upholding and supporting you in this very difficult time of your lives.

          • Jen says:

            I didn’t realize your husband was a cancer survivor. As the spouse, you truly know how difficult a cancer diagnosis is on the spouse, as well. I never could have imagined just how hard it can be. Your positive attitude and words are a comfort to me. I hope everything continues to go well for your family.

  • Taryn says:

    I’m also wondering what kind of account you are using for your kids’ educational savings, and how you’re determining how much to put in.

  • Kimberly says:

    Crystal, thank you for your encouragement! God has blessed and used you mightily!

  • Priscilla says:

    Since earnings are so low on regular saving accounts or money markets, what kind of option did you choose for your children educational savings account? Did you get a mutual fund or pure stock?

  • kathy d says:

    Crystal,

    Ignore all the rabbit trails these comments are taking. I agree with you 100%. Hope you don’t feel it necessary to write out some big long reply explaining your perspective on college versus no college and also that you don’t erase this post just because some choose to be offended. Those who get it understand that you are simply saying this path is what’s right for YOU AND YOUR FAMILY.

    “The Lord shall fight for you and you shall hold your peace.” Exodus 14:14.

    Love, a sister in Christ

  • Candice says:

    Steve Jobs (Apple) no college degree
    Bill Gates (Microsoft) – no college degree
    Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) -no college degree
    Mary Kay Ash (Mary Kay) – no college degree
    Simon Cowell (American Idol) – no college degree
    Rachel Ray (Yummo!) – no college degree
    Debbie Fields (Mrs. Fields) – no college degree
    Coco Chanel (Famous Designer) – no college degree

    ….and many more. Just sayin’.

  • K says:

    We put our children’s money in CD’s thru our church’s conference. The more money you are able to deposit at a time the higher the interest rate. Right now we are getting between 5 1/2 and 6% interest. It’s not great, but is better than what we can get a bank. We can chose the length of years that we want to invest it for. We try to do it between 3-5 years and then we can roll it over or take the money out. The great thing about this is that the Conference uses the money for church planting and missions, so God is getting the glory.

    I’m all for letting your children decide what they want to do with their future. College is not for everyone. A degree does not necessarily make you more marketable. My oldest is seriously considering the Navy. I have conflicted feelings on this one, but I just continue to pray about it and know that God will lead the way.

  • Bridgette @ Blessings Multiplied says:

    LOVE the idea of “entrepreneurial” encouragement!!! I started my first business in junior high school with my brothers, my second business while in college, and my third with my husband. You mentioned that you didn’t pick a traditional “educational savings” if you don’t mind my asking…..what did you pick? We are researching options for our girls.

    I got a BA college degree and worked VERY hard before, during, and after college to pay for it on my own. It was a great experience for me and many of the connections made during those years continue to make an impact on my life. The values and lessons (almost more than the education) were well worth the time, energy, and money invested. Although my parents were unable to cover my college expenses they were a great source of love and encouragement during that season of my life. Plus, I met the love of my life in college too which sweetens the package! =)

    Dave Ramsey offers a lot of great advice, however, there comes a time you may want to consult with a financial manager as well.

    One of the big goals we had for the month of January was “No Grocery Shopping” except for perishables such as milk.

    http://www.blessingsmultiplied.com/2011/01/life-simplified-no-grocery-shopping

    We wanted to live off the stockpile in our pantry and freezer while cutting out the extra grocery costs. While we weren’t perfect, we were able to spend less then $30 for over 5 weeks of groceries (half being milk) and we are continuing with that goal into February! It has been a wonderful learning experience for the whole family!

  • Brooke says:

    I am also curious as to what type of account you decided on for the kids. My husband and I have the same worry. What if they decide to go a different route than college, or what if they are able to get through college with grants and scholarships? We would like to have that money free so they could use it for other purposes, but still want to make a wise investment.

    Thanks for your talent, encouragement, and all that you are so generous to share with us!

    • Sunny says:

      Maybe the rules are different from state to state. This is just for your information. In Iowa, exceptions to the penalty include a withdrawal made because the beneficiary: :
      # Received a scholarship, to the extent the withdrawal amount does not exceed the scholarship amount.
      # Has enrolled in the United States Military Academy, the United States Naval Academy, the United States Air Force Academy, the United States Coast Guard Academy, or the United States Merchant Marine Academy, to the extent that the amount of the withdrawal does not exceed the costs of advanced education attributable to such attendance.

    • Crystal says:

      Grants and scholarships are also one thing we’re taking into consideration. We’re thinking that if they end up going to college and getting a full scholarship, they can then use our savings to put towards a down payment on a home, towards starting a business or to put towards something else which will help them when they are first starting out in life.

      We’re putting the savings into UTMA (Uniformed Transfer to Minors Act) accounts. This basically puts the money in the childrens’ names allowing them access to it once old enough. We will be investing in mutual funds in the UTMA accounts.

      • Brooke says:

        Thanks for the info., Crystal. We just started looking into the UTMA accounts ourselves. It’s always nice to her what others are doing too!

        And thanks, Sunny. I’ll have to check to see if there are similar penalty exceptions in our state!

  • Jen says:

    I see a few other people already asked, but I’m also wondering how you determine how much of a lump sum to make your child’s education account “fully funded” at this point. My kids are even younger than Crystal’s, so we do have a good bit of time. I have NO IDEA what college costs (if that’s what they choose) will be that far from now. Crystal, I understand if you don’t want to share specific amounts, just wondering if anyone can give me a general idea?

  • lalalalala says:

    I think regardless of whether or not college degrees are the end all end all, it’s wonderful that so many are helping their children fulfill their dreams when they grow up. I had absolutely no financial support from my parents from the time I turned 17 and got my first job, as well as a complete lack of financial knowledge. I became so burdened with debt at such a young age (despite nearly getting a full ride to school), that I wasn’t even able to complete college the first round – I had to work multiple jobs just to pay the bills.

    I definitely hope to save money for my children when our debt is reduced and we can fully fund some other savings (emergency, retirement, etc.). Like the others, I’m curious about how you’re going about it. Maybe a future post is in order? 🙂

  • Dawn says:

    Oh my goodness! I have been laughing so hard at all of these arrogant comments I almost wet my pants!
    You see .. I have one child that is developmentally disabled and another child that has autism. College is not only optional for success in life but not even possible for some people.
    Education DOES NOT equal intelligence.
    Some people are called into the military – to mission work – to self-employment – to a specific skill set or trade – and so on.
    I do have a college degree but my calling in life is to be a full-time mother to my special needs children. My husband and I were also called to adopt a child with special needs.
    I know more unemployed or underemployed people with a Master’s degree right now than I can count.
    No one can prove that an education guarantees success or financial security.

    • Melissa says:

      Thanks for pointing this out, Dawn, as I also have a child with Autism. Unless some miracle comes along in the next 10 years, I know that college will not be an option for him. I also know that we have to look at a variety of savings plans because if he has too much money in his name when he becomes an adult, he will be unable to receive disability stipend, insurance from the state, and the approval to live in assisted-living. We do not plan to fund a traditional educational account for him, but I do want to have a trust fund for him that will allow him to have some luxuries in life after we are gone, such as vacations.
      There are so many things that need to be considered when saving for your children’s future, and I have read some posts on here that are very close-minded. We were not put on this earth to judge each other, but to love and support. I am in awe of everyone on here that thinks their opinion is the ONLY opinion. Just love your children, support them in whatever avenue they choose, and set a good example for them as they grow up!

      • Crystal says:

        Hugs to you both for being such loving parents to special needs children! That has to be one of the most difficult and unappreciated and misunderstood jobs in the whole wide world.

  • Cris says:

    Crystal, would you please think about writing a separate post on how to save for college (or simply for your kids) and what’s is the best account to invest in? While I am not yet in the position to make contributions to an account for my son, I’ve been saving all the money our family gives him for birthday or christmas (rather than buying ONE MORE toy) but as others am thorn about where to put it at. I don’t want it to have to be only used for college in case it does not happen for him.

  • Alison says:

    At this point we are just trying to get on a good budget, once we get on track start tackling student loan debt. I am in the midst of a long job search (though I have a decent job with great benefits), so its been frustrating and hard to be motivated to live within our income. However, I have been making progress with meal planning and budgeting, so hopefully this is the first step!

  • Amy says:

    Our goal has been the same for many months, and will continue to be for many months…pay down the mortgage to the point that we can sell it. We are able to save a little less than half my husband’s income to put toward this goal each month (unless something major comes up to set us back).

    We have two small children and we live in a two bedroom condo which has been fine until now, but if God chooses to bless us with another child, I’m not she where we would put it =) We’re already using the bathroom as a makeshift bedroom for Baby Girl http://livingandlearningathome.blogspot.com/2011/01/living-in-january-from-2bed2bath-to.html

    So we press on, living frugally (thanks to this site!) for the current goal of paying off our mortgage.

  • Milk Donor Mama says:

    Wow, I am surprised at all these college comments. In my Dad’s family, he was the only one to not attend college. He labored at a non-union factory and after 32 years there his peak wage was 10.25 per hour and he was terminated. He was only 51 so no pension and no social security for him. My Mom also still works there. None of her 15 siblings attended college. My Dad’s Dad did and lived a solid middle class life. My parents are the working poor / under employed / no health insurance. They instilled in me to go to college. I did and went to grad school too. We are saving in 529s for our children, but with those, if the kids don’t use them, we can, or we can gift them to someone else or even donate them to charity and get the tax benefit of that.

    I agree you don’t have to go to college to do well in life. *However*, I think the experience of a well rounded education can be beneficial. I studied biology as an undergrad and took classes at Chicago’s Field Museum, I took a class taught by a man who spent years in Russia and was followed by the KGB- he arranged for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra to play for us not once, not twice, but THREE times for a private concert for our class (God bless you Dr. Weil!). Those were experiences that changed my life.

    Now all that said, I am hoping to become a stay at home mom soon, even though I have a Masters degree. My two children, husband, cats and home are my priority now, rather than success in a career.

  • We tackled the retirement/college savings this month too, and like you, I decided to forego the 529 accounts for exactly the same reasons you did.

    I ended up using some of my college savings to buy my piano (which has allowed me to earn so much money by teaching and playing for weddings, church services and such), and I want my children to have the freedom to do something like that.

  • Kristine says:

    I have been reading this blog this morning and am amazed at the controversy this has caused. I think it is incredibly brilliant to fund your child’s future. Crystal is not limiting her children by telling them what their future is. I think this promotes creativity and self-confidence. Why people are criticizing her is ridiculous. Crystal writes a blog to inspire and give out ideas. If you don’t like it, there is a little x you can click that is on top, to the right on the page. Click it and you don’t have to read it.
    My family has always gone to college and it was expected. But now, being a teacher (a special-education teacher that is), I have learned that not everyone is cut out for college and that what we should except from our children is hard work and success. Crystal’s children are going to feel the support from their parents to pursue that, whatever it might look like.
    And for the person that was criticizing spelling, I am a teacher and have a Master’s Degree and I can’t spell and punctuate worth a lick! 🙂

  • Jennifer C. says:

    I had never thought about funding college in a “non 529” account. Thanks for the tip. Like you said, Crystal, I think it’s important for our children to follow God’s lead in their life (college or no college…)

  • Sandi says:

    Well we just paid off my van and we pay cash for almost everything anymore pretty amazing! Working on our last credit card then we will be debt free except for the house AWESOME!!

  • Cathy Davenport says:

    Wow, some of the comments are very harsh about the college thing. I really didn’t think it was that big of a deal when I read it on your post.

    Anyway, I did do a post – an update of my yearly goals, not just financial ones. If you want to read it, here it is: http://tnstayinthecarmom.blogspot.com/2011/02/february-goal-checkup.html .

    Have a wonderful weekend.

  • Chris says:

    In January, I was able to get things started to contribute 10%+ in my IRA for the year. 🙂
    Now, I need to get my estate planning in place. I’ve delayed this for two years. It’s well past time.

  • Whitney @ Baby Got Budget says:

    What great goals! I just wrote an article on goal setting. Our goals have changed in the last couple of months since I’m a house-wife but we are scrimping and saving every penny! 🙂 I would love for you to check out my blog at http://www.babygotbudget.blogspot.com!

  • Chris says:

    I also wanted to say that my parents set aside some money for my siblings and I in the 1970s. It ended up just being a few thousand dollars, but I also received scholarships, grants and worked through college. My sister used hers when she got married out of high school. My brother, well. He planned on just saving the money for a rainy day. He saved the money for well over a decade. Then the bank changed hands and that bank ended up charging monthly fees for dormant accounts. My brother never opened the bank statements until the money was eaten by the fees.

  • Christina says:

    Please share what type of accounts you set up for your children.

  • nanasewn says:

    Our generation did not expect parents to pay for our future, whether college or otherwise. We were not wealthy so it was never an issue. In these difficult economic times it may be all you can do to care for your young families with love and acceptance and not have to worry about whether you are having all your childrens future ducks in a row. I cannot imagine the added stress at a time when families are concerned with feeding their family today! We are not promised tomorrow in any way and life will take many turns between now and then. Comparing ourself to what others have or are able to choose, may cause us to be jealous, bitter and miss the joy of today. I have known parents who have funded their childrens futures by sacrificing their present…..perhaps not the best lesson taught. Each must choose from their own circumstances. It would be interesting to peek in on the parenting decisions of Candices examples above.

    • nanasewn says:

      Forgot to add…MSM is doing a wonderful job of showing us the possibilities of life and she too reminds often ….to choose from our own circumstance. Thank you MSM

  • Jeanna says:

    Crystal and Jesse are doing a wonderful job with this blog. The thing that has been forgotten here is for people to be positive which iswhat Crystal’s blog is all about. In the words of her good friend Jessica
    “Let’s use our big girl words when we choose to write a comment”
    The blog is all about encouraging each other let’s not loose site of that!

  • Kassandra @ Budgeting Mommy says:

    I love these posts!!!! They are so inspiring and I love seeing how fast you can accomplish goals when you have no mortgage… which makes me work that much harder to save on EVERYTHING so that we can pay off this little 1150 sq.ft. home we live in! Thanks to many of the suggestions I’ve read on this website (which led me to Dave Ramsey) we’ve completely changed our ways of live, we live debt free other than the mortgage and we are focusing on saving and paying off our house! Thank you for all of the inspiration! Here is a look at our goals for ourselves and our little “fixer-upper” house!

    http://budgetingmommy.blogspot.com/2011/02/our-2011-financial-goals-update-for.html

  • [email protected] The Dollar Hollering Homemaker says:

    Lets play nice:)

    Congrats on all your hard work! We just finished paying off all of our credit card debt. Next up, car loan:)

  • Spendwisemom says:

    We have one and maybe another wedding this year and that has changed our goals considerably since we want to pay cash for all of it. We also have kids in college. All now have scholarships and are paying their own way, which is very helpful. We won’t be paying more than our $300 per month extra on our mortgage and won’t be doing any investing this year. But, a wedding is a wonderful thing and not having any bills to pay after it is over is going to be fantastic.

  • KS says:

    We actually started Dave Ramsey’s plans over 5 years ago, but didn’t stick with it. We spent this whole time digging ourselves deeper into debt and not saving anything.

    So our goals are not awe-inspiring like most. We’re just trying to fix our mess…so out came the Ramsey books from the attic and here is the list:
    1. Make a budget
    2. Reinstate the envelope system and cut up plastic
    3. Bring any past due or over limit accounts current
    4. Start the initial emergency fund

    So far so good. A little jealous I’m reading about people contributing to various savings accounts…but no one to blame but ourselves for the mess we are in. We’ll get there someday!

  • Tammy says:

    Crystal may not have gone to college but did take an online course that had something to do with paralegal-it was so she could understand Jesse’s job better.Please explain that one again.I am not sure but I would think if she had wanted to this online certificate could have helped in a job .

    The argument of college vs non college is a very old one and very argumentative.Who knows what life will be like in 13 years when their oldest is old enough to go to college or not go.Many go to college and many not.Good thing Jesse went to college so there would be good Christian lawyer around.Some get lucky on getting jobs without degrees but that is NOW.I have many friends who have gotten jobs without degrees but if somebody walked in the same medical or dental office library without a degree they would be laughed at and told to get one.Times have changed and again they will. New jobs are created every day and then some die out.I for one can’t ever work at a photo processing plant thanks to digital cameras.

    Also many of the names mentioned of famous people who have no degrees at one time went to college and dropped out.The timing of the technology field was so new they invented it and they didn’t need the degrees.

    • Crystal says:

      Yes, I got my paralegal certification through an online course. And yes, I could have used this to get a job as a paralegal if I had gone on to sit for the exam.

      I think a college degree is a necessity in many fields — legal, medical, etc. We’ll see how God leads our children when the time comes for them to start considering higher education, careers, etc.. 🙂

  • Mary says:

    To anyone asking why would you start a fund with a “lump sum” rather than put in money over time…I am currently reading “Financial Peace” and Dave (we all know what Dave I’m talking about!) gives an illustration that is very easy to understand. I’ll try to sum it up:

    Ben and Arthur – both save at 12% – both save $2,000 per year. Ben starts at age 19 and stops at 26. Arthur starts at age 27 and stops at 65.

    In a nutshell, Ben puts in $2k per year for 8 years = $16,000. He winds up with nearly $2.3 million dollars at age 65.

    Arthur doesn’t put in anything for the first 8 years, and then puts in $2k a year for the next 38 years ($76k total) and he winds up with $1.5 million at age 65. That is the beauty of compounding interest!

    12% is completely possible (check out Vanguard) – and heck, if you have 16 grand lying around, put it all in the first year at 12%. $16,000 put in savings at 12% compounded yearly = $50560 after 18 years.

    • Anna J says:

      I think your math is off – $16,000 at 12% compounded for 18 years I get over $123,000! Making your point even better 🙂

      • Mary says:

        I ran a bunch of different calculations and must have looked at the wrong output – sorry! Simple savings calculators are available online – I used bankrate.com (or should I say, tried to use…LOL)

  • Tara says:

    I can’t believe the turn the comments have taken on this.

    I feel that Crystal was merely making the point that not everybody fits into the “one size fits all” catagory when it comes to college. I wholeheartedly agree with her on that. For our family, it’s important to have the funds for our children to attend college – that doesn’t mean that they MUST do that. My husband has a college degree, and earns a good living. My brother-in-law, with no degree, had a “paid for” house in the nicest neighborhood in their area when he was 35 years old. It’s not all about “book smarts”. People are wired differently and excel in different areas. Thank God. It’s a shame that some people think that a piece of paper makes them “better” than others that may not have had the opportunity or desire to go to college. It’s also unfortunate that along with that college degree doesn’t come good manners and the ability to appreciate a different point of view – whether you agree with it or not.

  • Paula says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more, Crystal! My husband and I both have bachelor’s degrees. I am currently a stay-at-home mom/nanny (not using my degree at the moment) and DH is an elementary school teacher, so we have a lot of student loan debt and not much income to show for it. On the other hand, my dad and brother are both construction workers. Neither of them have a college education and they make far more money than us! When deciding how to invest for our son’s future, we chose NOT to utilize a 529 plan because we do not know what his future will hold. Aside from the points that several people have already made, there is one that I feel has been overlooked. It is possible that he will choose to go to college, but will receive academic, athletic, or need-based grants/scholarships that cover a great deal of his education. If that is the case or if he chooses a career that does not require college, we would like the money to be available for something else such as starting a business, paying for trade school/apprenticeship/internship, or perhaps buying his first home. Our only requirement will be that the money be used on something of lasting value that will help launch him into his adult life (no motorcycle or expensive honeymoon!)

    To each his own, I say. Every parent is responsible to God for making choices that they feel are in the best interest of their child(ren). Crystal was just sharing the choice that they had made for their own family. She was in no way insisting that everyone else should do the same thing for their family. I don’t think any of us need to be critical of anyone else’s choices in this area as it is a matter of preference, not a moral issue. Thanks for sharing your financial ideas, decisions, and progress with all of us, Crystal. You’re doing a great job. Keep up the good work!

  • Laurie Villotta says:

    I guess the question I have for Crystal is how are you and Jesse investing this money for your childre? What route? I completely agree that not everyone is college material. Like Crystal I want some money to be there for whatever my children would like to pursue. I do not believe in the 529 plans at all. From many top known money people Dave Ramsey and Suzie Orman they both like the idea of an educational IRA. I do not know all the specifics,but I am interested in having my origianl questions answered. The responses should have never turned into a debate about having a college degree that was no the intent of Crystals origianl post. Many of you did not read her goals clearly and started bashing her before you should have posted.
    Laurie

  • Elysha says:

    I am currently writing my dissertation, and will graduate with a Ph.D. in May (fingers crossed).
    Can I just say I have learned more from Crystal and Dave Ramsey regarding money and financing than I have from 12 years of college? I am currently 100K in school loan debt and though the journey has been interesting, I wish I could start all over again and do it all without debt. Live and learn, right?

    I admire your honesty and transparency Crystal. Keep up the great work. I hope to be debt free in two years 🙂

  • Allyson @ a Heart for Home says:

    Because of your 31 Weeks to a Better Grocery Budget I decided to scale back our weekly groceries to $25 per person. Our family is 2 adults and 3 children under 4. I know $25 seems like a lot, but we eat completely organic and since we were unable to have a large garden this past summer we’re paying full price for organic produce in the middle of the winter.

    Needless to say, I can’t wait until the farmer’s markets open again.

    By the way I hope to get down to $22 per person per week this month. We live on a college campus with lots of other families who are very busy and struggling financially. We want to use the extra $15 each week to prepare meals for the families around us.

    Thank you for all of your encouragement! You’ve really helped me to think outside the box when it comes to handling our money and blessing others!

  • Davonne says:

    My husband and I finished paying off a credit card last night!!!!! Two down, one to go. (We paid off the first card in September.) We are incredibly excited – I can finally see the light at the end of this debt tunnel!

    Thank you for your inspiring and well-educated blog, Crystal 🙂

  • Jennifer says:

    Crystal – I’d love to hear more about the kind of accounts you’ve chosen to set up for your children. I, too, do not expect my children to attend college. We’ve been saving money for them, but have not yet put it in any type of investment account because every time we broach the subject, our bank tries to get us to put it into a 529. When we explain that we want the kids to be able to access the money for things other than college, they look at us like we have two heads (each). “Why wouldn’t you want your kids to go to college???” Like we’re imbeciles.

    Truth is, neither DH or I finished college, and we’ve gained MUCH more experience in real life and through apprentice-type programs. I see my sister and her husband, both with Master’s Degrees, barely able to make ends meet. I’m kind of the “black sheep” of the family, the only one not to finish college, but in reality, both my husband and myself are much happier in our life choices than all my (5) and his (1) siblings that did complete college. We have nothing against higher education (except the exorbitant cost!), and if our children want to go to college, that’s fine with us. But we don’t expect them to do it, just because “that’s what you do” and I think that mindset offers much more freedom in pursuing dreams.

    But back to my original question. We’d love to have the money that we’re setting aside for the kids earning more than 0.3% in a savings account. Could/Would you be able to share what type of account you’ve set up for your children?

    Thanks! for this particular post, and for all you contribute. 🙂

    • Jennifer says:

      Never mind – found your comment to Brooke. (I skipped past many of the comments after some of them turned ugly, then scrolled up from the bottom after I posted mine). Thanks!

  • sue says:

    Anyone have ideas for saving when very little money is coming in. My husband owns his own electrical construction business and when there is no jobs there is no income. We are fortunate to own our house and car, so no debt but we still have minimal bills such as utilities , taxes and insurance. And to give 10% of nothing, is nothing. I’m good at the drugstore game so I usually can make money there, but still nothing to save.

    • Crystal says:

      Could your husband possibly do something else on the side which could serve as a fallback when there aren’t a lot of electrical construction jobs available? That would be my suggestion, without knowing more details regarding your situation.

    • Freebies says:

      How about if you are good at the “drugstore game” giving a couponing class. Charge what you think might be worth your time.

      jen

    • Gail says:

      Would your husband consider smaller electrical jobs than what I am assuming is major electrical construction jobs? For example, a neighbor recently had all her dated ivory colored electrical outlets and light switches changed out for white ones, as well as some light fixtures and ceiling fan. He might want to Realtors and work with them for leads. Many people need electrical work when they are buying or selling. (I know I do!) I also see electrician business cards posted at Hardware Stores. Not sure if that works or not. Hope this helps.

  • Freebies says:

    There is a great article in this months Woman’s Day about If Kids Should go to College or Not. I really enjoyed it.

    here’s the link if you don’t get a subscription:
    http://www.familycircle.com/teen/college/do-kids-need-college/

    jen

  • Blair says:

    This is all very interesting with the college and retirement discussions, but I want to know about the cruise you mentioned previously. Don’t forget to budget for that! Not that you would or anything, I just didn’t see it there. I think you and your husband would really like it. It’s a very relaxing vacation and, frugally speaking, probably the best way to maximize your vacation dollars.

  • Angie says:

    I feel strongly about this too:

    I tend to be rather counter-cultural in believing that traditional college is not necessarily a necessity for every single young person.

    I’m trying to explain that belief to my Mom, and she doesn’t understand. “Everyone must go to college” is one of those “pearls” of conventional wisdom I always question such as:

    1. It is always good to have a Plan B – I feel with a Plan B, one sometimes entertains failure as an option for Plan A.

    2. Living together before marriage is always smart – I realize it’s a personal decision and I try to avoid being controversal, but I really don’t believe it would have been a smart choice for me.

  • marisa says:

    I’m currently in grad school in the UK, and will probably still do even further college education after my Master’s. The university setting has been a great way for me to learn, travel, and improve myself overall. However, I completely agree that college, particularly of the 4-year university type, is not for everyone. Education is a different matter. It can be achieved through volunteer work, on the job training, self-study, etc. I also believe that community colleges and vocational training are absolutely fantastic choices, and I met some of the most motivated and brilliant students in these settings. It’s fantastic that you are giving them these options and support.
    In regards to whether college = a higher paying job, I’m of two minds. Yes, I feel that I’ve developed my interpersonal and analytical skills through my college experiences, and that has played a key role in my successes as an employee. Yet none of my jobs so far have been directly related to my degree; I’ve got them all through networking and positive relationships. I am continuing with my education not because I think it’ll immediately guarantee me some posh job, but because I really believe in what I do (and think eventually I could get that posh job out of it, just not today – hehe!). So there really is no one size fits all approach.

  • billie says:

    will you talk more about saving for opportunities other than college? That sounds really interesting. Would you mind sharing how much or how you came up with your ‘lump sum’ amount? thanks!

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