One of my biggest love languages is giving gifts. I am not interested in finding deals or cutting costs when it comes to finding that perfect gift for someone. We have a lot of birthday traditions that we cherish in our family, some cost money and others are free with a little thought behind them. For us, giving gifts is important but does not impact our other financial goals. So that means we just have to plan in advance.
For the next 10 years we have multiple major milestones every year, including milestone birthdays, high school graduations and college graduations and anniversaries. Yes! Every year for the next 10 years, we will have milestone birthdays, high school graduations, college graduations and anniversaries. Oh yeah, all five of the kids will be attending college during this time as well.
Budgeting for birthday’s and Christmas are treated as an irregular expense. These are things that hit the budget only once or possibly more a year but aren’t every month. The basics are to take all of the costs for birthday’s in your immediate family, any close relatives you buy gifts for, friends of yours and your kids add all of this up and divide by twelve. This is the amount you save per month.
For birthday’s we go out to dinner to a place that the person celebrating the birthday choices. My favorite part of the birthday dinner, and how we make it more special, is that we go around the table and everyone says at least three things that they love about the birthday person. For a family of 7 it’s hard for us to eat out anywhere under $150.
If we host a party at a place like Pump It Up (indoor inflatable bounce houses) or AZ Airtime (indoor trampoline park), we spend about $300 for an experience and a small gift. If we host a party at our house then we still spend around $300 between food, drinks and maybe a larger gift and card. It was easier to budget less for gifts when they were younger but one individual item now adds up. Some of the kids have passed on a party if they want a nicer gift.
Each birthday ends up costing around $450 between the dinner, party and gift. This is a huge amount of money to try to handle in your budget if you haven’t planned for it. The dinner we take out of our monthly entertainment budget and adjust how many times we eat out in a birthday month to accommodate. Then, we need to budget $300 for 7 people for gifts and parties. That is $2,100 for the year or $175 that we put away every month for our birthday celebrations. We have two birthdays in May and two in October, so spreading out the expenses really helps us to stay on budget and focused on our financial goals without worrying where the money is going to come from.
This does not include relatives, friends or friends of the kids we buy gifts for so make sure you add those into your budget as well. For major milestones we do something different than the normal gift budget. For example, for their 13th birthday, each kid has gotten to pick a place and take a trip somewhere in the US, just them and us. I can’t share the other milestone celebration gifts, or it would ruin the surprise!
Here is a snapshot of our next 10 years and all these amazing celebrations!
2019 High School Graduation, 18th birthday, 16th birthday & 8th grade promotion
2020 16th birthday, 13th birthday, 8th grade promotion.
2021 High School Graduation, 18th birthday, 16th birthday.
2022 21st birthday, 18th birthday, 8th grade promotion.
2023 High School graduation, 18th birthday, 16th birthday, 50th birthday, college graduation.
2024 High school graduation, 21st birthday.
2025 21st birthday, 18th birthday, college graduation, 50th birthday.
2026 High School graduation, 21st birthday.
2027 College graduation
2028 College graduation, 21st birthday.
2030 College graduation
What an amazing decade of celebrations this will be, and it will also be a very expensive decade. As long as we make a plan and stick to it, we will be set!
Before my divorce, life was about being the perfect wife, mom, employee, friend and daughter. I put so much pressure on myself and never asked for help. I thought sharing anything I was going through would be a burden on other people. I was always there for others and helping them through their life challenges but never opened up about what I was going through. After my divorce, I went through a lot of counseling. Actually, I still do. A big priority, at the time, was to help me open up to other people and ask for help.
What resonated with me the most with the counselor was that I was “preventing true friendships by not opening up. By not sharing my challenges with others I wasn’t letting those people connect with me.” He challenged me to tell two people my life story. At that point, I had never told anyone my whole story, not even my ex-husband. I chose to open up to my longest friend and the guy I was dating at the time. I shared the circumstances that led to me being raised by my grandparents. I talked about the two years I did live with my mom during my teen years, where we lived in five different places and at times had only a can of green beans for dinner. Both of them were so amazing and made me feel safe.
It made me realize that I was really missing out on fulling connecting with people by not opening up. We have a need sometimes to portray life as perfect, but it never is perfect. The more I work with moms, the more I realize it’s not just me or my issues. We, as moms, have set unrealistic expectations on ourselves. Why do we think we are superhuman and have more than the 24 hours everyone else has?
What are we doing by not asking for help? For example, by teaching the kids to make their own breakfasts, are we preventing them a chance to have some control over their lives and what they eat? Are we preventing them from learning responsibility? Are we missing opportunities to teach the value of helping others and working together as a family? Are we teaching them not to ask for help?
When we stop and change our perspective, asking for help isn’t just about us, it’s about helping others as well.
Recently during one of my Life Balance sessions, the mom was telling me about how only a couple of moms are real and open up about challenges they are going through. I am not suggesting that we share all of our problems with everyone. But why do we pretend that our life is perfect? It isn’t. We need to change our expectations of ourselves. Let’s let other people help in order to really have less stress in our lives. Not being able to ask for help can be very isolating and lonely.
I have two challenges for you this week. The first is to ask for help every day with something. You may have to slow down and take the time to teach or explain how you do it, but you will notice how much your life can be less stressful. We all can get help. We just have to ask.
The next challenge is to open up to at least two people about what is going on in your life. It can be a spouse, friend, counselor or life coach, like me, but just try it as it can drastically change the level of connections and friendships that you have. You don’t have to share your whole story but find something that is personal and start with the words, “can I tell you something that I have been struggling with? It would be a great help to me for you to just listen.” It’s helped me tremendously and my marriage now is so much stronger. We have a stronger bond than I could have ever imagined.
Are you preventing people from truly knowing and loving you? Only you can change that.
2/5/2019 0 Comments
Lack of communication, constant arguing, unrealistic expectations and lack of equality are all in the top ten for reasons for divorce. When was the last time you had a healthy conversation with your partner on how the household responsibilities are divided?
The responsibilities in the house will never be equal for several reasons and keeping score is not what a healthy relationship is all about. Follow this four step process to have a healthy conversation about how things are divided now and how you can both better support each other.
Discuss potential reasons for current division of responsibilities.
What chores did your mom take care of and how about your dad? What are the differences between the two of you in how you were raised in regard to chores and what kids took care of? Then have a conversation about what you thought they did well and what you want to do differently to get on the same page.
Is one of you a clean freak or super organized? Is there one of you that just takes charge to get things done? Does this cause friction between the two of you? Keep in mind that that you will both never love doing all of the chores.
Does one of you love to cook? Like doing laundry? Talking through what you like doing the most can help you divide things up into things that you like to do or are good at to help make things easier on each other.
Sometimes we get sick or have health challenges and need to step in and help get the other persons typical responsibilities done. This is just part of being a great partner.
Responsibilities outside of the home.
Does one of you have a job that has flexibility over the other person? Does one of you have a longer commute? Making sure you are acknowledging each other and the contribution you make to the family financially, time wise, and task completion and share your appreciation.
Review current division of responsibility.
As part of a few of the courses I teach, we discuss how things are currently divided. If things are stressful or not getting done, we first look at ways to find more time and spend less money. This helps us find someone outside to help with chores or find time for us to develop skills to get better at some of the tasks. Could the kids be doing more to help? Do you want to hire someone to help if it’s in your budget?
Revise division of responsibility.
After you have talked everything through what do you want to do differently? How do you want to get the kids involved? Do you want to hire someone to help if it’s in your budget?
End the conversation with a solid game plan and commitment to each other to follow through. Don’t forget to say thank you and show your appreciation. Life is hard and there is always stuff to get done. As a team you can tackle it together!
The first step to getting more time back is to prioritize the most important relationships in your life. I can’t think of anyone in my life that isn’t time starved including myself. We are all trying to do everything for everyone and a lot of the time not doing it well because we are stretched so thin. However, If we stop and look who we interact with each day and rank their importance, then the order in which we allocate time to them would most likely shift.
I have found the best way to get life balance is to put your relationships in order this way: God first, then self, spouse next, then immediate family, friends and lastly everyone else. Understand your priorities by making a list of the people you spend time with and how much time you spend with them. Are you spending the quantity and quality of time with the relationships that are most important to you? Put your day through a daily check-list of who is getting your time, and in what order, so you will help yourself stay accountable and know that you are focusing on the people most important to you.
The hardest priority for most people is to put themselves above everyone else outside of God. Instead of looking at it as being selfish, like we usually do, we need to make a mental shift that taking care of ourselves will allow us to take care of everyone else and to set a good example. Think of yourself as a cup that you need to fill every day. If you only fill your cup halfway, how much do you have for anyone else? But if you overflow your cup, you have plenty for other relationships in your life. Stay tuned for tips on how to make time for yourself and all your relationships. In the meantime, think through how you have been distributing time currently and are you truly taking time for the most important relationships.
So why do I use the phrase Do Life Better? It came from a series of conversations with people that were asking me how I manage to juggle 5 kids, making time for my spouse and myself all while working professionally full-time. Life will never be perfect so all we can do is to find ways to make it a little better. Since the fall of 2010, I have been on a mission to learn as much as I can through books, online courses, in-person courses and counseling about the parts of my life that seemed out of whack.
Financial Tips Course: This one came first for me because at the beginning of this learning process I had a job change that was a significant pay cut and I had less than $1,000 in the bank. I couldn’t even do a budget because I had no clue how I was spending my money. I started with Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover and watching Suzie Orman on TV. I am now a Dave Ramsey certified financial coach. If you are familiar with the Dave Ramsey Baby Steps my husband and I are now on Baby Step 7 and have been since May of 2017. My financial tips course take his Baby Steps but breaks them down and incorporates some of the tips that have worked well for us. Setting goals for your finances, setting a budget and managing that budget on a regular budget are the three keys to financial success. Learn how to do these three things through this course.
Meal Planning and Prep Tips Course: When I finally did track where my money was going I learned that a huge portion was going towards eating out. As a single mom with two young boys in practices and running around everywhere I thought it was easier to just grab food out but what I realized it wasn’t saving me time, it was making a huge dent in my budget but it also wasn’t reducing stress because I didn’t have a plan. When I started making a plan not only did it save time and money but more importantly it let us sit down and actually have dinner together which is priceless. Getting time to have meals as a family and less stress when it comes to meal times are the goals for this course.
Life Balance Tips Course: When this journey started I was a single mom with two young boys. I felt like I was doing everything poorly and never had time for myself. I needed to spend time in counseling being able to learn how to give myself the permission to make myself a priority. By setting goals for the different parts of my life it not only help me find out what was important it helped me tremendously with time management. If something wasn’t working towards those goals or spending time with the most important people in my life it was cut out. Finding more time in your life is the key benefit of this course.
Healthy Marriage Tips Course: After going through a divorce and several toxic relationships while dating I needed to spend some time figuring out what I had done wrong in those relationships and what I wanted in a future partner. I have been remarried since April of 2014 and now know what it’s like to be in a healthy relationship. We work on it every week not just when things in life are tough. The tips in the course are to help make sure you are on the same page in life when life happens. Because it will.
Parenting Tips Course: I am now a mom of a blended family of 5. Parenting is hard alone when you are married but if you are single parenting or parenting a blended family it can bring on additional challenges. Imagine having to find ways to co-parent with 4 different people. I found myself constantly nagging and reminding them to do things over and over again. Being a bad parent is easy, being a good parent that sets expectations and holds them accountable is hard work. This course helps you have a plan so everyone in the house is helping and on the same page so you can spend less time arguing and more time enjoying time together.
If you would like to learn more about the courses please sign up for a free 20-minute consultation.