Tag Archives: pets

Planning for College…at 13 years old?

When I was in high school, I was clueless about the college process.  I had a vague notion that I would go.  I was in a college prep magnet school after all.  Everyone in my school was expected to go to college or university.  But I didn’t have a real vision of college.  Or what to do to prepare myself.  Or, how much it would cost.

Fortunately  I was a good standardized test taker and my SATs made me desirable to colleges.  But including my grades, not desirable enough to offer huge scholarships. My mother, God bless her, paid for the majority of my undergrad education.  I only had to take out a few small loans.

Ironically, I wound up working as a recruiter for colleges and universities once I graduated.  I educated high school students and families what to do to prepare themselves and their finances for college attendance.  And now, I want to use all that expertise to prepare Mirror Image.  And I want to do it too much.

Fortunately, when Mirror Image was in elementary school, she developed into a very bright student.  Loved learning, loved delighting her teachers and loved being the best student.  She was competitive. She carried the good grades into Middle School where she has been on the Honor Roll and Principal’s List and last week, was inducted into the National Junior Honor Society.

If she wants to, she can parlay her natural abilities into high school success and eventual college scholarships.

This has made me a bit greedy strategic in my thinking.

I want a paid college experience for her soooo bad.  I want it soooo much that I am really pushing her to get the best possible grades, stay on the honor roll NO MATTER WHAT. And, I am going to push her to get an associates degree while in high school.  Our County offers this with the local community college – earning an A.A. while earning a high school diploma.

Only paying for 2 years of college (excluding any types of scholarships, of course) is a HUGE savings.  Plus, it allows us to invest more in advance degrees, which she will likely need, if she continues to love the idea of a career in STEM.

But she doesn’t quite appreciate my nagging enthusiasm.  That is because she is not mother of a lovely bright daughter paying the mortgage, supporting an excitable destructive German shepherd dog, currently replacing the hot water heater (more on that in another post) who now knows the value of stretching yourself a bit more for big payoffs at the end.

I think when she is a mom of a genius, she will appreciate me then.

Don’t you?

Question – How early do you think families should start the college planning process?

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Good Doggy, Expensive Doggy

16 week old Golden Retriever puppy scratching fleas with leg in motion on a white background "Missy"

My doggy hasn’t been doing so well.  And we are both paying for it.

Last year, I decided to opt out of the Banfield Care Plan (The veterinary practice that is set up in PetSmart stores) because I found it expensive and inefficient.

What I loved about it was that from a scheduling perspective, I was always on top of teeth cleaning, regular exams and shots.  What I didn’t like was that I could never make the numbers match in my favor.  I was paying around $30 per month (young healthy dog plan) and even with the built-in discounts, I was still paying too much for teeth cleanings and the like.  So, I decided to just put a little aside each month to account for the teeth cleanings (around $200+), along with the exam costs (around $40) and save a little cash.

And then along came a case of the cooties.  Ewww.

The poor pooch was diagnosed with a yeast infection that stretched from her ears to her bottom.  Between the exam, tests and prescriptions, her tab came to about $500.  Ouch.

The good news is that she seems to be getting better. A lot less itching, that is for sure.

So here are some takeaways from the pet adventure that never should have been:

  • When the dog is scratching incessantly, do not wait any longer than you have to, to arrange a vet visit.  We may have been able to keep this at a more manageable allergic reaction rather than the yeast infection from hell if I had recognized her issues earlier
  • Some prescriptions for dogs can be filled by pharmacies that cater to humans.  The anti-fungal medication the Vet prescribed would have cost $143 at Banfield.  It cost $88 at Sam’s Club.
  • I am my pet’s advocate.  I have to learn to listen to what she cannot say.
  • YouTube has a video on everything!  I had never heard of this yeast infection condition before known as malassezia.  Yet, lo and behold, I looked it up and there were many peeping-Tom videos of owners helping their dogs, inexpensively, through the recuperation.  Their secret to success?  Selsun Blue. I grabbed a coupon off coupons.com and bought a bottle from Target.  After she finishes her medication at the end of the week, I am taking her to a Dog wash and treating her to a bath.
  • Dog washes are only $10 at PetValue!  Not chasing the dog around the backyard to bathe?  Priceless!!!

Here is to wishing all of our pets a happy and healthy holiday season!

Mirror

 

 

Thrifty Image

A Look into Bizarro Land

Bizarro

For the past 8 years, I have lived, with Mirror Image, in a neat little cottage in an established, if not a little worn, quiet neighborhood.  I have had 3 cars since moving in (future post!) and have had 4 different full-time jobs as well.

We have bought clothes and furniture. We’ve donated clothes and furniture. We repainted rooms, replaced plumbing and hosted more delicious, laughter-filled family gatherings than I can remember.  I have exercised religiously in that house, and eaten full sheets of homemade white chocolate chip cookies on the living room sofa.

Since I moved in, I have had 7 different mobile phones in that time from 4 different carriers, while Mirror Image has had 2 phones from discount provider FreedomPop. We have also watched tv with 5 different cable packages from 2 different cable companies.

We have enjoyed 2 beautiful loving dogs and sadly, lost one.

I have also saved, consistently and sacrificially,  to various accounts like – Mirror Image’s College 529, Roth IRAs, Emergency Funds, Vacation Funds and several mutual funds through Schwab. This is in addition to my 401K savings throughout the years.

This is what I do.  Purposefully and frugally I save 25-30% of my annual salary. I also donate another 11%.  This means I sometimes don’t purchase what others have.  At least not right away. It means putting my future ahead of my present. And I am just fine with that.

And then there is Mirror Image. With her constant awareness of trends and commercials advertising STUFF, she is more interested in consumerism. Her questions and desires have made me wonder lately, what would my life look like if my savings and donations budgets were less or zero. So I decided to turn it into a game… These are some game titles I liked

  1. The NO Vision Board
  2. A Game of Spends
  3. The Walking Consumer
  4. Clue(less)

Here is how I would “win” the game:

My cute, relatively easy to clean cottage with an $867 mortgage payment would be replaced with either a 3,000 sq ft house or a kick-butt downtown loft at minimum $2,000 monthly payment

My gently used, new to me Nissan Rogue with no monthly payment, would be replaced with a 2017 Audi Q7 starting at $54,800. So even with a 20% down payment, that’s a $1200 payment each month for 3 years.  That’s only if I don’t add any upgrades.

Mirror Image would be carrying the new iPhone potentially priced at about $1,000 and combined with a $50 phone plan from one of the major carriers.  By the way, ALL of the classmates have the latest cell phones (she reminds me daily). This would be in place of her FREE plan she has now with FreedomPop.

Not to be outdone by my kid, I would have the latest Samsung Galaxy priced at about $700.  Also with a $50 phone plan.  This would be instead of the $10 plan I have and love now with Republic Wireless.

We would travel first class when we fly.  Because “why not?” So, conservatively $1,000 each domestic round-trip ticket.

I would buy more clothes to fill the now gigantic closets of the new house/loft.  Our clothing allowance would rise from around $200 each August and December to coincide with Back to School and Christmas shopping to at least $200 per month to accommodate our new social life, fashion seasons debuts and those times when we realize, after perusing our bulging closets, we have nothing to wear. I would also need new clothes to accommodate my anticipated weight gain because…

Our restaurant budget will increase. Instead of going out to eat an average of less than once per month, we would likely go out to eat 3-4 times per week. spending roughly $50 per meal would be a conservative guess.

I would also need to hire a housekeeper to clean the larger home. A dog walker because I will be too busy eating out and showing off my fancy clothes to do it. I would need to allocate more money to hire a travel agent to handle my upclassed travel. I would also need to pay someone to clean my car weekly because a beautiful machine like the Audi Q7 should be kept in tip-top shape.  And people in my new neighborhood don’t wash their own cars.

Did I really ‘win’?

I see the appeal in the trappings.  In fact, before having Mirror Image, I lived some of these trappings and yet still saved regularly.  Being a SINK for me meant being RICH. Fancy travel, shiny cars, big house with double car garage (with only one car) and lots and lots of eating out with friends.

But that is not my life anymore and now the price of a fancy meal isn’t the meal cost but a lack of investment in the future. Paying for that fancy car means not being prepared for job losses during a fickle economy. Buying more of those important things means maintaining, insuring and worrying about them.

I think I will just have to accept the richness of my life as it is. Great kid, safe house, dependable car, good health and access to awesome homemade food. I will accept these genuine riches as I build my future instead of paying to look rich in the present.

Thrifty Image Mirror

What would your game title be?