Becoming a One Car Family

We had been discussing ways to save money, and one of the obvious ways would be to become a one-car family. It saves on car maintenance, gas, insurance, registration fees, lots of money not spent. But as is often the case, we suffered from inertia and never really did anything about it.

One of our daughters helped us out by getting into a car accident due to pea soup dense fog. She was ok, the car wasn’t. Heck, the car got hit TWICE before the other driver realized she should put it into park :p Anyway to make a long story short, the damage was extensive enough (or the car repair place charged enough) to get the car totaled. Ouch.

Our trusted Mazda being towed away

The good thing is that we were already contemplating getting rid of a car, so the universe helped us out there.
The bad thing is that we had two cars, a 2002 one and a 2010 one and the 2010 one got totaled.
The good thing is that Tom is more comfortable in the 2002 car.
The bad thing is that we just got new winter tires and a rim on the 2010 Mazda.
The good thing is that it is cheaper to insure an old car.
The bad thing is that the 2010 car heated up much faster in the winter and had better a/c in the summer.
The good thing is that the deductible was waved, so we get a reasonably nice chunk of money, more than we would have gotten selling it.
The summary is: it is all good.

Olympic Tower in Montreal with some of our children

I am a bit nostalgic about it, since this is the first car I got all for myself after my divorce, my first ever car loan 🙂
The car drove us many places. I took the kids to Montreal a number of times and we had lots of fun. I took the kids to Washington DC, visiting friends on the way.
I drove my kids and their friends all over New England chasing geocache after geocache.
I took eleven kids to the Boston Zoo and had a blast.
We traveled to Washington DC and enjoyed our country’s history.
Tom and I took four teens to New York City and watched Les Miserables.
All the memories remain!

We had a blast!

Carpe Diem and let go of the car 🙂

VIPKID Update

I had my VIPKID interview on Saturday and flunked it for no clear reason. I was nervous, but I had  practiced and think I hit most of the things they look for. Of course it could be my wicked accent, but I would like to know what the problem was. So I appealed to their Recruitment Team and asked for the detailed assessment of my interview.

When Tom did his interview, he got an extensive email, showing how many points he scored on each aspect that they are measuring.

  • Introduction and Class Pacing
  • Engaging Class and Interactivity
  • Attempted to the Lesson Objectives
  • Use of Tools
  • Speaking Speed and Language
  • TPR (Total Physical Response language teaching method)
  • Teacher Demonstration
  • Encourages full sentence output
  • Correct student’s mistakes

In addition they look at aspects like do you look presentable, how do the audio and mouse work, how is the lighting, are you visible at all times and what does your background look like.

Tom is busy preparing for his mock interview, so for now helping him to get that done, while I wait for the results of my appeal. I have heard you can re-apply under a different email, but not ready for that yet.

New Income Possibility: VIPKID

I have been reading a lot of articles about how to make extra income, and VIPKID keeps coming up over and over. It is a Chinese company which connects Chinese kids to teachers to help them learn English. All the work is done on line, from the comfort of your own home, or from wherever you have a good internet connection.

You have to pass a pretty extensive interview process and give mock lessons, and my husband passed his first interview today! He will now have to review some teacher materials and then pretend to teach a class. When he passes, he will get his official contract. I decided I will try it also, no idea whether I will succeed, but I have my first interview tomorrow, so keep your fingers crossed!

The hours are totally flexible, although the weekday ones could be early in the morning, or early at night, so that you work during daytime hours in China.

I will keep you posted! If you are curious and you are considering signing up for a trial, click here to visit them.

Jazzy at Road Affair has a really good article about teaching VIPKID while traveling the world. It sure convinced me!

Disclaimer: if you click on any of these signup links, I might get financial compensation at no cost to you. 

Earning Report I: January 2018

Before I started this blog, I did some reading on how to make money online and I stumbled upon Making Sense of Cents. She makes a lot of money with her financial blog, and she has great financial tips to help manage money and pay off debt. But what I really liked was that she posts a monthly income report, showing how much money she made from her different income sources. It is fascinating to see the high numbers she is making now, but also be able to see the low numbers she started out with.

I will share my numbers from the beginning, which are still low numbers, and hope that I will be able to post higher numbers as time goes by.

This month I only have two side income sources, my caregiver work, and some peanuts from Ibotta. I will add more over time.

I worked 17.5 hours as a caregiver, at $20 / hour, so I earned $350. This is before taxes.

‘Free’ money!

I made $25.25 on ibotta. If you use this link to share, you will get $10 after you redeem your first $10 of coupons/offers.  And I will get $5 for successfully referring you. Not a lot of money, but it is fun to see whether I can make this grow.

I am not going to count this as income, but I want to mention that we exchanged credit card rewards points for $300 worth of Amazon gift cards.

And technically, I found one penny, but I don’t think I will count that either 🙂 Thank you, Iliana!

Grand total this month is $375, most of it from my caregiver work. Which is a nice side hustle, not taking too many hours, but very rewarding.

 

Happy Rewards Find

In our quest to inventory all our debt we logged into all our credit-card accounts to get the current information. We confirmed that yes, we are more in debt than we want to be, but we feel good about taking the first steps to deal with that.

We hadn’t used one of our credit-card accounts for a number of years, but there still were a good number of reward points sitting there. These points would have the best payoff if we used them towards statement credit for travel, but we aren’t really using that card anymore, and we have many other good travel-hacking credit cards so every time we had seen this in the past we would say ‘We really should use it for a bit to get that travel credit!’ and then would go on with our lives without ever following through.

This time was different. We realized that instead of travel credit we could get Amazon gift cards. No, the pay-off wasn’t as high as using it for travel credit, but we could do it NOW instead of at some unspecified future money. The website was having some issues, so we ended up calling, and it didn’t take long before we had cashed in our points for three $100 Amazon gift cards!

Wow! What a happy find! It’s not really income, but it is money we won’t have to spend when we order stuff on Amazon, which we do pretty regularly.

Jumping for Joy!

As and added bonus: Our awesome friend Iliana found a penny between my feet when we were out in the freezing cold! One more coin for our change jar! 😀 Making it a total of $300,01 profits for this episode.

 

Eating In: Mussels

Enjoying a nice Friday night while saving money.

We love going out to eat, but as you all know, it can add up. Part of our quest for financial independence is getting out of debt and saving money, and skipping some nights out seems a good way to do that.

Of course it is not always trivial to come up with meals, but one of our quick and easy goto’s is mussels. Friday afternoon we were shopping and I asked my husband, what shall we have for dinner tonight? We were just walking past the fish food counter in the supermarket ( I know how to properly time my questions 🙂 so we considered what fishy choices were on sale. It didn’t take long to agree on mussels, since it had been a while since we made them.

What I like about mussels is that there are so many ways to make them, and you can just use what you have or you can buy some curry paste (Thai Kitchen Green Curry Paste) as we did this time. We also picked up a can of coconut milk.

At home I started rice in the rice cooker so that I could ignore it, and Tom get everything ready to steam some broccoli. I perused the fridge and decided on onions, celery, garlic and carrots, but you can choose whatever you have on hand. Melted a good chunk of butter, sautéed the veggies for a while, then added half of the curry paste, some white wine and the coconut milk. Meanwhile we had washed the muscles and drained them. Added the mussels, brought everything to a boil, turned down the heat to medium and covered the mixture. When I opened it after ten minutes, all the mussels had opened and looked delectable. Steamed the broccoli and we were ready to eat.

Quick and easy meal and it tasted excellent. You can customize it to whatever you have on hand, beer instead of wine, bouillon instead of either, your choice of vegetables, endless possibilities. We enjoyed the satisfaction that we spent only a fraction of the money we would have spent in a restaurant.

Eet smakelijk! (‘Have a good meal’ in Dutch)

Eat well and save money.

My Year Without Shopping

Over the years I have gotten more and more overwhelmed with how much stuff I own, and have been working on decluttering and such, but I definitely am not anywhere close to where I want to be. When I read My Year of No Shopping in the New York Times I decided that yes, that is what I needed in 2018.

Nope, I am not shopping.

When you read the article, you can see that she mostly talks about clothes, handbags and makeup, not about essentials like food. Still it resonated with me, and I decided that I loved her idea and would start it this year with my own arbitrary rules. Since it is not as much a rulebook, but a philosophy.

It fits in my philosophy of ‘Less Things, More People, More Travel!’ Two examples of today: I returned an LL Bean sweater which had issues ( I love their return policy ) and instead of replacing it with the same or a different sweater, I took the money and applied it towards debt. Then we went to a jewelry store which had a wicked sale and I saw many items that I drooled over for a moment until catching myself. ‘Yes, I can save $600, but I don’t need or even want to spend $300.’ It felt good.

I still shop for groceries and home goods, but it is nice not to be swayed by a good sale. I know I too often have fallen for the ‘Wow, this is such a steal’ reasoning instead of the ‘Nope, don’t need it, I don’t care if I want it.’ Instead I envision the Trevi Fountain in Rome and how we threw in coins so we would return. I’d much rather spend my money that way!

Next step is going through my stuff at home and getting rid of more and more of them.

Make Money With Ibotta

This is my very first blog post with an affiliate link to kick off the ‘How to make money with blogs’ part of my story. I have been using Ibotta and have been happy with the offers and payout I get just for shopping for things I buy anyway.

I started in 2016, made $24 pretty fast, but never got around to transferring it to my bank account. When I started this blogging journey, and when I saw how much debt our liabilities added up to, I decided to check it out again.

Started using it a week ago and made $7 already. Which admittedly is not much, but on the other hand I spent 10 or 15 minutes working on it, taking pictures of receipts and bar codes. $7 for 15 minutes of work is $28 per hour.
Today I transferred my full balance ($31) to my paypal account and from there to my bank account, so I can report that that works fine too. Planning on using this ‘free’ money towards debt and get a baby step closer to being debt free 🙂

My next goal is to refer my friends, or my readers to sign up for ibotta. Whoever signs up gets a free $10 start once they redeem their first offer, and I get a kickback to kick off my journey to financial independence. Click here if you want to try ibotta and support me.

Update 1/28/2018: Ibotta only works for readers in the USA. Too bad.

‘Free’ money!

Mastering Our Money: Debt Inventory

There have been times in my life that I was totally on top of my money, knowing exactly how much I owned and owed at any given moment. And there have been times that I kind of lost track, being lulled into a false sense of security and wishful thinking that sure, who cares about money anyway.

Time to get back to mastering our money and step one today is an inventory of our debts so we can make a plan on how to pay it off as quickly as possible.

I will make a list of how much, which bank, interest rate, minimum payment and how long it will take to pay off with that minimum payment. Then I can start playing with it and deciding where to apply extra payments to get the best bang for our buck in our quest for financial independence.