Happy Birthday to Me

happybirthday

Today is my 32nd birthday. I usually don’t make a big deal out of my birthday, but this one is different for a number of reasons. First off, the last birthday I celebrated in Minnesota was when I turned 18, which feels like a lifetime ago. Celebrating my birthday here this year really affirms the reality that we’ve moved and have started this new adventure.

This isn’t a milestone birthday, but with all of the changes I’ve gone through in the past year it sure feels like one. This last year has brought clarity, purpose and more personal growth than I ever dreamed possible. The following are just a few of things I have incorporated into or experienced in my life that have made this year a life changing one.

The Birth of My Baby Girl

This past year started with the anticipation of Sissy Boo’s birth. Nic and I had gone through the joys of one pregnancy already with Kuya and this time around there were many similarities. Surprisingly, however there were some also big differences. Sissy Boo’s birth was very different from Kuya’s and I truly believe that it was the start of the snowball effect of changes that occurred this past year.

I had so desperately wanted to have an all natural birth with Kuya, but for a number of reasons I ended up getting an epidural and being induced. Physically, I did not feel anything when Kuya was born.

With Sissy Boo, I again desired an all natural birth, and she was ready to give me one after only laboring for about four hours. Going natural was not easy, but it was one of the most amazing things I had ever experienced. At the end of it all, I felt empowered. Empowered because my body and mind were strong enough to handle the intensity. This empowerment made me feel like I could accomplish anything else in my life that I desired and throughout the following months that’s exactly what happened.

Health and Wellness 2.0

When Kuya was born I began experimenting with a healthier lifestyle but what this mostly meant was eating healthier here and there and trying to work out as much as I could. I never wanted to admit that my eating habits needed to drastically change, so I didn’t – until this past year.

During my maternity leave with Sissy Boo I started watching a lot of documentaries about food and I discovered the connection that food has with healing and destroying our bodies. After this, I knew that for the sake of my babies, I needed to make some changes. My sugar detox was one of the most challenging things I took on this last year, but it did change my relationship with food forever. My body has never felt better than it has this past year because of it.

Minimalism

Minimalism has changed my life in countless ways this year. When I returned to work after maternity leave I realized that what I was doing five days a week was not living. I was going through the motions with what I thought life should be like.  

As I started to incorporate minimalism into my life I realized that I could create the life that I wanted and that I did not need to conform to society’s idea of what a successful life should consist of.

Minimalism gave me the courage to leave my corporate job. I didn’t hate my job, I couldn’t complain about my salary and I really enjoyed my co-workers. However, I desperately wanted more time with my babies and I hated that a job dictated where I needed to be five days a week.

I realized that if I filled my life with less physical things I didn’t need as much money as I once thought. So now I fill my life with experiences rather than things and I am so thankful to have discovered this at 31.

I’m very excited for this next year and all of the experiences that are yet to come!

Four Ways I am Embracing Minimalism

minimalism

In the last few months I have really started to embrace minimalism. What I have learned about minimalism is that everyone’s idea of it is different. For some it means living with only the bare necessities and for others it means a nice big farmhouse on a couple of acres. Whatever your definition of minimalism is, at the end of the day it should give you peace and joy in your life.

Minimalism has allowed me to get rid of the things in my life that don’t really matter and that don’t bring me joy. It has given me more time, more money and more peace of mind. The following are four ways I have incorporated minimalism into my life. Read more

How Warren Buffet Taught me to Save for my Kids

warrenbuffetsavings

Lack of Money Lessons

When we were younger and received money for birthdays or holidays my father would keep this money in a safe. I don’t think he had any intention to do anything else with the money but to just keep it there. There were no lessons on what we should do or what we could do with the money, so most of the time we just left the money there. There were occasions where my siblings and I would ask for our money to buy a toy or something similar. Depending on the amount requested my father would either give us the money or tell us that the requested amount was too much.

I’m not sure what happened to all of my money, but I’m sure somehow or someway I used it on things like toys and candy.

Now that I have children of my own, I have had to think about how I am going to teach them about money. I don’t blame my parents for not teaching me the things I am learning now, how could they when they didn’t even know themselves? All I know is that I have to do more to instill responsible healthy feelings towards money in my children.

Monetary Gifts Roll In

Most people figure that they will start teaching their kids about money when the children are old enough to ask for stuff like toys, treats or cars. However, I believe it should start well before then. We had a blessing ceremony for Kuya when he was 8 months old and that is where he received his first monetary gifts. Some parents see their child’s gift money as theirs and spend it as is, some parents may “borrow” the money with the intention to pay it back, some stick it in a bank account and some hold onto it and let the child decide what to do with it once they are older like my parents did.

I stuck Kuya’s money in a bank account. Personally, I don’t believe in using money given to my child even if that money is being spent on items for the child, like diapers. Kuya’s birthday rolled around shortly after his blessing ceremony and he received more monetary gifts. I soon started to realize that he had more in savings than many adults did and even though the money was sitting in a high interest savings account I felt that there were probably better options out there.

I discussed options with Nic and we decided to keep the money in the savings account until Kuya started kindergarten. Once that time came, we would transfer whatever he had received up to that point into a 5-year or more CD. That had continued to be the plan until one day when I learned more about Warren Buffet.

My Wikipedia Obsession Pays Off

One thing I like to do in my spare time is read up about people that I find fascinating and discover how they got to where they are today – thank you Wikipedia! Most people know that Warren Buffet is one of the wealthiest men on earth, but I don’t believe a lot of people know his very early childhood story – at least I didn’t. It turns out that Buffet’s attitude towards money began when he was a child. At 11 Mr. Buffet purchased stock for the first time – three shares for himself and three for his sister. He continued investing in businesses through high school and purchasing real estate with savings. By the time Buffet finished college he had more than $90,000 in savings (measured in 2009 dollars). To me this was fascinating. Most adults can’t even fathom the idea of having $90,000 in savings, let alone someone who had just finished college.

I knew after reading this that a CD wasn’t going to give my kids the options they would have with other investments. I will save my overview on the stock market for another post, but at the end of the day we decided to invest Kuya and Sissy Boo’s monetary gifts in index funds. These funds can gain anywhere between 6-9% interest which beats a CD’s 1.25% average.

The following table shows the contrast between a CD and an index fund over 18 years. The calculations were made using the compound interest calculator found here.

CD Index Fund
Interest Rate 1.25% 6-9% (on average)
Initial investment $1,000 $1,000
Monthly Contribution 0* $10
TOTAL after 18 years $1250.58 $6,583

*CDs don’t allow you to add money. The deposit amount is fixed. Another reason why I’m choosing to go with index funds.

The index fund rate used in the table calculations is 6% to be conservative. Had it been 9%, which is usually the case when working with a long time horizon, the total would actually be around $9,673.

Saving for the Future

Both Nic and I have big families so our kids get so many gifts from family. I realized that if Nic and I never bought Kuya and Sissy Boo any physical gifts again they probably wouldn’t even notice. So now instead of buying toys or clothes for birthdays or holidays like we normally would, we will simply add money into their investment accounts.

I will continue to teach Kuya and Sissy Boo everything I have learned about money so that by the time they are adults they can make responsible decisions when it comes to money. My hope is that our decision to invest their money will allow them to have more options and opportunities later in life. This should allow them to live their lives intentionally from an early start and not feel the need to go through the motions with careers that they may not love in order to just get a paycheck.