Sunday, April 04, 2010
Lately I have renewed enthusiasm for saving money and financial well being. My husband and I want to move to Mexico in the next 15-20 years. By that time I would be in my mid-to-late 40s or early 50s, which is still years from "real" retirement. While it is considerably cheaper to live in Mexico than it is in the USA, especially anywhere in Alaska, the job market is very different. I have to prepare as if I will have no income there. Minimum wage (if you can get a job) is about 150 pesos (around $15) per day. With enough creativity and fortitude, I'm sure I could get a job of some sort, but basically I need to have enough savings to cover my regular expenses for at least 15 years. It's a lofty, but doable, ambition at this point in time. If we have kids or a job or health setback, all bets are off, but right now we're planning optimistically.
I've been really excited about SparkSavings and can't wait to see that website grow and develop like SparkPeople has over the last few years. I'm thinking about starting about a Financial Challenge team. There are a few financial teams, so I have to think about what would draw people to mine and what would make mine different.
I'm also exploring options for a career modification. Right now I'm a fiscal officer. I have bachelor's in business management and a master's in economics. However, I'm not certified to do anything - like be a CPA (certified public accountant) or CFP (certified financial planner). I'm very interested in going the CFP route. I have some feelers out to my university (I'm staff at my alma matter) about taking some accounting classes and then sitting for the CPA and/or CFP exams.
The CPA thing has interested me for a little bit, but the CFP has REALLY interested me for a long time. If I had college to do over again I would start there and plan on being a CFP (or an actuary actually) from the beginning. The one drawback to being a CFP is that many of the positions are comission based. I'm not interested in selling a questionable product, or having to bully people looking for financial advice into buying a product that might not be right for them just so I can pay my own bills. There are positions that require a fiduciary obligation to your clients out there and I want one of those. But those are a lot harder to come by. So we'll see where it goes. First, I have to hear back from the accounting department at the university.
The BIG upside with either of those certifications is that with good internet access (large parts of Mexico have great internet access) it's something I could do part-time in a different country and earn dollars. So maybe that's what I'll do once I get to Mexico. Right now I'm just exploring the options, saving my money (next blog will be about where I still SPEND money on things I don't necessarily NEED), and starting to create a plan.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
I'm very "into" saving money right now. I've always enjoyed personal finance and putting together spreadsheets, but since my husband and I now have a shared financial dream I have become re-energized to save money. Especially convenient given that SparkSavings (www.sparksavings.com) just launched!
Anyway, a lot of personal finance advice gets regurgitated over and over. If you've been looking into it for the last couple of years you probably see a lot of the same stuff over and over again. This article offered up some advice I don't hear much about (like move to a foreign country) in a different way.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
I have a few strong political opinions. Just a few though. Most things I see in shades of gray or am ambivalent towards. I dated a politician once upon a time and I chose to retreat from being politically active after we broke up for a variety of reasons. However, I do vote every election (ESPECIALLY in the off years), I donate money, and sometimes I discuss politics with my husband. But that's about it. I don't talk about with my co-workers, I don't usually post about it on Facebook, and I very, very rarely tell people who I voted for.
Anyway, one of the few things I've had a strong political opinion about is health care. That was the deciding factor for me in this last year's presidential election. I voted for the candidate that had views on health care that most closely matched my own at the time. I've been pretty dogmatic about the whole issue the last few years.
But then I stumbled across this article from MSN. The author doesn't offer a solution, but she offers an incredibly compassionate story. This story has forced me into opening my mind a little more and thinking about different options. I encourage everyone to read this article. No matter what your beliefs and opinions on the health care reform issue, I think you will find this essay interesting, informative and enlightening.
Friday, March 26, 2010
"Just because they die, she said, doesn't mean they go away. " - Permanence by Brian Andreas, StoryPeople
I was wandering through the card section at my grocery store yesterday looking for a birthday card for my husband and stumbled across the birthday cards for grandparents. I felt such a sense of loss that I would never again pick out and mail a birthday card to my grandma or grandpa. They both passed away in the last year, my grandfather just after his 100th birthday in May and my grandmother just before her 97th birthday in December.
I've led a charmed life; I have two parents that are alive, healthy, and happily married for nearly 40 years. My sisters are alive, healthy and happy. My cat went "tail-up" very suddenly in October. I watched her struggle to breathe on a Thursday evening and night and then finally die on my laundry floor Friday morning. Other than that, I have little concept of death, suffering, and illness. I have a new cat that is goofy and adorable and frankly, quite the zany dingbat, but I say that with love and affection.
There just feels like there are empty spaces all around me right now with the passing of my grandparents and Madeleine (the cat). I feel like those empty spaces should be filled with the great things that have happened over the last year or so; I got married, my sister had my first niece (or nephew), I finished my master's, my husband is finishing up his doctorate (for real), we just bought our first home, I received a raise at work (for which I am exceedingly grateful, especially in this economy)...the list goes on.
But I still ache sometimes thinking of my grandparents and my cat. And I feel like I shouldn't feel like how I feel. I try to rationalize away my sadness, convince myself that the good things in my life should fill the empty spaces, and gently berate myself for feeling sorry for myself.
I came across the quote up top as I was browsing the StoryPeople website. StoryPeople is created by Brian Andreas - he creates drawings with quotes and puts them on prints, cards, furniture, etc. And I have to remind myself that although my loved ones have passed on, they are not gone. They are not here to talk to anymore or hug, but they have made my life richer and their memories continue to do so.
Also, I don't think my thinking is correct about the empty spaces. Whenever I start to feel sad, my kneejerk reaction is to myself I have no right to feel sad, not with all the good things that I have in my life. That those good things, those happy events, should replace the sad things. But I'm learning it doesn't work like that. Having a new niece doesn't mean I can't grieve over my grandmother.
I'm thinking about this a lot recently, especially after my dream last night. I remember very few dreams, but last night I dreamed both my parents died and my husband and I moved into their home. A very distinct part of the dream was that I was trying to fill their closet with our clothes - the filling of empty spaces with things that don't belong. No matter how much I ache, my clothes don't belong in my parent's closet, and the joy that I find in my niece shouldn't be forced in my grandmother's space.
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