It’s been quite the eventful weeks in our Schmidt household. Having all the kids home under one roof (if even for a few days) has filled this momma’s heart to the brim, but I’m dreading the back to college countdown.
I’ve been bursting in anticipation to tell you our most exciting news, so I’ll spill just a bit of the surprise, and then keep you waiting a few more days for all the details and pictures.
My favorite moment of our whole Christmas season came on the evening of December 23, when the girl we’ve been praying for ever since our eldest son was a baby boy said, “Yes” to his marriage proposal.
All those years, we didn’t know her name, but we knew she’d be amazing. Now that we’ve met her and the whole family has fallen in love, she’s more than we dreamed.
I can’t wait to share their sweet story. It’s pretty special (and yes, this is the “snake in the hedge fund office son” for those who have been following my blog for a few years).
Now onto my bittersweet news.
January is always a month when most love to dream big, set goals and for nearly all Americans, re-examine their finances. As always, I am your biggest cheerleader when it comes to getting our finances in control and last year, I partnered with my personal bank, Suntrust’s amazing onUp Movement to encourage us to change the stressful dialogue that centers around our finances.
I talk about money choices a lot around this blog. Our kids are forced to dialogue with us and it’s been a balm to my heart to see the older ones putting into action what they’ve heard for years. Our son used budgeting worksheets like these to save and pay cash for his diamond ring. Now, they’re using solid financial principles as they plan for their wedding and future together. (See this calculator which helps to set saving goals.)
They are learning quickly that they must sacrifice in their every day money choices in order to make room for even better choices later one.
For those that haven’t followed my blog for long, two and a half years ago, I shared my BIG, audacious dream with you on this post – Dreaming Big. (This only came after years of financial challenges and then setting up a new financial future with confident choices.)
I still get so excited thinking about it and I spend enormous amounts of daydreaming energy putting that desire into action. Yet if I was keeping on track with my goal, our big barn used for gatherings, classes, retreats and weddings would be built by now.
Unfortunately, the best laid plans didn’t occur.
I cut back on work hours and income cut drastically, but I was much more present. Our son didn’t get the scholarship we planned on, so we’re paying for private university tuition at a school we really feel he should be at right now.
The above mentioned items were manageable because we have a budgeting and emergency plan in place, but what I didn’t plan for in this dream of mine was the fact that the land owner might say “No” to our land offer.
We saved and I nearly lived like we were unemployed because we were committed to paying cash and not going into debt for the land. We finally went to the owner with a fair price to buy 20 of her 40 acres. We thought it would be a done deal. In fact, I had that land cleared and footers being poured in my plans, but after a few days, she came back to us.
She said, “No.” She decided that she wouldn’t split up the land and would only sell all 40 acres in one lump. My heart sank and my mind screamed, “I don’t want 40 acres. I don’t even want 20. I just want 5 – 10 more to protect our property from others building in our back yard.”
To say it’s a set back is an understatement. We will need to buy all the land (and land is wonderful), but once the land is purchased, there will be no cash to build anything. I would be fibbing if I didn’t share that little bits of my heart shattered with the news, but I also know it’s a wonderful, first world problem to have. I will still be inviting you all to my place, but it will be for the most beautiful camping weekend ever. Bring your own tent and pitch it by our creek because we’ll have plenty of land for you to be comfy. 🙂
I told you all I would keep you updated on my big, audacious goal and it looks a bit different right now. I still brainstorm creative ways to try and make it happen and it’s never far from my thoughts. (Anyone want to put a down payment on a wedding spot five years in advance? 😉 ) I’m forever thankful that I can even have a financial goal like that and am not giving up.
I even took Suntrust’s Mental Wealth Quiz to see how I was doing with my finances and it agreed that I was finally at a place to step forward with confidence.
How are you doing with your financial goal setting? Any goal you’re shooting for this year? It always helps me to get it down and verbalize it so it becomes real. I’d love for you to share.
Check out the myriad of free Financial Tools to help you set goals for the year. They are incredibly valuable. I’ve used this college savings calculator since we still have three more to go. I wrote about Ways to pay cash for college here and the challenge of that goal.
Sunburst’s purpose is lighting the way to financial well-being. When you feel confident about your money, you can save for your goals and spend knowingly on what matters most to you.
The onUp movement was created to guide millions of people one step at a time towards a more financially confident life without ever losing sight of the moments that matter along the way.
Join the growing number of people transforming their stress into positive motivation to move onUp.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SunTrust. The opinions and text are all mine.
Are you trying to start some New Year’s Eve Traditions or think of some family ideas for New Year’s Eve to make it extra special? (Or additional traditions for New Year’s Day found here.)
Here are ideas for fun of all ages.
Best Ever Game Night
One of our favorite things to do is to have a full fledged game night. Set up stations (card tables or blankets on the floor) around your house with various games at each location. Set the timer, and no matter where you are in the game, stop and rotate stations. (Yes, a station can even include a bedroom for creativity.)
Depending on how many people are playing, create teams to make sure that everyone gets a chance to play each other. This keeps it quick paced and fun.
Make sure you have one of the stations include my Conversation Starter Questions? Yes, a good ole fashioned “Get to know you better” station. We have used them so much this holiday time with little ones, high schoolers, college agers and adults. It’s been a blast. One reader even suggested to put one inside of some balloons and every hour, pop a balloon and have everyone answer a question. Love that idea!
If you want to make this even more memorable, set up this station around a back yard bonfire with blankets, hot cocoa and some S-Mores. Oh, how cozy!
For our family, I’d have to include some of our favorite appetizers and dips too. 🙂
Head to Waffle House or your favorite greasy spoon
In college, I was notorious for my all night jaunts at Waffle House. It brings back such fun memories, but sometimes it also reminds me of how “old” I am getting since I never am spontaneous like that any more. New Year’s Eve is the time to be fun loving and this is something kids young and old would enjoy. Head out late and order breakfast for dinner, or if you want to avoid the crazy drivers, do it the next night and still embrace the spontaneity.
New Year’s Eve is the best time for reflecting on the past, as well as contemplating new beginnings. On New Year’s Eve, set the table with a special candle for each person at your celebration, then lower the lights. One by one, each person lights someone else’s candle and shares a special memory or major achievement that the other person has accomplished during the past year. They may recount anything from a hard earned victory, a long awaited promotion to something deeper. It is then the honored person’s opportunity to share their New Year’s resolutions with the rest of the group. This tradition is a wonderful way to share in each others trials and triumphs from the past year, and to lend support for future dreams and goals. [Read More…]
The clock ticks, and Christmas is just around the corner, but there are still some moments available to make this Christmas a bit more magical, without spending a penny. I’ve shared these before, but a reminder never hurts this brain of mine.
It only takes a few minutes of intentionality to make some of these Christmas ideas and traditions a reality. Don’t try to do it all, but just pick just one new tradition to establish this year. Here are a few that you can start this week.
Reindeer Food – Create some magic with your children by making reindeer food. It will take five minutes, but your efforts will last a lifetime through their memories.
Christmas Cruising – Surprise the kids tonight! Right after they get tucked in bed, declare it’s Christmas Cruising Time – Don’t forget the hot chocolate to make this a special late night adventure.
Candy Cane Trail – Slow your Christmas morning down, cherish the time and make it extra special. Start the Candy Cane tradition this year. You will not regret it (and neither will your kids…no matter how big they are.)
and of course, Cinnamon Rolls.