Adulting, military, money, mother love, parenting, Parenting teens and young adults, parenting young adults, Veterans Day

Lessons From A Veteran-You Can Never Go Home Again (Or Can You?)

waimea bay

Just 32 short years ago, I was finishing up my 6-year enlistment.  I couldn’t WAIT to get out!   I was ready to break out of my shackles and take on all the vast opportunities that this big world had to offer.  I thought I would never set foot on a military base again but it’s funny how life works.   As the mom of two young adult daughters, I have long had a dream of taking them back to the place where it all ended for me.  I wanted them to see the place ”that will live in infamy”…a place that became grander in my mind with each passing year that I didn’t return.  The very gates that I begrudgingly crossed each day for years had become inaccessible to me.  Finally, with the help of a friend and no less than a half dozen phone calls to coordinate, I was able to infiltrate the secure fortress where I had once roamed freely.  It was both magical and disappointing at the same time.   Magical because I got to relive a piece of my youth and disappointing because I had to face the fact that nothing stays the same.    Back then, I was a member of a team but now I was an outsider just trying to relive a part of her past.    On my stroll down memory lane, below is what I learned and hope to impart to my daughters:

Continue reading “Lessons From A Veteran-You Can Never Go Home Again (Or Can You?)”

Adulting, college, Financial literacy, financial responsiblity-teens and young adults, life skills, money, parenting, Parenting teens and young adults, parenting young adults, teaching financial responsibility

Bill of Rights For Parents of Young Adults

Bill of rights

The unwritten parental constitution has changed immensely over the last 50 years.  In earlier times, parents had a lot more expectations for their kids.  Maybe it was just the way it was in that era or maybe it was out of sheer necessity.  More recently, parents in general can’t seem to do enough for their kids, even when they are pressed for both time and money.  If we don’t accommodate all of their desires, then we have tremendous guilt.    I get it.  I’ve had plenty of guilt, but not because I didn’t love and care for my kids.  It’s because I said no to many of the things other kids took for granted.  Like smart phones.  Before you judge me too harshly, just know that mine had a flip phone which they got for 8th grade graduation.   I wanted to teach delayed gratification and that trying to “keep up with the Joneses” was neither wise nor sustainable.

Continue reading “Bill of Rights For Parents of Young Adults”

Adulting, career, college, life skills, parenting, Parenting teens and young adults, parenting young adults

Helping Them Navigate the Waters When They Go Away to College

huron

Most of us think of college as a place to go earn a degree that will help us demand a higher salary.  There are, however, a few lessons that are not taught in the classroom.   You, as the parent, might be able to lessen the shock by including some of these points in a conversation before move in day.

Food does not magically appear in the refrigerator

Many parents are so thoughtful and efficient that their children have never experienced the catastrophe of pouring a bowl of cereal only to find out that there is no milk.

Continue reading “Helping Them Navigate the Waters When They Go Away to College”

Adulting, career, Financial literacy, life skills, money, parenting, Parenting teens and young adults, parenting young adults

Questions To Ponder Before You Decide To Send Your Kid To College

Capture

In earlier generations, college was neither necessary nor expected of every single person who graduated from high school.   However, today it is rare to speak to a parent who isn’t trying to find a way to prep their kid for college and figure out how it will be funded.  While college can be a great tool for many, it is not for everyone.  Here are a few things to think about before making the decision to invest in a college education. Continue reading “Questions To Ponder Before You Decide To Send Your Kid To College”

Adulting, life skills, military, mother love, motivation, parenting, Parenting teens and young adults

An Open Letter From Drill Sergeant Mom to Her Domestic Platoon

military-662863_1920
As I was sorting through some old papers today, I ran across this old gem. While I was in my active parenting phase, I took my job very seriously. It was very important to me that I raised my daughters to be responsible, contributing members of society. I spent a great deal of time and effort planning and thinking of parenting strategies. Given my military background, I am not quick to accept excuses. Though it may sound a bit harsh to some, here is what the letter said: Continue reading “An Open Letter From Drill Sergeant Mom to Her Domestic Platoon”

Adulting, financial responsiblity-teens and young adults, life skills, parenting, Parenting teens and young adults, parenting young adults, teaching financial responsibility

You’re Ready for Little Johnny to Move Out But He Can’t Find a Roommate?

Little Johnny

A few decades ago in a state far, far away there were two young ladies dispatched to the same military base at the same time.  Because they were coming from the same school, arriving at the new base within a short time AND they were both female, they were OBVIOUSLY meant to be roommates.  They accepted this belief without question.  The young sailors looked at a couple of apartments before they finally settled into a quiet, two bedroom, two bath, first floor unit.    The older and wiser of the two was a very sweet young lady with a thick Alabama accent which so intrigued the younger and far more obnoxious one of the mismatched duo.  The sweet one could scarcely utter a sentence without having a few of her southernisms regurgitated back to her with a poorly imitated accent.  The southern belle was far too kind to smack her roommate so she politely resigned herself to six months of dysfunctional living.   Continue reading “You’re Ready for Little Johnny to Move Out But He Can’t Find a Roommate?”

Adulting, life skills, mother love, parenting, parenting young adults, wedding

A Tale of Two Weddings- (But Mostly About One)

Kelsey and Matt

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  But this story is mostly about the best!  2018 was a pretty big year in Launch Lady Land.  For the second time in 85 days, there was another wedding.   The same week my youngest daughter got married in June, her older sister announced her engagement.  Being the frugal one that I am, I suggested that she just step right on up to the priest when her sister was done (don’t worry, my perfectionist younger one, I wasn’t serious).  It didn’t happen.

Just as in daily life, their wedding choices highlighted their extreme personality differences.  They both received the same wedding stipend but used it so differently.  My traditional youngest daughter spent all of hers, and then some, on a more formal event that took a whole year to plan.  She scoured the etiquette books to do everything “correctly” according to tradition.  Her very practical sister, who had just bought a new home, took the much more frugal route and chose her dad’s and stepmom’s back yard as the venue for the wedding and reception.  She couldn’t see the point of having a large, one-time party when she could buy a fence for her newly purchased back yard!  The thought of watching her wedding guests ingest surf and turf did not give her as much pleasure as imagining her two large dogs sprinting freely around her fenced back yard.   I suggested she treat her guests to a nice ramen noodle buffet or peanut butter and jelly bar, but in the end, the fajita bar was a tasty, yet non-traditional choice.   Gluten-free macaroons graced the dessert table which would normally contain a wickedly gluten filled wedding cake. Though it was a small afternoon affair, the tee totaling bride and groom did not deprive their guests of adult beverages. Continue reading “A Tale of Two Weddings- (But Mostly About One)”

Adulting, Financial literacy, financial responsiblity-teens and young adults, life skills, parenting, Parenting teens and young adults, parenting young adults, teaching financial responsibility

Teach a Kid to Fish and She’ll Eat For a Lifetime

Launch lady tax check

As an avid reader of Napoleon Hill’s philosophy, I have read that one of man’s greatest fears is the threat of poverty.  Though I have never personally experienced abject poverty, I know well some who have.  I do know what it is like to have to make tough choices. I know what it is like to have $5 left until payday with no savings account or safety net. This was part of what drove my decision to enlist in the US Navy when I was still a teenager.  In retrospect, it was one of the best things I could have done, though it didn’t feel like it at the time.  I was given the chance to be wholly accountable for my outcomes.  It was an excellent training ground to learn countless life lessons.  I am far from being a financial expert, but I continue to learn.  My drive to learn is so I can teach others what I wish I had known at a much younger age.  My own daughters have always had a safety net and sometimes find it hard to comprehend (or tolerate) what I am trying to teach them.  What I offer is perspective by asking the following question: “When our children no longer have parents to consult with (or get subsidies from) how will they manage to get along financially?”  I am a fervent believer in “If you give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day; if you teach him to fish, he’ll eat for a lifetime.”   Here are just a few things I’ve tried to teach my kids that you might find helpful as you try to teach life skills to yours: Continue reading “Teach a Kid to Fish and She’ll Eat For a Lifetime”

Adulting, cats, college, earn money, Financial literacy, financial responsiblity-teens and young adults, life skills, mother love, motivation, parenting, Parenting teens and young adults, parenting young adults, teaching financial responsibility

How This 19-Year-Old Found a Way to Conquer the World on Her Own Terms

Kelsey and her kitty

I grew up believing that 18 was a magical age.  I could not WAIT to turn 18 so I could be independent and do things my own way.  I was bred to be both independent and credit worthy.  I still have my original JCPenney credit card that I’ve had for well over 3 decades.  Filling out the application was probably how I celebrated my 18th!  I had a “soft launch” shortly after 18 when I moved in with a friend.  I paid a pittance for rent while I learned to navigate life totally independent of my parents.  Since I didn’t have a car at this point, my friend was gracious enough to shuttle my pathetic a$$ to the laundromat.  Getting to work required that I either negotiate with coworkers or walk.   After a few months of this, home started looking pretty appealing, so I went home long enough to buy a car. After I got my mobility machine, the independent streak really kicked in and I moved out again.  My early independence is what helped shape my views as a parent.

Thirty-one years later, I was the parent of a teenager who had been bred to be both independent and credit worthy.  We were both brand new graduates; college for me and high school for her.  She entered her first year of community college as she had been groomed to do.   Unfortunately, she hated it.  She hated everything including the town we lived in.  She felt trapped by expectation and didn’t want to waste the time or money to complete college when she had no particular aspirations.  I didn’t try to fight her.  My own experience had shown me that if you really want to accomplish a higher education, then you’ll make it happen when the time is right.  I simply told her that if she chose to end her education that it would be time to be an adult with grown-up responsibilities.

I must digress a bit and talk about what happened the year before.  Her senior year of high school was only one class, so she worked full time.  When I saw how she was spending her money, I brainstormed for a plan.  We sat down and calculated some numbers as though she were going to move out to give her an idea about what “life” costs.  We came up with a figure that she would need to pay her own way.  Then she was given the following two options:

  • Pay the agreed upon sum to me to contribute to household expenses
    • I never told her but I would have saved it and given it to her when she moved out
  • Put the money in her savings account each month with the stipulation that it could not be withdrawn and that I would look at the statement each month to hold her accountable

I persisted even though she thought I just wanted her money.  My true mission, in addition to inspiring her independence, was to minimize the cash that she had been handling so frivolously. I was glad that she chose what most would agree was the only intelligent choice.  My mission was accomplished when she was able to eventually leave home with several thousand dollars in the bank.  She also did a soft launch by moving in with a friend right after she turned 19, but came home a few months later.  What she did next floored even me!

Three months after her 19th birthday, she informed me that she had found a job on-line and was moving to Utah which was almost 1,400 miles from home.  She had gotten a phone interview at a popular ski resort and was hired, sight unseen.  I guess hospitality workers must be hard to find!  She bought an airplane ticket and made it happen.  I remember going with her when she closed her bank account.  The banker, a young man who appeared to be only slightly older than her, told her how lucky she was.  I reminded her that she wasn’t lucky; she had made the decision and she was making it happen.  I had a mixture of emotions which ranged from pride to fear.  When her dad decided to fly there with her, I cried.   With my independent streak, it had never even occurred to me to do so.  She was mortified, of course, but I was grateful that he had taken that extra step to help her ease into her transition given the sometimes sinister deceptions on the internet.

She met a lot of different people while working in Utah.  Many of them were college educated yet not ready to grow up.  She didn’t have the benefit of much college yet, but she was receiving a most valuable education!  The first place she lived was in the worker housing with two roommates that she had been placed with.  The room was not included in the employment offer; they had to pay out of each check.  For anyone who has done any time in a barracks or college dorm room, I think you get the idea.  You end up living with people you don’t know and you learn how to deal with all types.  I watched in awe as she took advantage of all the amenities Utah had to offer.   After a couple years, she moved with a friend to Texas.  Four years wiser and infinitely more street savvy, she returned to her roots bringing with her a sassy feline companion.  I was thrilled to have her back home with me for almost a year as she transitioned back to the area and continued to do amazing things.

Six years from the time she first moved out, I look at the things she has done and what she continues to do.  She is preparing to buy her first home and get married to a wonderful and ambitious young man.  She’s working her way through college and dabbling in different careers.   She’s learned that you can’t run away from yourself; unfortunately, your problems go with you.  She left home a surly teenager and came back a grateful, positive, street-wise and confident young lady.

My beautiful daughter is in transition so I sit here today with her cat, who I am fostering, until she gets settled into her new home.  I have not been able to instill the same independence in the cat.  Though it is a common perception that cats are independent creatures, just listen to the squalls when you fail to put kibbles in their dish at the appointed time!  I have found myself obsessing over the cat just a bit too often these days so I’m trying to focus on my writing instead.   I will miss them both as they get settled into their next phase (to see what happened to the cat, read Eviction Papers Served-Launch Lady Style ) I think my firstborn now understands that I didn’t want her money.  What I wanted was her happiness and her respect, and I’m very grateful to have experienced both.

 

Adulting, Financial literacy, life skills, parenting, Parenting teens and young adults, parenting young adults, teaching financial responsibility

Flight of Freedom from a Flagrantly Frugal Female

frugal

Has anyone ever been called “the F word”?  I have, and it stings!   The word I’m talking about is “frugal” and I hope that is what you were thinking of when I asked the question!  Frugal has a negative connotation because people tend to get it mixed up with “miserly”.

  • Frugal-thrifty, prudent, not wasteful
  • Miser-a person who is extremely stingy with money

It appears that the frugal person is smart with their resources, so I will proudly wear that label.  My personal philosophy is to be careful with what I have, but not at the expense of other people.  My attitude is that I can have anything I want, but I am VERY selective in what I want!  If a discount is offered, I will absolutely take advantage of it and I can’t comprehend the mindset of those who would not.  If a restaurant offers a discount to come 2 hours earlier than the masses…”why yes, thank you”, as long as my schedule permits.  Sometimes, I like living on the edge, as was the case in my most recent vacation.   I selected a different Hotwire Hot Rate hotel each day as we traveled down Florida’s west coast.  The best find ever was the $99 hotel right on Clearwater Beach.  I could not have stayed there for full price…it is not in my DNA. Also, I loved the thrill of the hunt!

I’ve had many years to hone my “craft” and I’d like to impart this mindset to my daughters as well.  I moved out on my own at the age of 18, and I was able to spend many years as a stay at home Mom.  One of the reasons that I am so adamant that an 18-year-old can survive in the wild without parents is because I have done it.  More recently, I have seen many examples of independent young people still living life on their own terms.

Here are a few common sense things you can teach your teens and young adults to ensure their survivability in the world:

  • Teach good money habits while they are living under your roof and working at their first job
    • Mandate a certain percentage of savings
      • Consider ways to incentive extra savings
        • Matching
        • Explaining the wonders of compound interest
        • Finding other young success stories to inspire them

 

  • Share the nitty gritty of your budget with them
    • Discuss the difference between wants and needs
    • Go over their budget with them to get an idea how much disposable income they would have if they moved out

 

  • Let them share in the management of household duties such as food management, which could evolve into a post all by itself
    • Cooking in versus eating out
    • Planning meals versus going to the store daily
    • Eating leftovers versus tossing them

 

  • Discuss with them how they can cash flow college
    • Summers are a great time to work hard to get ahead
    • Encourage them to put effort into claiming some of the free scholarship money that is available
    • Working during college is not child abuse and leads to better time management skills
    • The college “experience” may be overrated, especially if it leads to long term debt
      • Besides, today it is very common for their parents to go to college while working full-time and it is often fully paid or subsidized by their employer
        • I am proud to say, I took full advantage of this option

 

  • Roommates, roommates, roommates
    • Fewer things can make life more manageable than having someone to share expenses with
    • Finding one is far easier than it was “back in MY day”
      • Roommates.com hadn’t yet been invented
      • Social media wasn’t an option then either

 

Those are just a few of the things that go through the mind of a frugal individual.    If you are flagrantly frugal as I am, do not apologize.  Stay the course and revel in the freedoms that frugality has afforded you.   Your loving guidance will inspire in your kids the gift of freedom when you have taught them to soar on their own.