Being Thankful for Everything That Stinks

everything stinks

This post started out as a list of things I was thankful for.  It was stupid.  It was a good exercise for me on a personal level, but it’s not anything anyone would want to read.

So let’s instead talk about everything that stinks.

We’re coming up on the deluge of holiday consumerism.  It’s crazy; we have one day a year to express gratitude, and we promptly follow it by fighting each other over kids’ toys and buying all this stuff we don’t really need, or things for others that they don’t really want.

But it is does give a temporary boost to the economy.

It’s cold out.  I seriously don’t know how you did it last week if you’re from Buffalo.  The snow’s going to start sticking and we’re all going to have to drive in that and it’s awful.  I wish for perpetual Spring.

But the cold weather does cause a significant drop in crime rates.

Sometimes our money is tight.  We work our bums off, and then sometimes the numbers from all of our variable incomes just don’t turn out to be what they’re supposed to be.

But we have an emergency fund.  And things have never been so bad that we’ve had to send our kids to bed hungry.

I want a house.  With a yard.  With enough bedrooms for everybody.  It’s years off at the closest.

But I do have shelter for  my family.  Regular, consistent, shelter.  And that’s not something everyone is able to say.

I am crazy busy.  And lately it’s been really hard to feel zen about it.  So much to do, so little time.  There are things on my to-do list everyday that don’t get crossed off, and tons more things get piled on daily.  Happy Holidays.

The holidays I’ll be spending with my family.  Because I am so lucky to have them close.  And they provide me with infinite help.  I wouldn’t be able to get anything crossed off my to-do list without them.  And the length of that list?  It’s just evidence of how lucky I am to have work that pays while others are without.

 

Now I want to ask you something.  You can answer it in your head.  You can answer it in the comments.  Whatever you’re comfortable with.

Here it is:

On the eve of all things thankful,

What goes here?

And what goes here?

 

 

 

22 Stocking Stuffers $5 Or Under

stocking stuffers

This weekend will be a great time to pick up some stocking stuffers at a steal!  Using the Shopular app, I’ve located 22 great ones for the whole family, all $5 or under.  You can check them out in more detail, or find even more, by downloading the app on Android or iOS.

Media

1. DVDs- Best Buy has the best deals that I could find. These aren’t new releases, but there are some award winning flicks from the past year or two in there.  Other stores have similar titles for a bit more. Price: $1.99-$3.99

2.  CDs-  Once again, some great albums from Best Buy at a great cost point. Price: $1.99

3.  Blu Rays- Walmart has the best deals on relatively new titles and older ones alike.  Price:  $3.96

4. Elementary School Novels- Think House of Robots and The Dork Diaries.  Get them at Walmart. Price: $5

Tech

5. Skull Candy Jib Earbuds- Best Buy has a bunch of different color options.  Price: $4.99

6. Memory Cards- Pick up a SanDisk 16GB SD card or microSD card at Walmart. Price: $5

7. Case Logic Camera Case-  I love Case Logic.  My camera case has lasted me 7 years and doesn’t show any signs of wear.  It’s come with me to the beach, back country backpacking in the mountains, and overseas.  You can pick one up at Walmart this weekend. Price: $5

8. Tech Wallets- I’m totally in need of a new wallet.  And Target has some in happy colors that you can fit your smart phone inside of.  (Hint, hint, husband!) Price: $5

Toys

9. Barbie- Certain Barbie dolls and Barbie accessory kits will be on sale at Target. Price: $5

10. Nail Polish Kits- Simple Pleasures nail polish kits look like they’d be great for preteens.  And they’re pretty dang affordable at Kohl’s.  Price: $3.99

11. Disney Stuffed Animals- Super cute, super cheap, and this specific edition is only at JC Penney’s. Price: $4.99

12.  Jenga- While Jenga’s probably the right dimensions to fit in a stocking, Walmart also has other games on sale for the same price.  Price: $4.88

Clothing

For the bigger stuff, roll it up military style to fit it into your stocking!

13. PJ Pants for men & women- Holiday themed or not, they’re on budget at Target. Price: $5

14. Socks, socks, socks. A boring gift? Yes.  But one we all get in our stockings every year to get us through until next winter?  You know it.  Where to shop depends on who you’re shopping for:

5-Pack of Ankle Socks for Women- $5 @ Target
Holiday Socks for Young Men- $3.99 @ Kohl’s
And there’s more.  Seriously, go download that app and I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to find some socks for any member of the family for under $5.

15. T-Shirts for Men- Plain T or Holiday/Humor infused, JC Penney’s has a lot of options. Price: $4.99

16. Kids Underwear- Just like the socks. :p Pick them up at Target. Price: $5

17. Pashmina-esque Scarves- Pretty, pretty options at JC Penney’s. Price: $4.99

18. Girl’s Leggings- Arizona brand at JC Penney’s. Price $4.49

19. Junior’s Cami or V-Neck T’s- Also Arizona at Penney’s. Price: $4.99

20. Gloves for Juniors/Women- Kohl’s has standard old gloves, and some really cute animal design ones that are fingerless, but have that pull-over thing to make them mittens when you don’t need to use your fingers. Price: $3.99-4.99  OR if you’re looking for some that you can easily use with your phone/iPad/whatever, Penney’s has touch tech gloves for $1.99.

Home Decor

21. Candles or Wax Melts- Kohl’s has ‘em! Price: $3.99

22. Picture Frames- Also at Kohl’s, you can get a miniature one for $2.79 or some normal-sized branded ones for $3.99.

 

Some of these are doorbusters, some of them aren’t.  To plan your trip, I’d highly advise downloading that awesome little app I keep referring back to:  Shopular.  That way you’re there at the right time for the items that most suit your needs, and you can find bigger things to put under the tree on sale, as well.  Happy shopping!!!

 

*I have been compensated for the writing of this post.  Regardless, all opinions are 100% my own.  I don’t recommend things to you that I wouldn’t use myself.*

 

Memorable Marketing 101

Today I have a special treat for all the bloggers out there.  Or just anyone who owns a business or has a vested interest in marketing.  The following infographic goes over some memorable marketing tips and facts in a fun way!

First is picking the colors that will define your brand.  I accidentally picked purple and green when I moved over to WordPress last year, but they’re pretty spot on with the values I’d like associated with Femme Frugality.  Though maybe I should add some blue!

Next up is the importance of social media.  Which we’re all very aware of.  There were some numbers that surprised me, though.  Like the fact that only 50% of Pinterest users have children.  It must be the people I follow, because it seems like most of the time my feed is filled up with kids’ crafts.  Which is 100% fine with me.  We love crafts.  But my feed is not representative of the hard numbers.

There’s also the fact that when consumers engage with a brand on social media, they’re spending 20-40% more.  Those are numbers worth paying attention to.

And finally, we look at using promotional products to market your business.  I know I keep about 60% of the stuff I get in swag bags.  And honestly, the infographic couldn’t be more true for me.  If I get a piece of paper with your business’s info on it, I’m likely going to glance over it before throwing it into recycling.  But give me something I can use?  I’ll be drinking out of your company’s coffee mug for the rest of my adult life.  And probably be curious enough to search what you’re all about online.  And then, if you’re awesome, I’ll look into buying what you’re selling.

Let me know what you think after looking it over!  Do your colors match what you’d like your brand to be known for?  Did any of the social media numbers surprise you?  What do you do with promotional products?  Should I start printing up some Femme Frugality t-shirts? :)

This Infographic was created by Promotional Plus

 

*This post has been compensated by Promotional Plus*

Breaking News: I have debt.

i have debt

I have some news for you, dear readers.  I, who have never held any type of debt outside a car loan that I always paid on time and paid off early, now have debt.  Credit card debt to be specific.

The husband was carrying a little bit of it, and had a pay off plan.  We read all the fine print that comes along with these types of things, but we misunderstood it.  And his 0% interest period ended abruptly.  Abruptly, at least, to us.  But I have a card that I use for rewards that still had time for a 0% interest balance transfer, and the expiration of 0 interest doesn’t expire until after the pay off plan’s end date.

So we transferred.  We’ve been trying to keep a general idea of our credit scores as we’d like to buy a house sometime in the future.  The last time I checked mine it was in the high 700s.

But now I have debt.  We’ve been monitoring our scores with a free system that estimates your number.  The husband’s shot up when we made the transfer.  Mine stayed essentially the same.

But those estimates aren’t the real thing.  Those estimates aren’t what the banks look at when you come to them asking for a loan for things like a mortgage.  What the banks look at are your FICO® Scores.

So when myFICO invited me to be a part of #myFICOIndsider, I of course jumped on the opportunity.  They offer a bunch of products that can either straight up show you your FICO® Scores or even monitor them.

Want to guess what happened when I checked my real, legit score using myFICO?  It wasn’t pretty.  It had dropped over 100 points.  I used a calculator, and figured out that if I were taking out a loan for a $150,000 home after the down payment, with a 30 year fixed mortgage, the drop in my score means I would be paying $33,022 more. If that’s not enough to motivate you to check your score before applying, I don’t know what is.  $33,022.

My guess as to why my score dropped is because my debt to credit ratio shot through the roof when I took on the husband’s debt.  I’m pretty sure this is what happened because when I made a pretty major payment, myFICO’s monitoring service sent me an email notifying me of a change in my debt balance.  I immediately checked my score, and it had inched up.  I imagine the monitoring could come in handy if someone was messing around with your identity, too.  If your debt balance suddenly shot up and you hadn’t swiped any plastic in a while, that notification email  would be so important.

The lessons I’ve taken out of this are:

  1. Debt is bad.  (Who are we kidding?  All of us here know that.  But this was my first personal experience with the negative ramifications.)
  1. Don’t apply for a loan until you know what your FICO® Scores are.  If they’re lower than you expected, it would be worth it to raise them before you even walked into that bank to apply.  Worth it like $33,022 worth it.
  1. Monitoring your FICO® Scores is a good idea, too.  It will encourage you when you’re taking positive strides in your finances, and alert you to any suspicious activity.

And for all my friends that blog about debt, I know you’re salivating for numbers.  I hope you can be sated with percentages.  Since I took on the debt, which has not been very long at all, 17% has been paid off, with another 8% coming off later this month.  The other 75% has to come off in the next five months, but I’m more than confident we’ll hit that before target. And when we do, we’ll have to check myFICO again to see if I’d be in a better state to apply for that mortgage.  Though the house fund will have to be looked over, too. ;)

 

 

 

Please note that a commercial relationship exists between our site and FICO that could include FICO providing us with product and other forms of payment. The views of the author(s) herein do not necessarily reflect the views of FICO. FICO is not a credit repair organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act, and does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” credit records, credit history or credit ratings.

Tips for Finding a Job As a Student

finding a job

Depending on a student’s major, finding a job after college (as well as taking a part-time job while you are still studying) may prove to be a challenging experience. Of course, if your future profession is in high demand in the market (software engineers, medical staff, etc.), you will have plenty of employment opportunities – even with the lack of experience. Still, to be on the safe side, it would be advisable to take some employment tips into consideration – especially if you feel that market demand on your professional expertise is low.

Employers’ doubts about hiring a student

  • Lack of experience – plenty of employers feel that students and graduates lack actual experience in their jobs; therefore, are sometimes reluctant to hire young experts and prefer more experienced candidates.
  • Immaturity – some jobs may require a high level of personal growth and maturity. This is an issue for many employers.
  • Irresponsibility – students and young graduates are often considered unreliable, irresponsible candidates for the position especially if they lack previous work experience that can contradict this wide spread belief.

Fortunately, by taking several small steps while you are still in college, you can easily counter these concerns.

Things to do while you are still in college

  • Start early – If you still have a chance, try and start looking for a job while you are still in college. It will give you some extra time and will boost your employment opportunities. A nice idea would be to subscribe to one of the employment databases, such as Jobtonic.com. It is a nice platform for browsing all of the latest job postings and comparing the results by job title, region, salary expectations, etc.
  • Experience practical side of your profession – If you are lucky enough to start a job while you are still in college, you will see the difference between the academic and actual, practical side of your profession. If you are still looking, try to at least research some information about the practical ins and outs of your future job.
  • Join professional social networking sites – Spend less time on Facebook, and more time on LinkedIn, or other career-oriented social platforms. First of all, it will give you a chance to get acquainted with some practical aspects of your job. And, of course, you might find new connections and get in touch with HR-managers and recruiters.
  • Be optimistic and persistent – Finding a job may take time, so it is crucial to stay positive and never give up. Once again, explore different resources, find reliable postings, subscribe to sites such as Jobtonic, and sooner or later, you will succeed!

 

*I have been compensated for this post written by an outside author.*

My Black Friday Survival Kit

black friday survival kit

Black Friday is coming up!!!  Are you excited?  Anxious?  Petrified?

I probably fall into the latter categories.  Frugal blogger or not, the craziest shopping day of the year is intense (and falls ironically right after Thanksgiving.)  To help ease my angst, my good friends at Shopular have sent me a survival kit full of things to help me through.  Check out what’s waiting in my purse:

 Simbi Hair Ties

cute hairtie

Normally, I wouldn’t go ga-ga over a $3 hairband, fashionable as it may be.  But Simbi is a company after my own heart.  We all know that Haiti was hit pretty hard by that earthquake back in 2009.  It crumbled what little infrastructure there was.  But what we’re not as aware of is that last year, on top of everything, they suffered a cholera outbreak because most people did not have access to clean drinking water.

With a portion of every sale going towards fixing this problem, the company chose the name “Simbi.”  Why?  Because Simbi is a Haitian water spirit.  Folklore and social entrepreneurship all is one company.  My heart swoons.

The hairbands are designed and made in Haiti by Haitian women in an effort to provide jobs and empowerment.  So when you’re headed into the lion’s den next Friday, you can pull your hair back in good conscience.

Follow them on:

Foot Petals

foot petals

 

Ahhh!  Foot Petals!  I don’t know where these have been my entire life, but I’m sure glad to have found them.  Put the American Podiatric Medical Association-approved cushions  in your shoes to absorb shock, repel moisture, bacteria and odor, and have comfier feet.  Perfect for a long day of shopping, or for heels you might have to wear during your day-to-day.  There are even ones that keep your toes from slipping out past the front of the shoe!  Maybe I’ll finally be able to wear a pair of peek-a-boos.

Follow them on:

Crazy Rumors Lip Balm

vegan lip balm

Since I initially started my efforts to go green, I’ve noticed it’s really hard to find cosmetics that are healthy and fair to the environment.  Which is why, as a lip balm addict, I was super excited that Crazy Rumors was included in my kit.  They’re all natural, cruelty free, and vegan approved.  They’re made with really high quality organic ingredients, and taste freaking fantastic.  If it’s as cold where you are as it is in Pittsburgh right now, you’d be glad you have it when you trek out to hunt down those deals.  Chapped lips are zero fun.

Plus, they have lip colors, too.  Which I’ll be checking out as it’s the first “green” option I’ve seen that appears to actually be of a good quality.  And pssssst…Femme Frugality readers can get 20% off by using promo code: Shopular at checkout.

Follow them on:

Vermints

organic mints

Yay for more green things!  Honestly, mints were never something I thought of as being bad for you.  But it turns out they usually are!  There’s all kinds of harmful chemicals in those things…seriously read the ingredient list next time before you pop one into your mouth.

Vermints are different.  Not only did they get rid of all the chemicals, but they’re also okay to use for pretty much everyone.  They’re gluten-free, GMO-free, nut-free, and even kosher.  They’ll be great to take along with you to keep your breath fresh if you’re shopping overnight. The alternative is bringing a toothbrush.  But seriously, who does that?

They’re also offering a discount to you.  Get 25% off using promocode:  A07MGX0M1D6B. That’s good through December 31.  So if you don’t use them for Black Friday, they just might make a great stocking stuffer.

Follow them on:

Quest Nutrition Energy Bars

protein bar

Want something healthier and easier than mall food on your Black Friday excursion?  These nutrition bars are it.  They’re deceivingly delicious, coming in flavors like Cookie Dough and Cookies and Creme.  But they’re also pretty healthy with only 1g of sugar and, of course, a good serving of protein to hold you over.  They’ve also got chips.  You can check out all the options here.

 Follow them on:

Cosmetic Boulevard Body Scrub

Coffee Scrub

Black Friday is exhausting.  After all that shopping, you’re going to be in serious  need of some rest.  Treat yourself to a spa night with Cosmetic Boulevard‘s body scrub.  I got their Coffee Scrub, and it was amazing.  It exfoliates and moisturizes and smells awesome.

But the thing that sets it apart from the scrub I concoct in my own kitchen is that the caffeine in it is supposed to target cellulite, stretch marks, acne and eczema.  I’ll leave you guessing as to which of those problems I have, but the one time I’ve used it since I got my kit isn’t enough to judge if it’s effective.  I’m hoping so, and will keep you updated.

Follow them on:

instagram

Dearfoams Slippers

memory foam slippers

 

After you hop out of the bath, sliding into some Dearfoams slippers will keep the pampering going for your feet, sore from shopping.  These things are amazing.  They’re padded with memory foam, and come in a ton of super cute deigns.  They’re worth the investment, as they’re made to last much, much longer than any normal slippers you’d buy.  I’m wearing them right now.  And I kind of don’t want to ever take them off.

Follow them on:

Shopular App

stress ball

 

Shopular put some goodies into my Black Friday Survival Kit, too!  A reusable shopping bag, keeping up with the green theme, and a stress ball just in case of anxiety attacks on the craziest shopping day of the year.

But the best thing they bring to the table is their app.  Some of you may remember the review I wrote about it a couple of months ago.   It’s a free app you can get on Android or iOS.  They’ve got coupons for so, so many stores, including circulars for sales.  So you don’t have to clip them and make a convoluted envelope system for when you hit the stores.  You just have to pull the app up on your phone.

Another awesome feature?  When you’re at the mall, you’ll have an option to view deals based on your location.  You can find out about sales and deals you wouldn’t have even known about on the spot that quickly.  Each and every time I’ve used it (which has been essentially every time I shop since I downloaded,) I’ve saved money.  Most of the time, it’s  been massive money.  And I did it all with almost no effort on my end, and definitely without scissors and glossy paper.

Follow them on:

What would be in your Black Friday Survival Kit?

 

*I received these items for free.  I have also been compensated for my time writing this post including my honest opinions.  Neither of those factors influences what you’ll always find here on Femme Frugality:  100% honest opinions.  I do not recommend things to you, my readers, that I would not use myself.*

Is ‘Giving Back’ a Part of Your Budget?

donate

This time of year, our budgets are tight.  People attend parties, travel to see family, and, of course, load gifts under the tree.  On top of it all, you’ve likely gotten mailing after mailing to contribute to charitable causes.  Every time you go shopping for those gifts, you’re likely asked to donate at the cash register or encouraged to drop some change outside the door by the clamor of a bell.

I don’t think that’s a bad thing.  I think we should give back.  And charities are smart to know that the Christmas spirit encourages that behavior.  But my guess is that at this time of year, your budget is tighter than ever, and those donations can add up to destroy it.  So let’s look at three ways to give without going broke.

1. Make it a Gift

Remember those gifts you were stock-piling under the tree?  Turn at least one of them into a charitable donation, made in someone’s name.  My family has done this a lot with one particular organization over the years.  A good way to do this is to find a cause the recipient is passionate about.  Perhaps it’s cancer research, or the education of orphans, or providing income-producing livestock to those who live in third world countries.  When you find a cause that matches their interests, you’re sure to have a great gift.

This can also help children appreciate the spirit of the holiday.  When you make the gift of a charitable donation in their name, talk to them about how that donation will help.  Encourage them to learn about the real-life applications of the charity’s work, and that donations like theirs make that work possible.

2. Giving Back Through Time

It’s often said that if you have money, you don’t have time, but if you have time, you don’t have enough money.  If you find yourself in that latter group, and still want to find a way to give back, volunteer.  Volunteers help organizations keep their operational costs to a minimum, which ensures that the optimum amount of donations goes directly to the cause.  Volunteering can change a life, whether you’re participating in an overseas volunteer program, or even just working at a soup kitchen, tutoring young students, helping to stock inventory, or donating a specialized skill.

3.  Make Giving Back a Habit

Many organizations are happy to take a smaller, monthly donation in place of a single large one. In this way you can make the donation more manageable for your budget, and provide funds to the charity year round as opposed to just once during the holiday season.  The same can be done with volunteering.  If you don’t have a ton of hours to give up in the month of December, make a smaller, monthly time commitment that helps the organization keep their costs down year round.

 

How do you make ‘giving back’ a part of your budget?

 

This post is in collaboration with UNICEF.  All content has been created by and is the opinion of Femme Frugality.

Stick Your As$ on a Budget

free wedding budget template

Please welcome our new wedding contributor, Katie Jakub!  She’s super saving-savvy and has so many great tips.  Be sure to grab the free budgeting/planning template!

Several weekends ago, my fiancé, Brian, and I celebrated my mother’s birthday with a big family dinner at a hole in the wall.  As the evening progressed and the BYOB wine loosened everyone’s lips, my sister hurled the insult, “Ryan [her husband] and I have decided that you two are the cheapest out of everyone in the family.” Brian and I looked at each other and laughed because each family has their own dynamic of you-can’t-take-it-with-yous and save-every-last-penny.  My sister and her husband edge into the former while we are closer to the latter part of the spectrum.  We attempted to explain the differences in our situation compared to theirs, but oops! my wine glass was empty and we quickly moved on.

Brian and I consider ourselves frugal by choice because we refuse to walk down the aisle in any kind of wedding related debt.  We are willing to spend money on the wedding, but we understand that for every dollar that goes to our portion the wedding, a dollar comes from our joint fund.  What this means is that both our home budget and wedding budget are akin to a holy text for us during this year of planning.

Budgets are yucky.  Luckily for me, Brian hearts macros, spreadsheet, and formulas almost as much as he loves me (maybe more?).  But he hates hates hates following a budget.  On the other side of the marital venture, I get a kick out of the challenge of coming in on or under goal, but talking about the budget when we’ve gone over makes my eye twitch.

We have learned several techniques over the past months that have seemed to make a huge difference in discussing and following the wedding budget.

TALK ABOUT IT.  Find time between your Sherlock or OITNB binge watching to talk about the budget together.  Both people need to understand what it is going on and you should never let your partner off the hook when they say “I don’t get it”.  I always hate looking at the numbers because they turn into a pile of math soup, but even something as simple as changing how we approached talking about the budget entirely shifted how I viewed the budget.  We learned a simple trick at our Pre-Cana classes and it’s made a huge difference.  The cornfield is on the right, but try rephrasing the discussion to something similar to “when you’re ready to talk about the budget, I’m ready to listen.”  It makes us giggle and breaks the tension of the topic.

MAKE THE BUDGET YOUR OWN.  To me, having pretty colors made the budget friendlier.  To Brian, it was formulas.  Even something as simple as having our budget on a cloud based drive has made it less painful to use.  We can both access the budget at any point (it’s not stored on one person’s computer), edit as needed, and even check while we’re on the go.

DO NOT PLAN ANYTHING UNTIL YOU’VE SET A BUDGET.  It’s nice to dream, but you can quickly become disappointed when reality doesn’t align.  Brian and I are fortunate that both sets of parents are able to help us cover some wedding costs.  The earlier you can have candid and honest discussions with any parents/relatives that will be helping pay for the wedding, the sooner you can move on to the planning stage.

This also means knowing how much you can cover.  If you already have personal or couple budget in place, you’re a step ahead because you know what you can contribute.  A simple overall budget number is a perfect starting place: we know that we’ve got $5,000 from your parents and $2,000 from mine and we can save $3,000 by the wedding.  An overall budget number can influence your first big decisions such as the venue–especially if you have Plaza dreams on a fire hall budget.  From there, you can start to narrow in on how much you spend on what with a more itemized budget.

HAVE A WISH LIST.  Sometimes, keeping-up-with-the-newlyweds can feel like a three ring circus of vendors.  Figure out what is absolutely essential for your wedding.  Brian and I knew that we had to have cake and pie at our Pi Day Wedding (hilarious that we chose math as part of our wedding, right?) and that making our own candy flavored liquor would be a special touch, but that a photo booth, up-lighting, and a garden of flowers weren’t anywhere near the top of our list.  It’s nice to want, but you definitely do not want to spend years paying off your wedding.

CELEBRATE YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS.  You negotiated a vendor’s price down?  Celebrate!  Whether it’s putting that money you saved towards a night out with your main squeeze or putting it towards a wish list item, you’ve got a little wiggle room to do something for you.  When you’ve come in on budget, do something a bit smaller like a drinks at a fancy restaurant.  You deserve it–you’ve put on your grown up BRIDE or GROOM-TO-BE plastered undies on and followed your budget.

To help you achieve wedding budget bliss or at least find your starting place, I’m including a copy of our free wedding budget template Excel file which includes a countdown (no pressure!), budget sheet, guest info, vendor info, seating charts, day of timeline, drop of lists, must have photos, and songs for the DJ.  And remember to make the budget your own!

 

 

*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on brokeGIRLrich and Shoeaholic No More*

Are my Kids Actually Native American? The DNA test results.

Back in August, I posted about the possibility of my children being partially Native American.  I brought it up to pose the question, “Is it right for white kids who are 1/64 Native American to apply for/claim scholarships meant for a marginalized minority?”  The responses to that question were interesting, but what was even more interesting was that many of you encouraged me to research the possible link.  Not for college money, but to allow my children to connect to a possible part of their heritage.

Well, genealogy is right up my alley.  So I followed your encouragement.  I’ve teamed up with Ancestry.com to discover the mystery of the Native American great-times-who-knows-how-many grandmother, who may or may not exist.  I’ve been working with them to research databases and records (which I’ll share in another post soon,) but also to get a scientific view of their heritage through a DNA test.

How the DNA test works.

About a decade ago, I was familiar with mitochondrial DNA tests.  Mitochondrial DNA carries information maternally, so you could trace back really far, but only on one line, and the results wouldn’t be diverse.

Fast-forward to 2014, and Ancestry’s DNA test looks at your entire genome through an autosomal DNA test, pulling all kinds of information and getting really specific about as many lines as possible.  Granted, you only inherit 1/2 of each of your parent’s DNA, and that half is selected randomly.  And that happens every generation.  So while the test can definitively tell you where a lot of your ancestors came from, it’s can’t definitively rule out any ethnicity.  If you’re a visual person like me, here’s how that all works:

dna mix

This happens every generation.

Before I could convince anybody to take the test, there were some major privacy concerns.  Who will have my DNA?  They’re going to store it, as in keep it?  What will they use it for?

Honestly, I initially had those concerns, too.  But every last question was answered to my satisfaction.  Ancestry does store your DNA, but it is only identifiable by a serial code number.  Only two people in the entire company have access that links your serial code to your Ancestry account, and the only reason they have it is so that they can, in fact, link the two and allow you to see the results.  You don’t have to use your real name when you submit your sample.  We sure didn’t.

Genetics is a field we’re learning more and more about everyday.  By storing your DNA (under serial number, and a pseudonym that only 2 people in the company have access to,) Ancestry is able to let you know if they can gather further information as science advances.  Remember, 10 years ago we were really only testing one, very specific branch from the family tree through mitochondrial DNA.  Now we have access to so much more.  Imagine what you could find out 10 years from now?

We gave the test to the oldest person in the line that supposedly had the Native American blood.  The reason we did this is because of that picture above:  DNA splits every generation, so the older the person generation-wise, the more of the original family DNA they have from that line.  They spit in a tube, we shook it with some magical blue solution, and we mailed it in.  It’s a super simple process if you just follow the directions they send along with your kit.

Tell me the results, already!

Ok, ok.  So you want to know how things turned out?  Here you go:

dna test

Click on the image to open in a new window if the details are too small for you to view. If you’re checking this out via e-mail, be sure to click here to see the image!

As you can see, for this specific branch of the family (the one there was a rumor about,) there was no Native American blood.  Like we talked about above, that does not mean it doesn’t exist.  There’s a small possibility that it could have been phased out when DNA split generation after generation.  I’ll talk more about what I’ve found through researching records in an upcoming post.

But Native American-ness aside, how interesting is this?  The colored in areas are the dominant ones, while the outlined ones mean there are only trace amounts of this “ethnicity” in your genes.  This test can trace back 1,000 years, so the trace of Scandinavian blood made sense to me.  There were without a doubt family members from England, and England was settled originally by Germanic tribes, and then these people underwent a Norman invasion.  The Viking-descendant people dominated, influencing culture and the English language for eternity, on top of having children with the people of the isle.  Thus the trace amounts of DNA.  At least that’s my hypothesis.

I’m going to have to do some more historical research on the other trace areas.  I currently have no records to back up these parts of the DNA findings, which is exactly why finding out the results is so cool.

Worth the Money?

100%.  On top of getting those results back, Ancestry hooks you up with all other DNA participants who are potential relatives. (Think cousin, third cousin, ad infinitum.)  These people are on Ancestry, so there’s a good chance they’ve already done some family history research.  If you can figure out where you’re related, you may just find that they’ve got that part of your tree done pretty far back.  You can compare records and potentially discover new parts of your family that you never knew existed.  (Concerned about privacy on this part, too?  Don’t worry; there are all types of privacy options that you can put up from sharing everything to preventing anyone from contacting you/seeing your Ancestry account.)

The test is $99, though I received this one for free so I could write about it.  I plan on buying another one to research a branch of my family that we don’t really know much about.  We know a specific war caused an immigration in the not-so-distant past, but we have zero clue as to where they came from before that, making research crazy difficult, if the records even still exist after such tumult. This test would allow us to finally figure that out.

If you’re interested in getting your own DNA test, as an affiliate, I can get you Free Shipping on Ancestry DNA Kit w Code: FREESHIPDNA.

How have you connected to your own ancestry?  Have you ever done a DNA test?

 

 

*This post is a part of Friday Jet Fuel & #FinSavSat*

Why You Shouldn’t Set and Forget Your Wedding Ring Insurance

wedding rings

A while back, Frankly Frugal asked me what I would do if I lost my wedding ring.  I was able to answer with a good degree of certainty as it’s actually happened to me before.  In a past marriage, I took off my ring at work.  I put it in the safety of a zipped pocket of my bag so I wouldn’t lose it while on that particular job.  The bag stayed within sight for the duration of the work day.  Yet, at the end of it, the ring was gone.

I turned the place upside down.  I turned my car upside down.  I turned my house upside down.  I knew it wasn’t in the latter two places; it had definitely come with me to work and made it into that zipped pocket.  But I had to look anyways.

I never found the ring.  I was devastated at first.  But I eventually got over it.  The ring isn’t important; the thing it symbolizes is.  And seeing as that marriage ended in divorce anyways, I’ve more than come to terms with the loss of the jewelry.

But what I did do as soon as I had accepted the ring wouldn’t show back up was file an insurance claim.  Generally, wedding ring insurance is actually under a valuable personal property policy.  You can insure the ring up to whatever it’s worth, and pay a premium based on the coverage level.  My premiums for these policies have always been nominal (we’re talking less than $5/month,) and it turns out it was a really good policy to have.

I lost the ring after the Recession had hit.  It had been bought when the economy was booming.  The value and therefore cost of precious metals generally goes down significantly when the economy is stable, and then shoots through the roof when the economy tanks.  So my ex had gotten the ring for a comparatively affordable price.

But when the market tanked, my ring went up in value significantly.  As I was completing my claim, I realized this, but the only paperwork I had in regards to the value of the ring was the original receipt.  Even though I had adjusted the coverage on my policy, they were only willing to pay out the ring’s documented  value.

So what happened?  I lost upwards of $800.

That’s how much the value of my ring had gone up.  Around $800.  But because the documentation I had only proved the value from the days of a bustling economy, that’s all I could claim.  The lesson is:  when the economy takes a turn for the worse, go get your wedding ring appraised.  (Or all your real jewelry, for that matter.)

You can get an insurance appraisal at almost any jeweler’s.  It’s not a complicated process, and they provide you with documentation of the ring’s value should you ever be unfortunate enough to lose that little band.  Be aware that the ring’s value and what you would actually be able to sell it for are very different numbers.  The value will be higher (and would be the amount your insurer would pay out should the unthinkable happen,) but no jeweler or pawn shop owner will give you that much for it.  They’ll still give you more than what they would have when everyone had jobs and the value for precious metals was low, but they won’t give you the appraisal amount.

At the end of the day, a piece of metal is just a piece of metal.  It’s the strength of the relationship that matters.  But if you’re properly insured, you can ensure that you can get the cash for a replacement piece of metal to pass on as a family heirloom if you so desire.

 

 

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