4 Affordable Pittsburgh Neighborhoods

affordable pittsburgh neighborhoods

Today’s post is contributed by Emily Creswick of Zillow.  I’m so excited to have her write about a subject so close to home!  (Ha.  Puns.)

Pittsburgh evolved from its “Steel City” roots into a modern hub of culture, high class education and comfortable living. The city boasts a low unemployment rate due to an established university presence and steady economy. Additionally, Pittsburgh is abundant in natural beauty with neighborhoods built on rolling hills, complemented by views of meandering downtown rivers.

Pittsburgh residents enjoy some of the most affordable housing in the U.S. where the median home value is $91,200 and rent costs $1,052 monthly. Comparatively, the median home value nationally is steeper at $175,000 and the median rent is $1,318. Before making the move to Pittsburgh, here are four affordable neighborhoods to check out.

  1. Lawrenceville

Located less than three mile north east of downtown Pittsburgh and bordered by the banks of the Allegheny River, Lawrenceville is one of the largest neighborhoods in Pittsburgh. Lawrenceville has an industrial past and is now home to hipsters and local artisans. The neighborhood is made up of lower, central and upper Lawrenceville and is spread over 2.5 miles. Lower and central Lawrenceville are the more desirable areas, rich in culture, art galleries, historic venues, diverse dining options, hip bars and great indie shopping on trendy Butler Street. Lower Lawrenceville has median home values of $86,300 and rents of $1,173. Upper Lawrenceville has lower median home values of $66,000 and rents of $1,032. Unfortunately, specific data for central Lawrenceville is unavailable.

Note from Femme:  I’d really stay away from Upper Lawrenceville.  Central and Lower are a great place to live, especially if you’re into the art scene, but Upper starts to get a little dodgy.  

  1. Brookline

Brookline is a family-friendly neighborhood located four miles south of downtown Pittsburgh. It is the second largest neighborhood in Pittsburgh and has a lot to offer, including restaurants, bakeries, hair salons and locally grown produce at farmers markets. Brookline Boulevard is the bustling hub of the neighborhood with more than 90 thriving businesses over a mile stretch. Other family-friendly amenities include two large playgrounds and newly-renovated Carnegie Library. Families in Brookline enjoy a variety of educational options including Pittsburgh Carmalt K-8 and Pittsburgh Brookline K-8. The median home value in Brookline is $98,500 and rent is $999.

  1. Mount Washington/Duquesne Heights

Mount Washington and Duquesne Heights are two side-by-side neighborhoods that join to form a balanced and peaceful community, ideal for singles and first-time homebuyers. The neighborhoods are located on the south bank of downtown Pittsburgh, bordered by the Ohio and Monongahela Rivers to the north. The intersection of Virginia Avenue and Shiloh Street is a hub for business and entertainment. The median home value in Mount Washington is $78,300 and rent is $1,058, and the median home value in Duquesne Heights is $114,300 and rent is $1,125.

  1. Highland Park

Highland Park’s median home value of $220,900 and rent of $1,677 is comparatively higher than other neighborhoods mentioned. However, the neighborhood is highly desirable for growing families and is more affordable than close-by trendy neighborhoods including Shadyside and Squirrel Hill. Highland Park is bordered by a 500-acre park that encompasses the northern region of the neighborhood and backs onto the top of the Allegheny River. The park has two of Pittsburgh’s water reservoirs and many family-friendly amenities including picnic groves, a fishing lake, long course swimming pool, volleyball and tennis courts as well as children’s playgrounds and the Pittsburgh Zoo. The southern area of the neighborhood is made up of developed residential streets, but homes closer to the park are more desirable.

Before finding an affordable home in a highly sought after Pittsburgh neighborhood, be sure to complete research regarding the area’s demographics and amenities. A great way to get a feel for a neighborhood is to drive around the residential streets and take a walking tour around the neighborhood’s entertainment hub.

Do you live in Pittsburgh?  Tell us your favorite thing about your neighborhood!

A Soccer Update

A couple of weeks ago I posted with some fervor about my child’s lack of interest in participating with other kids.  Specifically at soccer practice.  I was set and determined to offer two options:  play soccer with the other kids, or sit on mommy’s lap.  Screaming or not, those were going to be the options.

And advice came flooding in.  Not just in response to the post, but in real life, at soccer practice, as well.  Pretty much the advice went something like this:  let your kid be a kid.  If they don’t like soccer, don’t force it.

So I caved.  Not just because of the advice.  But because my method clearly wasn’t working.  For me, the big thing isn’t that my child doesn’t want to be the next Pele; it’s that participation in anything has become such an uphill battle.  We’ve left soccer early twice now.

Once was because I was having a particularly emotional day, and I couldn’t handle (or accept, perhaps?) that my two-choices method wasn’t working.  I gave up.  I caved.  I felt defeated.  So we left ten minutes early so mommy could cry in the car.  It wasn’t a failure on my child’s part; it was a failure in parenting for myself as far as I was concerned.  Either I gave up too easily, or I had been going at it the wrong way the whole time.  Either way, I was wrong, wrong, wrong.  Part of it is the pride, but the bigger part was that when you do something wrong when it comes to parenting, the person who loses the most is your child.  I want to do right by them.  And in situations like this, I’m just not sure what “right” is.

The other time was when grandma went to soccer practice because my husband and I had a previous engagement.  Apparently all was going well on the playground, and then suddenly running around the parking lot became the only  cool thing to do.  Not safe, and the tantrum that ensued couldn’t be quelled, so she packed it in.   I don’t blame her.  Do you notice that none of that has anything to do with soccer?

But we dress up in cleats and their soccer shirt every practice, nonetheless.  The coaches never forget my kid’s there, and always encourage them to come play.  There’s a special soccer ball set aside just waiting for them.

We’ll keep trying.  We’ve got an incredibly athletic kid.  We’ve got an incredibly amazing kid.  Hopefully I’ll learn to become an amazing parent, but man, is this a process.

Also, just so everyone knows, there’s a new addition to the Femme Frugality team!  Kayla will be doing some commenting for me, so if you see her on your blog, know that I sent her with love!

A Grown Man’s First Disney Experience–from Australia

So pleased to have Jason from Islands of Investing guest posting today!  He’s traveled across the world to see Disney, and had quite the experience.  If you’re interested in contributing your own Disney guest post, please contact me.

My very first Disney experience was late 2006, as a 25 year old. I was lucky enough to have my then-girlfriend now-wife’s family invite me on one of their very special family vacations to the US. Turned out they were pretty huge fans of everything Disney – especially the theme parks, and this trip was to involve no less than 10 days at Disneyworld.

I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into, or what to expect. As a young boy, I had always pictured Disneyland as a mythical, magical place, that no-one really visited. It genuinely didn’t seem like a real place to me, living on the other side of the world, in my own small sphere of reality. It certainly wasn’t something my own family ever talked about. grown man disney

Wow!

I was simply blown away by my first visit. I vividly remember every ride and experience at the first park we visited, Epcot. The attention to every detail, the atmosphere of fun and magic, and the sheer quality of everything was like nothing I’d seen before. And all the other Disney parks had the same impact.

What made the experience even more amazing was my wife’s incredible planning around what rides to do when, and her family’s knowledge of all the tips and tricks (including optimisation of fast-passes!), being veterans of the Disney parks. It really pays to be prepared and organised! (That also included being up super-early and at the park about an hour before it opened – lucky I’m a morning person ☺)

grown man disney

Little did I know how scary it would really be!

A terrifying (but eventually enjoyable) ride

My wife and family played a nice little trick on me, on the Tower of Terror at Disney Hollywood Studios (or MGM as it was known when we were there). I knew nothing about it, and was happy to just go along for the ride. I assumed there might be some riding up and down in an elevator – sounds fun!

All was going great until our elevator came off the rails, and drifted forwards towards a pitch black room, with the doors closing behind us. Then – the DROP! I have seriously never, ever screamed like I did on that first ride. It was blood-curdling. The only time so far in my life I genuinely thought I was going to die. Stupid as it might have seemed, the free-falling experience was totally unexpected.

I was shaking for about 30 minutes afterwards, barely able to speak. But after a few more brave rides, it has since become one of my favourites! I’ve definitely overcome a few fear-factors on some of the more extreme rides, and now I just can’t get enough of them!

“We came all the way from Australia!”

We arrived at Animal Kingdom (another Disney theme park), bursting with excitement to experience the “Expedition Everest” roller coaster for the first time. When the gates opened, we couldn’t contain ourselves – we all started running towards the ride (you’re not really supposed to run!), which was all the way over the other side of the park. When staff yelled out to us “You don’t need to run – the ride isn’t going anywhere!”, we replied “But we are! We’ve just come all the way from Australia, so we’re making the most of every second!”. And it was worth it – we got about 3 rides in before it started getting ridiculously busy! Definitely one of my top 2 or 3 favourites.

grown man disney

Expedition Everest at Animal Kindgom – an awesome ride!

I could go on and on about all the other amazing rides and experiences, but I’ll spare you the details – and let you discover them for yourself one day if you haven’t yet been.

We will return again!

I’m so grateful to my wife and her very generous family for that first experience. It’s definitely one I’ll remember forever.

I know it often seems weird to people who either haven’t experienced it, or believe they’re too ‘mature’ for a theme park, that a grown man can have such a brilliant experience at a place like Disney. But I think when you really do immerse yourself in it, you really see what an amazing, fun, joyous place it can be. It’s great to be able to awaken you’re inner child! (but there are still plenty of more daunting adult rides too). Although I must admit – I’ll probably never get quite as excited as the rest of my family about all the parades, even though I will admit they are pretty spectacular.

I’ve been back to Disneyworld / land a few times since with my wife – including a visit to Tokyo Disney (which is amazing!). But we’re most excited to take my 2 year old daughter in a few years, and hopefully start a new, wonderful family tradition and create some more unforgettable memories!

Jason is the creator of the Islands of Investing, a quiet place away from the constant noise of the investment world. His blog is focused on learning about the important things for becoming a better investor and living a good life. He’s striving towards financial independence – and balancing this with occasional family trips to Disney!

If you’re interested in booking your own Disney vacation, request a quote from my affiliate Laura.  She’s got all the best deals, works for free to you, and will save you a ton of money on your magical experiences.

Favorite Free In-Store Shopping App: Shopular

free app

 

I get a ton of coupons mailed to me from businesses I frequent.  A lot of times, they are absolutely, write-home amazing.  The not so amazing part?  I leave them at home. So I get to the store and realize I’m not actually going to save that 40%. Or I’ll just randomly be at the store while I’m out running errands, find a steal on something our family legitimately needs, but won’t buy it because I tell myself that I’ll come back with my coupon.

And then I don’t.

It’s kind of lame.  But in today’s world, the whole, “There’s an app for that!” attitude couldn’t be more true.  And the app that solves my coupons-on-the-counter problem is Shopular. I’ve saved money each and every time I’ve shopped since I’ve downloaded it.

Never Find Yourself Coupon-less Again

When you first download the app, it will ask you to pick your favorite stores from a very, very, very long list.  Then, you get updates every time those stores update coupons and deals.  No work involved.  If you want, you can turn off the updates and just use the app when you find yourself meandering Kohl’s (or whichever store you like to meander.)  I’ve seriously been able to look up an amazing coupon every time I’ve gone to the cash register, even when I didn’t know there was one to be found.

Shopular Knows Your Mall

One of the great features about this app is that you can “Filter By Mall.”  With the location on your phone turned on, Shopular literally knows which mall you are at, including ALL OF THE STORES inside!  And, of course, it brings up coupons for those stores.  The only downside to this is that I almost went into Bath and Bodyworks for a crazy good deal. Even though we had soap and shampoo in plenty at home.  I was still so tempted.  If you’ve been following me for a while, you know it must have been a big deal coupon to tempt me to spend money unnecessarily on bath luxuries, of all things.  But they smell so good, and the savings were so deep.

I averted.  But did use a great coupon at Penny’s.  Where we were shopping anyways.

Get #Tips from the Community

Are you not a coupon queen?  That’s okay.  You don’t have to be. There’s a bunch of other people out there who are. And tons of them are on Shopular.  In the “#Tips” section of the app, you can ask or answer questions on a virtual message board, or find amazing sale/coupon combos that other shoppers have found.  Get real time advice from people who live and breathe couponing so you don’t have to.

Get the App for Free

I love free apps.  I love apps that save me money.  When they do both, I download away.  You can get Shopular for your iPhone here, or on the Andriod market.

Do you suffer from coupon-on-the-counter-itis as I do?  Or just hate carrying them around?  Or maybe you’re one of the coupon queens that helps me out in #Tips.  Whichever you are, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!!!

*Shopular has compensated me for the writing of this post.  Regardless, all opinions and experiences are 100% honest and my own.  I don’t recommend things to my readers that I wouldn’t use myself.*

 

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

 

Around the World in 80 Books

 

Today I’m super excited to announce that I’m joining a fun challenge posed by my friend Savvy Working Gal.  It’s called travel the world in books. Basically you read books from around the world, setting your own goals and benchmarks along the way:

“The Goal

Travel the world in books, of course! Expand your horizons and read books set in or written by authors from countries other than the one you live in. Visit as many different countries in books as you wish. 

The “Rules”

And the “rules” are simply this…YOU choose your own adventure! These are your goals but you can change them any time. “

My Goals

I want to read 80 books from around the world. (Like Around the World in 80 Days.) I’m not setting any firm time deadlines for myself. I love to read, but it’s a leisure I fit in around everything else.  Sometimes I’ll move along more quickly, and other times a book will probably take me a while. This is for fun; it’s not a job.

I’m counting books from different cultures.  Within my own country, I could read a book from a cultural subset to which I don’t belong, like the Deaf community. Similarly, I could read multiple books from one country if they are written by or from the point of view of a different cultural subsets.

I’m going to do this frugally.

My goal is to spend less than $20 on the 80 books.  I’ll keep a tally.  I plan to do this by:

  • Getting free ebooks.
  • Paying off my library fees, and then borrowing books from the library. (I won’t count the fees towards the $20, unless I incur them as a result of the challenge.)
  • I sometimes get books as gifts.
  • Winning books in giveaways.  I’ll show you one below!

My running tally so far: $0.

 My Shelf So Far

If you’re interested in seeing my reads on a map, I’ll be updating this one every time I finish a book!  Here’s what I’ve got so far:

If you’re reading in email, go to the website to be able to see which books I’m reading.

Country: England.

Status: Read!

Review: I read the free Amazon version. There were several paragraphs repeated throughout. It was good for the type of book it was. I expected it to talk more about Arthur, but aside from the beginning he was a secondary character. Tristram and Isolt was the fastest and favorite part. (Hate reading?  You can catch a different version of their story in the movie, Tristan And Isolde.  Stars one of my favorites, James Franco.) Lancelot and Guinevere’s relationship was extremely PG.  But the whole thing was still enough to make me want to visit Merlin’s Cave like Budget Loving Military Wife.

Country: Turkey.

Status: Reading.

This one I actually got as a birthday gift…perfect timing, right?  I’m going to wait to review books until I’m all the way through with them.

Country: Israel. I think. Maybe Palestine/Gaza strip. I’ll have to read it to find out.

Status: In queue.

I won this one from a giveaway on Mom’s Small Victories associated with the challenge!

 

So that’s three books, three countries.  I’ve got 77 more to go! Any suggestions?

Ask Femme Anything: #FrugalFINCONFiesta

fiesta   I’m not going to Fin Con.  Obviously. For those of you who have no idea what the heck that is, it’s a conference for people who write about finances.  A ton of great bloggers are going, but there are a ton who aren’t, too.  I’m joining up with some of the best who stayed home for an unprecedented event, created by Debt Debs.

It’s a live blogging event for all those staying home.  What that means is that I’ll be updating this post between now and tomorrow night to answer ANY question you may have for me.  Just leave it in the comments, and I’ll answer!  (And let me ask that we keep things PG-13.)

I’ll start off with an example to get things rolling.

Femme, why aren’t you going to FinCon this year?  Or any year past? I’d love to go.  I hope to go in the future.  But it kind of falls at a bad time of year for me and the day job.  Even if I could swing it, I’ve got young kids at home, and the husband has a pretty demanding schedule in the fall, too, so we’d need baby-sitters galore in order to make it work.  Plus, travel is expensive.  This year it’s in New Orleans, and we’ve already busted our travel budget with our pseudo-lavish honeymoon and a family trip in 2014.  Anything beyond a car trip is out of the question, and I’m saving my rewards points for other purposes.  Add to that the actual ticket prices.  Around $500.  Too much money.

I’m sure the benefits you get out of going are worth it.  But if I went, I’d also miss out on this Fiesta, and that would be pretty lame. NOTE TO FINCON PLANNERS: Pittsburgh is an amazing city!  The President thought it was cool enough to have the G20 here.  If you need more selling on why you should host it here in 2015, I’m your girl.

Kirsten asks: What is the hardest thing about blogging for you? What is the easiest?

The hardest part lately is finding the time. I’ve started dropping tasks that don’t produce anything of value, and outsourcing some things is probably in the near future. Also, coding.

The easiest is content. I love writing, and have post drafts and ideas waiting. Sometimes they get pushed back a lot because there is so much that needs to be said immediately. Like the Pittsburgh airport post. It was scheduled for May, but I don’t think it actually went live till August.

Brian asks: How will you teach your kids about money?

I plan to give them a lot of responsibility, and let them make mistakes at home where it is easier to learn lessons.  They’ll get an allowance once they’re old enough, and I’ll encourage savings while leaving the final decision of allocation to them.  I love visual methods, like this one.

As they get even older, I’ll start explaining to them what the heck I’m doing about things like saving for retirement, saving for their college, and paying off any loans we may or may not have.  As college approaches, we’ll get real about what mom and dad can pay, and I’ll teach them how to apply for grants and scholarships as they start making those major decisions, encouraging them to stay as far away from student loans as possible.

Brandy asks: I’ve never been to Pittsburgh. What is your favorite thing to do there?

This is such a hard question.  Over the course of my life, there have been different favorite things about the city.  When I was a high school student, I loved hanging out at North Park or the Point (where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers join to form the Ohio; it’s downtown, and the former home to Fort Pitt which was pretty important back in revolutionary times.  Now it’s a gorgeous park with a gorgeous fountain.)  Summer break brought festivals of all kinds, and I’d head downtown with my friends for every one of them.

As an adult with a slightly larger budget, I love going to baseball games at PNC Park. (Of course, there’s the Steelers and Penguins, too, but those guys are out of my budget.)  I also can’t get enough of the Cultural District, where we have the most Broadway shows in the world, second only to NYC (obvs.) I love our museums galore with discounts galore. I love living so close to Mt. Washington with one of the best city views in the world.  I love that although you are more dependent on a college degree than in most locations, we have an overall affordable economy.

Ultimately, my decision to come back “home” for keeps was the fact that Pittsburgh has a lot of culture with an extremely high level of safety for a city of its size.

Tre asks: What do you feel is your greatest accomplishment?

The first answer is both obligatory and sincere:  my children.

If I were to limit my answer to only blogging, I’d say it’s being able to connect with people who my writing has helped.  Whether they’ve found out about inaccuracies on their credit report, or found the best marriage license for their ideals/budget, it’s kind of amazing to hear that they figured these things out because of something they’ve read here on the blog.

Jean asks:  What one book or site has been the biggest help for your blogging?

I really can’t say it was one book or site.  It really has been a conglomeration of great bloggers willing to reach out a hand and help along the way.  Reading stuff is great, and has helped me a lot, but it’s the people that have helped answer my questions and grow behind the scenes that have really given me the biggest boost.  I’d list them all, but I’m pretty sure it would include at least half of the PF blogosphere.  Know we have a great community.  Be willing to reach out for help when you need it.

May asks: Why personal finance?

I was pretty broke when I started? Haha.  I’ve always been obsessed with maintaining good finances, but sometimes life gets in the way.  Circumstances had me in a weird spot with my money, and I was forced to get really creative.  I started blabbing all these amazing, creative ways to my friends, most of whom didn’t care at all.  So I started blogging hoping I could at least help somebody out there.

Deb asks: Why do you blog anonymously and who of your family and friends know about your blog?

There are four or five reasons I blog anonymously. The one I’m most comfortable sharing is that I’m painfully self-critical. Having everyone I know read what I write would probably paralyze me to the point I wouldn’t write anymore.

That being said, my husband blabs about my blog to everyone he knows. Most people just say, “What? She makes money doing that? That’s cool.” And never ask about the URL or anything. Still make me blush. My immediate family all know. My sibling has written a review for me. My mom loaned me the money to go self-hosted because she believes in me more than I believe in myself. The blog earned enough to pay her back in the first two weeks. And I have a few friends that have been reading since I first started and shared some posts on Facebook. I hadn’t yet decided on my anonymity at that point.

KK asks: What has been your biggest financial “mistake” and what did you learn from it? 

I get flack every time I say this, but having a joint account with my first husband was probably my biggest mistake. From it I learned that you can love and trust, but you’ve got to be practical and protect yourself, too.

Also, my first lesson in personal finance left a pretty huge impression.

Tennille asks: How do you plan to celebrate once you become debt free?

I actually am debt free. My husband is carrying a small amount of consumer debt that we’re chunking away at, but not too worried about as it’s on a 0% interest credit card at the moment. It’ll be paid off long before the promotional rate expires. He also has a car loan, but it’s not something we stress about. We’d much rather pay a small car payment than have a beater that needed to go in for repairs every month. The only debt I’ve ever had is a car loan, and I paid that off about 18 months ago. We live within our means, so we don’t really have too much to worry about as far as debt. We would like to increase our income, and I guess that will be something to celebrate. But mostly in full bank accounts, not so much in epic partying.

Melissa asks if we will stay in Pittsburgh after our kids are grown?

We’ve actually talked about this, too, Melissa! The only thing that could make me say no is the winters. They’re not even usually that dramatic, but the city does not plow its roads. The suburbs do. And last year was a bit better under our new mayor. But overall, if I’m not skiing, I’m not a big fan of the cold.

The first beach we ever went to together was Virginia Beach. The husband said he wanted to set up a beach shop there when we retired. And live by the sea. In reality, all of his family lives here, as does my immediate. I think that’s enough to stop him from pursuing that dream.

Another factor is where our kids end up. If they stay here (I’m finding out through genealogy that parts of his family have been here since at least 1800,) we will stay here, too.

I think what will end up happening is we will become snowbirds. Have a home here to rent out to the plentiful grad students in the winter, and make for sunny shores when the weather starts to get colder. Only after we retire, though. I had kids pseudo young, and want to stay at my company till I retire. There will be a few years in between.

We will see, though. We still have a lot of time and many other goals to reach before that happens.

Frankly Frugal asks: What would you do if you lost your wedding ring?

File an insurance claim!  This actually happened to me once in my previous marriage.  I got really torn up about it.  Now I realize a ring is just a ring.  While the thing it symbolizes is important to me, the ring itself can be replaced.

Here’s some wisdom from experience, though: if the economy ever tanks, go get your ring appraised as the price of precious metals probably just shot through the roof.  I didn’t, so I got reimbursed for the price my ex bought it at when the economy was still booming rather than what it was actually worth.  Lost almost $800.

Questions are closed!  Thanks for making this such a fun party!  Feel free to ask in the comments below, but I will not be adding anymore to this post.

Also, check out all the other cool peeps participating in the fiesta below Deb’s rules!

Something to Read, Something to Win, & Something for Free

Today is a hodgepodge of awesome stuff for you guys.  Hope you enjoy!

Engaged and in Pittsburgh?

And have nothing to do tonight?  Register for A Magic Moment Engagement Party at Jergels in Wexford.  Tickets were $40, but now the event is free if you use promo code FREE when you’re checking out.  Here’s what the night will include for you and your hunny:

  • Entry into 100′s of dollars in guest prizes & gift baskets.
  • Chance to meet our celebrity guest couple from TLC Four Wedding’s.
  • Chance to meet some of the best wedding professionals in the area, plus exclusive specials & savings to this party only!
  • Admission to Jergel’s afterwards to continue your party with family & friends.
  • Plus… appetizers, cake, music & dancing all in honor of your engagement!

Savings for Wedding Attendees

I realize I’ve kind of skimped out for those of you who attend weddings rather than get married. And that’s not cool.  I recently read this great article on saving for wedding attendees.  It includes some ideas I’ve never come across before.  Thought I’d pass it on: Here Comes the Bride, There Goes Your Budget?

Honeymoon Accommodations for free?  Or Just $500 Towards a Hotel for Anyone.

Travel Pony is turning 1 year old!  And to celebrate they’re giving away a $500 credit to use towards any hotel reservation on their site. If you enter, you get three entries for telling them Femme Frugality sent you.  (Plus, it helps me out, too.) You can enter here by Monday the 22nd.

On top of that, if you sign up using this link, you’ll get a $35 credit, too.  No winning necessary. I also get a smaller credit when you book through that link, but my main objective here is to pass on the savings to you.  They’re having massive sales this week on top of all that for the birthday celebration.  Yesterday you could get up to 53% off.  No joke.

If you want to see why they’re so awesome, check out my post from a couple of weeks ago here.

Get Excited.

Since I’m not going to FinCon (which is essentially a money-writers’ conference for all you non-bloggers out there,) I’ll be doing my first live blog over the weekend as a part of DebtDebs’ initiative.  It starts on Friday morning here on Femme Frugality.  It’s new.  It’s terrifying for me.  And it’ll be amazing.

 

“I don’t know if they’re ready for this.” A mother’s first attempt at organized sports.

girls playing soccer

The first day of soccer practice.  It all started so well.  Yo Gabba Gabba doll in one hand.  Crayon in the other.  My kid definitely wasn’t going to be touching the ball with their hands.

We even checked in and changed into our new, purple soccer shirt without incident.  Kiddo ran out onto the field and started dribbling the soccer ball around like it was nothing.  This kid is athletic.  This kid is agile.  This kid loves to run.

But then the “organized” part of organized sports began.  The coach called all the kids onto the field to sit around in a circle.  Everyone obeyed.  Except mine.  Mine ran in the other direction.  The amazing assistant coach tried to coax them back over.  He is a saint.  As I dragged them kicking and screaming back over to the soccer ball, back over to the other, obedient 3-5 year olds, he kept trying.

As the coach was teaching the others to dribble the ball like a dog on a leash, and then letting the dog loose as they kicked as hard as they could, mine was running off the field to observe a run-off grate.  As the assistant coach tried to show mine how much fun it could be to kick a ball into a net, mine was crying because mommy wouldn’t let them run off to the playground.

The thought came into my head.  It was a fear I had, one that I had hoped would be wrong. “I don’t know if they’re ready for this.”

My child does not excel at organized.  We used to go to the library every week for circle time.  We pretend that we don’t go anymore because I graduated college and got a job and he went to school and we got too busy and… But the reality is that we gave up.  Kiddo stopped sitting and listening to stories at all.  They would sit for the art activity at the end, but we weren’t even making it that far.  After someone else would refuse to let my kid steal their shaky egg during music time, mine would scream so bad we’d have to go out into the hallway.

We tried to go back.  Rinse and repeat.  We’re in the hallway again.  “If we go back in there, you can’t scream.  Your other option is to go home.  Do you want to stay or go home?”

“Go.”

A single word answer that killed all hope.  They weren’t having fun.  We definitely weren’t having fun.  So we stopped going to the library.  (For story time anyways.  We still go to occasionally print out papers and rack up some late fees on some books.)

This was turning out to be the library all over again.  But I couldn’t let it be.  If I didn’t make them stay, if I didn’t make  them participate, even if they didn’t want to, we weren’t going to learn this whole organized thing.  And organized is a large part of functioning in society at any age level.

The practice part of practice was over.  Now it was game time.  I sat my child down on the sidelines.  I held them tight in my lap despite their struggles.  I told them, “Look at the other kids on the field having fun.  You can go have fun with the other kids on the field.  Or you can sit here with mommy.”

There was screaming for 20 minutes.  At least I think it was 20 minutes.  Time was a medium that my brain wasn’t able to process in those moments.  But there was progress.  Kiddo would leave my lap, but instead of running away, they’d throw their tantrum on the grass next to me.  The next thing I knew they were standing, screaming, on the wrong side of the goal.  But still in the goal!  Cries turned to blubbering as the other kids got close, trying to kick the ball into the net, as mine whimpered and observed.  They came back to me, still screaming, but at least they didn’t go at full sprint to that enticing run-off drain.

I heard another parent say as their daughter dribbled the ball down the field, “Wow, she’s really doing it!”  I was so happy for them.  Truly, I was.  It was what I had hoped I’d be saying about my child that day.  But in all honesty, that would have been a miracle.

Sports aren’t about miracles.  They’re about hard work.  Sure, maybe that hard work can manifest itself in something that seems miraculous.  But it’s the training and practice that makes things happen.  It’s also about teamwork.  It’s about that assistant coach who isn’t giving up on my child.  It’s about the coach who is focusing on the whole of the team, because my tantrum-throwing bundle of joy isn’t the only one there; other kids came to learn and grow, too, and the way they work together to handle all the different situations they have going on is a great example of teamwork to the youth they’re working with.

We made progress last week.  But we still have some work to do.  I think it’s possible.  I’m not expecting miracles.  But I am expecting improvements.

 

I’ll be posting updates halfway through and at the conclusion of the season.  My child’s wonderful coaches work with Jump Start Sports.  They have a ton of different programs across a ton of different sports in PA, OH, MI and NC.  My child received free enrollment because I’m writing about their experience.  I feel like this is pretty obvious, but I still have to let  you know:  the free enrollment doesn’t effect my honest opinion and what I’m writing on this blog.  All of this is 100% true, down to every last temper tantrum.

 

Financially Savvy Saturdays Fifty-Fifth Edition

So…this is confusing.  I’ve been spending the past few weeks telling you about how I’m not hosting #finsavsat anymore, and then here I am today.  

Let me explain:  this week I’m co-hosting with the fabulous new host, brokeGIRLrich! This is a one week thing, so while you won’t be able to find the party here every week, you will be able to find it on her blog every week.  There’s been a few improvements made, so make sure to check on the rules even if you’re a vet!  My favorite is that you can subscribe to get an email every time the party goes live.

Also, you guys weren’t lying when you said it was really hard to pick a favorite post.  Anyways…on to the party!

 

Welcome to Financially Savvy Saturdays, the savviest personal finance blog hop on the planet, created specifically for personal finance writers! We welcome all things money here. Whether you’ve written anything from early retirement to how to invest in armadillios, you’re invited to link-up. If it ties into personal finance, we want to read it!

Financially Savvy Saturdays

Tweet about it. You can use #finsavsat when tweeting about the party!

Concerns about SEO? Recently many bloggers have decided to stop participating in events such as Carnivals. If you’re worried about how participating in this link-up could effect your SEO, I’d encourage you to check out this article.

Feature of the Week

As this week’s co-host, I have selected my favorite post from last week’s blog hop. This week’s feature is What Will My Social Security Be? by Nearly Retired.

 

What Will My Social Security Be?

Click on the image to read this week’s featured post!

If you submit a post, you could be featured in next week’s party!

We do have a couple of rules for participation. Those who don’t follow the rules will have their link taken down.

1. Your post must be written in the past seven days, related to personal finance and not be solely a giveaway.

2. Be sure to include a link to one of your hosts by copying and pasting the html in one of the boxes below into your linked up post. You have the option of the button or a text link.

3. Follow your hosts. You can follow brokeGIRLrich on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, OR by subscribing to her RSS feed. Also, you can follow Femme Frugality on Twitter OR Google+.

4. Comment on at least one post before and after you that have joined the party.

5. HAVE FUN!

Please copy and paste this button into the post you link up:

brokeGIRLrich

OR copy and paste this code for a text link:

 <em>*Part of Financially Savvy Saturdays on <a href="http://brokegirlrich.com/?p=1604" rel="nofollow">brokeGIRLrich</a> and <a href="http://wp.me/p3TJm1-BF" rel="nofollow">Femme Frugality</a>*</em>




How Safe is Your Job?

Please welcome my fellow blogger Brent, who wrote this awesome piece on the importance of emergency funds; especially in today’s job market.  He also has a pretty rad giveaway going on.  Be sure the read the whole article to get the deets.  (Also, I can attest to Heinz laying people off, even at the Pittsburgh HQ. Some have been able to negotiate their way into staying or even receiving raises, but some have just flat out lost their jobs since the buyout. So how safe is your job?)

 

You feel the blood run from your face.

Your stomach tightens into a knot that would make make any boy scout proud.

You’re seeing your boss’ lips move, but you can’t hear any of the words coming out of his/her mouth.

All you can hear, over and over again, are the words you just heard: “We’re letting you go.”

You don’t know if you’re dreaming or if this is reality.

You think to yourself, “There’s no way they’re actually letting me go, I’ve been working extremely hard here for 7 years and have done nothing wrong.”

Your snap back to the conversation with your boss asking you, “Are you okay?”

Although you manage you mumble, “Yeah, I’ll be fine,” you know it’s actually the furthest thing from the truth.

As you start to pack up your dimly lit, windowless cubicle you start to think about all those times you told yourself you were going to start your emergency fund after you bought your new TV, your new iPhone or that family vacation to Hawaii.

Now it’s too late. You’re staring down the long barrel of unemployment with nothing more than the two weeks of severeness you received as your parting gift.

Sounds dramatic, but this is the exact scenario that many people are going through these days even as the stock markets are hitting record highs and corporate profits are setting new high water marks.

In Canada, where I was born, there are long established institutions that are laying people off left right and center. Companies like:

  • Bank of Montreal: 1,000 layoffs
  • BlackBerry: 4,500 layoffs
  • Heinz: 740 layoffs
  • Potash Corp.: 1,045 layoffs
  • Encana: 800 layoffs
  • Big Lots: 1,600 layoffs
  • Canada Post: 6,000+ layoffs
  • and many more

What makes it worse that new jobs are being created at the slowest pace, excluding the great recession, since 2001. In 2013, new jobs were being created at half the pace of 2012 with an average of less than 13,000 new jobs created every month.

I can hear a lot of you right now saying, “Yeah, but my job’s not at risk.” Maybe you’re right. But, maybe you’re wrong. Either way, wouldn’t it make sense to finally get started on that emergency fund and figure out how to start a side hustle?

There are many economist and personal finance bloggers that are predicting that these full time jobs will never come back. They are being replaced with part time positions or contract labor. In fact, of the 21,600 new jobs created in Canada in November 2013, less than 10% of them were full time jobs.

I’m not trying to scare you into making today the day you start to get your financial house in order so you can survive a layoff.

I’m trying to petrify you so you have no other choice but to start today.

The first step in solidifying your personal finances is creating a budget and tracing your expenses each and every month.

This sounds boring, pointless and way less fun than a Breaking Bad marathon on Netflix, and the fact that only 32% of Americans keep a budget probably means that it is boring and no fun.

Truth be told, many people will tell you that keeping a budget is liberating and has helped them stop stressing about their money. They finally, for the first time in their lives, know where every dollar is supposed to go and where every dollar is actually going.

There are lots of great ways to keep and track your budget. There are also lots of terrible ways that are ineffective and complicated.

A great way to budget is to follow the four rules set by You Need A Budget (YNAB). They are:

  1. Give every dollar a job
  2. Save for a rainy day
  3. Roll with the punches
  4. Live on last month’s income

These four simple rules have helped countless people just like you finally become budgeters, or YNABers as they call themselves. The median YNABer net worth increases by $200.00 after just one money and by a whopping $3,300.00 after just nine months.

One of my favorite things about YNAB, besides how great of a budgeting tool it is, is that it’s accessible on your computer, tablet and smartphone meaning you can keep track of your income and expenses anywhere you go.

It also doesn’t automatically sync with your bank accounts, which not only removes any security concern, but it also gives you the hands on intimacy with your budget that you need to make it work.

YNAB sells for $60.00 and is worth every penny but luckily for you, I’m giving away 10 copies of YNAB (total value of $600.00) if you take action today. Click here and enter to win the budgeting software YNAB so you can gain total control over your money.

Click here to win a copy of YNAB budgeting software

What do you think? Is your job safe? Have you ever been laid off before? What did you do? Please leave me a comment below. Thanks!

Brent’s a world record holder, inventor, engineer, entrepreneur, world traveler & eternal optimist. You can read more of his writing about personal finance, entrepreneurship and travel hacking at VOSA.com.

 

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