Thursday, November 24, 2011

Went to the MALL! And on a serious note....

A sign at a kiosk in the mall. LOL! My friend Shannon and I howled with laughter. First time I have been to a mall in 2 years? Something like was fun! I was just going to look then saw La Senza and decided to replace a few worn out bras and yes...bought myself NEW pajamas. Taking the hit...I love them so and they will be wrapped for Xmas. Had to have the greasy Chinese food much for weight watchers! LOL! And am I ever tired! Who knew shopping was this exhausting. :)

And on the serious note....The consequences of bullying! One of my kids has been targeted by a group of girls! The administration is on it....and hoping for the best. I'm very sensitive to bullying as I was bullied as a kid...until age 10 when I kicked the snot out of a kid...tee hee. But it can have very serious consequences if left unchecked....suicide the worst of it.

I decided to consult with some professionals in the field and will share their information.

First I called my best I called a child psychologist. She gave me lots of information. So here it is:

The basic elements of bullying are:
  • Unequal power: One child has more power than the other child (or at least it seems that way to the children involved)
  • Hurtful actions: Physically or psychologically harmful behaviour takes place
  • Direct and indirect actions: The behaviour may be face-to-face or behind one's back
  • Repetitive behaviour: The hurtful actions keep happening so the child being hurt finds it more and more difficult to escape
Not only is it repetitive it ESCALATES! Parents need to go to the school, identify the culprits and get some intervention. This does not always work. In many cases the child has to change schools or is home schooled. Can you imagine the psychological trauma for these kids? It is even worse if a child exhibits any kind of homosexual tendency...the boy that likes pink can be targeted as young as 6! "Why can't a boy like pink and be straight?" I asked. He most likely is straight she explained. what triggers a bully? Their feelings of inadequacy. I know one of the kids bullying my son....she comes from a good family...or so I thought. Do you really know what happens behind closed doors? I'm hard pressed to believe these kids feel inadequate. I'm still not convinced.

So then I made a few phone calls. Talked to a special education teacher that shared with me the rate of suicide among bullied youth.  Suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth aged 10-24, following motor vehicle collisions. 10? Are you kidding me? Around 2.5 to 3 per 100,000 from the ages 10 to 14 and up to 13 per 100,000 for 15 to 19 year olds. 42% of boys in grades 6 to 8 reported that they had bullied in the past two months. Bullied...not the victim. Huh? Cyberbullying is the most significant influence to the increase in youth suicide. That scares me. With the age of Facebook and Twitter and all these nasty sites that post anything without thought to the person involved...makes one want to move to the bush and cut wood for heat. Tongue in cheek but then how do we control it? How do we help those hurting?

After listening to the experts I have come to one conclusion...YOU as the parent are the one that can make the difference. Mirror compassion to your kids. If you see them getting out of hand on the playground...reprimand them! If you see any kids displaying bullying it to the school. My girlfriend said to me "The hell with reporting it. I'd take that little bugger by the ear and bring him home to his parents." LOL!

Which brings me to the adult version of bullying. I'm on the playground last week. It's just me and two other ladies and a bunch of kids. I go to move towards them to talk and they BACK AWAY! Granted I don't know them but I talk to everybody. I text my GF and faintly hear.."Don't talk to her...she hangs with that group that wife swaps." WHAT! I didn't react and kept mind reeling! There were further whispers...caught a few snippets! WOW! What a bunch of gossipy BULLSHIT! So NOT true! So it happens in adulthood too...and if I ever see them again I will confront them. How dare they make judgement on me about untruths about others? Maybe one of their girls is one of the bullies at school? Bullying by children is making more sense to me now.

So my score is 33 days of retail this year. It will climb with Xmas but am taking a trip to Toy Traders in Langley in the next few weeks. Used toys! Lots of them!

Big Momma Anti-bullying Love to you all XO

Kid friendly resource.

This link has an online support group.

How to stop Bullying.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Budgeting! And my crazy system that took years to perfect...sort of.

My girlfriend read my post yesterday and told me I should share my budgeting skills. None of the purchases I make are on credit. Or if they are I pay the credit card company the same day.

The above pretty much sums up my finances about 5 years ago. My husband works 5-6 weeks away and is home for 2-3. He doesn't get paid the weeks he doesn't work so there are times when I don't see a pay cheque for 3 to 5 weeks...depending on the amount of time off. In the beginning this was hard to manage as we always had weekly or bi-weekly pay cheques and I could budget quite easily with consistency. When that was taken away I fell into the credit trap for a few years. With no income for 5 weeks and having to pay for everything still I turned to credit cards to make up the difference and within a few years made a huge hole for us to get out of. That's when I put my accounting skills to work and revamped our finances.

So I came up with a crazy system that works for us. It doesn't work for everyone. Though I do have simpler systems I can share with you all if you are interested.

I set up "jars" so to speak in various bank accounts and tax free savings plans. Here is how I break it down:

1 - Pay yourself FIRST! Ideally 10% of your income but even 2% is better than nothing. If it's $5 a week so be it. Plan for the future. My Grandma taught me that all my life and have been pretty good about it. With my first accounting job I started an the tune of $25 a month...but hey! I was 21 and making peanuts.

2 - Pay all the basics - Minimum DEBT! Rent/mortgage, utilities, insurance, life insurance, car payment etc - the have to be paid or else bills. I count School fees in this category. Tuition/Preschool fees etc. I also count sport fees in this category too but budget for it throughout the year(see part 5).

3 - Budget for groceries and stick to it. I can't take $150 a week and stick to it. It makes me crazy if I have to buy extras like TP or laundry soap. I take a monthly budget and make it work. How you make it work is up to you. Cook from scratch, coupons, bulk..etc...

4 - Budget for extras like gas, oil changes, clothes, shoes. I budget about $125 a month for these. I may spend only $49 one month but carry over the balance to the next. Sometimes I go over...especially when all the boys need shoes at the same time..ughg! But then I watch for the next few months to keep on track.

5 - Discretionary income...this is what you have left over after all that. I have to set aside a % to cover weeks we do not receive a pay cheque and keep a defined amount in that account at all times. If it means not going to the movies so be it. I also have a holiday account and a Christmas fund. This is a personal preference as we like to travel and I refuse to use credit ever again to finance Christmas. I also have an account just for home renovations/maintenance. It can dwindle quickly so we put off projects until the account has the funds to do it.
After I set aside monies for these 4 accounts then I have what is truly our discretionary income. Sports fees first. Then Ron and I decide how much we need for the week/weeks ahead. He can have unforeseen expenses so I know to keep my allowance lower than it is enough for the kids to go swimming, go to birthday parties, have some treat days or a night out for dinner. Stuff like that. We order pizza on Friday...or I make it. Those little extras come from the discretionary fund. Do I ever have any extra at the end of the week? Sometimes...but usually when the kids are

6 - Anything left over goes straight to can put an extra partial payment on your mortgage...a little more on the line of credit...a little bigger payment on the credit card. You decide but do put EXTRA on the DEBT every MONTH! I can't emphasize this enough. Minimum payments will not reduce your debt in a timely manner and you will be paying so much in interest for that dinner out it will cost you thousands in the end. I know...I've done it! If you have many credit cards carrying a balance get a low interest line of credit to consolidate...cut up all but one (for emergencies or online shopping or car rentals or hotel rooms) Unfortunately one needs a credit card for some things.

The average consumer debt for Canadians was over $90,000 last year! OUCH! And that is not your mortgage. "A $1,000 charge on an average credit card will take almost 22 years to pay, and will cost more than $2,300 in interest ($3,300 total) -- if only 2 percent minimum payments are made." (Debt Help Canada) 

It's a balancing act! No doubt about it. It has taken me years to perfect and I still sometimes have to rob peter to pay paul. But I get back on track and try to keep disciplined.

I have counselled many people on how to budget and some need to physically have the jars in their home with the cash in it. It works for them. And once they got the system down and realized that those daily Starbucks coffees were costing them a trip to Disney Land they are shocked and grateful for the system.

You got to treat yourself sometimes a little each week and go for a pedicure! ;)

Hope this helps. If you want one on one help just email me and I will be glad to send you my cost.

PS...down 9.8 lbs with weight watchers. Woohoo! Gained a bit in back on track.

Big Momma Budget LOVE to you all! Xo

Monday, November 21, 2011

How am I going to do Christmas without retail?

I don't remember if I shared this T-shirt yet. My Dad got it for me. Pretty much sums up how I feel about our economy. Globally even. Which kind of makes my quest to avoid retail more important. How to live a simpler life that we don't give out hard earned wages to the giant corporations? And with Christmas coming up....what do I buy for the kids? Where do I get used games etc? How do I give them a great holiday with the same Christmas morning excitement?

So I came up with a plan. Really you ask? LOL! They each get TWO new items. Including my husband. I went into Liquidation World and they had Wii stuff really cheap so I got Ty the Tony Halk skateboard game (complete with skateboard) and Joe the Wii sports adapters and a new Basketball (more on that later). I got Ty a soccer ball and my hubby a HUGE coke bottle piggy bank (we are saving up for Germany - which will take us years and many fills and rolling of change but it will be so worth it) He wants to see his family's farm from's still there! On the same day I ordered from Toys r shipping right to your door! I got Ty the leapster Ipad thingy...he has a quick temper and I was not going to buy him an ACTUAL Ipad. And I ordered for Sam a Blackberry Tablet (not cheap but on sale for $200 from the Source).

So that leaves one more new for hubby and 2 more new for Ben....the stomach in the basement wants a recliner for his room! LMAO! He has a chair that we somehow got from somewhere. Old blue recliner with the springs sticking out at the bottom. I figure...whatever! He's 13...what more does he need? Apparently a nicer all new bedding. Yep! My 13 year old asked for all new bedding. That will have to be bought new but I do think I can find him a chair either on Craigslist, Kijiji or the auction.

And guess what hubby wants? A CHAIR! A recliner! LOL! Priced them out...really expensive! So I am willing to offer him a compromise. We need a new couch. An unnamed son jumped on the one we have and broke the leg....split it into 4 parts. My couch is being held up with two of text books from accounting school...LMAO! You can even see the study notes sticking and I looked at couches last time he was home but we had one day. So we will find one when he gets back and was thinking of getting the kind that has a recliner on each end. That way he gets a recliner and I get a couch!

But I did find the most special present for him in Mexico. We discovered an artist that sculpts the most whimsical, funny Mexican characters and fell in love with one in particular. At the time they wanted $500 for it. YIKES! I went back to the gallery with Loesha and IT WAS STILL THERE 3 years later! And discounted to $150! HAD to buy it.

By Rodo Padilla...a very popular Mexican artist. And it's art so it doesn't count. Ron is going to FLIP! WOOHOO! (the pic doesn't do it justice...or we have really bad

So my last score was 31 days of retail. Have to add one more...I get a lot done in a brings us up to 32 days of retail this year. Will do my best to find Ben a chair used..but in decent condition. Will try to find a couch at the auction even. You never know! One can only try!

PS. Joe had is very first basketball game last week. He was SOOOO nervous. But he did GREAT! I cheered so loud I lost my voice. He scored a basket and was a great defense man. They won the game! A reminder that life is what you make it...don't let fear be your guide. Joe doesn't...and never ceases to amaze me and inspire me to try do the same.

Happy Christmas shopping BIG MOMMA LOVE to you ALL! XO