Wednesday, May 25, 2016

How to Keep Your Relationship Strong During Infertility

Two years ago this week we learned that we only have two choices, Donor or Adoption.We were lost, angry and beat down. Science, surgery, medicine, herbs nor vitamins could help. We have never cried so much in that week. This kind of pain can tear a couple apart, but we were determined to stay strong. We worked hard at keeping our minds and heart calm and in love.

I want to offer hope to those that are facing the same situation. Do not destroy your relationship because of infertility. Even if the person had caused their infertility, remember why you are with them. You love them and it wasn't solely based on them giving you children.


Communicate even if its just tears.  You can listen to each other, speak your heart, write when you can't speak. Don't be afraid of counseling; its not just for hurting couples. My husband, a family therapist, sat in front of another therapist and talked about our infertility and marriage. If he can do it, then you know that you can too.

Stop telling yourself "No one understands!" Your friends and family may or may not have shared in a bout of infertility, but someone around you has. You have no idea unless you speak up. I can't believe how many people have shared their stories when we just mention that we aren't just "taking our time trying" anymore. Keeping it secretive is your choice, but don't be made at others that have no idea about why it's taking so long.

Don't rush. At the end of this struggle, you might find that you don't want children anymore or that someone might offer to assist you in a manner you never thought of. Hubby and I are proud of the fact that we have bounced between all of our options because it gave us the opportunity to analyze how ready we are to instill in another human being rather from our blood or not.

Pick your own path with no regret. My mother went to a fabric store for the nursery's crib skit and the sales person asked "Oh when is the baby due?" My mother as bubbly as ever said "We don't know, we are adopting. Rather my daughter is!" The lady was nearly in tears as she told my mom that her and her husband couldn't conceive and he was totally against having a family any other way. Thirty plus years later she still cries over it. I knew then that I don't want any regrets. I want to try my best at whichever route we chose and be satisfied with the outcomes and it's surprises.

I hope these tips are helpful to keep your relationship strong during this difficult time.

Monday, May 9, 2016

4 Tips for Couples Trying to Travel

Traveling with a spouse can actually be harder than traveling alone due to the costs and different desires of where to go. It's very important to keep in mind that you have to get away from your home even if it's for one night, so try to work out something with your spouse/partner.

One elementary way to handle the traveling argument is to chose a price range like $300-$500 and each write down 3 places that will fit in that budget. Place them in a hat, shake, chose and start planning. If you cant decide on the amount to spend, place those in a hat or just chose the lowest amount. It might be a welcoming challenge to enjoy Las Vegas under $400 for a week.

Hubby and I have to travel a few times a year or we will never see our family. Our parents and siblings are in Illinois and Virginia, and grandparents, aunts and first cousins are spread out between Philadelphia and Raleigh NC. Not to mention that we have best friends in Michigan. Each September we sit down and plan out our travels for the next 12 months. Our planning covers the holidays, winter months and the following summer. Then we save accordingly. This is what we keep in mind:
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1. Chose your travel method.
Planes, trains and automobiles all work, but some ways are cheaper than others. We can get to Illinois on a tank and a half. A trip to see family and friends in Chicago will cost us $160 round-trip. That is also an (cheap) one way ticket to Washington DC to see our family. We know that we have to save $320 all winter for our flights. Spreading out the savings makes it easier on our pockets and allows us to do more. If you have time to spare, the train system can drop you off at a variety of cities. However, be aware of the costs as trains are not cheap. All summer flights will increase around May 25th so get booking!!

2. Know how much you eat.
Food can kill a travel budget. If you are in a new city, you can spend more money than normal buying and tasting regional treats. Hubby and I place a max on our food budget per meal. We spend the least on breakfast (~$25) and the most on dinner (~$45). Due to food allergies, I bring snacks from home that allows us to round out a hotel's continental breakfast, and reboot us between lunch and dinner. This small trick has saved us $20-$40 a day on snacks and 'double' lunches.

3. Put your money toward your main travel objective.
We see family in Virginia every year, but it's not our only objective. Our goal is to also get a vacation and visit new cities that are nearby. An hours drive away from my parent's home places me in DC, Virginia beach or Williamsburg. We pre-price the area's activities a year in advance and add it to our total vacation budget. Check out www.tripadvisor.com Learn about the area's activities and prices from thousands of people that have already visited your desired areas.

4. Sleep on your sleeping arrangements
Don't just chose the first cheap hotel that the discount flight website gives you. Use google maps and pinpoint all the places that you want to visit. Look for hotels or home rentals that are the closest to all of them, in the center of it all or no more than 10 miles from the action. While living in Japan, I noticed that people stayed too far from the action and spent an extra $10, or more a day traveling to the activities. www.airbnb.com is a great way to live like a local, have more than 2 beds and provide access to a full kitchen and washer and dryer.

I hope that these tips will point you to fun this summer. We will report on our travels this summer with the help of something special. Stay tuned!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Where Are We Now?

We read Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeup in July 2015 after knowing about the program for a year. We have Dissed a good amount of debt over the past 9 months. We made every effort to cut expenses all around. We reduced our utilities, cut back on groceries and saved money in envelopes for common overly spent categories. This allowed us to place $500 on each current debt per month.

Honestly this hasn't been easy. Dave Ramasy said that if you are making people made around you and have people looking at you like you're crazy, then you are doing it right. Well we must be doing it right because our families cannot understand why we are dealing with cash and tracking every payment.

I learned about Dave's plan is unusual ways and I keep sharing him in unusual ways. I have told people in stores, at social events and even to employees. Everyone deserves to know that living in debt doesn't have to be your norm and that living debt free isn't a dream. It's a reality. It takes a lot of work, but you have to keep trying.

So what have we done? Below is the list of deb that Hubby and I had and knocked out.

Medical Bill: $303
Medical Bill: $831
Credit Card #1: $730
Credit Card #2: $2,400

We've Dissed $4,264 Worth of Debt in 9 months!!!

We aren't done. We still have the bulk of our debt to go, but it feels good knowing that we don't have to keep up with those 4 monthly payments. Most importantly, we are proud of ourselves. We could have been further along if we had started in 2014, but no looking back.

Bills and Debt that are in progress (original debt amounts):
Forgotten Medical Bill: $1,141
Surgery Bills Total: $1,618
IUI Medical Bill: $1730
Private Student Loan: $5,273.53
Car Loan: $11,818.01
Student Loans: Still A Mortgage Worth!!!

Sometimes things happen and it's out of our control. In February Hubby had a surgery. His recovery time had him out of work for two weeks and was restricted at work for a week after that. We calculated sick leave and possible charges before agreeing to the surgery. We have to pay $1,618. We were slightly prepared for that, but that's where the emergency fund comes into place. We looked at the various bills that came in and sorted them by price. We paid the bare minimum on the remaining original debts so that we can knock out the new bills. It was a plan that worked. We didn't fret nor argue. We threw everything right into Dave's plan and kept going.

If we stay on target, we figured we can finish paying off all medical bills and the private student loan by the end of the year. We will then move onto the car and hopefully pay it off one year early. I'll update you guys on our progress later in the year.

Please let me know of your success below. Have you jumped on Dave's plan and started kicking debt out of your household? Have you freed yourself from the chains of debt yet?

We have!

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