I think I’ve written and erased this post like 4 times, so I told myself whatever I type up this time, I’m just going to post. Tonight we are discussing budgeting/money. No, I’m not here to give you any saving tips or the best way to pay bills. I think we all have read about 17,000 articles about finance from the experts on facebook. We’ve all taken basic classes in school about money and saving. We all pay bills. We all have hobbies that cost money. This post is just going to be an honest, no frills look at the Megow’s budget and view on money and happiness.
Ok. That'hummingbird is legit.
Message my blog facebook if you want to purchase some to help these kids get a kitten :)
Truthfully, that’s a lesson I’m still working on with my kids and pets. My kids love having pets, but don’t seem to recognize the hard work it takes to have one. This usually means my Spiderman suit ends up smelling like dog urine or one of our toilets turns into an ivory crematorium from time to time.
RIP: Goldie, Rudolph, Minion, Sparkle...
ok I'll just stop before I get reported to PETA
But back to money and household budgeting, I really just wanted to focus on the day to day operations and little funny things about how the Megows operate. It’s really no guess that a single dad with four kids, with only one income means it can get a little tight. (Crissy’s parents built us a house a few years ago. So when we divorced, she got a large portion of the home equity. Since I couldn’t cut a check, we just agreed she wouldn’t have to pay child support until it’s paid off. It was a nice agreement). That being said, I used to think I could get creative about a budget, now that it’s a necessity I view it as a fun challenge. Now I make a good living with my career and the kids are well taken care of. My main point is the kids and I have learned to cultivate interests and find fulfillment in things that are within our budget. I never sat the kids down and said “We ran out of money this month.” Or “Since mom left, we can't do things like we used to”. I’ve never said any of those things. Mostly, my opinion of being a parent (especially when it comes to money), is kind of like people riding in your car and being with a good driver. They shouldn't even think about someone operating petals and steering. We all notice a driver who is constantly slamming on the brakes and doing sharp turns. The peaceful and good driver is the unnoticed driver. We just get our kids to point A to point B while they laugh and watch Titus take off his shoes and smell his feet. I don’t want my kids to be aware of bills that might be overdue or on the contrast remind them that we have a lot more money than their friends. I’m just the guy in the front seat getting our family where we need to be while trying to not puke while Titus’s foot odor is starting to become visible and beginning to stain my beard a light green color. Hopefully that made sense. I told you I’m not restarting this post again. ;)
Don't be hatin'
I'm just cultivating a manly musk.
If anyone knows me, hopefully they know I can’t stand giving unsolicited advice. So this is just the way I kind of adapted the way we do family life based on our current budget.
Kids are kids. Kids like dirt. Dirt is free.
We are mega park goers. Outside time is the best. Yeah, my kids watch TV and play with toys, but nothing is better than getting dirty and poking around the ground with a stick. I’ve been working on instilling a fascination with bugs, plants, and just nature in general.
Neela has really taken a shining to it. From bug hunts to frog catching, this girl is all about exploring and getting dirty. She loves anything and everything about animals. One thing I have learned about when my kids start to get into things is they have interest in, is most of the time, I have more fun watching them then they do playing. For example, Neela and her best friend Josie are both big time “aminal” and nature lovers. A few months ago, Josie spent a Saturday night with us. She told us about how she found a hummingbird nest at her Nanny’s house. Neela was fascinated and we spend the evening talking about birds, eggs, nests, and incubating. The next morning we woke up and got ready for church. I was running around making sure everyone looked decent and then kind of loaded up and left in a hurry. Anyways, after church, Josie and Neela walked up and handed me this raw egg. I was pretty clueless about where they got this egg (which was very warm) at church. After talking for a few minutes, I found out Neela and Josie snuck an egg from our fridge and proceeded to pass it back and forth between them and keeping the egg in their underwear to incubate the egg during church. Hahahaha. While I explained to them the importance of not storing raw eggs in our underwear during church, I commended them on their dedication and not cracking it. Honestly though, I think I would be the proudest dad ever if I got called back to the nursery because my kid or her friend busted an egg during church while they were trying to hatch via Strawberry Shortcake panties warming method.
Chicken incubating panties coming to a store near you.
Use what you pay for
It’s why I don’t have cable or fancy hand towels. Our society is at a point where we just have way too much of everything. Even if I had the money to buy my kids a cute monogrammed clothing item or myself some fancy watch, I doubt I would. Not saying there’s anything wrong with that. But personally, I wouldn’t get the use out of it that I should spending that much money. It’s not a matter of stripping away everything I can and just making us use what we have left; mostly it was evaluating what was actually being used and just cutting the rest away. Stevie is probably my best little example of this. My Stevie Joy is a mega techie. She is ultra-smart and can pretty much figure out any device in a matter of minutes. She loves playing little apps on my ipad (when it’s not in the dishwasher ;) boom! title drop!) She would get into one little game and want to beat it or build her little character or city or whatever she was doing. She’s never been one to really ask for a ton of things, so when she did I would spend $2 and buy her some little credit to get the hot tub for her zebra in her little game. However, I started to notice, she wasn’t really sticking with anything constantly. I mean I really wasn’t doing it much and hardly spending any money, but she wouldn’t really stick with one certain game. That is very unlike Stevie. She is a finisher. I finally realized, she just wasn’t vested enough. She started playing some online little ipad dragon game with my dad. Of course, I could probably buy the nicest dragon there is with about $5, but ever since I kind of let Stevie built her little game stuff alone and working with my dad to share dragons back and forth, she has really gotten committed to getting a “Rainbow Dragon”. I know it’s just a game, but she really finds so much joy in playing it and collecting enough little gems to buy her stuff in the app. Although I despise giving advice, I love analogies if you can’t tell. I love really encouraging my kids to dive into what they are interested in. Instead of Titus constantly wanting a million different kinds of toys that would never be played with, he is really found an interest in one particular type of Power Ranger and is constantly tinkering with his little things to explore all of the different combinations and stuff he can come up with.
I will say I did have to make some tough little choices when it came to really maximizing what I pay for. If you have girls, it’s a rite of passage for them to take gymnastics or dance. It’s somewhat expected of you to put them in something when they are little. Well, we just couldn’t afford it. Neela wasn’t too upset (she has severe stage fright). Stevie however was upset at first. It was a really tough thing to tell your baby they couldn’t take dance this year, but she really took it super well. Seeing her sad because of my financial constraints was tough. However, we had a talk. It turns out, she does like to dance, but dances at home, school, and church so she wasn’t really upset about missing dance class or learning new dances. Mostly, she was upset about not being able to be in the recital. It’s little moments like that, when you kind of get a peek into your kids brain and heart. She just wants to perform for people. We discussed a view different options (that we currently had access to) and she decided she wanted to start making videos and sharing them on YouTube. She and I have made quite a few together and she loves to see how many views she has. Honestly, I have asked her about dance a few times, but as long as she is getting the chance to perform and create something for a mass audience she is happy. Plus, it’s really opened up her personality and increasing her confidence. She is always asking to make movies and you tube or “on our website”.
She has a million of these things on her own.
If my kids reflect on what they learned from dad when I’m gone I hope they remember “Love God and Love People”. We have always been busy bodies and doing to have fun. But truthfully, when you don’t have money to go the Fun Factory as a family this weekend, it might be a blessing. We’ve really learned to be busy being blessings to people since we kind of couldn’t afford to fill our lives with a million fun things or shopping trips. It’s always the little things people do for each other that really make the biggest impact. Although the kids are small, I truly believe they are learning the importance of doing what you can with what you have to bless people. Helping people is always something fun and normally, you can work with your natural strengths and supplies. For example, I have a million various cables and tech parts laying around the house and the kids have paper and art supplies. Someone is always needing some type computer repair or someone is always sick. Taking an evening to fix a printer or deliver some kid-made artwork to someone who isn’t really well, is way more fulfilling than anything money can buy. Even taking a Friday night to spend it with someone who needs some love and company is so satisfying. Mostly, I find people are always buying things or spending money to fill time or create a memory. I love vacations as much as the next person; also I love my some sushi, so I get treating yourself. But there’s something really special about forging a connection with someone based on a simple act of kindness.
Titus is a card making machine up in this place
Sorry, my stories are kinda sappy sweet tonight, but it’s just what’s coming out. Also, this is my last one, I promise… One of my best friends is someone I actually met at church, but really got to know by stopping by with the kids and fixing her laptop and changing a light bulb. This person is my Memaw (Lyn Stalvey). She is the most kind and gentle person I have ever met. However, she is deeply rooted in her faith and our friendship. Fixing her laptop and changing that light bulb, probably took me about 12 minutes, but we just stayed and talked for an hour or two. It didn’t cost me a dime to do that, and sure the kids got a little restless. But I have been blessed far more than I could ever imagine by her or given more fulfillment in our friendship than anything I could buy. Let’s put it this way, I can’t really remember every time went out to eat or bought some new fun gadget, but I can remember every time Memaw and me get together. She’s always coming by to check on me, inviting the kids and I out to lunch, or simply just saving me a seat next to her at church. That’s why I think helping people is a financial plan. The kids and I have built so many friendships, but truly the simplest deeds not only that we have done, but those kind deeds that others have done for us, that I feel we don’t need a ton of money to have fun or be entertained, we have a deep bench of friends that came about by simply showing kindness.
Being presented with her "Most Excited about the Christmas Party" Award for the 3rd straight year.
Don't mess with Memaw and her Church Christmas Party. She'll straight up cut someone