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10 things I’d rather do instead of paying on student loans.

I attended college for 5 years including one transfer and three major changes. I accumulated a lot of debt. Today, we pay roughly $450 a month on student debt. Sound like a lot? Well, you’re right, it is a lot. That’s $5,400 per year. This was a major mistake, probably the biggest one I’ve ever made in my life (and I’ve made some pretty big mistakes). Let’s see what we could use that money for in the space of a year instead of putting it in the pockets of big banks…

1) We could take our family of four to Disney World…twice.

According to http://wdwprepschool.com/how-much-does-it-cost-to-go-to-disney-world/, it would cost our frugal family about $2,300 to visit Disney World for a week. Taking my children to Disney World is a dream of mine. I was able to go as a child and want them to experience the once-in-a-lifetime fun as well. However, for this to be possible, we would probably have to take out (another) loan. Needless to say, this is not something we want to do. So, Disney World may not be something my children get to experience…thanks student loans and college experience!

2) I could buy 1,350 Starbucks frappucinos.

I love a good $4 Starbucks frappucino, though 3-4 per day may be a little much. I rarely buy frappcinos, I cannot justify spending that much money on a simple drink. I received a Starbucks gift card for my birthday this year…awesome! I already bought one (I also had a dollar off coupon, double yay!) and plan on making the gift card last awhile. Sometimes I will buy the McDonald’s knock-off versions, which are good but really don’t compare. Though I also can’t justify spending money on McFrappe’s very often either.

3) I could buy 2,700 nail polishes.

I also like painting my nails. It’s a fun hobby, I paint them probably once a week or whenever they get badly chipped. I’m not usually tempted to buy nail polish (I averaged them at $2 per bottle), unless I go down the make-up/nail polish isle. Then I see all the colors and sparkle. I’m a pretty sensible woman though, I know it’s really not worth it.

4) We could take our family out to eat 135 times.

I’m not talking fast food and I’m also not talking super fancy restaurant. Just middle of the road, reasonably priced kids’ meals type joint. As it is, we go out to eat too often. Eating at home is so much cheaper, I’d really like to limit it to a handful of times a year (for birthdays, anniversaries, etc.) If we didn’t have student loans to pay on, we could go out to eat 2-3 times a week, if we wanted to.

5) We could go to the movie theater 67 times.

The last time my husband and I had been to see a movie at the theater was in 2011, so I don’t remember how much movie tickets and concessions cost! It’s nearly impossible to find prices online, so I’ll just estimate $20 a person to see a movie, get a popcorn, candy, and drink. There’s a reason we don’t go to movies, view it at home in a few months is so so much cheaper. My son, in his 4 years, has never been to a movie theater.

6) We could have another baby.

And not have to make payments! My daughter’s cesarean and other medical expenses cost about $3,000. So with $5,400 we blow each year on 5 years of attending classes, we could have another baby and have plenty leftover for diapers!

7) We could take our family of four to Great Wolf Lodge, 27 times.

Great Wolf Lodge is a water park/resort where my husband and I spent our honeymoon. We drove to the one in Pennsylvania, but if we just went to the one in Ohio, in the space of a year we could spend 27 nights there. This includes room (about $140 for a standard 4 person room), waterpark passes, and $60 a day for food. Visiting Great Wolf Lodge for a weekend is something we plan on doing when our children are older, but it definitely won’t be 27 nights!

8) My husband and I could go on 77 Wasabi Steakhouse dates.

Implying “expensive” dates. Wasabi Steakhouse is our favorite restaurant for date night, we go there once every 1-2 years. It’s about $70 for the two of us, which is why we go there so infrequently! The food is delicious, and we love watching the chefs make it on the huge grill in front of us. We could go on 77 expensive dates in the course of a year.

9) Less work, less stress. More financial security, more peace.

My husband doesn’t have a 9-5, he has a 6-6. He has two weeks vacation which he doesn’t take. (Except maybe visiting my grandma for 3-4 days.) When the bank account runs low, he takes a vacation check and continues to work as usual. I don’t want to sound like I always stress over money, I don’t. I know God’s promises to take care of His children, He will provide for us. He provides for us through my husband, who works so very hard and long it’s pitiful, and the amount of guilt I feel is incredible.

10) We could actually have a savings account.

If we had devoted all $5,400 a year to a savings account, since the time I graduated in 2009 to today, we would have $27,000 saved up. By the time my loans are totally paid off, maybe another 15 years, we would have $81,000. Instead, I was deceived and we will have spent $81,000 on something I didn’t need (and ultimately didn’t want).

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Burgers and minimum wage.

“They forgot your burger, that’s why they need to raise minimum wage to $15 an hour!” This was said by my husband in a hunger-induced rage after discovering my pretzel bacon cheeseburger was missing from our order last weekend. Frankly, I agree with him. The three reasons I don’t support an across the board minimum wage increase are 1) the cost of everything else will also increase, 2) jobs will be lost, and 3) minimum wage is low for a reason.

It’s really just common sense that when a company needs to pay employees more, whatever they are selling will also increase in price. Really, everything will just balance out in the end for those making minimum. They’ll make a little more, prices of what they are buying go up a little more…it’s almost like the raise never happened. However, for the rest of those in the work force making more than minimum wage but aren’t rolling in the dough, this will be tough. My husband makes more than minimum wage, he makes slightly more than $15 an hour. If suddenly instead of him making over double minimum wage, he is making only a few dollars more, yet everything we have to buy also increases in price, this poses a problem for our family. It’s a problem that will be faced by millions of workers who have climbed up the ladder over the years, then suddenly find themselves yet again on one of the bottom rungs.

Some people who make minimum wage will lose their jobs.  Of course the big CEOs could cut their paychecks to a reasonable size and balance it out so they wouldn’t have to cut anyone, in fantasy land that would be a great solution. In reality, the love of money is the root of all evil. Most of those at the top will just fire the nameless burger flippers and fry fryers. Extended hours and increased responsibilities will accompany increased pay. Though I guess that’s what comes with increased pay, normally, more work.

With my last thought, I’m not at all saying those who work minimum wage jobs do not work hard or that some do not deserve a wage increase. That said, minimum wage jobs are minimum wage for a reason. They are the base. They are a starting point to either work yourself up or to quit after a certain amount of time to pursue other things. They are jobs that most anyone can do, they are jobs that reflect smaller pay. My husband has worked hard to be earning his current wage. He hasn’t always earned above what the minimum wage increase would be, he has worked hard and learned a lot. He worked for his parents in middle and high school. Upon high school graduation, he went into the same field with the knowledge gained from his family’s shop. Over almost 20 years since, working and learning, his income has increased. That’s how employment works.

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“The Island” and Abortion

“The Island” is a 2006 movie set in the near future about clones created as back up bodies for the super-rich. It’s actually a pretty good movie, I enjoyed watching it. These clones are born as adults from synthetic wombs, complete with umbilical cords, where they develop. During the course of the movie, two clones escape and discover their purpose in life- they were created to be killed. The doctors and scientists realized something is wrong with the newer set of clones, who begin questioning things around them, and orders them all to be terminated.

The adult clones are rounded up and gassed. The “baby” clones are simply cut off from their places of residence: their wombs. A knife was used to cut the womb open, fluid gushed out, and the adult-clone-baby was left to simply die. Sound familiar? There was even a close up of a beating heart at one point. Based on the music, these scenes were meant to stir the audience’s emotion and pull our heart strings. It’s possible this was a pro-life message in the Hollywood film staring Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johannson, though somehow I doubt it. There is, however, an obvious correlation between the two, killing the unborn human clones and killing the unborn human babies. As well as the links between the Jewish Holocaust and gassing the unwanted clones. In fact, the clones were considered less than human, which is why they were so disposable. Even though they had a beating heart (and other organs that were merely there to harvest), brain waves, body features, personalities, thoughts, emotions.

This was a big dilemma in the movie, unfortunately, it’s not much of a dilemma in the world that actually matters. The lives of the clones were fervently fought for, by both clone and non-clone alike, and eventually won. The end scene is all the clones streaming out of the compound with happy, relief-type music playing. The baby clones didn’t make it, and sadly, many baby humans don’t either.

This made me wonder why. Why was that scene meant to be sad? Was it because these helpless developing babies, that would someday become full-functioning adults, with no idea what was going on mercilessly killed? Oh, wait, I meant, helpless developing baby-clones, that would someday become full-functioning adult-clones, with no idea what was going on mercilessly killed? I don’t see much of a difference, do you? Why is one meant to evoke sympathetic emotion while the other deemed a woman’s right? Does it boil down to “out of sight, out of mind”? The plastic wombs in the film were clear, the wombs in a woman have flesh over them. Are we so deceived that if we don’t see something with our own two eyes it doesn’t matter? Both beings had beating hearts, the director made a point of showing one before that particular baby-clone was terminated.

A pro-life message in the pro-choice Hollywood world, hypocritical indeed.

Two main clones with baby clones in background.

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“Woman’s Day” article on cursing

Recently I read an article in Woman’s Day. It was about a lady who was appalled by the language used in public today. She recalled working out at the gym and hearing a song that explicitly used the F-word. Another time she called out a few teenagers using colorful langauge when walking her children to school. At that point in the article, I fully agreed! I hate the display of bad langauge in our society. Most of it totally acceptable. Since when are certain words allowed in everyday TV shows? Like the B-word…last I checked that was an insulting, swear word for women. When asking someone to not cuss on my facebook page (the D-word), the woman replied “Oh, I guess to some that is a curse word, I’m sorry”. I’m not sure one can get more curse-y than “damnation”, condemning someone to hell. Yet, obviously, not everyone considers this a curse word.

Then the article changed. She, herself, curses. “Never in front of my children”, only when with friends. It definitely made me think of these verses: Luke 18:11-12  The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.  I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. Or, more relevantly…”The woman peddled on her stationary bike at the gym, thinking to herself, thank God I do not curse in public, like the songs playing or the teenagers up the street. I only curse in front of my friends, never my children. I am a much better person.”

Is she really? When Peter denied knowing Christ, he swears. Read carefully, Peter tried denying Jesus twice before cursing to really drive the point home…Matthew 26:69-74 69 Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee.70 But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest.71 And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth.72 And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man.73 And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee.74 Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. It is also interesting to note, his speech (or lack of cursing) gave away Peter was a follower of Christ. The language you use is your testimony. It’s implied Peter did not know these people, all they had to go on was what came out of his mouth. By that information alone, they placed him with Christ.

The author of the article’s own father used to say “It doesn’t take very much talent to cuss.” My grandpa used to say something similar, along the lines of “Cursing just means you can’t think of anything more intelligent to say.”

James 3:10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things
ought not so to be.

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Unequal Equality: Draft Registration

It may come as a surprise to some that I do not support many aspects of feminism. The feminist movement fixed some terrible unBiblical practices in our country, a lot of good came out of women being fed up. I support Biblical love and respect of women (read your entire Bible for more on this topic, ask if you have any questions), I also support neutral concepts from feminism.

The dictionary definition of “feminism” is “equality”. However, there are many inequalities slanted in favor of women. Oddly enough, feminists don’t seem interested in correcting these inequalities.

One such inequality lies in our current Selective Services System.  According to sss.gov, a man can be penalized for not registering. “A man who fails to register may, if prosecuted and convicted, face a fine of up to $250,000 and/or a prison term of up to five years.

Even if not tried, a man who fails to register with Selective Service before turning age 26 may find that some doors are permanently closed.

Men also cannot apply for financial aid, become an US citizen, enter programs under the Workforce Investment Act to learn a vocation or enhance their career, or work for the Federal government.

Those are national laws, there are also state legislation. The state of Ohio requires Selective Service registration as a precondition for state student financial aid, any resident male not registered must pay an out-of-state tuition rate, and is a condition for obtaining a state driver’s license.

Women aren’t required to register (the first line on “Women and the Draft” on sss.gov’s website). Women can receive financial aid for school, obtain a driver’s license, etc. with no pending threat of randomly being called to war. Women can choose to join the military during time of peace or war. How is this equal? May not be equal, but it is convenient for women.

I am not interested in forcing women to register for the draft. If the tables were turned, well, they would probably already be unturned. Feminism’s mask of equality does a good job of hiding it’s inequalities.

This is a protest sign that has never and will never be seen.

Stu-stu-stuttering

There are many disorders and disabilities that are unseen and unknown. Many misconceptions usually surround such disorders, and embarrassment sometimes follows for the person with the disability. I am afflicted with one such disorder, a speech disorder known as “stuttering”. I am not alone, there are approximately 3 million Americans who stutter and 68 million people who stutter (PWS) worldwide. This statistic is definitely just an estimate, as there are different kinds of “stuttering”, I will discuss this later.

The National Stuttering Association’s (NSA) definition of stuttering is as follows:

“Stuttering is a communication disorder involving disruptions, or “disfluencies,” in a person’s speech. The word “stuttering” can be used to refer either to the specific speech disfluencies that are commonly seen in people who stutter or to the overall communication difficulty that people who stutter may experience.

In addition to producing disfluencies, people who stutter often experience physical tension and struggle in their speech muscles, as well as embarrassment, anxiety, and fear about speaking. Together, these symptoms can make it very difficult for people who stutter to say what they want to say, and to communicate effectively with others. There are, perhaps, as many different patterns of stuttering as there are people who stutter. There are many different degrees of stuttering, from mild to severe.”

I think this definition is very thorough. Not surprisingly, what good would the NSA be if it didn’t have a good definition of the disorder they represent? 😉 Many definitions of stuttering only include the speech itself, when that is only half of the problem. Sometimes the facial and bodily contortions are actually more embarrassing than the stutter itself. These can range from facial tics when stuck on a word, slapping your leg (or a nearby object) to get a word out, weird tongue movements, and sometimes even mental freezes.

What causes stuttering? The exact cause of stuttering is unknown. Researchers believe it is caused by an affected area in the individual’s brain. I personally believe this is true, mostly because every PWS has a different brain and therefore a different stutter. Stuttering can be hereditary and the gene is usually in the males. (Although in my family it affects mainly the females!)

Different kinds of stuttering: Not everyone who stutters is a PWS. Stuttering and other disfluencies are a normal part of everyday speech. Saying “um” or even “like” is considered disfluency in speech. The fluidity of your sentence is interrupted. Most everyone stutters sometimes in their speech, sometimes when nervous or when searching for a word. Stuttering can also be a normal part of developing speech in children. Usually it is outgrown and has no lasting affects into adulthood, sometimes though the stutter will be a forever impediment. This is why when I see lists of “famous people who stutter” or how many millions of people in the world stutter, I take it with a grain of salt.

Misconceptions and Myths concerning stuttering:

– Being nervous or shy causes people to stutter. — It is usually the opposite, stuttering causes people to be nervous or shy. Nerves can increase the severity of a person’s stuttering.

– PWS are less intelligent. — Simply not true. Stuttering does not affect ability to learn or intellect.

– PWS were scared as a child, this caused a stutter. — Old wives’ tale.

– Slowing down and relaxing will make the stuttering go away. — Usually slowing down and breathing more often will help a PWS speak more fluid. This is a common speech technique used by PWS.

– We forget our names often. — This is mostly a joke, since most PWS struggle saying their names. I have often been asked the question “did you forget?” when asked my name. I believe most PWS have a hard time saying their own names because there is no way out of it and because you know the question is coming (anticipatory stuttering).

Is there a cure? This is a debated topic among PWS and those who research the topic. Many of us believe “no”, and this is my personal belief. Stuttering can be managed and coped with, but I believe it cannot be cured (at least not at this time). Little is known about stuttering and the brain abnormalities are complex. If a cure would ever be invented, it would probably have to be a different formula for everyone because we all have different brains and genes.

How should I act around a PWS? Well, we’re not a different species, so just act normal. 🙂 Patience is required when talking with a PWS. Just wait and listen. You can fill in their words, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Sometimes the word you choose is wrong and the problem word has to be started all over again! Plus this can make PWS nervous and cause them to stutter even more. It’s better to play it safe and wait a few extra seconds for us to just get the word out.

Recent media attention:  MTV’s “True Life: I stutter” and 2010 movie “The King’s Speech” both give stuttering (or stammering, as it is called in England) national/international broadcasting. More people have heard about stuttering than before, and are more tolerant. “A Fish Called Wanda”, a movie released in 1988, also has a main character with a very realistic stutter.

My personal struggle with stuttering: I don’t remember when I started stuttering, my mother says I was very young and my brother says he remembers me stuttering as a child. Things like that don’t bother little kids, but I learned to be covert and became very good at it. Through Jr. High and High School no one knew I was a PWS. This was very hard on me. I was always paranoid someone would hear me then my cover would be gone. My deception worked well, however, and when I “came out” about my stuttering everyone had the same reaction….What? You don’t stutter! or I never knew you stuttered. Except, obviously, my family.

Half way through college, I was ready to come clean about my speech. I was so tired of hiding it, it can be truly exhausting! I made an appointment with a speech therapist at school. The day before my appointment, well actually the very early morning on the day of the appointment, in a panic I called and canceled it. I rescheduled for another day. Jeremy left work early to emotionally support me, we arrive…it was the wrong day! I was so discouraged, however, the speech therapist told me about a support group along with when and where they meet. What a great group it is! They are so encouraging to me! I broke down and cried my first meeting, I was so overwhelmed.

I decided I didn’t want to be covert anymore, that I wanted to embrace and love the way God made me. I will still go into “covert mode” often and I usually regret it. I will replace words I know I will stutter on with other words, even if they don’t make as much sense as the original word. I will use filler words often, and at times even act like I forgot what I was going to say so the listener fills it in for me. This will be a life-long struggle and I hope to totally accept it someday.

I thought this sign was clever….

“Slow Dance”

SLOW DANCE  -Anonymous author
Have you ever watched kids
On a merry-go-round?
Or listened to the rain
Slapping on the ground?
Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight?
Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?
You better slow down.
Don’t dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won’t last.

Do you run through each day
On the fly?
When you ask “How are you?”
Do you hear the reply?
When the day is done
Do you lie in your bed
With the next hundred chores
Running through your head?
You’d better slow down
Don’t dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won’t last.

Ever told your child,
We’ll do it tomorrow?
And in your haste,
Not see his sorrow?
Ever lost touch,
Let a good friendship die
Cause you never had time
To call and say “Hi”?
You’d better slow down.
Don’t dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won’t last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere
You miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry through your day,
It is like an unopened gift….
Thrown away.
Life is not a race.
Do take it slower
Hear the music
Before the song is over.

This really spoke to my heart, I can be very guilty of going too fast. Even when our family is getting ready to go somewhere fun, I will rush, rush, rush and get frustrated that people aren’t getting ready fast enough! Some of the fun is taken away from our trip, because the preparation for the event was horrible.

I have noticed when I slow down, not worry about getting there right away and allow everyone to take as long as they need…we have a much better time in general. Everything can be enjoyable, from waking up on the day of the exciting activity to talking about it days later.

Our lives are short, slow down. Give your spouse a kiss, crazy dance with your children, give your pet a hug.

Psalm 90:12So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

Isaiah 40:6-8 6The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field:  7The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. 8The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.

1 Peter 1:24-25 24For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: 25But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.