Wrestling with Election as a Swing Voter

I’ve always been a Democrat, but this year I’ve found myself wrestling with the issue. I don’t want to give Obama a free pass. And I don’t think Mitt Romney is Satan. Neither man is the anti-Christ.

I wrote a series of posts over at The Broad Side last week, examining my major issues.

I’m afraid of how much Democrats embrace Social Security and I wonder how we’ll pay for Baby Boomers’ retirements, 10,000 of whom are retiring every single day over the next 10 years or so. The system could be improved upon, it puts a burden on middle class families who are already struggling, to pay for rich retirees? We send stipends to wealthy people. . . what? And the richer you are the more money you get? Isn’t that backwards? Maybe Law of Attraction and Money should be a requirement to hold office.

I don’t think Barack Obama or Democrats in general have done or are doing more than Republicans for women and I’m super annoyed that women didn’t feminist up and support Hillary four years ago. I’m finding it difficult to believe that Democratic Women actually want what they say they want because they sure are issuing a lot of free passes to a guy who hasn’t done anything but have a wife and two daughters. Both of which, I might note, George W. Bush has in equal measure.

I’m completely grossed out about the cold and detached way Pro-Choice women are discussing abortion, as if it’s no big deal. I’m annoyed that Democratic Women skirt the valid issues by bringing up rare exceptions like rape, incest, life of the mother and teenage pregnancy as if this accounts for the over 50 million life changing abortions which have have taken place in America since 1973. The vast majority of which have been had by healthy adult women. I’d like to see them talk about over 1 million babies per year as if it, you know, matters to them.

And I’m also zero concerned that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will do a damn thing to endanger Roe v. Wade or ban birth control because frankly, presidents don’t have the powers to do such things. So while women are up in arms about it — it’s really a non-issue to me. A non-issue that I’m finding difficult to stomach.

And lastly, in this series I wind it up by sharing that I don’t think much will change regardless of who wins. I’m pretty optimistic about our future. We’re Americans and we’ll go right on about the business of raising families and having jobs and complaining about the economy even as we have soooo much abundance that our biggest health concern is that we have toooo much food. We’re a people of paradoxes. I kind of like us.

I still have until tomorrow to decide. Perhaps Roseanne Barr. . .

I’m a Swing Voter: I’m Older, Wiser and Resent Baby Boomers

I’m a Swing Voter: I’m Pissed Off at Democratic Women

I’m a Swing Voter: Pro-Choice Rhetoric is Sicking Me Out

I’m a Swing Voter: My Optimistic Prediction

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Keep Your House Clean By Getting Chores Done (Without Working)

I’ve stumbled headfirst into Awesome. It’s a clean house. Not spotless like my OCD neighbors (you know who you are), but pretty orderly.

My secret is chores.

I hear parents say all the time that they can’t keep up with their kids’ messes. But, they don’t make these same children clean them. Why? “Because it’s easier to clean myself than to make them do it.”

No it’s not. Sure, at first it might seem easier to avoid the whining and the screaming and tantrum throwing. And of course, they suck at actually cleaning in the beginning.

But eventually they get it.

I have a triple-pronged system for chores, which has changed my life for the better.

1. Chores are punitive. Meaning, if you do something lame that’s against house rules or simply isn’t how you know you should behave you get a chore. This is a win-win for me. I get a clean house and obedient children out of the deal.

2. One major chore per day. This could be vacuuming a level in our house, cleaning one of the bathrooms, washing windows, wiping down walls, sweeping, mowing the yard, sweeping the kitchen, whatever. My six-year-old can do all of these chores, quite well.

3. Extra hard chores for a couple of bucks. Sometimes I just have money burning a hole in my pocket and I can’t wait to give away a couple of bucks. Sometimes I’m just feeling generous and happy and will pay a kid to do something I don’t want to do. It happens. It can not be depended on.

I know some people think it’s cruel to make their children work. This is just stupid. Kids have never been lazier than anytime in history. My grandmother woke up at 4 am to help her mother go milk cows. She worked like a man picking cotton fields and washed 16 people’s clothes by hand. My dad ran a farm while his dad worked a full-time job, while he was still a kid.

Learning to work is good. Cleaning is a good habit.

Try my three-pronged approach to a clean house. It’s awesome and has changed my life.

 

 

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The “Mistake” of Motherhood

The Feminine Mistake

Several years ago my Between the Covers Book Club readThe Feminine Mistake,by Leslie Bennetts.

This was an intense discussion between women who had made a variety of choices for a variety of reasons, who were experiencing differing amounts of internal conflict about their choices. Because let’s face it, they aren’t easy choices and many of us feel we are choosing between “this sucks” and “this sucks worse.” It was such a stimulating book club discussion that one newly-converted-evangelical-self-designated-submissive-(though paradoxically truly domineering)-wife, who happend to visit our book club that night, claimed it was the worst night of her life.

Bennetts is a New York City writer whohad teenaged children, a mythical egalitarian marriage and a much-loved, long-time nanny.

The book is an examination of the REAL long-term cost of women abandoning their careers in order to be stay-at-home-mothers or part-time workers, rather than continuing their fulltime professions during the years of mothering.

Thereal cost of this choice is substantially higher than you might imagine. Having made the stay-at-home-choice myself it was a real eye-opener in terms of the long-term financial impact on SAHMs and part-time workers, as well as the broader impact on the economy, and even other mothers who do stay in the workplace.

You’ll Eat Dog Food When You’re Old (if you can afford it)

For starters, you don’t accrue Social Security points as a stay-at-home-mom, and very few if you’re a part-time worker (if you are self-employed you must contribute to the system to get them) so taking 10 years out of your career will significantly decrease your retirement income. You also don’t get your husband’s points if the marriage ends prior to 10 years, even if you had 10 children by him.

You do not contribute to a 401K plan, which means no matching funds from an employer, during these years. Many families, going through the poverty spell of having a single income, can’t save in a separate IRA. If you divorce, his 401K may be divided, but it’s still retirement income lost. In fact, the way 401K and IRA investments work it’s the length of the investment more than the dollars put in (meaning if you put in $1,000 in 1999 and $5,000 in 2012, you would have more in 2020 from the $1,000 than the $5,000), which literally could equate to a loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars by retirement.

This is why there are so many senior women below the poverty line.

You think you’re going to waltz back in?

Mothers often don’t realize how difficult it is to get back into their original profession, many times because of motherhood discrimination. But, Bennetts points out, is it discrimination? Or have employers realized that investing in mothers can be risky because they actually do tend to jump ship when motherhood responsibilities interfere, whereas fathers typically do not?

Yes, from a broader feminist perspective mothers who abandon their careers do hurt other women, mothers especially, who do stay in the workforce. Not only because the mothers who stayed are outnumbered and have to deal with discrimination on their own, but because employers look at mothers with less credibility, because they do appear less committed to their profession than the men on staff, precisely because they are prioritizing mothering.

Then there is the broader economic impact of not having more women involved in the economics of the country. Women have been shown to be more prudent investors, more intuitive business professionals and bring a vital perspective to the workplace. The entire economy benefits from their involvement, as such, it is negatively impacted when women check out.

Childcare

Though many professional women end up spending their entire income on actually working, with childcare expenses, commuting, work clothing, etc., Bennet points out that fiscally, you’re better off doing that because by the time children go off to school and childcare costs are eliminated you will be higher up in your profession and making more money. You will also have accrued Social Security points, 401K income andseniority. If you take those years off, you’re losing experience years that equate to a significantly higher income over the lifetime of your career.

Now You’re Screwed

If you divorce, of course, you’re screwed. Because he now has many more years invested in his career and the reality is that you don’t get half the money. Courts value the father’s role as a parent and typically give him joint custody now, which means there is little to no child support andmaintenancelasts only until you can feed yourself, in most cases. Either way, you’re not living your middle class lifestyle anymore. Now you have a big huge gap in your resume that means you’re starting somewhere near the bottom again, or at least not as high as you would have been, and answering to a 25-year-old woman who is still idealistic enough to think that she will make it through motherhood unchanged, and will be perpetually wondering what exactly your problem is.

This is according to Bennett. She’s a tad cynical. A Debbie Downer.

Shit. Now What?

I now find myself in the exact position that Bennetts’apocalyptictale warns of.

I am a newly-divorced 39-year-old woman, the mother of two children. I have been a SAHM/part-time worker for almost 11 years. A choice that my husband did not agree with, but which I made anyway. A choice which played a significant part in the destruction of our marriage. Not only because of the poverty spell and the constant struggle to make ends meet and the never-ending stress that put on our marriage, but because we were battling over control of my choices. Ironically, I fought extraordinarily hard for the opportunity to be in this financial position.

I have kept my finger in the professional pot, producing clips and a work history, but accruing no Social Security points. I did mark the 10th anniversary required to use my wasband’s Social Security points, which is prudent.

I have no medical insurance. I have a pile of debt. I have a big fat mortgage, which it turns out is moreaffordablethan renting. My half of the measly little 401K we had finallymanaged to save was cashed out to pay for the divorce lawyer. I have no IRA or a savings account. I get enough money from him (he who went from a college-educated waiter to a middle manager in a Fortune 500 company on his way up at my insistence), to pay the mortgage and not much more. For four years. Which means he accrued 11 years of professional experience and a salary to match, while I have to start wherever I can and I have four years to get my financial shit together.He,and the marriage, it turns out, actually was a pretty shitty investment, according to Bennetts’ perspective.Or,looked at another way, he financially supported my choice to stay home for 11 years and will continue to help me until I get on my feet and become self-supporting.

Regret?

I figure I have about 21 to 26 years in which to focus on earning money before retirement startsbeckoning to me.

Still. I don’t regret it. Isn’t that funny? See, the thing that Leslie Bennetts doesn’t account for in the book is the fierce magnetic pull I felt towards my children. The deep longing I had to spend all that time with them. The inherently feminine drive to mother them I felt, still feel, though it’ s lesser now that they are past five.

Those mothering years are years I won’t get back. The thought of spending them riding a subway for two hours a day, or sitting in a cubicle doing unfulfilling work 40 hours a week, was something I couldn’t stomach. The thought of dealing with workplace stress while trying to mother was not something I felt up to. Not when they were developing their selves. I didn’t want to miss it. I felt like their early childhoods would be a blink in my lifespan and it was a blink that I wanted to be present for.I have 11 years of my children’s childhoods to look back on, childhoods vanish you know. They come once, for a short period, and then they are gone.

It cost me dearly, true. But, I got to experience the deliciousness of baby skin, the intoxication of breast feeding, theexuberanceof them experiencing the color yellow for the first time, the exasperation of potty training, the joy of teaching them to read, the high of seeing all of their firsts. Even though it was hard in a million of ways, these are things money can’t buy. I grew people. Humans. Awesome humans. Trade that for money that can vanish with the pop of a housing bubble? Not I.

I don’t regret for a minute having those years. Sure, I wish I were in a better financial position now. I wish I were swimming in a claw-footed bathtub full of $1,000 bills. Funny thing though, I know I’m going to be alright. I know that I will make money. I feel freed by their being in school all day. They don’t need me like they used to, they are independent and happy and well-adjusted. I did my job exceptionally well. I can make generating a big fat bank account more of a priority in my life now. I have to.

No, I don’t regret it. But, now it’s time to put my big girl panties on and shift my focus to making a mountain of cold hard cash!

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Law of Attraction & Money: Coupon Chief Living

 

We live frugally. It’s not some vow of poverty we’ve taken or anything, but my parents were raised by Depression-Era Mormons. It’s a way of life passed down generationally. We’re frugal so we don’t go without.

We buy food in bulk, shop sales and clearance racks, use a coupon, reuse items, shop at garage sales and thrift stores, shop on ebay and Craigslist, accept hand-me-downs, buy used cars, used appliances . . . I could go on. We even give our kids items from Craigslist for Christmas, which is how we have a Wii and a Nintendo DS and bicycles.

As my friend Jenny says, we’re frugal on lots of things, so we can spend our money on other things. As she points to our Apple phones, computers and iPods. It’s true. And it’s easy when you surround yourself with other families who live frugally, as opposed to surrounding yourself with those who want to one-up you on designer labels and expensive toys. Too much stress, that.

You know that stereotype of women who just love to shop, running from store to store, trying on new styles and new things? I’m not that girl. I know my body type by now and I know what will and will not look good on me. I rarely stray. I wear lots of color and lots of unique items, but I stick to what looks good on me. I hate running from store to store and generally stick to my few favorite places where I know I’ll get a good deal: Ross, Kohls (though I’m about fed up with their random coupons and requiring the use of their card), Sams, the Ann Taylor outlet, and only because it’s close to my house Walmart (not for clothes, only for other stuff).

I often shop online, because it’s easier and also because a day of shopping could suck up your day and I don’t have much day to spare these days. You know right at the moment of check out there is usually a little box for a Coupon Code? That reminds me to Google a coupon, because why wouldn’t you? Usually there is one and often it’s at CouponChief.com. You can even log onto CouponChief.com and search for store coupons. They have a pretty good selection with craft stores, kids stores, Target, online stores, restaurants, online stores, pet stores, you name it, they probably have a coupon for it.

What is that the Duggars always say? Spend less and save the difference. Why wouldn’t you?

This is a sponsored post paid for by CouponChief.com, like their Facebook Page to get updates on new coupons.

Learn how Law of Attraction and money can help you with your money issues. Click here for more details.

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Law of Attraction & Money: Very Frugal Santa

Somewhere out there I know there’s a mother or father who is feeling guilty this Christmas season. There are lots of reasons for feeling guilty around the holidays. “I can’t afford to buy my kids exactly what they want,” and “I bought my kids exactly what they want and I can’t afford it” are two of the most popular guiltfests.

As usual, I’m willing to expose myself and our way-of-life to make you feel better (whether it makes you feel rich or like at you have a sister frugal friend) and remember it’s not too late to return that ridiculously expensive X-Box 360.

This year, most of what my kids are getting is used. Actually, that’s true of every year. I can afford to get them more of what they want if I buy it on Craig’s List. Last year I scored a Nintendo Wii for $100!

Ainsley is getting: fabulous Columbia winter coat with matching gloves, $20; gorgeous lavender formal dress, $5; several books, all used; several pairs of really nice expensive brand shoes, all used; a brand new pair of boots, $20; a brand new pair of monkey pajamas and a very nice digital camera I got on Amazon’s Black Friday sale.

Zack is getting: an awesome new yellow and black bike, $25 used; a Ninendo DS w/ 3 games, used $55; several pairs of expensive brand shoes, all used; five pairs of Old Navy jeans, new $10 each; several books, all used; shirts and pants, used; and a brand new pair of monkey pajamas.

They will share the year’s worth of canvas and art paper I scored at Michael’s Black Friday Sale.

We could spend all our money on lavish gifts for our kids. But, we have other financial goals that we want to keep knocking out as 2011 closes and 2012 revs up: pay off our cars, eliminate credit card debt and save for a vacation. We’ve been there and done that and realized there’s no joy in Christmas if we’re still paying it off next September.

So, if it seems like everyone in the world is spending $1,000 on their kids this Christmas, except you. They aren’t.

Law of Attraction and money could be a great resource in helping you reach your financial goals. To learn more, click here.

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