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Family Goal: Getting Out of Debt

Today I was searching online for some information on personal loans and found an interesting article on phone apps that can be used to help avoid overspending. I researched these types of apps before but none of them seemed to work for me. I had tried some of the more popular ones, but I had not heard of one called YNAB (You Need A Budget). I signed up today and I’m trying it out. I can tell you right now I’m hooked!

I like it because it’s based on zero-based budgeting. You can use the app or desktop software to basically assign every single dollar to a certain role or payment. I’m using the personal/consumer version but there is a business enterprise edition available.

Setting up your account is easy to do and you’ll probably be able to get it set up in less than an hour. Once you have some of your information added in, you just need to follow the walk-through steps to answer a few questions and enter in information when prompted.

I’ve only been using the app for 48 hours but I already feel it’s made me more aware of where our money is going. No more frivolous spending! On a side note, if you plan on using YNAP on your iphone, you need to make sure you are on iOS8 version or higher. My sister tried to install it on her iPhone 4S but since she was stuck on iOS7, she couldn’t download it. Just something to think about.

I’m really hoping this new app will help me orgaznize my spending habits into necessities and wish list stuff. I’m also hoping to start consilidating some of our business expenses into a similar format, but that’s another project for another day. We start the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace classes next month so we’re super excited about the goal of getting our family out of debt.

Anyways, I’m still trying it out and will give another update in a month or so. Wish us luck!

Sadie is getting married

wedding invitationsIf you follow me on facebook, you already know that my best friend in the whole wide world, Sadie, is getting married to one of the most awesome men on the planet, Tom!  And best of all, I get to be the maid of honor! Eek! I love it!

I spoke to Sadie yesterday and I’ll also be a big part in helping her plan the wedding since Tom will be travelling a lot for his job.  I’ll be helping choose cake, reception decor and invitations. I looked up some wedding paper diva reviews and decided we will be using them.  So posh!

Last year I asked them both when we should be expecting a wedding invitation in the mail, but both of them just scoffed and dismissed it as being silly.  Who’s laughing now!

This is going to be such a fun process. I’m extremely grateful to have such a great friend who is allowing me to be a part of her big day.  Sadie and Tom, I love you both!  You guys are made for each other. I remember when I introduced you two together at Alan’s birthday party.  I was a bit tipsy and I remember Sadie gushing all night about the cute tall guy at the bar.  That guys was Tom and it all started right there.

Oh and did I mention that Rick is going to be Tom’s best man! It just keeps getting better.

Rick and Tom have know each other since 6th grade and were in the Navy together for 4 years. Their friendship is more of a brotherhood and it’s easy to see that Rick is beyond excited that Tom asked him to be in the wedding party.

I’ll be sharing more details over the next few month.  Be sure to call/write/email Sadie and Tom to congratulate them both!


Guess who’s pregnant!

LOL! Before you keep reading, it’s not me who’s pregnant! That would be absolutely CRAZY!!! Nope, but I am excited to say that my dear sister Phyllis 3 months pregnant!  Her and her awesome husband (Rick) are now welcoming their fourth family member and we are all eager to meet the new bundle of joy. They wanted to get pregnant faster in a totally natural way that allowed them to continue their vegan lifestyle without taking any sort of prescriptions. We are so happy for you guys!

And to continue the good news… Phyllis and Rick are moving back to San Diego!  Yep, after delivering the baby news to us, they surprised yet again letting us know Rick was offered a leadership position in California and it happened to be in SD. Now I get to be near my sister again!  If you’re keeping count, that’s 3 sisters that have now moved within 90 miles of our new house! I guess we are really in the right place at the right time.  Exciting times ahead!

We were at Nana’s last night and we started to make a list of family events and holiday plans that are not actually reasonable to plan for.  It’s been about 7 years since we were all together for Christmas as the same time so next year will be special. It’s weird to think that lil’ Gale is now in college and Winston is starting high school!  It seems just like yesterday when both were poopingin Nana’s bath tub LOL!  I guess you can say it’s become a family tradition.  The next time I’m over there, I plan to take my camera and spend a few hours just taking photos of the entire house and the gardens outside.  So much history in those walls. I guess with any house over 100+ years old, it must have that certain charm. I’m so in love with all the smells, sounds and vibe of her home.  I overheard her telling Mrs. Greenfield that the city wants to recognize their home as a historical landmark. The only caveat is they would have to commit to spending at least $10K a year for maintenance and improvements for the first 3 years. After that it’s a committment of $5K a year. Honestly, they’ve probably spent more than that each year on it for the past few years, so it’s not the commitment that is questionable, it’s the time to do it. They both plan on travelling a lot more in the next few years so being away from the home for 60 days at a time is not best case scenario. Oh well, something to think about.

I also wanted to share the news of homeschooling is in full swing in our household.  The front 2 rooms have been converted to a pseudo classroom and the garage is now officially a learning lab.  Emma absolutely loves the water area. We are having so much fun and learning so much!

Well that’s a lot of great info in one blog post so I’ll let us all absorb all this goodness before I publish again.

We love our new fitbits

Rick surprised me yesterday by giving me a brand new Fibit Charge HR!  I can’t tell you how much I’ve been hounding him for one (ever since my fitbit one crapped out on me) and he finally gave in. Well honestly, it’s an early Christmas present so I just got it a little bit early.

I got the purple one and it’s the cutest thing ever.  It’s also very helpful and accurate. I love the fact that it tracks my heart rate througout the day and gives me my “resting” rate. If you go over a certain bpm, it confirms that you are in a good fat burning zone and should try to keep your heart rate there as long as you can. I kept taking a look at it during this morning’s run and it certainly motivated me to keep my pace.  It also tracks the amount of distance that you run/walk all day long. As a default, it has a 5 mile a day goal, but since I run a minimum of 7 each morning, I decided that a 10 mile goal would work for me. Rick set his for 15 since he’s already running 12 miles by noon. I’m so proud of him for qualifying for the IronMan desert series and know he can complete and win it.  He’s beenworking out really hard over the past 6 months and will be at a 15/mile a day schedule starting next month. We’re all so proud of him!

Another cool thing I like about this new fitbit is that it has a built-in caller ID that vibrates each time someone calls my phone. At first I didn’t think I would even use this feature but I have to tell you that I really like it. I’m also able to track my sleep again after the past 9 days of not having some sort of fitbit. I like that this new one doesn’t have to manually be set because it automatically detects when I’m sleeping. I set my goal for 8 hours but should realistically change that to about 6. Having kids is a time consuming job!

If I had one complaint, it would be the battery life  I charged up my fitbit for a full 12 hours yesterday and it’s already at 50%.At this rate I’ll be charging it ever other day. Rick’s fitbit flex only needs charging once a week.Hopefully this changes soon. Either way, I’m really enjoying my early gift and can’t wait to keep progressing and getting faster.

We’ve Decided To Homeschool Again

homeschool noujain

About 2 months ago, Rick and I decided that keeping our kids enrolled in a structured homeschool environment would probably be best until each child has had the time to acclimate themselves to normal private school way of life.  Now that the time has come to begin preparing, I’ve done a lot of research and soul-searching to make sure we are doing the right thing.

Home schooling your children is a major decision to make. For whatever reason you feel the need to begin teaching your children at home there are a number of things to consider. First consider exactly why you want to homeschool your children. Whatever that reason is sit down and think it though. If you feel it’s a 100% justified reason then consider possible alternatives such as private school, maybe transferring to a different district. This isn’t to discourage anyone from homeschooling but to avoid potential knee jerk reactions to what can be considered a minor issue a year to several years down the road. Additionally a takes a lot of effort and in some case money to have your children homeschooled instead of attending a public and/or private school. With that step out of the way lets break down what you need to do to start homeschooling your children.

  1. Research

One of the first steps towards homeschooling your children is to figuring out what you need to do prior to homeschooling them in your state. In some states this can be as simple as sending an official notice to the school district and keeping them informed of your children’s academic progress to having to hire certified tutors and getting your home classified as a location that the children can be schooled in. Finding out what your state requires will save you a lot of time and headache down the road.

  1. Getting a game plan

Once you meet all state requirements to begin homeschooling your children getting all of the materials and classwork in order is your next step. While this may not seem like much of a task, remember that like the requirements for homeschooling your children each state has its own academic requirements. A lot of this will be discovered when you start researching about homeschooling in your state. Many states require that the homeschooled children meet or exceed current grade academic standards. These typically range in subjects like:

  • Math
  • Science
  • History
  • Geography
  • English
  • Social Studies

Additionally some states require that homeschooled children take state mandated tests along with their public/private school counterparts. As a homeschooler you will be responsible for ensuring that your children receive this education whether you are teaching them or someone else.

  1. College

While most colleges will accept homeschool graduates they will often require more than just a high school diploma. While anyone can print your high school diploma including your parents most colleges will require a transcript and anything else that might be part of the general enrollment process. One of the issues to keep an eye out for is culture shock. While the majority of college bound graduates expect there to be a bit of a change from living and learning at home there are other potential things to be aware of.

While most people picture homeschooling as socially stunting in reality the culture shocks can come in a number of ways. From learning that a lot of your peers may not be at the same level as you are academically to the more extreme cases of learning that some of what you were taught was a flat out lie. While these extreme cases are not common sadly some people use homeschooling as a means to indoctrinate their children into a specific belief system or lifestyle. This of course goes back to the first point of making sure you have a legitimate reason to homeschool and not just because you disagree with evolution.

With all that being said, we do still plan to homeschool our kiddos, but will utilize our past vacation and travel experiences to bring something familiar to their learning agenda.  With us luck as we go down this daunting but exciting road!

We’re Back in the States!

noujaim family

After 15 glorious months of travelling abroad and seeing pretty much every single corner of this amazing world, the Noujaim’s are back in the United States!  Rick, Evan, Tracy, Emma, Denise, Barbara and I are eager to start a “land life” and have a stable place to stay and rest our heads every night.  If there was one thing that we all agreed we missed the most, it was our bed in our own houses.

Rick begins his new job in December and I’ll be tending to all the kids and their homeschooling. The plan is to homeschool for 1 year and then migrate them to a private school in the area.

Thanks for dropping by and stay tuned for more fun from the Noujaim’s!