5 Things I Learned in July

posted in: journal | 7

So I’m going to take a page from Anne Bogel and sharing 7 5 things I learned last month as a way to work in a personal, chatty post every so often (well, every month is the plan).

Plus – watch for it – I plan to do Quick Lit also and post about July in Books tomorrow.

For now, though, here are 7 things I learned in July (because we should, you know, always be learning and growing):

#1 – Budgeting is actually worth it

I have always been a bad budgeter and the point of weakness in our various attempts over the years. “Spend less than you make” and put any extra money on the house has worked for us for the most part.

But last year we paid off our house (woohoo!) and after saving to buy a vehicle big enough for our tall kids and a Costco trip at the same time, my husband brought up the dread topic: budget.

This time, however, he had a new plan, and it has worked like a charm: We’re using the You Need A Budget (YNAB) app.

We’ve tried the cash envelope system and I didn’t like it. I didn’t like carrying around the cash and I never did write down entries every time I spent money, so the cash in the envelopes was never exactly the amount I thought probably should be in there. And when you need milk, you need milk, so all the envelopes were subservient to the grocery bill.

But YNAB is like an envelope system app so that I can use my debit card everywhere and anywhere and have an available at-a-tap record of where the money went PLUS the same budgeting workflow as an envelope system.

There have been 3 keys to our success this time around:

  1. We actually have a budgeting meeting after each paycheck hits the account and we assign each dollar a name, just like Dave Ramsey says you should.
  2. We spent a month using the app as an “after the fact” tool. Instead of starting off by guessing (and I always underestimate) how much we needed in groceries, we just assigned all the receipts to grocery to get a tally for the month. Plus, waiting while monitoring with the app helped us work in recurring items we would have missed and that have stopped us from even trying before because our spreadsheets got too complicated. YNAB makes it easy to be flexible. After 3 months of budgeting now (after our diagnostic), I think we have a structure in the app that works for us. Going into it knowing we’d adjust as we go until it worked helped me remember to iterate and keep going rather than feel judged by the budget and want to toss it.
  3. I keep the app on the first screen on my phone, and whenever a new expense hits, there’s a notification icon. I don’t like notification icons, so I actually do go in and categorize expenses as they come up, and YNAB makes it pretty painless and maybe even fun. So it’s never an overwhelming upkeep.

Plus, when you set and meet goals in a category, it turns green. It’s pretty rewarding to go through and make it turn it all turn green when we sit down to budget.

The YNAB emails and tutorials are super helpful and made the process work for us much faster than if we’d try to make up our own way. I highly recommend reading the materials they send to help you get set up well.

Use this link to sign up and you (and I) get a free month of YNAB.

#2 – Summer Term is harder than it used to be

So this is week 4 of our summer term and this term has not felt as good as in years past.

Previously, we could start the day with Morning Time, like always, right after morning chores. Then everyone was free for the morning, and often we’d go do something at that point. After lunch, we’d work on our school for a couple hours, then there was still play time and chore time and reading time before dinner.

It’s just not working that way this year. Life changes, and I’m needing to roll with the punches.

With a span of older kids, there are varying levels and kinds and amounts of schoolwork needing to be done. The older boys are on swim team and gone during breakfast and chore time. Swim lessons means we’re not back home until 10, at which point people are hungry and wet and tired. It’s not really a great time to say, “Hey! Let’s do Morning Time!” Then my oldest wants to get his work done first, my second wants to put it off until later, and the others are unpredictable.

So, basically, we’ve done Morning Time twice in four weeks. Insert sad face here.

I thought after swim was over (this is the last week for everyone, yay!), we’d get to it, but then the younger three will have a VBS I wasn’t initially planning on and two weeks after that the older two will go to Debate Camp out of town.

So, this is what happens as kids get older and involved in various things. It’s just an adjustment to make, but I do miss our old summer terms.

Still, everyone’s made good progress already in math, the older boys seem to like the “learning journal” way I set up their written narrations this year, and Ilse and Knox are improving in their handwriting, too. So it’s not a loss, and I actually can’t just quit because I don’t like the flow like I’m tempted to do. It’s only 2 more weeks and then a break and then the normal flow of fall will begin.

Turns out, I’m ready for it.

#3 – I do speaking. Ack!

So, this is something new and unexpected.

I’ve met Melissa Cummings before, and it turns out that we have several friends in common, but I didn’t remember or know that when she first sent me an email last month.

She has a vision for a one-day conference/retreat for homeschoolers in the Pacific Northwest – and that doesn’t mean Seattle! It’s incredible. She wants to put on something awesome for homeschoolers on the east side of the state. We live in an area with lots of homeschoolers, but as those out in the far west, we tend to be independent and just do our own thing. She wants something that’s not a co-op or a commitment, but that will still bring people together for friendship, networking, connecting, and community.

Enter Paideia Northwest.

The first Paideia Northwest conference will be Saturday, November 10th in Spokane.

Adam Andrews and Rachel Jankovic will speak – and so will I. Crazy, huh?

Here’s Melissa’s description:

Paideia Northwest is brand-new on the scene in the Pacific Northwest, seeking to build bridges, encourage community, & create camaraderie
for regional Christian mamas who are raising & educating their children in the nurture, admonition, & wisdom of the Lord Jesus Christ.

If you are a Christian homeschooling mother, or the Christian mom of kids in day schools or hybrids, Paideia Northwest was created to serve you.

If Spokane is a drivable location for you, click here to check out the info!

4 – Work the Plan needs a reboot.

Ok, so I’ve known this for awhile and put my head in the sand about it. But the time has come to meet the challenge head on.

Work the Plan needs some freshening up and some clarification. Revision, new videos, new checklists and cheat sheets are coming in August.

Watch your email – in a few days I’ll be sending a feedback form to Work the Plan members to help direct my revision efforts.

Work the Plan is supposed to help us plan from a state of rest, live from a state of rest. The keystone habits that transform our days, our months, our years – and our mindset as we move through them. Work the Plan is built to acknowledge that emergencies happen, that life is unpredictable, that the life of a mother is made of interruptions-that-are-the-point, yet we can still have a plan that helps us move forward surely, steadily, and smilingly.

Right now it’s a bit too discombobulated to do that effectively. So we’re going to give it a facelift and plenty of revision and make it even better.

5 – Saving the best for last: I married an amazing man 17 years ago.

In July my husband and I celebrated our 17th anniversary. We went out to the fanciest restaurant either of us had ever been to, thanks to a gift certificate from his parents.

Here’s the story I told on Instagram to go with this fun photo of us dancing at my sister’s wedding in June:

Seventeen years and still having a good time! When we were seventeen years old, we took swing dance lessons…just because we were interested in learning, of course. I’d kissed dating goodbye, so we definitely were not a couple and not dating – only dancing. Our friends knew better, but we fooled ourselves for a year anyway. Now we’ve been married as long as we’d been alive at that point and we still swing dance at weddings. We make a great team (and not only because he does the dishes and the ironing).

(photo by Jordan Edens Photography)

What did you learn in July? Share in the comments!

7 Responses

  1. Jone Rose
    | Reply

    Mystie,
    I was wondering if you would give some additional information regarding the learning journals you mentioned.

    "the older boys seem to like the “learning journal” way I set up their written narrations this year"

    Thank you for all the help and dedication you give to us and your family. Congratulations on the 17 yrs. We hit 29 this August.

    Blessings,
    Jone Rose

  2. Elizabeth Petersen
    | Reply

    We started using YNAB over 5 years ago on the recommendation of ALL my co-workers and it’s one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. Spending from a place of rest!

  3. Betsy
    | Reply

    Yes! More info on the learning journals :-). Also, I second the Summer Term. WOW. Swim team totally changes our normal morning routine. I’ve had to work in second breakfast, deal with extra laundry, and such.

  4. Amber Vanderpol
    | Reply

    Wow, Paideia Northwest sounds fantastic, and I hooray for something that is not in the Seattle area! :-) What a fun line-up of speakers too, that should be a great event.

    And also – YNAB – we’ve been using it for ages (10 years?? Since it was a francy spreadsheet and not even an app) and my husband and I often remark that we can’t imagine life without it.

    Something I learned in July… Hmm. A heat wave is so much more bearable when not pregnant? Conference season can come and go without going to a conference and I can actually be totally ok about that? I still can’t seem to grow tomatoes (or much of anything else for that matter) even though we’ve amended our soil and installed drip irrigation?

    • Mystie Winckler
      | Reply

      Everything is more bearable when not pregnant. Ha! You will be at CM West in 2019, though, right?

  5. Raquel
    | Reply

    Loved this ! Congratulations to paying off your house! That is incredible and I would love to hear more about that if it’s something your willing to share. My husband and I will be celebrating our 16th anniversary.

  6. shannon
    | Reply

    “the very best things happen while you’re dancing…”

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