February was every good reason I’m glad we aren’t going back to the 9-5 for now. Income aside, there are good things about the 9-5 and bad things. February felt like living proof that I can replace the good things in a way that is more meaningful and impactful than the 9-5 ever was and mitigate the bad more effectively. With our total spending coming in at $1569, apparently it’s rather affordable to do both.

First the bad….

Both parents and all 5 kids were sick. Throwing up sick. Fever sick. Can barely move sick. For a week! In addition, I had a sinus infection or perhaps allergies (to snow?). February is a short month as is. But an entire week was wiped out.

But here is the great thing. It was ok. The kids could stay home and we didn’t have to stress about finding sick kid child care (almost impossible). We had “work” that needed to get done, but we were mostly ahead of the game. I had to tell one freelance client that some writing would arrive a week later than I had planned, but I was already 4 weeks ahead on her work. Mr. Mt had to cancel going to a welding class for one day.

take welding classes after you retire

Being that horribly sick is never fun. But the 9-5 didn’t make it worse this time. If you have ever worked a job that interrogated you on your “level of sickness” or tried to make you feel guilty for having to stay home with a sick child, you know that only adds to the stress of sickness. Or work that is so demanding that missing one, let alone two (or 5) unplanned days, turns the next two weeks into unbearable stress trying to catch up.

So while it stunk, I was also thankful. Thankful that we weren’t losing out on income that pays the bills. Thankful we could be home with our kids and not have to drop them at some janky “sick kid daycare” while they felt horrible. Thankful that while I was throwing up, Mr. Mt could handle the kids throwing up. Thankful that our only biggest concern could be getting better.

Health Cost: $145 total, $12 for allergy medication

And the Awesome!

Ok, so after that one horrible, rotten, very bad week. The rest of the month was quite amazing.

Vegas Baby!

I met up with a great friend/mentor in Vegas for 3 days. I wanted to test doing a compressed version of my mentoring program. So we found a nice hotel on the strip, brought 400 Post it notes, notes cards and paper. Probably the geekiest way to hang out in Vegas for a few days. The poor guy who sat next to me on the plain ride there was dumbfounded. “No binge drinking? No gambling? No strippers!!!?” Sorry, not this time. But I did proudly pull out the 8 pads of color coordinated Post It notes to show off. =)

money planning tools

If you have never done a planning weekend like this, here is my brief explanation. We start with about 15 questions, each on one Post it note. Depending on where a person is in their financial journey, we ask different questions. We pick whichever question seems most appealing/relevant, then brainstorm the answers (each answer gets it’s own Post it note). Then we can move around the information and organize it. We use all this info to plan out action steps we can take to make some forward progress on the areas we identified. It’s fun, in a really hard mentally taxing way.

money mentoring program

We broke it up with trips to amazing buffets. I also had a chance to practice my “dance-walking.” You know the way that people can just dance while they walk down the street, like a crazy person. I figured the Vegas strip was the perfect venue to display my dance-walking moves. It was an awful lot of fun. People joined in and danced along. They added my sweet (embarrassingly bad) dance moves to their go-pro movies. Dance-walking and overeating at buffets was the perfect way to decompress from the heavy mental lifting.

Overall the long weekend cost me about $850 for flight/hotel and food. Where are these charges you might be wondering???

Fun money. Fun money is the catch all of our individual personal money. It can be spent on any whim we might have. Haircuts, movies, eating out, books, hobbies, new ski’s, good coffee, new clothes. Each month you will see a consistent $150 expense in the budget. That’s because $75 auto transfers into our individual checking accounts.

Here’s the beauty of the whole system. I have a very clear idea in my head about what is “most important” and what is “the rest.” Most of what I could buy falls into “the rest” for me.

I mean, those things are OK. But it’s not the “most important” for me. Buying new shoes for the sake of having something different, grabbing fast food for lunch, or paying someone else to cut my hair…well, I just don’t care about that stuff. So I never spend money on it.

Being able to travel to Vegas to see one of my oldest friends and take 48 hours to plan out the next season of life together? Brainstorming, encouraging, speaking into each others life? Laughing, dancing and making memories? Working to refine and organize a mentoring program so it could have more reach than the 5 people I can currently work with at a time? (I only have 2 spots left!) Yeah, so those are my most important. I had $2400 in my fun money account. And spend $850 on my most important.

money mentoring program in person

So the reason you don’t see any of those expenses is that we count it as spent as soon as it’s transferred every month. Plus, then we don’t have to track any little personal expenses. We just use our personal debit cards. Easy peasy.

Cost: $75 (of the $150) from this month ($850 actually came out of my fun money account)


I love being able to talk with groups. Being able to share some of my stories. Getting to hear some of their stories. And encourage.

I was able to do that with a great group of skaters in February. Friends and awesome readers of MMA, invited me to speak at a local skate ministry. They do an amazing job providing a safe space for teens and young adults to gather, skate, make friends, eat dinner, and take home some groceries for the weekend.

While technically there was no financial cost, this was a large cost in terms of time and energy. It took about 15 hours to prepare and deliver my talk. 10 hours of that was carved out of my best writing time. One of the best things about being work optional is that I get to spend my very best hours to create something really meaningful and important with no concern about the financial ROI.

Ms. Montana public speaking

Cost: $0 (Although I am going to start buying more food to donate to their make-shift teenager food bank)

Weekend Adventures/Friday Family Fun nights

When we looked at our schedule for 2017 in December, we added these two things. Every Friday night we do a screen free, just 100% kid focused time. We received some new board games for Christmas that we play. We make home made play dough. We create indoor relay races. We write mad libs. We do craft projects or science experiments. Then we make “fun” food that the kids help with. Nachos, homemade pizza or popcorn. Things like that. But we don’t check our phones or email. We don’t fold laundry or sweep the floors. We don’t run errands. Just us and the kids. 100%. We are now 3 months in, and it’s by far their favorite day of the week!

Cost: $0 this month $10 a month on average

Weekend Adventures have also been another big hit. This month we did a snowy hike. We went to the park and fed the hungry masses of ducks and geese (using our extra duck food). We have a great library here with lots of fun things for the kids to play with, so we spent some time there. And while I was gone, Mr. Mt took the kids to a expo. Sometimes we fork out a little cash for Saturday adventures, mostly in the form of extra gas. As the weather gets nicer, we will have an abundance of festivals, craft fairs, farmers markets, and expos to visit. Along with longer hikes in Glacier National Park and trips to Flathead Lake.

Cost $13.50 (from Kids Money)

$3.50 this month for 25 cent ice creams and $1.29 mega donuts (big enough to feed 5 people!), plus $10 for some snacks while the kids played at McDonald’s.

$10-$30 a month on average (mostly spent on Kettle Korn at festivals. My kids will be super well behaved at any event if we are slowly dolling out Kettle Korn as we go!).

Kids Clothes

Early Spring is often when I do some kids clothes shopping. Mostly because this is when all the winter clothing and gear goes on clearance. With the weather in Montana, summer clothes are a short lived season. So I focus most of our clothing money on better quality winter clothes. Instead of spending $30-$45 on new boots for each kid, I tend to stock up this time of year when things are 50-75% off. Our 2 oldest boys are just a year apart, and same for our girls, so nothing ever goes to waste. I error of the side of buying too big, and someone will use it eventually. I’ve started buying more things used for snow gear, but often the clearance prices for sweaters/shirts are very close to used prices. Plus I feel more confidant the item will last through both kids of that gender.

The rest of the money went towards new toothbrushes, a box of diapers, and 2 boxes of Valentines cards for school.

I tend to buy about $20 of little treats and gifts for my kids for each minor holiday, like Valentines Day. This year I decided to test out celebrating without a bunch of random candy and little toys from the Dollar Store. I decided to make pink heart shaped pancakes with red glitter sprinkles and drizzled with heart shaped pink frosting for dinner. The kids thought it was awesome! Sometimes it’s good to take an expense away and test to see if it is missed at all. Maybe something free or low cost is even more meaningful and fun. But we never know unless we test it. Mr. Mt did pick me up some of my favorite flowers. Some tests aren’t worth the risk! =)

Kids Money Cost: $98 Clothes ($150 all together)

Gifts: $11.50 (V-Day flowers)

Other Random expenses:

Dog Treats: $15.78 Because our sweet puppy gets a little treat each time we leave. We have to buy a new container about every 6-8 months.

Dinner with Friends: FREE I went out to dinner with some girl friends but had a gift card I won in a drawing. Score!

House Maintenance: $114 Picked up some trim and stain for the Master Bath renovation. It slowly marches on…

Total Spent for the month: $1569

plus $226 donated

Despite a week of what felt like near death sickness, February was a great month! We have been able to add so many fun, and meaningful things to our lives since we walked away from the 9-5. Mr. Mt has welding and metal lathing classes. I’m mentoring and doing money consultations. More freelance writing (it’s so cool to get PAID to write!) Speaking to groups. Real quality time with the kids. 4 day trips to Vegas. Lots of outdoor adventures. And the chance to be sick without it being a crisis.


For conversation

How was your February?

If you could spend less time at the 9-5, what would you fill it with?

Any fun adventures for you last month?

Do you have a friend/mentor (other than a spouse) that you do life planning stuff with?


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