What I’ve Learned from My Dog About My Finances Ahead of Having My First Child (By Guest Blogger, Jacob Evans of Dollar Diligence)

I do not have a child, which you probably inferred from the title of this article.

Do I want one? Yes.

Am I ready for one? I think so.

Whether I really am or not, I can tell you this, my dog has helped me prepare mentally
and financially for my first child when me and my wife are ready for one.

Mentally by helping me learn patience and what it’s like to have a 24/7 responsibility. I
had to stay patient when my dog was a puppy and wasn’t potty-trained (it was very
hard) and I always had to consider how my dog would be fed and walked every day.

Financially by teaching me to consider the future and start preparing for it. For
example, I knew my dog had a predisposition for hip problems and certain diseases. I
knew if I had to pay for these alone that I would have to pay for a big bill so I went
ahead and bought pet insurance.

I have actually already started planning for my first child by starting to save for his or her
education. I know first-hand how bad student loan debt can be, and if graduates today
have over $27,000, then I can’t even imagine how high it will be when my child
graduates. I hope to help my child avoid student loans altogether if possible.

Below, I will talk to you about how my pup has helped me plan for the finances that lie
ahead of having a child because you know, you can never be TOO prepared ahead of
time.

Devoting Attention to the Dog

One of the many things that I learned and that will help me once I do have a child is that
I must devote time to my dog. If I do not, my dog will not thrive and he will eventually
start to destroy my home in an effort to get my attention. It is important that I make sure
I take time to walk my dog and even play with him out in the backyard because if I do
not, he will be hyper and rambunctious the entire night.

While a young child may not be as rambunctious as a dog without play or a child may
not chew up your furniture, you do need to devote time to your child and work on
training them. Your child will only thrive if he or she has one on one time with his or her
parent. You will need to learn to set time aside and so will I. I cannot be consumed in
my work or in myself all day and neglect to provide my baby with the attention that he or
she needs.

Having a dog has opened my eyes to how much I do focus on myself and how much
change will need to occur when I do decide to have a child with my wife. Of course, I will
move mountains to make time for my child, but having a dog has helped me realize just
how short the days can be.

Providing for the Dog in More Ways Than One

When it comes to a dog, you cannot just purchase or adopt one and then be done with
it. They do not take care of themselves and a child will not be ready to take care of
himself or herself for a while either.

Owning a dog comes with a lot of responsibility. For example, you will need to provide
food and water for the dog. I cannot just avoid feeding and hydrating my pup because I
am pressed for time. I NEED to make sure that he has enough food and water to
sustain him while I am away from the house. In addition, when he runs out of food, I
need to be able to go out and purchase him more.

Another thing to think about is insurance. Though it’s hard to tell if it’s worth it or not, I
have purchased insurance for my pet because I do not even want to think about what
could happen if my pup was hit by a car and we could not afford the care needed. I
have made sure to purchase a policy that protects my dog in events like that, so that he
can visit the vet when needed and I do not have to worry about emptying everyone’s
piggy bank to make it happen.

Lastly, entertainment is another expense on the list. While I will need to provide much
more entertainment to a child over the course of their life, a dog is not much different. In
fact, whenever I want to take my dog out to the dog park to play fetch, we have to drive
10 minutes one way, which also means I need to use gas to do so. These entertainment
trips may seem small and inexpensive, but over time they start to add up.

A Pet Prepares You for a Child

If you have not realized it by now, a pet can truly prepare you for a child. Just like a dog
needs food, water, insurance, shelter, and entertainment, so does a child. As you take
care of your pet, try to think of ways these actions would apply similarly in a situation
with a child. I know my dog has allowed me to open my mind and see how much work,
time, and devotion it takes to raise a child.

Jacob runs a personal finance blog called Dollar Diligence where he tracks his journey
to financial freedom. For more advice and articles, you can find him on Twitter.

Dear Holly: The Pink Unicorn Your Brother Won for You at the Fair

1 year, 3 months.

Dear Holly,

Last weekend we made our annual visit to the Williamson County Fair. Your brother Jack had entered an amazing picture of a sheep so we enjoyed seeing it on display. But really, his main agenda was to get over to the carnival games. Thanks to Nonna and Papa being in town, his “game allowance” was a little padded.

While Jack definitely enjoyed throwing darts at balloons and picking up “lucky ducks” in the water, he tried out a new game that was just right for a 1st grader boy. He used a cork gun to shoot green Solo cups off of a shelf. Inside some of the cups were special markings, which determined the value of the prize he would win.

After much consideration of the prizes, he ended up choosing a small white tiger stuffed animal. However, he had earned enough points to win a larger prize instead. But he liked the face of the small one better, so he didn’t mind choosing a less valuable prize; because to him, the smaller tiger was more valuable.

Once the man in charge of the game realized Jack’s decision was final, the man looked up to you in Mommy’s arms and said, “Well, since your brother didn’t take the bigger prize he won, I’m going to let that pretty little girl have a prize too!”

Mommy and I checked out on the prizes available. There was an undeniable, obvious choice…

A pink unicorn!

You were so happy to get your prize. And truly, it’s all because of your brother Jack.

So the way I see it, he won you a prize at the fair. I know that made him happy.

What also made him happy was the samurai sword he won from the “lucky ducks” game.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: You’re Back from Summer Vacation 2017 at Nonna and Papa’s

6 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack,

This has been the longest amount of time that Mommy and I have spent without you; 10 whole days!

Obviously, we called you on video phone at least once a day, thanks to Facebook messenger. That way, CIA members in Hawaii were also able to catch up on all you’ve done while spending your summer vacation in Alabama.

I say that jokingly (?) because Mommy and I went through the trouble of renting some movies from Redbox while you were gone; Snowden being one of them.

Yes, it was much quieter without you in our house for 10 days, but I have to say, it wasn’t as good. Mommy and I are too accustomed to having a 6 year-old expert inform us of little known facts about dinosaurs and Pokemon.

And obviously, your baby sister kept looking for you the whole time. She kept pointing to your pictures on the wall, doing her best to pronounce your name.

But finally, you got back a week ago and now we can get back to the norm. We missed our little boy!

Speaking of Facebook, Nonna was faithful to keep us posted every couple of hours on whatever fun thing that she and Papa were taking you to do. It became obvious quick that you were not simply just hanging out at their house. No, you were on the move!

You went hiking, to a splash pad, to scrap yard, and to see The Emoji Movie; just to name a few!

Of course, you loved being able to spend time playing with your cousins the whole time as well.

And now the summer has officially come to a close. A week ago you started 1st grade!

Yes, you are now our brilliant 1st grader son. First grade is going to be great.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: You Love Vegan Avocado Toast!

1 year, 3 months.

Dear Holly,

To say you are a picky eater is an understatement. Plus, like me, you have negative reactions to consuming dairy, so I am so happy to see you less dependent on milk for your food throughout the day. Even just since graduating from formula, your skin is looking much better.

Ah, finally- you are munching on food you have to chew.

As you can imagine, with you being born to a vegan father, I am eager to teach you from a very young age, how to get your proteins and fats from plants, like I do; as opposed to believing that protein and fat from animals is necessary in order to healthy, like our government teaches and like most people believe.

So when Mommy introduced you to avocado toast (bread, avocado, vegan butter, salt, pepper), and you actually loved it, I was in my glory. It’s quite typical on Saturday mornings for Mommy and me to have that for breakfast. Sort of on a whim, Mommy steered the avocado toast to your mouth, in the off chance you would actually taste it and try it.

Apparently, you thought it looked similar to the contents of all those organic fruit and veggie pouches we give you. Even though avocado tastes nothing like what you’re used to eating, you immediately went back for a second bite. And a third and a fourth…

Mommy actually had to make you a 2nd entire piece of vegan toast!

With your brother being a big fan of cheese, I know there’s no chance of me convincing him to convert from vegetarian to vegan until at least past his teenage years.

But as you, my dear daughter, I think I might just be able to corrupt you, I mean convince you of a life dependent on nuts and seeds for fat, instead of dairy.

I will keep trying to entice you…

In the meantime, I will make sure you have plenty of access to avocado toast!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Your Attempt to Figure Out the Sprinkler in the Backyard (and Why Your Brother Had a Bucket on His Head)

1 year, 3 months.

Dear Holly,

Here we are in the scorching heat of July in Nashville. There’s not much we can do, as a family, outdoors right now. But when Mommy took your brother with her to buy groceries on Saturday morning while you and I stayed home and played, she bought him a $5 sprinkler for our water hose.

The original plan was just for Jack to run through the sprinkler while Mommy supervised outside on the back porch. But after just a few minutes, you began grunting and nodding your head towards the back door.

Translation: “Daddy, aren’t you going to take me outside?”

You didn’t even notice the intense 91 degree weather. You were just fascinated by watching your brother jump through the water.

So Mommy helped you get a closer look, holding you up high to where you wouldn’t really get too wet. That’s when your brother, who assumed his role of entertainer, placed a bucket on top of his head and started dancing around.

I’m trying to imagine how you were processing what was going on, as the 15 month-old little girl you are…

It’s scorching hot. Let’s go outside!

And now big brother is dancing in the water with a bucket on his head.

I assume that this event ultimately gets translated in your brain as “completely normal event.”

That’s something I tend to think about- how everything you see our family do, even if you forget about it an hour later, is ultimately hard-wiring your thought process as to what are the norms of society.

However, I have found that you actually do remember more than I would expect you to. Just little things, like when we were reading a book together that had a picture of a cartoon lizard on it.

I said, “Holly… lizard!” Then I made a silly noise by sticking my tongue out again and again, which sounded like, “bluh-la-buh-la, bluh-la-buh-la…”

A few days later when you pointed to the book for us to read again, you placed your finger on the lizard and immediately made the sound: “Bluh-la-buh-la, bluh-la-buh-la…”

You looked up to me for immediate approval, as you smiled so big, which translated as, “Daddy, that’s the sound I’m supposed to make when I see the lizard, right? Aren’t you proud of me for remembering?”

What’s funny is, I had forgotten I had even made that sound the last time we had read the book. But now, every time we read it, you make that silly lizard noise that I accidentally taught you.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: You are Now Asking Me Questions about Baptism

6 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack,

As your Daddy, I have to always be ready for serious, sincere questions; especially at times when I would least expect. That definitely was the case as we were driving back from the movies last Sunday.

Completely unrelated to our conversation discussing your favorite part of the movie, basically out of nowhere, you asked me this: “Daddy, will we see your Grandma in Heaven?”

That set up the next question, “Daddy, what will Heaven be like?”

And that led to, “Will we see Jesus in Heaven?”

Then, “If Jesus is God, then are they one person or two?”

And then, “Does a person have to be baptized to go to Heaven?”

That last question is the one you’ve been bringing up daily, since then. Last night, after we read your children’s Bible story about King Hezekiah (which actually was very interesting, and one that I wasn’t really familiar with), you asked me again about Heaven and baptism.

I have been explaining to you that being baptized is how we let everyone know that we believe Jesus is God’s son and that we trust in Him and thank Him for all we have in life. To answer your question, I pointed out that Jesus promised the dying thief on the cross next to Him, “Today, you will be with me in Paradise”. However, any other time in the Bible a person believed in Jesus, they always got baptized afterwards.

For you, believing is the easy part.

It’s funny because for us, one of the ways we bond is when you show me your newest Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh cards you traded that day at school. Some of the characters are called “gods”, yet you always immediately point out that there are false gods, like the idols people made in the Bible.

You always separate the “idols and false gods” from our God. I am truly impressed with your ability, as an almost 1st grader, to process that concept.

So whereas believing is the easy part, right now you are sorting out the details- the main one being this:

“Daddy, how long do I have to go underwater to get baptized?”

Turns out, you asked Mommy these same questions about baptism and Heaven, right after I left your bedroom last night, when she came in to say goodnight.

Now Mommy and I are planning to let you go to “big church” the next time they have a baptismal service; and take you to the front row so you can see exactly how it works.

It is an honor to teach you these things. I don’t want to rush you through your ongoing journey in the Christian faith. Instead, it’s important to me that you understand at your own pace, paced on my consistent guidance.

I simply have been sowing the seeds, by reading your stories from the children’s story Bible that my Grandma gave me 29 years ago. And you truly enjoy going to church, learning aside from we read together.

This is big stuff.

Love,

Daddy

A Step-By-Step Guide To Moving With Kids And Pets (By Guest Blogger, University Moving and Storage)

No matter how you look at it, moving can be stressful — especially when you add kids and pets into the equation. Changing routines, packing everything you own and uprooting your household is a surefire recipe for stress regardless of who you are.

When you can’t understand why everything is in disorder, it’s even more difficult to cope. So when you’re moving with pets and kids, what can you do to ease the tension for the ones you love? To help answer that question, see the following tips and accompanying step-by-step guide to improving the way you move with children and pets.

Preparation

The more you can prepare your household for a move, the better they’ll be able to handle it. Take advantage of the time you have prior to your move to help everyone efficiently cope. Two key ways to prepare:

· Practice traveling

· Talk about the move

With your kids especially, have conversations about what’s coming for the family. Make the idea of moving a journey, and get them involved in the prep work. Maybe you let them choose decorations for their new rooms, or drive them around the new neighborhood. Help them visualize what’s coming, as much as possible. Equally, if you know you’ll be spending a lot of time in the car during a long-distance move, get your family used to the idea. Practice with a few shorter trips to adapt everyone to what moving will involve.

Make Plans for Moving Day

Expect moving day to be frenzied, and do everything you can to ease that stress. Can you have friends watch your pets? Can you hire a sitter for the kids? Maybe you can keep your pet in an extra room or the backyard of your new home? If someone is keeping is your children and/or pets entertained while you’re unpacking, it’s possible to relieve a lot of stress associated with the move.

Post-Move Tips

Returning your pets and kids to their routines as soon as possible is a good way to help in the first days after a move. Set up food dishes and get your pet on a regular eating schedule. Give your kids their preferred toys as soon as you unpack. If there are certain things you regularly do as a family — such as taco Tuesdays or weekend movies — try to apply them when you’re transitioning. Getting back to routine provides comfort and security to little ones in the midst of change.

Check out the below infographic from University Moving and Storage for more information.


A Step-By-Step Guide To Moving With Kids And Pets created by moving company University Moving and Storage