That’s a Wrap

by Julie on May 20, 2015 · 6 comments

Be happy with what you have Last week I started a conversation with Tom this way: “I need to talk to you about something, and it’s going to sound familiar.” If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, it’s going to sound familiar to you too.

The something I needed to talk about was, of course, what to do about the blogs (the blogs being The Family CEO and Creating This Life).

I’ve been writing at The Family CEO since 2006, and for at least half that time I’ve been conflicted about what the blog should be about. It started as a blog about finances, but over time I became interested in writing about lifestyle topics (homes, food, books, travel) as well.

At first I incorporated those things into The Family CEO, but it never felt quite right; I thought the blog was stronger when it was just about money.

So two years ago I carved the lifestyle topics off into a separate blog, Creating This Life. The idea was that I would be freer to explore the two subjects (personal finance and lifestyle) if they each had their own space.

Instead what I found was that it was hard to get into a flow. I would ignore one blog while I wrote at the other for a while, and then ping-pong back the other way.

It felt disjointed, inauthentic, and I wasn’t doing either blog (which are my babies, after all) a service. Besides, I like things to be as simple as possible.

So recently I decided to focus on one blog, and it made sense that it be The Family CEO. The Family CEO is the more established blog, it has more followers, and has provided some pretty neat opportunities.

But as I started to write about money again, it became obvious that I don’t have a lot left to say. The Family CEO was about my journey to improve our finances, and the journey is on autopilot (in the best possible way).

Also, I don’t feel much like a Family CEO anymore. It’s nine years later, my kids are grown, and I’m more interested in exploring what’s next than I am in treating our finances as a job, despite how well that mindset served me.

So I’ll be blogging at Creating This Life. And to avoid more of the hot mess of second-guessing that I’ve just described above, I’m bringing The Family CEO to a close. (Because heaven knows if I don’t, I’ll be tempted to come back here when the mood strikes, driving myself, not to mention you and Tom, God bless him, crazy.)

The blog will remain here in archive form. The old posts still get hundreds of visits a day from people searching for how much prom costs or what Amy Dacyczyn is up to. Plus, I want to be able to revisit both the financial and blogging journey this was from time to time.

Whatever brought you here, I want you to know that I’ve so appreciated you being a reader. Whether your commented, emailed, or just lurked, I’ve been delighted and inspired by your presence.

If you want to stay in touch (and I hope you do), you can find me daily on Facebook and Pinterest (question: how does spellcheck not know that Pinterest is a word already?). Also occasionally on Twitter, and of course blogging at Creating This Life. (My latest post there is about simplifying.)

I’ll wrap it up this way: Recently I found myself in a conversation that required me to stop and think about what I believe to be true about money. What does it all come down to really? And here is what the last nine years of blogging about money have taught me:

  • Spend intentionally.
  • Give generously.
  • Save more than you think you can.
  • Create a life you love.

That’s what I’m taking with me.

All my best,



bridge-629776_1280 So this is cool.

H&R Block, the tax services provider, believes that mastering financial matters is an important adult life skill, but that teenagers aren’t being prepared for the challenge. So the company developed a teen financial literacy program that takes the form of an online game.

The game is played over nine weeks’ time in a high school classroom, and students play both classroom vs. classroom and student vs. student. Oh, and it’s free.

Here’s how it works:

Each student plays the part of a recent college graduate who has been out of school and working for six months. He or she gets a paycheck, a bank account, a 401(k), and bills to pay, including car and student loan payments. And has to set up accounts for things like cell phones and cable (which in my experience may be harder than paying the bills for those things).

Students are scored based on three things:

  1. Behavior (how often they play, how frequently their payments are late, and taking quizzes),
  2. Knowledge (how accurately the students answer financial quiz questions)
  3. Skill (how well they save and avoid late fees)

In addition to the simulation, teachers teach lessons (using plans and materials given to them as part of the program) that tie into what the students are doing in the game.

Big Scholarship Money is Available

Obviously, everyone’s a winner when taking part in a program like this, but there are some monetary winners, too. As part of the Budget Challenge, H&R Block gave away $3 million in grants and scholarships in 2014-15, and will again in 2015-16.

They include:

  • $20,000 scholarships for each of the 22 students who have the top scores in their nine-week simulation period (132 scholarships in all).
  • 60 total classroom grants of $5000 each, based on the scores at both the midpoint and end of each simulation period.
  • A $100,000 scholarship for the highest-scoring student overall, to add to the $20,000 he or she has already won.

Recently, H&R Block announced the $120,000 winner for the 2014-15 Budget Challenge. He’s Sean Lawrence from St. Clair, Michigan, and he had the best score out of 93,980 students taking part in the program. Sean plans to major in Chemical Engineering by studying first at Macomb Community College, and then finishing up at Western Michigan University.

That $120,000 should certainly come in handy.

How to Take Part in 2015-16

The Budget Challenge will start up again this fall in classrooms around the country. It’s free, but teachers must register their classrooms in order for students to play. Registration closes one week before the start date of the simulation.

Accredited public and private schools and home schools are eligible to participate in the H&R Block Budget Challenge. Students must be 14 years or older and enrolled full-time in grades 9-12 to take part.

More information, including FAQ and Official Rules can be found at the H&R Block Dollars & Sense website.

So, teachers: get signed up. And parents: contact your children’s teachers to encourage them to take part.

Scholarship money aside, the life lessons learned could be invaluable.

Thank you to H&R Block for sponsoring this post.


When an Introvert and an Extrovert Get Married

by Julie May 6, 2015
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A number of years ago – ten or more – Tom and I walked into a social function at church. It was either a casino night or a wine tasting (we’re Catholic so those are normal church functions for us), and as I scanned the room I said to Tom, “I don’t see any of […]

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A Family CEO Job Description

by Julie May 5, 2015
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This blog began over nine years ago when I hired myself to make over my family’s finances. My theory was that if I treated our finances like a job, I could make as big of an impact as the real-life, outside the home, part-time job I was considering at the time. My theory turned out to be true. Yet, […]

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April Wrap-up

by Julie April 30, 2015
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There are any number of end-of-the-month posts around the blogosphere with themes like what I’m into, what I’m reading and what I learned this month.  I’ve never participated in them, but closing out the month with a wrap-up post does seem like a good idea, so I’m making this my first. And I’m giving it the very clever […]

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3 Ways to Keep Clutter from Accumulating in Your Home

by Julie April 27, 2015
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Achieving a clutter-free house, room, closet, or drawer is one thing; keeping it that way is quite another. It’s an ongoing process. It’s true that the process gets easier with time, but it’s a process nonetheless. Here are three strategies I’ve discovered to make it easier. Skip the free stuff. Earlier this month Tom and I went to […]

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Found Money Update: Jan – Mar 2015

by Julie April 3, 2015
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It’s time for another Found Money Update, and I’m making a change in the way I’m reporting things. Specifically, I’ll no longer be including my income from bookkeeping and blogging. Here’s why: I’ve had a couple of readers tell me that they don’t view those things as found money, and I can see their point. I’ve […]

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6 Ways to Spend a Tax Refund that You Will Thank Yourself for Later

by Julie March 31, 2015
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“Do something today that your future self will thank you for.” Are you getting a tax refund this year? It’s very unusual for us to get one because we’re self-employed; any refunds get applied to next year’s taxes. But this year, through a very specific set of events, we got a $2000 refund from the state. We […]

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How We’re Cutting Expenses in 2015

by Julie March 25, 2015
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Have you ever looked at a year’s worth of your spending in one place? It’s an eye-opening thing. If you have a system for tracking your money (I use Quicken), you can use the report feature to see what I mean. Or sometimes credit cards will send you an annual statement by category, so if […]

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3 Kitchen Shortcuts to Make Your Life Easier

by Julie March 23, 2015
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We’ve been doing a lot more eating at home this year, especially in the last month, so I’ve been falling back on the shortcuts that have stood the test of time in our kitchen. Here are three of my favorites, and I’ve been using them so long that I don’t remember where I first heard about them. […]

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