The Rest

When an Introvert and an Extrovert Get Married

By on May 6, 2015

When an introvert and an extrovert get married 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 our friends.”

Tom answered back, “we’ll make new friends,” at the exact same moment that I suggested, “let’s go to a movie.”

Welcome to our introvert/extrovert marriage.

We laugh about that story now, along with any number of others like it, but at the beginning of our relationship our different temperaments caused problems.

We didn’t have the words to describe it then. This was before I’d heard of the Myers-Briggs test (I’m an INTJ, Tom’s type definitely begins with an E). And it was long before introversion became a hot topic, thanks in part to Susan Cain’s book and viral TED talk.

All we knew at the time was that I felt like Tom always wanted to be at a party or gathering, and he felt like I never did.

And we had a lot of these conversations:

“I don’t want to go, but you can go.”

“I’m not going to go without you.”

“That’s not fair. It makes me feel guilty.”

“But I really want us to go together.”

Some of this began to change when I took a Myers-Briggs test at work. I remember being irritated – angry even – when my results showed that I was an introvert. To me, the word introvert had negative connotations: shy, boring, no fun.

And even though the person administering the test patiently explained that being an introvert didn’t mean any of those things, but instead had to do with where you get your energy, it took me a while to stop being defensive.

Once I relaxed into it, it began to make perfect sense.

The Myers-Briggs people use C.G. Jung’s definitions of introversion and extraversion, which they explain are different from the way we more commonly use those terms. To put it (very) simply: extroverts draw energy from activity and being with people, while introverts draw energy from a more inner world of thoughts and ideas.

To put it another way, while introverts may enjoy being with people (I do), it’s taxing. They need to be alone to recharge. Extroverts, on the other hand, are drained by being alone. They recharge by reconnecting with people.

These are general statements, of course, and people are found all along the introvert – extravert continuum. My tendency for introversion is more towards the middle, meaning I’m introverted, but not extremely so. Indeed, a lot of people are surprised when I mention that I’m an introvert, and I find myself relating to some new terms that are now popping up, like outgoing introvert and social introvert.

But other people are more clearly one or the other. My former boss’s Myers-Briggs test showed her to be 100% extraverted; there was no continuum necessary to plot her result.

I suspect Tom’s results would be the same. It’s rare that he comes home from a full day of work to an empty house, but when he does he’s been known to head to the Mexican restaurant down the street to watch a ballgame and have dinner at the bar. That’s how strong his need is to be around people.

Part of the Myers-Briggs theory is that both personality types are healthy and valuable; no one needs to be “fixed.” That’s an important point to make, especially regarding introverts, because our society generally favors outgoing types, and our institutions, like schools and workplaces, are often organized around this preference.

And about that other institution: marriage. Over time (we’ve had almost 30 years of practice) Tom and I have come to understand our differences.

Having the language to use has been helpful.

So has the fact that our work suits our personality types. Tom is in sales, and is therefore with people most of the time. I spend my days mostly alone, blogging and bookkeeping and Family CEOing.

We compromise, too. Tom is agreeable to taking a pass on some social events or going without me at times. In return, I go to a few more than I’d like to.

And communication is key. Tom knows to tell me if something is especially important to him, because then I know to make it a priority. As we look over our calendars or discuss an invitation, I’ll sometimes ask him, “on a scale of one to ten, how much do you want to do this?”

And we focus on the thing that makes us both happy: time with family and close friends. Things like outings with our kids, dinner with friends, and drinks on the patio with neighbors. In fact, despite being a card-carrying introvert, one of my favorite things is to have friends and family at our house for special occasions or no occasion at all.

I’m just going to need a really long nap when they’re gone.

Continue Reading

The Rest

April Wrap-up

By on April 30, 2015

Spring Daffodils at CreatingThisLife.com There are any number of end-of-the-month posts around the blogosphere with themes like what I’m intowhat 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 name of April Wrap-up.

I’m not sure what this post will include each month. Definitely some of what I’ve been reading and links that I’ve bookmarked. And a recap of what we’ve talked about on the blog. Beyond that, we’ll just have to see.

As far as April goes, can I just say that this has been the most beautiful springtime that I can remember? Or maybe I’m learning to pay more attention. The colors, the smells, they all seem supercharged. I’ve been going out into my yard and dragging flowers and branches back inside on a regular basis. And I’ve just noticed that my two lilac bushes are blooming so those will be next.

On my Nightstand

  • My book club is reading A Star for Mrs. Blake this month. I’m not done with it yet, but I’m really enjoying it.
  • And I just finished 10% Happier by Dan Harris. I ran across his interview on Charlie Rose and was riveted, so I bought the book. It was a little slow in the middle for me, but overall a really good read. I just listened to the interview again while linking to it in this post, and it makes me want to re-read the book.

On the Blog

  • Found Money Update January – March, 2015 I made a change to the way I reported Found Money with this update. And in the comments, Melissa tells us about how she used the found money method to help pay for a big family expense.

Around the Web

  • Seth Godin is thinking about money, and when Seth thinks, it’s always a good thing. Among his observations: Within very wide bands, more money doesn’t make people happier. Learning how to think about money, though, usually does.
  • Value Penguin invited me to do an interview for their site, and one of the questions they asked me was if I thought there was an area of personal finance that there weren’t enough resources on? You can click through to see what I said, but I’m curious how you would answer that question? Any thoughts?

Finally, I can’t let April go without acknowledging that this was the month we lost my father-in-law. It was equal parts heartbreaking and inspiring. Heartbreaking for obvious reasons, but inspiring because I got to witness a family (my mother-in-law, her 9 kids, 21 grandkids, + all the accompanying spouses and great grandkids) come together to strengthen one another, comfort each other and celebrate the life of a great man. It was a bittersweet time and one I’ll never forget. I felt privileged to be a part of it.

Continue Reading

The Rest

3 Ways to Keep Clutter from Accumulating in Your Home

By on April 27, 2015

How to keep clutter from accumulating 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 the Kansas City Royals home opener. As we were entering the park, there were people handing out magnetic Royals’ schedules and small Royals towels, and we ended up with two of each.

We have a stainless steel refrigerator at home, so we didn’t have anywhere to stick the schedules, and besides, we both have them on our phones already. I ended up putting one on the garage fridge (where we’ll never look at it) and the other in the trash. Tom can use the towels as golf towels, but we already have four (or is it six?) others just like them from the Royals playoff games last fall.

My experience has been that you get a little rush of adrenaline when you see people handing out free stuff; there’s a bit of “I want to get mine” that surges through you. But our great time at the baseball game wasn’t enhanced one bit by the things they were handing out. In fact, it just became extra stuff that I had to cart around in my purse for the day and then figure out what to do with when we got home.

Despite this most recent example, I’ve been doing better at saying no thanks to all kinds of free things since I’ve discovered that they turn into clutter down the line. The key is to pause for just a second to consider if you’ll use or value what’s being offered. Sometimes the answer will be yes, but more often it’s no, and you won’t end up with extra stuff in your house.

Free yourself of duplicates.

Were your kids pacifier babies? If they were, maybe you experienced the same thing that we did: the more pacifiers we had, the harder they were to find. If we had only one, we knew exactly where it was at all times.

That seems counterintuitive, but the more of something you have, the less you tend to value it. And having more of anything creates clutter.

Obviously, there will be exceptions. If you’re not sure if you should keep more than one of something, ask yourself this question: do I ever use more than one of these at the same time? That will help you get rid of extra sets of coasters, carry-on suitcases, and sleeping bags.

Another tip is to implement the no duplicates policy right away when you upgrade something. Get a new set of golf clubs? Sell or give away the old set instead of leaving it there right next to the new one. The same for a new camera, cell phone, or winter coat. You’re not going to use the old one once you’ve upgraded, so rid yourself of it now to avoid the clutter.

Take the slow road to decluttering.

With apologies to whoever came up with the concept of Spring Cleaning, treating decluttering like a big project can be overwhelming. It’s hard to work up the energy or enthusiasm to clear out a room, let alone a whole house, at the same time.

Instead, let small – even tiny – decluttering projects become a regular part of your routine. Clean out a kitchen utensil drawer while waiting for the spaghetti to boil. Toss stained or torn clothing while doing the laundry. Or edit the contents of your jewelry box while choosing which pieces to take on a trip.

Always keep a cardboard box in your closet or garage for donation items, and put the results of these mini decluttering sessions there. When the box is full, drop it off at your favorite charity while you’re out running errands.

The slow road to decluttering is an almost effortless route to having a cleaner house full of things you love and use. And the positive results may make you feel ready – even excited – to tackle bigger projects too.

Continue Reading

The Rest

Earn Credit Card Points, Miles, and Cash Back by Paying Your Bills

By on September 4, 2014

Do you enjoy paying bills?

If you stopped the average man or woman on the street and asked that question, I’m thinking the response would be a big no.

I’m the exception, I actually enjoy bill paying. I look forward to it even.

Not the money leaving our checking account part, but the financial organizing part. The balancing accounts, transferring money, paying off some things (mortgage, car loan) and funding others (IRAs, HSA) part.

And I can add another to that list: the earning credit card perks part.

The two-step strategy to maximize credit card rewards looks like this:

1. Use your credit card to pay for everything you can.

2. Pay your bill in full by the due date each month to avoid interest charges.

And if that’s the strategy you’re pursuing (we are), paying monthly bills – not just buying things – with your credit card should be part of it.

First a couple of points:

  • Not all bills can be paid with a credit card (i.e. it’s not one of the payment options offered).
  • Of those that can, some will charge a fee that will eliminate the benefit of paying that way. (I have the option of paying my son’s college tuition with a credit card but the fee charged to do that would greatly exceed any credit card reward.)

These two considerations actually eliminate a lot of bill-paying possibilities. But not all of them.

What kind of bills can you pay by credit card without a fee?

Last month when I sat down to pay bills, two of them were medical bills: the $533 balance to the surgery center for my wrist surgery and a $103 balance due to our eye doctor. Both offered the option to pay by credit card and I’ve found that to be pretty common with medical providers.

I didn’t even bother to fill out the payment stub and put it in the mail. I just called the billing office at each place and they were happy to take my info over the phone.

I also had a $101 bill for our lawn service and a $65 renewal notice to our college alumni association to pay and both offered a credit card payment option with no fee. I paid the lawn service bill online and called the alumni association to pay over the phone.

Normally I would have paid these bills with our Costco American Express to earn the cash back. But I recently signed up for two Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards credit cards with 50,000 mile signup bonuses (more on that soon), so I used one of those cards to pay to help reach the spending requirement for the bonus.

I did use our American Express to pay our cable bill because it’s automatically charged to the AmEx each month. Our cable provider is another example of a company that lets you pay via credit card without a fee.

So I suggest looking carefully at the statements and bills you receive to see if the credit card payment is an option. If it is, and there’s no fee…go for it. And start earning.

P.S. Do you like to pay bills?

Continue Reading

The Rest

Winner!

By on August 30, 2014

I’m popping in with a quick announcement that comment #11 from Pam won the KU Football Package giveaway.

Screen Shot 2014-08-30 at 9.55.22 AM

Here was the winning comment:

Screen Shot 2014-08-30 at 9.58.45 AM

Congratulations Pam!

Now back to our holiday weekends. I hope yours is wonderful!

Continue Reading

The Rest

Gameday in Lawrence and a Fan-Tastic Giveaway

By on August 25, 2014

Let me me state the obvious right out of the gate. The University of Kansas isn’t especially known for this:

Jayhawk Football

At least not lately.

We’re more known for this:

KU Basketball But our family has had KU season football tickets for the last four years and we’ve had a blast.

For starters, we – along with some of our friends – became diehard* tailgaters.

Tailgate grill

It gave us a chance to see our college kids and their friends each week.

KU Football Tailgate

Sometimes we even let our friends from that other school join us.

KU Tailgate

And as far as the games themselves, there’s nothing quite like the sights and sounds of a college football game.

KU Gameday on the Hill

It’s the perfect fall experience – right up there with hayrides and bonfires.

I’m excited because this year Kansas Athletics is giving one of The Family CEO’s readers the KU game day experience for free.

The giveaway includes:

  • One single-game family 4-pack of tickets to a home KU football game of the winner’s choice
  • One $50 gift card to Downtown Lawrence
  • One Junior Jayhawk Kids Club membership

Game days on the hill are perfect for families.
Baby_Jay_Fans_08162013 The Hy-Vee Hawk Zone opens on the football practice field two and a half hours before kick-off and runs through the end of the first quarter.

Kids_Baby_Jay11172007

It includes inflatable games, live radio broadcasts, tackling station/drills, face painting, a balloon artist, free KU promotional items, a fan photo booth and visits from KU student-athletes.

And I was so happy to learn that the giveaway includes a $50 downtown Lawrence gift certificate. Mass Street in Lawrence is a destination in itself. There are dozens of cool shops and restaurants to spend that gift card. Dinner after the game, maybe?

All you have to do to enter the giveaway is leave a comment on this post. You can tell me who you would take to the game or where you would spend the gift card or just say I’m in.

Any comment will serve as your entry.

On Friday of this week – August 29 – I’ll use a random number generator to choose a winner from the comments.

So good luck and Rock Chalk!

*P.S. Tailgating is addictive. Do you know how many tailgating accessories there are? Pop up tables! Miniature gas grills! Helmet-shaped salt and pepper shakers! (We have all of those.)

P.P.S. The funnel cakes in Memorial Stadium are delicious. Get one.

Note: I was compensated by Kansas Athletics for this post. All opinions are my own.

Continue Reading

The Rest

Happy 4th, Some Housekeeping, and a Found Money Reminder

By on July 3, 2014

Statue of Liberty Happy Thursday and Happy (almost) 4th of July to my US readers.

I wanted to pop in to say hi and – for some of you – this may be the first time you have heard from me in a while.

That’s because I’ve switched email subscription services, and that shouldn’t interest you at all unless you were one of the people who quit receiving Family CEO posts under the old service (a common complaint).

If that describes you, then hello and welcome back. I’m sorry for the disruption and I’m happy to be reconnected.

In that same spirit of connection, here are some other places you’ll find me online. I hope you’ll like and follow if you’re on these sites too:

Happy 4th and happy weekend. I’ll see you next week.

P.S. Today is the last day to take advantage of the Capital One 360 banking bonuses ($76 for savings and $100 for checking) that I blogged about on Monday. Those bonuses are a great source of found money and the accounts are a great place to put your found money too. It’s where I keep mine!

Continue Reading

The Rest

An HSA Mid-Year Update (When Things Don’t Go As Planned)

By on June 17, 2014

When I started this post a few weeks ago, it was going to be a very different one. A more boring one. But things didn’t quite go as planned. Using an HSA 2014

A little background: earlier this year I wrote about our need to make a health insurance change and our decision to take out a high deductible health insurance policy and open an HSA in order to save for unreimbursed medical expenses in a tax-advantaged account.

Then 2 1/2 weeks ago I fell and broke my wrist in a way that required an ER visit and then surgery. (You can read the circumstances of the fall here if you care, but it’s not a terribly interesting story. I keep saying I should make up a better one.)

Once I got through the holy crap my wrist is broken moments, the holy crap this is going to be expensive moments starting settling in.

What it means is this: I will definitely, positively reach my $6300 deductible this year. This month, in fact.

That money is set aside in our fully-funded HSA for this year (the maximum a family can contribute in 2014 is $6550). As I wrote in my March post, our plan was to leave that money in the HSA and treat it as additional retirement savings and pay for our medical expenses this year out of our (after tax, non-HSA) pockets.

Obviously that plan is in question now, but I’m not tapping the HSA quite yet.

I like a challenge enough to see if we can pay for the rest of my $6300 deductible (some of it had already been met due to weekly allergy shots and an eye exam) out of pocket and still leave the HSA alone, knowing that we can always tap it later if need be.

I’ll admit, I was a little more anxious about the financial implications of this at first, but some things I already knew were reinforced through this experience:

  1. The high deductible medical policy and HSA were meant to work together. While we hope to use our HSA as additional retirement savings, the real reason to fully fund one is for an event just like this one.
  2. If you’re using an HSA, keep records of all medical expenses in case you need to pull HSA money out. It doesn’t have to be a big deal. On the advice of our CPA I simply labeled a file folder and now drop everything from pharmacy receipts to dentist statements to (sadly) surgi-center paperwork into it.
  3. Emergency savings are important. We’ve been using some of our found money to beef up our emergency fund. You can read about that in my found money updates.
  4. Even with hitting my deductible, we are ahead of where we were last year because our monthly premiums for this high deductible policy are so much lower than our old premiums were. That won’t necessarily be true for everyone who goes this route, but for us, the math is working out.

The good news? Well, for one I’m right handed and it was my left wrist I broke. I’m grateful for that every day. And my super smart husband realized that the plastic bag they deliver your newspaper in fits perfectly over an arm with a splint or brace on it for baths and showers. That was an a-ha moment.

But financially speaking, the silver lining is that now that my deductible has been met, the rest of my medical expenses for the year are covered at 100%. That includes those allergy shots I’m still getting and a colonoscopy that my doctor will no doubt recommend since I’m turning the big 5-0 this year.

Hopefully that’s all I’ll need to worry about, because I’ve had quite enough medical excitement for one year.

Continue Reading

The Rest

Weekend Links

By on March 20, 2014

I know you’ll probably be out enjoying spring break or watching college basketball this weekend, but just in case you have a little down time, I wanted to pass along some Family CEO reading for you to check out.

The nice folks at Mint.com asked me to do a Q&A with them, and it went live on their site last week.  They started the article out this way:

We asked family finance blogger Julie Mayfield what her favorite penny-pinching tips were and, surprisingly, she said she didn’t have any.

Even I wanted to keep reading and I knew what was in the interview! You an read the rest of the Q&A here.

Also, if you haven’t checked out Creating This Life in a while, here’s a little of what we’ve been talking about over there:

Spring Wreath Makeover

Family Room Mini-Makeover

Doorways of San Francisco

And have I shared this post from The College Investor with you before: Stay Lazy, My Friend. My apologies if I have but it’s worth another look anyway.

Enjoy your weekend!

Continue Reading

The Rest

Weekend Reading: New York Edition

By on August 16, 2013

After our Today Show segment this week, Lindsey and I spent a couple of days exploring New York. We did most of the major touristy stuff back in 2006, so we decided to take in some different sites this time around.

Our first stop was the New York Public Library, which would have been on my bucket list if I had one. I don’t, because a bucket list feel like giant, overwhelming to-do list to me. But if I had one, the NY Library would have been at the top, so I mentally checked it off anyway.

Library 1 I LOVE the lions. I considered buying some lion bookends as souvenirs, but they were heavy, and I’ve learned my lesson about traveling with heavy items.

I also really love how the large front windows look out onto the busy New York streets from inside the library.

Library 2 And don’t let anyone tell you that libraries are dying. This place was hopping!

IMG_6410

We also took a Manhattan dinner cruise which was a-maz-ing.

dinner cruise 1

It was completely relaxing and the views from the water couldn’t be beat. The building second from the right in the picture below is the new Freedom Tower.

cruise 2

We sailed under the Brooklyn Bridge twice.

bridge

And they played Ray Charles singing America the Beautiful as we sailed around the Statue of Liberty. (That sounds cheesy to me as I write it, but it was goosebumps kind of stuff.) I can’t imagine going to NY again and not taking another cruise.

IMG_6491

On our last day, we visited the Museum of Modern Art, or MoMA. It was packed, but we got to see Warhol.

Warhol And Monet.

Monet

And Vincent.

Vincent

I was surprised at how much seeing Starry, Starry Night moved me. It was beautiful and I’m sorry that these pics from inside the museum don’t do it justice.

But despite all this excitement, this homebody is never happier then when I’m sleeping in my own bed. And I’m looking forward to hanging out and enjoying the fall-like weather in KC this weekend.

If you’ve got some free time in your weekend, here is some interesting reading I’ve run across in my internet travels:

  • College Confessions: How College Students Save @ KrantCents. KC has interviewed 4 different students about where they go to school, what it’s costing them, how they’re paying for it, and how they save. First hand accounts like this one are always so interesting.

How are you spending the weekend? Do you have a favorite place to visit in NY? And how do you feel about bucket lists?

Continue Reading