Sunday Conversation #7 with Frugal Dad

Welcome to Sunday Conversation #7! If you would like to participate in next week’s Sunday Conversation, simply ask your question in the comments section of today’s post and I will respond next Sunday. Remember, any subject is on the table (but keep it family-friendly).

Sherri asks a follow up question to my ideas on how to find about a community when considering relocation.  “You say WHAT to look for in a new place to live, but I think the hard part is HOW to find out about those things in a realistic way. For example, when checking out schools, the information on the web is usually insufficient or lopsided. I think talking with live people who are there – prospective bankers, realtors, etc. – is more helpful. Who would you recommend to talk to, and what other avenues of gathering information would you use?”

I think some of the most objective opinions you can get are from area small business owners, and as you suggest, realtors.  Try to think of industries related to the type of information you are seeking.  For instance, if you are interested in schools, drop by a teacher supply store, or maybe a locally-owned children’s clothing store.  Owners there should be able to shed some light on the various school zones in the area.  For general “town gossip” there is no place like a hair salon or barber shop.  Stop in for a trim and talk up the stylist or barber to find out more about the area.

An anonymous commentator asks, “Do you think that psychotherapy is a good personal and financial investment? I have a severe anxiety problem and my pastor at church thinks that I need to address it through counseling before I get married in the next six months. I have checked with several behavioral health facilities and many charge 100 dollars or more an hour. I have good health insurance but it is a shame that even some of the best insurance (like mine) barely covers any of the cost of behavioral health visits.

I have plenty of money saved up and I have a very well paying job. But I could potentially spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on these sessions and it might be a rip off and/or not even work at all!

Would I be better off getting free books at the library or trying Yoga or something and saving the money? My fiance is very supportive but I don’t want this to be an issue in our marriage. Any ideas?”

First of all, I would highly value the opinion of your pastor because he knows more about your story, and has likely counseled dozens, if not hundreds, of people in his position.  From a purely economic standpoint, I can understand your concerns over the cost of therapy sessions.  Have you checked with your human resources office at work?  Some companies offer a number of free visits per year for behavioral health issues.  Personally, I would deal with this as I would any other type of health issue.  It has the potential to damage your relationship with your fiance, and could ultimately cause problems at work–affecting your ability to earn a good wage.  For those reasons, I consider therapy an investment in yourself.

Luke asks, “How do you find the time to do web work as well as spend enough time with your family?”

It isn’t easy. In fact, these last few weeks have been more challenging than ever.  This is the busiest time of year at my full time job, my wife is in an AirCast thanks to a severely sprained ankle, and I have been covering all household duties for the last several days.  To make more time for writing, without sacrificing time with family, I have adjusted my schedule a bit.  For instance, at the time of this writing it is 11:50 on Saturday night and I am catching up on writing while others are sleeping.  During the week I will typically rise around 4:30 to get in a couple hours of writing, site work, etc. before having a quick breakfast with the kids and then heading off to my full time job.  It isn’t easy, but I enjoy writing, and if I am ever going to make something of a side career out of this I will have to do it at odd times while I “earn a living” during “normal” hours and work in some quality time with the wife and kids while they are awake.

Dawnf asks, “I was wondering where is a good place to put the 3-6 month savings cushion? My bank suggests a money market fund so it’s liquid but I worry that I could lose part of my principle by doing this. I could stagger it in Cd’s that come due in different months & just take a risk I might have to crack it earlier to get a better rate or put it in savings? Just curious how others handle this type of an issue.”

We have the first $1,000 of our emergency fund in a local bank savings account earning a ridiculously low interest rate.  I have it there for the sole purpose of having immediate access to local, liquid funds.

If you are not concerned with inflation, but more with the risk of money market accounts versus CDs, I would suggest you go with what you are comfortable with.  However, most money market accounts and money market funds rarely, if ever, lose value like stock and bond funds do.  It is possible, but the likelihood is that your capital invested in money market funds is safe.

Do you have a question you would like to see answered here next week? Simply post a comment to this article below and I’ll include your question in next week’s Sunday Conversation.

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