Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Road Trippin' Hodgepodge Style

It's Wednesday and I am joining the Hodgepodge.

1. When were you last 'on a mountaintop'?  You may answer in the literal or figurative sense.

It's easy to answer this question in the literal sense. The last time I was on a mountaintop was over the Christmas holidays. We visited our favorite mountains, The Smokies. They never cease to put me in a state of awe.

From a figurative sense, this question is harder to answer. Figuratively, "on a mountaintop" means that you have arrived at the top after a long, arduous journey, an uphill climb or are at the high point of life. Many times I have found myself on a figurative mountaintop: Graduating from college, getting married, becoming a parent (both times). Those were pinnacle moments and I felt the thrill, gratitude and awe to have arrived at that high place.

But all of those summits were followed, almost immediately, by other mountainous challenges: starting my career, navigating married life, parenting. Seems there is always another mountain to climb. 

Life sets you in the center of a vast mountain range, with peaks and valleys all around. The trick is to keep climbing and appreciate the views whether you are at the summit or ambling along some foothills trail.

2.  Do you establish and maintain a strict budget in your household?  What is one piece of financial advice you would offer someone just starting out on their own? 

The short answer is no if you mean really write a budget and follow it. But the short answer rarely suffices. The long answer is that I was an accountant in a previous part of my life. That was my education and job. It turns out you can take the girl out of the accounting firm but you can't take the accounting firm out of the girl. So, I track everything. I tally and total everything else. I know how much we have spent, I know how much we need to spend, I how much we can spend. I know how much we save, I how much owe. I know when we can make a large purchase or when we need to postpone. I, like the compulsive accounting geek I used to be, follow our family's accounting cycle each month. Then the other Managing Partner (my husband) and I sit down periodically to review the results. We call it our "Show Me the Money" talks. 

The one piece of financial advice I might offer comes from something I learned the hard way. I didn't always pay attention to my finances like I do now. Early in my working life, I was a'countin' other people's money and didn't do much a'countin' of my own. So I would encourage someone starting out on their own to pay attention to their finances. By paying attention I mean, knowing the ins and outs of what comes in and out each month financially. You have to know where your money goes. Finances are like any thing else: you have to pay attention to them to understand them and then to effect them in a positive way. Nothing will make you want to control your own spending and make better financial decisions more than watching for a few months your own uncontrolled spending. This is true whether you are making minimum wage or are in the 1%. Or are a Federal government.

Oh, and pay off your credit card balance every month. If you can't pay it off each time, you are using it too much. I learned that one the hard way too.

Oh, and save, even if it's only a little bit, every time money comes your way.

3.  Cherries-yay or nay?  Cherry pie, cherry cola, black forest cake, or a scoop of Ben and Jerry's Cherries Garcia...pick one. 

When offered a cherry to pick, I say nay. Not if there is something else to choose.

4.  Should you ever discuss religion or politics with people you don't know? 

Should you? Sure. Why not? Those are great conversational topics. But they are controversial and potentially contentious. So, be ready for a debate.

I rarely get into those topics with people I don't know. I don't bring up those topics, but if someone else does, I may play along. I sometimes find it easier to talk about those potentially contentious topics when I don't know the person than with say, my own family.

5.  When you take a road trip do you prefer to be the driver or the passenger?  Where were you headed on your last road trip? 

I prefer to be the passenger so I can enjoy the sights, control the music, divvy out snacks and nap at will. But I also have to realize that I am not the best navigator so if the road trip requires someone to plot the course, maybe I should drive. I also have a tendency to motion sickness when I am a passenger. So you might want me to drive too. 

Last road trip: where else but The Smokies.

6. If we peeked inside your closet, what color would we say is most prevalent?


7. Who's your favorite senior citizen and why are they special?

My favorite senior citizen would have to be my grandmother, Oma. Sadly, she is no longer with us. I wrote a post about her a few years ago. It tells why she was so special. 

I'll also choose my favorite living senior citizen; that's my mother. She is so much like Oma but special in her own right. She is the most selfless, giving person I know. That is very special.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Sometimes we fear "becoming our mothers". I have no fear of that.

Now, road trip on over the This Side of the Pond for more Hodgepodgin'!


  1. I agree-you have a special mother. You didn't get her remarkable navigation gene? That skipped me in my family too : )

    I love how very different the winter Smoky Mtn. sky is to the one we had. It changes a little every day which is part of what makes it such an amazing place to just look and be still.

  2. I agree you can't the accountant out of the girl. I do a lot of it at work and when I get home I do all of the household stuff plus my husband's business. He has no idea how much money we have but he knows I track him and every time he uses that credit card I know.

  3. I love the Smokies! We used to live in Knoxville...that's where I went to grad. school, where my hubby and I met and married, and where we had our first daughter. Would go back to that area in a heartbeat!

  4. One of my daughters is a CPA and is hard at work, putting in long hours right now. I'm sure you don't miss the months leading up to the tax deadline!! Right? Of course, for accountants there are many deadlines! Welcome to the Hodgepodge... I don't think I have seen you here before.


Whaddaya think about that?