If mom’s not happy, no one’s happy.  You may have heard that saying before, and it definitely applies to our family.  I am Melissa, the mom behind Mom’s Plans.  I started blogging at the end of March, 2009.

I have always loved writing; when I was in high school a teacher submitted one of my short stories to a creative writing festival at the local four year university, and I was chosen to be one of the workshop participants.  Because I loved to read and write I decided to major in English. 

While most people could appreciate that I liked to write, no one saw that as a viable career.  I can’t count how many times I heard, “Writing is nice, but what do you want to DO?”  After college I could only find work as a secretary at a janitorial supply company.  After two years working there, I abandoned my writing dreams and decided to become an English teacher.

I went to grad school and became a teacher.  At first I loved it, but eventually teaching began to wear on me.  I taught at a community college and had 28 students per class; I had 5 classes per semester, and each student had to produce a minimum of 5 two to four page essays.  Yes, that is 700 essays I had to grade over a 16 week period.  Or, 1,400 to 2,800 pages of reading.  When my husband and I were childless, I could manage.  I graded for hours at home, and my husband worked hard too as he pursued a combined M.A./Ph.D.  However, after our first child was born, my husband’s education had to take a back seat to my teaching career because we couldn’t afford the steep cost of day care in our urban area.  I became increasingly unhappy with the heavy workload, and my husband was frustrated that he could not focus on his education.  Once I had our second child four years later, we knew our situation had to change.

About Mom’s Plans

Mom’s Plans was created while I was on an extended leave of absence from my job after our second child’s birth.  It is named Mom’s Plans because it was in part about my plan to quit my job.  The subtitle of Mom’s Plans is “Learning to Live a Fulfilling Life on Less.”  While I do write about some family issues and some “mom” issues, I mainly write about how I am learning to save money and curb our expenses.  I am the one in the family who creates and executes the budget; luckily my husband goes along with almost any way I try to save money.

Unfortunately, I was not able to quit my job after having my second child.   (My husband has been pursuing his degree since 2001, and he was not able to finish his degree before my leave of absence ended.)  I reluctantly returned to work, and my blog took a back seat to the endless essay grading.   I was unhappy as was my husband; he couldn’t finish his degree as quickly as he would like because he watched our daughter all day while I was at work.  (Our son was in preschool.)

I actually returned from my leave of absence newly pregnant with our third child.  I taught for 8 months and then had my third child.  My employer once again granted me an extended leave of absence.  I am currently on that leave of absence now and am slated to return to work in June, 2011.

My husband and I have saved an emergency fund, and we are continually working to curb our expenses by bartering for services and reducing our consumption in general.  I have thrown myself into my writing and am trying to make enough money from my blog and writing assignments to finally quit my job.  I don’t want to be one of those crusty, burned out teachers who scowl at their students and count the days to retirement.  Instead, I am enjoying pursuing my first love, writing.

Besides giving me an opportunity to express myself through writing, blogging at Mom’s Plans has given me the opportunity to make virtual friends.  I love sharing the deals I find and the ways I am saving money.  I also share how our family is trying to eat healthier, which can be a great way to save both in the short and long term.  Each month I have several people follow my once a month cooking adventures via Mom’s Plans’ Facebook page.  What I find most encouraging is when other moms leave comments that they too are trying to rework their finances so they can be home with their kids.  While a few years ago I may have worked hard so we could afford “things”, I am now working hard to get rid of clutter and save so I can have the most precious thing—time with my family.

Our family life is much happier now, which benefits not only my relationship with my husband but also with my children.  I plan to quit by June, 2011, and then the next plan for our family will be paying off the dreaded student loan debt and saving for a house.

How I Found Yakezie

This fall I wrote a series of posts about having a debt free Christmas.  Penny from The Saved Quarter happened to stop by and leave a comment about my post and her plan to spend less than $100 on Christmas.  Intrigued, I visited her blog.  I loved it and spent several hours reading through her archives.  I also found the Yakezie button on her side bar.

I installed the Alexa toolbar in mid-October, and my Alexa rank was in the 900,000s.  (By that time I had been blogging for 1.5 years.)  It took me about two weeks to figure out how to start the Yakezie Challenge.  By the time I officially joined the Yakezie Challenge on November 2nd my Alexa rank was 691,928.  Now, nearly 4 months later, it is down to 122,993.  I never would have guessed that it would drop so quickly!

I am so happy to finally become an official member of Yakezie.  Through the Yakezie forums I have met some wonderful bloggers.  The support and guidance that fellow members have offered is just incredible.  I have had the opportunity to guest post for a few members, I have found a staff writing position with another member, and fellow bloggers were so generous to offer up their guest posts when my baby was sick for a week and I fell behind on my blogging.

I look forward to becoming a full-fledged member and continuing to promote other members and to help newer members.  Thanks Sam, for creating such a dynamic group, and thanks to all the bloggers who help make this such a supportive network.