Start Here
Thanks for stopping by Creating My Kaleidoscope!  This blog is about our family's mission to pay off debt and achieve financial semi-independence.  Our strategy is to save money by living frugally and use side hustles to increase...
About Harmony
  Harmony Smith is my secret identity; an alias to use while executing my design for a more balanced and fulfilling life.  I am a fairly average middle-class, working mother of five, who is no longer satisfied in merely...
The Other Option: How To Climb The Career Ladder To A Promotion
The Other Option: How To Climb The Career Ladder To A Promotion
In the FIRE community, there is a lot of emphasis on side hustles.  Sometimes referred to as moonlighting, this extra work can help you earn more money towards your goals of paying off debt and/or reaching early retirement.  However, another way to increase your income and achieve your goals quicker is by climbing the ladder in your current job and earning a promotion (and a bigger paycheck).  I may be pursuing a new career path myself, but...
Continue reading
The Long-Term Costs Of A Growing Family
The Long-Term Costs Of A Growing Family
We're still in the process of making some big changes in my career and our plans for the future.  While I believe that babies are not that expensive, they do grow up to be children, and then teenagers and adults.  Terrifying!  That's why we have to take more of a long-term view of the costs of our growing family, as we adjust plans for the future.      The average cost of raising a child...
Continue reading
It’s Never Too Early To Teach Your Kids The Value of Money
It’s Never Too Early To Teach Your Kids The Value of Money
We want our kids to grow up with a better quality of life than our own. We want to spare them from many lessons  that were learned the hard way, but still help them to become happy, healthy, and responsible adults. There are lots of different opportunities to impart valuable lessons, whether it’s while holding their hand when they cross the road, making sure that they eat right, helping them with their homework or simply...
Continue reading
Changing Careers: Strategies For Following A Different Path
Changing Careers: Strategies For Following A Different Path
As I announced in my last post, it's time to finally accept that my employment situation needs to change as soon as possible, for the well-being of my family.  Which means that I need to dig out my resume.  I was hired for my current job almost nine years ago, so it's been quite some time since I've had to deal with cover letters and interviews. Also, I'm looking for work that's somewhat different than...
Continue reading
Working Moms: What Are You Trying To Prove?
Working Moms: What Are You Trying To Prove?
I've reached a breaking point which has forced me to embrace this uncomfortable truth: career success is meaningless to many mothers.  And I am one of them.  For us, time devoted to climbing a ladder of occupational status is likely to result in irreversible regret.  I must have been subconsciously aware of this truth for quite some time, often manifesting itself in that reoccurring empathy for mothers dreading the first day of work after maternity...
Continue reading
Top Ten Best Side Hustles For Working Moms
Top Ten Best Side Hustles For Working Moms
Working moms are very busy, but I truly believe that almost everyone can find some time for at least a little side hustling.  Maybe you want to earn a little extra money to pay off debt, increase investments so you can retire early, or you might just be hoping to save up enough to take the kids to Disney World.  Whatever the reason, there are plenty of ways that full-time working moms can increase their...
Continue reading
Monday Medley: Birthday Party, Zoo Trip, and Back To Work
Monday Medley: Birthday Party, Zoo Trip, and Back To Work
This summer has been pretty low-key due to arrival of the twins. We have been trying to do some fun activities with the older kids, especially before I returned to work last week. Wondering how things have been going for this family of seven?     Birthday Party   We recently celebrated Goofball and Tornado's birthdays with another joint, frugal, backyard birthday party.  They decided (at the last moment) that it should be a "Camping"...
Continue reading
What Scares You The Most About Being A Parent?
What Scares You The Most About Being A Parent?
Starting and growing our family has been one of the most incredible experiences.  Life has renewed purpose, bringing about a huge shift in priorities.  You find yourself responsible for the well being, health, and happiness of another tiny human being . . . who will eventually grow into an adult member of society.  It’s exciting, daunting, and can be absolutely terrifying.      Illness & Injuries   Nothing prepares you for the first sniffle or...
Continue reading
Just A Phase
Just A Phase
With my maternity leave coming to an end, it probably comes as no surprise that I've been feeling sad and anxious about returning to work.  My last day at the office was back in March. The transition will certainly be difficult, especially because Mr. Smith is going to be at home by himself with five kids for the next few weeks, until school starts for Goofball and Tornado.  It's a lot to process.  Yet, one...
Continue reading
The Finances Of A Family
The Finances Of A Family
We all want to have a family and home life which we can enjoy as much as possible.  It can often be surprising, not to mention a little upsetting, how much money can get in the way of that.  It is for this reason that we need to know how to manage the finances of family life as well as possible. If you want to build a family life which you can really enjoy, planning...
Continue reading
Financial Confessions: Nobody’s Perfect
Financial Confessions: Nobody’s Perfect
I suspect that we all suffer from a bit of impostor syndrome from time to time.  As someone who blogs about frugality and battling debt, there's no escaping the realization that we don't always practice what we preach.  Our family certainly has made significant changes in our lifestyle over the past couple of years, but we're far from being a perfect example within the personal finance and FIRE communities.     Last month, my friend...
Continue reading
Creative Ways To Refresh Your Wardrobe (So You Can Stick With That Shopping Ban)
Creative Ways To Refresh Your Wardrobe (So You Can Stick With That Shopping Ban)
Great news: my clothes fit again!  Well, at least some of them fit me again.  I had a lot of trouble finding clothes to wear during the end of my twin pregnancy, but I didn't go out and buy anything new.  One of the ways that we've been able to pay down so much debt over the past couple years is by not buying any new clothing.  Now that I can wear normal attire again,...
Continue reading
Monday Medley: A Blurry Summer
Monday Medley: A Blurry Summer
Our pediatrician is a mother of twins, and she warned us that the first year after they are born goes by in a blur.  I have a feeling it will be the same way with us.  Days and nights are fading into each other as we try to make the most of our time together as a family, before my maternity leave ends.         Goofball's Birthday   My oldest, Goofball, recently celebrated...
Continue reading
Money Hack: How To Pay Off Debt By Taking A Vacation
Money Hack: How To Pay Off Debt By Taking A Vacation
You've no doubt already heard the advice to give up lattes and cable in order to pay off debt. What about after you've tried all of the basic approaches and still find yourself unable to gain any momentum with your finances?  We've been there. It's like you can never bail out more water than is leaking into your boat.  If this describes your current situation, then you may want to try a unique money hack:...
Continue reading
What My Father (Inadvertently) Taught Me About Financial Independence
What My Father (Inadvertently) Taught Me About Financial Independence
Hopefully everyone recently enjoyed celebrating Father's Day.  My own father hasn't come up very much on this blog, but our relationship was an instrumental part of my formative years.  While our bond has changed over time, I'm very thankful to still have him around.  The paths of financial independence or early retirement were never really discussed, let alone encouraged, during my childhood.  I suspect that the same is true for most people.  However, there were...
Continue reading
9 Ways To “Go Green” On A Budget
9 Ways To “Go Green” On A Budget
The American government's actions over the last few months certainly have increased concerns for the future of our environment.  We have a special guest post today about simple ways you can make a positive impact, which will also help you save money.     Anum Yoon is the founder and editor of Current on Currency. She loves sharing her hard-earned insights through her writing. Check out her updates on Twitter @anumyoon.   You can live...
Continue reading
200 Blog Posts & A Couple Of Years Later: Our Financial Progress
200 Blog Posts & A Couple Of Years Later: Our Financial Progress
What a journey it's been so far!  This is the 200th post on Creating My Kaleidoscope, a little blog I started up at the end of 2014. My original intent was to document our journey out of debt and build some accountability into our mission to achieve financial semi-independence. In the past couple of years, this little corner of the internet has become so much more, both to me and hopefully to others as well....
Continue reading
Monday Medley: Moving Forward As A Family Of Seven
Monday Medley: Moving Forward As A Family Of Seven
I hope that everyone enjoyed the long weekend, at least everyone here in the United States.  Welcome Summer!!!  The twins are a couple of weeks old now, so we're starting to fall into a new normal as a family of seven and I'm finally beginning to feel like myself again - just a somewhat sleepy version.  With all of the excitement and uncertainties behind us, it's time to get back to planning for our future,...
Continue reading
Love & Lessons From The Animal Kingdom
Love & Lessons From The Animal Kingdom
I hope that everyone enjoys their long weekend (please do try to remember the reason for this holiday). This is just a quick post about two nice little books I recently received in exchange for sharing my impressions with all of you. This set features sweet collections of pictures, quotes, and interesting facts about animal parents.     The Wisdom Of Moms I spent my Mother's Day in the hospital this year, but did enjoy...
Continue reading
The Twins Are Finally Here! Our BOGO Babies
The Twins Are Finally Here! Our BOGO Babies
The twins have finally made their arrival and it still amazes me that we actually came home with two babies instead of one.  I do love a great deal.  While I'm still recovering and we're adjusting to the new normal that is our family of seven, it's been a relief to find some peace and joy with what was a pretty difficult pregnancy and childbirth.     I joke that there was a buy one,...
Continue reading
How To Be Everything: A Book Review & MORE Reflections on Long-Term Goals
How To Be Everything: A Book Review & MORE Reflections on Long-Term Goals
While I'm working on a very special post about the arrival of our twins, please enjoy this book review.  I recently received a copy of How To Be Everything in exchange for sharing my opinion of it with all of you.   At this point, my profession remains a secret on this blog, in order to protect my job.  I will tell you that it is not my first "career."  After completing undergraduate school, but...
Continue reading
How To Finance A Career Break
How To Finance A Career Break
Career breaks are never easy. Yet, they can be the best thing you ever do. My time off from work (due to being very pregnant with twins) has given me quite a few opportunities, including the ability to gain some perspective and have time to think about the future. If you're unhappy with your current work situation, a break might be the only way to figure out the best way to follow a new path. But...
Continue reading
Extreme You: A Book Review And Reflections On Long-Term Career Goals
Extreme You: A Book Review And Reflections On Long-Term Career Goals
Sarah Robb O'Hagan has experienced some amazing successes in the marketing business, but she's also made some embarrassing mistakes along the way.  Her book, Extreme You, is a guide to embracing and leveraging your individual strengths (and weaknesses) in order to be extraordinary, in pretty much any endeavor.  I loved receiving a copy of this book, in exchange for sharing my honest thoughts with all of you. Continue reading
Continue reading
How To Plan A Wonderfully Frugal Mother’s Day
How To Plan A Wonderfully Frugal Mother’s Day
With Mother’s Day approaching, you may be thinking about how to make your mom feel valued and loved, without killing your budget.  Don't we all want to give mom a special gift to show our appreciation?  Keep in mind that value and price are two very different things.  It is relatively easy to make Mother’s Day memorable without spending that much money.  As with so many other things, the keys are a little bit of...
Continue reading
Monday Medley: A Change In Pace
Monday Medley: A Change In Pace
I've been out of work for a couple of weeks now.  Thankfully, life is taking on a slower pace as this pregnancy continues to wear on me.  I did manage to complete one goal for maternity leave already by reading an actual book, for pleasure!  Wondering what else we've been up to?     Consignment Sale I always hit up this one big children's consignment sale that takes place in March or April.  This year, the...
Continue reading
Our Unique Solution To The Problem Of How To Transport A Large Family
Our Unique Solution To The Problem Of How To Transport A Large Family
"You're going to have five kids?!?"  This is what I've been hearing a lot of lately, in conversations that usually start with, "Is this your first?"  People seem pretty shocked at the size of our growing family and often start firing off questions about the practical issues, like whether we will have to move, will both of us parents be working, and if we've gone shopping for a van yet.  Well, we looked at vans,...
Continue reading
How To Save Money On Makeup: For Those Not Quite Ready To Go Au Naturel
How To Save Money On Makeup: For Those Not Quite Ready To Go Au Naturel
Our family is always looking for new ways to save money, so we can continue to pay off debt and invest towards our future goals.  I'm definitely not wearing much makeup these days, as I rest up and prepare to give birth to the twins.  However, there are times when I like to use some makeup to feel a little prettier and give myself a more-finished look.  The best way to save money on makeup...
Continue reading
A Tiny Glimpse Of Early Retirement
A Tiny Glimpse Of Early Retirement
It has been a very strange week.  I have not reported to the office, but I'm not on vacation or at home recovering from childbirth and caring for a newborn.  My doctor took me out of work due to the risks involved with twin pregnancy.  The crazy thing is that, ideally, these babies shouldn't be born until May - a whole month from now!  After hustling so hard, for so long, I've suddenly found myself...
Continue reading
Lessons Learned At 30 Weeks Pregnant With Twins
Lessons Learned At 30 Weeks Pregnant With Twins
We gave quite a bit of thought into whether we should add to our family again, with three fairly young children already.  One of the reasons why we decided to "go for it" was the fact that my previous pregnancies have been fairly uneventful.  I worked full-time until the very end and gave birth to big, healthy babies that came home with me two days later.  At 30 weeks pregnant with twins, I've learned quite...
Continue reading
Should You Go Back To School For A Career Change?
Should You Go Back To School For A Career Change?
The last few weeks of work have been really rough, even worse because I've now entered the third trimester of this twin pregnancy.  Before we decided to pursue early semi-retirement, I would usually start thinking about changing jobs or careers whenever work really stressed me out.  I enjoyed college, but as tempting as a change might be, we're still paying off my loans from attending graduate school.  While making a career change with further education...
Continue reading
How To Escape From Debt With A Few “Mini-Hustles”
How To Escape From Debt With A Few “Mini-Hustles”
Our financial focus over the past few years has been on how to pay off debt.  One of the most effective ways we've found to lower our debt is by increasing our income with side hustles.  Now, it seems like side hustles are generally construed as a type of part-time job . . . but you don't need to deliver pizza 20 hours a week or devote all of your free time to a side...
Continue reading
Frugal Ways To Be Healthier As a Family
Frugal Ways To Be Healthier As a Family
Being healthy seems to be the focus of many as we get into the full swing of the New Year.  I'm already looking forward to regaining my shape once this last pregnancy is done!  As a parent, we're always trying to make sure that our family is healthy . . . and for good reason.  Being healthier means that all of you can be more active, get sick less, and have more fun together.  The best part...
Continue reading
Monday Medley: Getting Going Again
Monday Medley: Getting Going Again
We started off January with a lot of big goals for this year, then multiple illnesses slowed us down.  We've finally been healthy for a few weeks, increasing our productivity, and even finding time and energy for some side hustling and family fun.     Pregnancy & Prepping For Twins I am just over 25 weeks pregnant with twins, but measuring and feeling like I'm in the third trimester.  Belly photos are not usually a part...
Continue reading
They Picked The Wrong House: Our Recent Experience With A Salesman
They Picked The Wrong House: Our Recent Experience With A Salesman
The details of the phone call seemed a bit strange, but we were enticed by the promise of a gift card for the grocery store.  It didn't take long to realize that we had been duped into subjecting ourselves to a sales presentation.  The "snake oil" was a water softening and purifying system, for which we were offered a "great deal" on a ten-year lease.  We've been purposely avoiding sales pitches for the past few...
Continue reading
The Better Way To Track Finances In 2017
The Better Way To Track Finances In 2017
I am so proud of the way that we are destroying our debt.  It is both rewarding and motivating to see how far we've come in just a few short years.  Tracking financial progress can provide an immense boost of resolve to continue, and even step up, our diligence.  That is why we're trying something new in 2017, to keep better track of our finances.       We've had some fairly ambitious, yet somewhat ambiguous, goals...
Continue reading
10 Cheap And Easy Alternatives To Store-Bought Valentine’s Day Cards
10 Cheap And Easy Alternatives To Store-Bought Valentine’s Day Cards
Valentine's Day is one of those holidays that can quickly become expensive.  Mr. Smith used to send beautiful bouquets of flowers to my office.  They were lovely, but honestly, a waste of money.  Nowadays, we're saving our money to pay down debt and fund future adventures.  But the kids should still get to participate in Valentine's Day festivities with their friends at school.  These cheap and easy alternatives to store-bought Valentine's Day cards are a...
Continue reading
How Are We Going To Pay For College . . . With Five Kids?
How Are We Going To Pay For College . . . With Five Kids?
Reactions to our news about expecting twins, when we already have three young kids, have been pretty interesting.  There is usually a bit of shock, followed by one or more of the following questions: (1) are you going to move, (2) are you going to buy a new vehicle, and (3) how are you going to pay for college with such a large family?  The twins were a surprise, but whether we ended up with...
Continue reading
Monday Medley: Wintertime Illnesses & Trying To Stay On Task
Monday Medley: Wintertime Illnesses & Trying To Stay On Task
I started the New Year with such great intentions and energy.  The pregnancy wasn't too burdensome yet, but then the stomach flu hit our house, followed shortly thereafter by bad colds.  We all seem to be recovering now, and are just trying to get back on track.  The twins will be here before we know it and there is still so much to do . . . not to mention our big financial plans for...
Continue reading
10 Tips On Shopping For Kids: How To Buy Everything You Need, Without Spending A Fortune
As we prepare for the arrival of twins in May, we're going to need to buy some "new" things.  And, it's not just purchases for the babies (because babies don't really need that much).  The other children will be passing down everything from outgrown toys and clothes, to their beds, so these items will need to be replaced.  We're usually big fans of buying used things for the kids, but that means that some of...
Continue reading