Use a Baby Trend Car Seat to Make More Space- Works-for-Me-Wednesday 3, 10/28/15

Do you need a new infant car seat?  If you do, consider the Baby Trend Infant Car Seat.

First, let me make some disclaimers: I’m not a car seat safety certified technician or an expert.  The car seat decision that you make for your children should be yours and you shouldn’t blindly listen to someone on the internet.

The main advantage to the Baby Trend Infant Car Seat is that it is the only infant seat (that I’m aware of) that actually specified in the owner’s manual that it’s OK to use on a shopping cart.  It is also a relatively small infant seat, so it takes up less room in the car than some others.  (You should always use your own discretion here and also be mindful that the seat doesn’t make the cart top heavy and unstable. But as far as using the car seat on the cart, with the locking clips, the Baby Trend won’t shouldn’t fall off.)

We've belonged to Sam's for a few years and a few kids ago.

An old picture, but you get the idea. My Vince in the infant car seat is now four.

(For the record, I have read that the Baby Trend Car Seat straps do not adjust small enough for most newborn babies.  This is not an issue for me because I have ten pounders.  It’s something you should also research for yourself, but I’d be remiss not to tell you this. )

In case you’re like me and have six six and under or some large amount of little children like that, putting the car seat up on the shopping cart saves a lot of space that can used for other children or groceries.  Again, let me reiterate that most infant car seats aren’t designed to safely do this, but the Baby Trend is. Above all, you should do your own research and come to your own conclusions for your own children.

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I liked the Baby Trend so much (because of this feature) that when a drunk driver totaled my minivan two years ago and the insurance company replaced my car seats, I chose another Baby Trend. This is last fall, before Baby6 was born.

Works-for-Me-Wednesday, 10/28/15- Use a Baby Trend Infant Car Seat up on the cart to make more room for your groceries and other children.

If you do decide on the Baby Trend, here is my affiliate link for Amazon.

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Should Farmers Be Added to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program? Here Is My Student Loan Story

Student loan relief is a hot topic.  Currently, there is a wonderful group, the National Young Farmers Coalition, that has brought farmer student loans into the national spotlight.  Since they are opening the conversation about farmer student loans, and since I am a farmer with student loans, I thought I’d share my student loan story with you here.

During the last few years there has been some programs aimed to somewhat relieve the student loan burden.  The Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness Program allows those with certain jobs in the public sector to have their loans forgiven. They must make 120 monthly payments of at least the minimum amount.  In certain fields, they do paperwork and viola!, the loan is forgiven. The other student loan relief program is called the Income Based Repayment Plan (IBR).  IBR is basically a sliding scale to recalculate minimum payments. There is even a possibility of a $0 monthly payment if your income is low enough.  If the IBR payment is $0, the federal government will pay the interest on the subsidized loans for three years.

The problem with the IBR is that if the student loan is not being paid (even if showing as current) the interest accumulates without the principal being chipped away at. In a way it’s like never having hope of repaying it. After 25 years, student loan debt is supposed to be forgiven.

There is a proposition to include farmers in the public service category under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.  It’s in that thinking about thinking about becoming a law stage. The National Young Farmers Coalition is really pushing for this.

Right now under the IBR, my student loan payment is $0.  I am still making monthly payments for what it was before the IBR, so I’m still chipping away at it.  I am just paying that monthly amount towards the “unsubsidized” loans.  Interest is accumulating on both.  After a year, I am told, the student loan servicing company will get a credit from the federal government for the interest on my subsidized loan and they will apply it towards my account.

I feel it’s necessary to keep chipping away at it.  Farmers being included in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program is just a hope right now.  I need to deal with what is, and what is is that I need to keep chipping away at this loan.  If the legislation ever passes, maybe I can pay $1 a month or something since I’d still have to make 120 monthly payments for more than my IBR payment amount.

As I will outline below, it’s really my own poor choices that got me into this student loan situation.  If help was offered (in the form of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program) I certainly would not refuse it, but I don’t think it’s the government’s job to make up for my poor choices.

Let me start my student loan story where I’ll go back all the way to 8th grade.  I was a very good student and my parents wanted the best for me.  My father decided that the answer was a Certain Catholic High School.  That Certain Catholic High School had all the best everything that my family considered important- a very large percentage of students that went on to college, great sports, strict policies, and a Catholic identity.  My parents made many many sacrifices so that I could go to school there.

At That Certain Catholic High School, I was in their honors program.  I did well.  Not gangbusters, but my graduating GPA was still above 4.0.  Because of the very competitive nature of That Certain Catholic High School, I wasn’t even in the top ten percent of my class.  My best friends to this day are all ones that I met at That Certain Catholic High School. They are such great people that time, distance and different life stages have not separated us.

So I graduated and went on to Rutgers, Cook College.  Rutgers Cook was New Jersey’s land grant college.  They had a great Animal Science program: I wanted to be a veterinarian. So Rutgers it was!

I lived at home with my parents and commuted the 8 miles to Rutgers.  I started out with 14 credits from AP tests.  In my first semester, I took an introductory animal science class.  I hated it.  It was about farm animals.

I changed my major to Biology.  I figured it was close and I wouldn’t “loose” any of my classes.  I had started going through the course catalog in A.  I stopped at B for Biology.  So a Bio major it was.

I didn’t do so well at Rutgers.  I chugged through.  I failed a few classes. I got 3 D’s. I got a lot of C’s.  It took my six tries to pass first semester organic chemistry.  I always did great in my non-major classes.  (That should have been a sign that I was in the wrong major.) I went to school during every summer.  I worked throughout the school year.  I failed a class my supposed-to-be-last-semester (organic chemistry, the fourth time).  They changed the requirements on me and I had to unexpectedly repeat another class, so it took me 5 years to graduate.  But I did it, by the skin of my teeth, and I do have a Bachelor of Science from Rutgers the State University of New Jersey.  In retrospect, I think perhaps I was burnt out from my very competitive high school: I needed a break perhaps.

The highlight of my time at Rutgers was when I worked on the Cook Student Organic Farm (now known as the Rutgers Student Sustainable Farm) as an intern.  I worked on that three acre vegetable farm and that is where I decided that I wanted to be a farmer, that on a farm was how I wanted to raise my kids.  That was actually a wise decision for my student loans, too- I earned about $1300 there through Americorps toward my student loan debt.

Financially, I made so many mistakes during my college time.  I am Kevin is still literally paying for them now.  I’m going to enumerate them here, because these mistakes are my major point of this blogpost:

1. I shouldn’t have gone to Rutgers, or at least shouldn’t have gone there to start out.  I could have gone to community college and then transferred. I would have saved thousands.
2. I failed a few classes.  I even withdrew from one.  That’s just wasted money.
3. I took summer classes every single summer.  I paid for these summer classes out of my pocket and not my financial aid package.  If I had applied that same amount to my “regular” semester, I’d have a lot less student loan.
4. I worked during the school year.  Although I lived at my parents house rent free (until my supposed-to-be-last-semester when my mom said that if I couldn’t do it in four years it wasn’t her problem), I was still responsible for all my own expenses: books, car, insurance, college, etc.  When my parents fell on hard times, I helped them out. (This is not a mistake.) My mistake was that I should have perhaps worked like crazy in the summers instead.  I could have perhaps made the same amount of money, took more classes during the regular semesters, had more time to study and not had that additional cost of summer tuition.
5. Although I lived at home, I first experience new found freedom when I started college.  This was the first time my parents allowed me to drive.  I had a car and a boyfriend.  I worked.  I never “partied”, but I spent my money on going out to dinner with friends, buying clothes, buying lunch at the student center on campus, buying lunch in the mall at work, etc.  In retrospect, I should have brown-bagged it a lot more.  I had never drove, bought my own clothes or any of that before.  It was new.  Perhaps living at home actually cost more because I was always looking for an escape.  Escapes cost money.

I fared so horribly at Rutgers that I didn’t even go to my graduation.

They mailed my diploma to me.

They mailed my diploma to me.

And then when I graduated, I never did anything with my degree.  I was smart enough to go to college, but I didn’t have that other “something” to be successful.  At such a big place like Rutgers, I had no one to take me under their wing.  I didn’t know what trying for a successful career actually looked like.  I worked my way through school in retail and I never stopped.  I had a very good wage for a college student, but not at all compared to my peers five years later or so.  I was unloading trucks.  They were sitting at desks.  It’s different.  I was blue collar, but with white collar education debt.  I did not have the salary to go with my student loans.
I also felt like I was on hold.  I wanted so badly to be a wife and mother and have a lot of beautiful children. I never quite knew how to put that together with my college and career dreams and my student loan payments. I remember when I took Women’s Studies in 1997 writing a paper about this lament.  I went to college because I was supposed to. I never truly wanted to be a working woman.  I wanted to be a mommy to a bunch of children.  I wasted my whole twenties going in the wrong direction for that dream, too.
My entire student loan total was around $17,000.  Most were Federal Loans, except for one Perkins Loan for $1000 that I paid directly to Rutgers.
Because after my-supossed-to-be-last-semester I was not a full time or even halftime student, my student loans all came due six months after that semester ended.  I was still taking classes.
My other biggest mistake was mismanaging my actual loans.  I was most always having financial difficulties.  Several times I put my loans into forbearance.  In forbearance my loans accumulated interest which added to the principal, yet I did not chip away at it.

I did start grad school a bunch of years ago, but I did that through my employer’s tuition reimbursement program.

I did “buy the farm” and move to my own little house on the prairie.  Now that I am that stay-at-home mom with my six beautiful children, my husband works and we pay my student loans with his salary.  I feel terrible about my anti-dowry.  It is a financial burden to us.  The government makes all that interest money off me, so in a way it’s a tax, (although I voluntarily went to college, so I voluntarily pay the tax).

If I keep paying the monthly amount that I’m Kevin is paying, I still have about another four and half years to pay off the student loans.

So the bottom-line is that I am in the situation I’m in now because of my own mismanagement.  I mismanaged my education.  I mismanaged my student loans.  And here I am now, with my husband chugging away at the student loans monthly. I would love to farm full time as an only-career with no off-farm job for my husband or me.  But I’d lie to you to tell you that the student loan is the only thing holding us back.  Student loans are a factor, but they’re not the most important one. I don’t think that I’m really helping the cause for the good people at the National Young Farmer’s Coalition, but I thought I’d put my student loan story out there anyway.

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