Is the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant credit card worth the annual fee? Even now, in a world where things are shut down and people aren’t traveling much? In a word…YES! If you travel…anywhere. (In normal circumstances, and our current virus situation won’t last forever, so I still think this card is totally worth it!) I know $450 sounds like a lot for a credit card, but this one easily pays for itself.
First of all, you get $300 a year in Marriott “spending money”. Which means it’s good for the room, restaurants, spas….anything spent in a Marriott. And let’s face it…their hotels are pretty much everywhere, so it’s not hard to find one where you want to stay. I love to use it for my rooms to get essentially free stays. And the best part is, you don’t have to do anything to use it. It’s automatic. As soon as a charge hits from Marriott, they take it off until they reach $300. So if you’re only staying 1 night in March and It’s $100, you can still use the leftover $200 for you trip in June. You don’t have to use it all at once.
So that right there takes the annual fee down to a reasonable $150 ($450-$300). Besides the sign up bonus (click the referral link to see the most up to date sign up bonus that Marriott is offering), you also get a free night every year on your card anniversary up to 50k points! Now, we’ve more than paid for the card’s hefty annual fee. But you also get:
Marriott Gold Status
Global Entry/TSA precheck
Extra points on your credit card for money spent on groceries, gas, restaurants, and Marriott hotels
Priority Pass Select to get you into certain lounges in the airport
Along with other benefits that you can read about here and see what they are currently offering as a sign up bonus
Is it my favorite card?? It’s a close one. One that I will keep renewing every year….even during this time of the coronavirus/lockdown/less travel, the card is still totally worth it to me and I just renewed it last month. It’s just so easy to get the value out of it. So, is it my favorite? No, but it is close!
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When most people find out you homeschool, the first question you’ll probably get is some form of “Why???”
Everybody knows the stereotypes of homeschooled kids; that they’re weird or awkward because you think they don’t get socialization (big misconception), or that they aren’t actually learning anything and just stay at home sleeping til noon, watching TV or playing video games. Or…and this was a new one for me…that they’re super religious. Apparently, it used to be that if you homeschooled, it was because you were very religious and wanted more of those teachings for your children than they would get in public school. I hadn’t realized that one until we started researching homeschooling for ourselves.
As we are brand new on our own homeschooling journey, we are getting asked a lot of the “Why” questions ourselves…and I’m sure this is only the beginning. But it’s really hard to tell Aunt Sue or Karen at the grocery store your reasons for homeschooling when you’re caught off guard and only have a few moments to explain yourself in passing. So I decided to write out our reasons for wanting to go down the homeschooling path. Maybe you have similar reasons yourself.
My husband, son, and I have talked about homeschooling for years and never went through with it for many reasons (some of which may have been stereotypes mentioned above too!), but that’s for another post. Then this whole Coronavirus flipped the world upside down and almost everyone was forced into homeschooling! We thought it would be a great way to kind of try it out and see how we all felt. Turns out, my son loved it and made his decision. He didn’t want to go back to school for 5th grade next year and wanted to homeschool.
So besides the fact that we wanted to and because it’s what we feel is best for our family, here’s a breakdown of our other reasons to take him out of public school and start our homeschooling journey.
The ability for one on one attention is a huge pro in our eyes. My son is advanced in Math, but could use some extra time in English. Since first grade he has been testing out of his math classes, but not able to make honors classes because of English. This left him bored in Math with the teachers not able to teach him on his level since they have to teach the same thing to everyone.
His 4th grade teacher actually gave us a separate math book and told us to “homeschool” math anyways. This work was never even looked over at school. It’s not the teacher’s fault. The system is hard. Having 20+ kids in a class, trying to make sure each child understands the subject enough to pass their tests, and having to deal with all the kids paying attention, behavior issues, etc. We’re super excited to be able to teach him one on one in a style that works best for his learning, and topics that he is interested in!
More Time As A Family
The school year was always crazy for our family, just like everyone else’s probably. Wake up super early, make lunches, quickly feed breakfast, get everyone dressed and out the door. By the time you come home in the evenings, do homework, have dinner, shower…not to mention any sports or extra curriculars…you have what? 10 minutes together? Plus the fact that my husband works evenings…left hardly any time as a family. We only have our kids living with us for a short amount of time. Call me crazy, but I want to spend that time with my family…not spent rushing, arguing over homework, or rushing out the door. I want the time to raise my son with our values, enjoy the learning process, and growing as a family.
Worries About School Culture
Ok, I’m not quite sure how to label this one, but yes, we have had worries about what you hear happening in schools lately. Guns, shootings, drugs, bullies, bus drivers getting into accidents. Sure, maybe none of this stuff would ever happen. Maybe we’re over-reacting a little. But some of these school shootings that have happened in the news hit a little close to home. We haven’t had any problems with bullies or peer pressure, but we all know it happens.
In this day and age with the internet and cyber bullying and all these stories you hear of kids committing suicide from being bullies…it’s a scary time. Yes, I do think my son would do the right thing and not listen to bullies and stick up for other kids…but why go to school in this situation? And before people say, but how will he ever grow up to be strong and tough in the world…I say….do you need to be bullied to know what to do in that situation? Do you need someone treating you horribly to grow up tough? I’d rather have him put in situations that will instill his self confidence in other ways.
This one is big for us. It’s no surprise that travel is a large part of our lives. By homeschooling, we aren’t stuck to traveling during school breaks or having to worry about missing too many days. Now we can travel whenever we want and get to enjoy travelling when the prices are cheaper and the crowds are less! Being able to travel and see the things we learn about and experience other foods and cultures is an important part of the education I want to give my son. (This is going to be even more true come the end of November when we start our adventure slow traveling around the US and Canada! if you want to follow along on our journey..where will we stay, how will schooling work, what about money, etc- join our email list for monthly updates!)
What about those misconceptions? Socialization? Won’t he be sheltered?
They’re legitimate questions and ones that most people have if they don’t really know how homeschooling works. As for socialization, first we have to ask ourselves how much socializing our kids our getting in school. I know in my son’s school, they didn’t get much. And from what I hear many others are the same. Lunch is 20 mins and that includes the time for kids to walk the halls, wait in line, get there lunch, eat…they have no time for talking with their friends. Recess is the same. 20 minutes. The rest of the time they are told to be quiet and sit at their desks.
Homeschooling will let us get out in the world, make friends with kids of all ages and interact in society…you know…the real world- just like how you do or how all the kids do when they’re not in school. And the idea that being homeschooled means you’re sheltering your kids? We’re homeschooling so we can show our son the world. Different cultures, backgrounds, religions. Make friends with different ages. Be in society like you or I. Just like what “real” school is supposed to prepare our kids for….except just going out there and doing it.
Regular school means staying in the same four walls with the same kids with similar backgrounds for years on end. I want him to learn about the places by seeing them, feeling them, experiencing them….not just reading about them in a textbook. So who is more sheltered? This is nothing against anyone who goes to regular school. My husband and I went to public school, my son did til 4th grade, so does most of the population. That’s what’s normal and expected and works for many people. But honestly, I’ve never felt the need to be normal and have always just done what I felt is right. Right now, for our family, we feel homeschooling is right.
This is also not to say that I don’t respect teachers. I love teachers and give them so many props. They have a really hard job. It’s not their fault. They have 20 or more kids in a classroom at all different abilities and are given a certain curriculum to teach and try to make sure everyone passes their tests. Along with dealing with behavior issues, trying to get all the kids on the same page, etc. It sounds exhausting. But I only have one child. And I have to ability to teach him one on one and tailor everything just for him and his learning style. These are some of the reasons we are deciding to homeschool- as you can see it’s a bit hard to explain all this to everyone that asks “why?” Maybe we can just point them to this post? lol