Monday, January 30, 2012

The Intersection of Creativity and Balancing Your Bottom Line

Over the last few weeks, we've been tweaking our family household budget.  In order to get a better handle on where our money is flowing, I've been trying to keep track of what I'm spending -- where, on what and why.

It has been an eye opener, to say the least.  We spend a lot of money on crap we don't really need.

This is not exactly the thing you want to find out about yourself -- that you have an impulse purchase issue when it comes to items that your child or your husband might want and you are all about making them happy and so you buy before you really even think about it -- but there it is in black and white on receipts, week in and week out.

And so?  I'm trying to spend my money more wisely and consciously.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Making Our Home Our Castle

One of our goals this year is to get a better handle on our family budget.  As we hurtle toward retirement, being able to live comfortably when we are spending well below our income is a big goal.

Both of us have seen far too many people need to keep working well past when they would rather have retired because their expenses were too great to be able to stop and enjoy their lives.  We've also seen far too many people retire, and then have to find some other part-time employment or something else to cover rising medical or other expenses that weren't planned for earlier.

We're very blessed in that we have the means to live well, because we have both worked very hard to get us to this point and continue to do so.

But that doesn't mean we ought to just take it for granted that will always be the case, or that we shouldn't be more thoughtful about how we use our resources.  Using them more wisely is always a good goal. 

One way to enjoy what we already have more while spending less is to get our home where we want it to be -- comfortable, cozy, inviting, less cluttered -- so that spending time at home is preferable to going out, spending more money and buying crap you don't need.

I've been looking around our house lately with that sort of eye toward what is working for us and what is not.


For the past couple of years, my husband and I have been scrambling to find a way to convey to our only child just how lucky we are.

We can put food on our table and not have to choose between groceries or medicine to do it.  We keep her and ourselves well clothed and have some money left over to do the things we want to do on a regular basis.  Honestly, we live very happy, fulfilled and comfortable lives.

And because we'd like to continue to do so, we save everything we can for retirement while also trying to plan for her college expenses and make sure we cover all our bases by also popping savings where we can for an emergency fund.  In short, we try to plan ahead for the worst case scenario while also living well in the present.

But we want our daughter to understand why we do this:  that we both grew up knowing what having a whole lot less felt like, sometimes all too closely for too many people in our own families.  That you have to plan, be careful with your money, work hard, and also that with this life you also have a responsibility to give back to folks in need in your own community and beyond.

It's a lot to explain to an 8 year old.  Frankly, it's a lot for two adults to wrangle as well.

So this blog is our attempt to wrestle with our own financial issues.  For example:

-- We'd like to get a better handle on our spending, so that when retirement comes, we will be living comfortably while spending well under our income level.  That will allow us to stretch our retirement dollars a lot further, and to perhaps do a little of the traveling we always say we want to finally have time to do.