I'm finally starting my new series, "Money Talks." Every now and then, I'll be sharing some of our financial wins and woes, tips and tricks. I'm no expert (far from it), so I'm not spouting any advice. I'm just telling you what we're up to and what we've learned. It's my . . . two cents (you knew that was coming).
A little about us:
Hubby is 30, employed full-time, and I'm 28, employed part-time and doing my PhD (on a scholarship). Our income is on par with the Canadian average household income for a child-less, non-retired couple (I googled it), and we pool our incomes. We rapid fire paid off student loans years ago, paid off our car loan and now our only debt is a mortgage. We're doing something right (and have also been really lucky). We have emergency and short term savings, but we save in spurts, not regularly, or enough, as we should. We pay for everything with a cash back credit card, which we pay off each month in full, but I'm starting to doubt the system. We created a spreadsheet to record our spending, but it went the way of the dinosaurs.
We could do better. I could do better (I feel like a dead weight at times, spending more and earning less).
Hubs and I have a date next week to think about our goals and come up with a plan. How much should we save each month? What's the smart way to save for retirement? Is a credit card best for us? What should our monthly budget be? How can we save money on the things we have to buy? What charitable donations do we want to make this year? We'll be figuring things out this year. I'll be sharing all this, plus what we've already tackled (like how we said good-bye to student debt faster). Until then, I have a plan of my own.
The topic on my mind right now:
Having lived out of a 50lb suitcase for four months, I am totally overwhelmed by the amount of stuff we have in the townhouse. I've realized I fritter away money on little purchases here, there and everywhere. In Hungarian there is a saying, "sok kicsi sokra megy," which means: "lots of little makes a lot". Ish. Don't trust my translation (google says it means "many a little makes a mickle"). I interpret it to mean that all the little bits here and there that I buy without thinking about could all add up to one of these instead:
We've wanted a vintage muscle car for ages, but it always seemed like a distant dream. Pricing them out and looking at all the surplus stuff I've bought over the years was a little horrifying. I realized we could have one already. I have to change my ways so I don't rob us of big ticket things we'd like (including retirement!).
With a concrete picture and goal in mind, I am hoping I can put a moratorium on mindless shopping. When I'm ogling something, I'm going to whisper "vroom" (and possibly look at the picture I printed and now keep in my wallet). "Self," I will say, "Do you want the thing you're currently hugging more than some vehicular goodness that will see Hubby and you grinning like millionaires every day?" Nope.
We have always had goals, some silly and indulgent, some more respectable, but they always seemed vague and irrelevant to our life right now. I'm going to stop thinking about them as a "someday" things and start thinking about them as "soon as we get the cash together" things. This applies to our next house, future renovations, more travel, retirement, charitable donations - everything. I'm definitely not advocating we throw retirement planning to the wind and just buy something extravagant (although that is the advice my investment planner gave me after his stroke, shortly before he retired). I just think that with clearer goals in mind, including a super fun one that makes me want to save, I might be able to take charge of my spending more. My goal is to think big picture and make sure that money I spend is going to things we really want or need.
I'm going to work on changing how I think ("sok kicsi sokra megy"), have my Money Talks date with Hubs, and pull out my Mustang photo next time I'm petting towels I don't need at Winner's. How about you?
P.S. I'm linking up here: Serenity Now