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Category Archives: Budget

Money: 10 things every woman should know

imageRecently a new college grad asked me if I had any advice on “getting rich”.

First thought, getting rich, seriously?  What does “rich” even mean anymore?

Second thought, getting rich has never been a goal of mine.  My goal has been to be financially secure enough that I can make life choices based on my values.

Then I thought, there are many things wise women have shared with me that changed my view of money and forever changed my life for the better.  So I will change the question and answer…

What should every woman know about money:

1. Money is a tool (it is not inherently good or bad).

2. Know yourself and make choices based on your values.

3. Every loan or credit card purchase has to be paid back, ensure you only borrow for investments in your future (useful degree, affordable house, etc. not  clothing-vacations-cars).

4. Live below your means (starting out this might even mean roommates, a bike instead of car, used furniture, learning to cook cheaply).

5. Let others pay the retail price (ebay, consignment, craigslist are your friends, even today my designer wardrobe is mostly ebay.  I will not pay $500 for my DVF dresses when I can buy them with no sign of wear on Ebay for $100).

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6. Save first.  From my first paycheck out of school I maxed my 401k contribution.  I also set up direct deposit for my savings (which is how I bought my first house at 22).  The trick is, if you never see the money, you can’t spend it.  My budget (house payment, car choice, entertainment budget) is based on the post-savings income.

7. Don’t waste money on taxes.  Max your401k, look into a Roth IRA, Flex Spending Account (FSA), donate items and keep the receipt.

8. Read the fine print. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is, always read the fine print before signing something with a financial component.

9. Don’t procrastinate.  Too often procrastination costs us money.  Read the fine print, know the deadlines and take action well ahead of time (to allow for errors and delays).  Keeping one calendar and to-do list helps.

10. Don’t rely on someone else to meet your financial goals.  You need to know your financial picture whether on your own, married, or with billionaire parents.   There is no knight in shining armor to rush in and save you financially.        Knowing what is happening with your finances and making decisions puts you in position to use money as tool and not be caught surprised down the road.

So none of my advice is flashy or ground-breaking.  It doesn’t have to be, money is in reality pretty simple and I love simple.

 

Mountaintop Couples Retreat- Part I

imageThe couples retreat was heavenly.  Began the journey with an easy car ride through the mountains filled with deep conversations stemming from the workbook.  I felt lucky in that my hubby was completely on board with the idea and I didn’t feel I was forcing him to do anything.  It definitely helped that we were both extremely overworked (hubby had two days off in the past seven weeks) and  were in need of time together, away from our precious kids.

The previous post centered on why we were doing a couples retreat.  This post centers on how to prepare for a couples retreat (or simply time you plan together to discuss life, your relationship and direction).

Prep

While we based our retreat off a workbook specific to a Christian focus, there are any number of retreat workbooks out there.  The important thing is to ask and answer questions as a couple that help get to the root of your direction in life, values and the direction you want to go for the next month, year, five years…

I highly suggest that each person review the workbook during the week before the retreat.  Starting even earlier would have been helpful.  The more time you have to think, pray, dream and daydream over the topics and plans for your life as a couple- the better spent your time together will be.

Focus and Ground Rules

It helps to began the trip knowing what the focus of the retreat will be and the ground rules.  The focus should be on yourself and not on changing your partner.  This of course triggered recall of one of my favorite quotes.

“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.” ― Aldous Huxley

This is critical, as a sure way to block progress would be to bring up past grievances you have with one another.  Which called to mind another favorite quote.

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We proved this one to be a true but more on that in the upcoming Mountaintop Couples Retreat- Part III (sounds like a horrible movie sequel).  Thankfully our retreat was anything but horrible.

After a shorter than expected drive, we arrived in Telluride, which is every bit as breathtaking as its’ reputation.  We entered the resort prepared for our three days of couples visioning and planning for our family’s future.

We were then royally upgraded to a beautiful residence and patio all overlooking the view posted at the top.  Gratitude, my constant mantra, was easy to come by in this moment.

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Success

 

imageThankful.

Retreat filled with beauty, comfort, deep conversations, life changing plans, and facing fears as a team. Including, my first mountain bike ride (pretty extreme, long and amazing- you can see a bit of the trail just above the raging creek).  More to come…

Budget, Recap Week 4

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After keeping a budget for 4 weeks, what have I learned?

Things don’t create happiness.  Living honestly does.  Learning does.  Sharing ones truth does.

As for money, it has regained its place as a tool not a master.

Have we kept to the budget?  Yes and no.  We kept spending within the jar amounts set for each week.  We even had money left over that we were able to redistribute to areas we want to save for (our New Years vacation!).  On the no side, a couple big things happened this month.  Hubby left his job and as a result received a larger check (leave payout, small bonus).  Since he already has work lined up for the month (thank God!), we used it to pay for some big ticket items (new tires and a snow blower, exciting I know).  To go back to our plan, future windfalls will be distributed according to our windfall plan.

One huge change in my life resulting directly from implementing a budget with my spouse, we don’t fight about money anymore.  Not once in four weeks.  This is a big deal for us as we have regularly fought about money  in the decade we have been married.  What was the change?  We each have “allowances”, an amount we receive a week to spend how we chose, no questions asked.  No more tiffs over lattes or drinks with friends, no more comparison of who spent what on clothes.  We are a team on the big picture of how we use our money and the day to day stuff no longer matters.  It is clear when we are meeting our goals.  Since we have completely combined our finances since day one, this means financial peace in our household.

Tell me, do you bicker over money? Do you give yourself an allowance?  Any tips for how you have found financial peace in your household?

 

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