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Tag Archives: Finances

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 II (why are we together & where are we going)?

 

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Question #1. Why are we together?

What an opener.  How does one even answer that?

And yet for us, the answer came almost immediately.  Jarring in it’s truth, it is why we work as a couple.

We are together because we bring what the other needs to move farther into a deeper, more fulfilling life.  To evolve, if you will, from where we started in life.

I was raised with unconditional love.  For all our faults, my family gave me unconditional love from birth.  I’ve also had unconditional love spiritually, as I have had faith since early childhood.

My husband was raised with the mantra of “no excuses”.  It doesn’t matter what is thrown in your path or how hard things get, you are responsible for living the life you desire.

Combine the two and we can build a life that knows no limits.  We balance each other out and have the opportunity to raise children who are fully loved, loving, and self-responsible (responsible for own well-being).

Why are you together with your partner? I’d be interested in others’ answers.

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Question #2- What direction are you going as a couple?

As we worked through the questions, a thought kept reoccurring.  My husband and I have been able to stay together as a team through the past decade because we asked most of the important questions when we were first getting serious.  We had a long distance relationship.  You can only use small talk and recounts of your day for so long.  To fill hours on a phone or pages in a letter (email was just beginning when we met), you have to get real.  We discussed everything from our values, to how we wanted to raise kids, to what old age would look like.  We have been through so much in the last 15 years, but through it all we have been generally heading in the same direction.

The beauty of doing a retreat as a couple (as opposed to a group) is you can start from where you are.  For some, this is will be the first step in determining the direction and mission of your family.  For us, rather than finding our direction, our goals became clearer, refined.  We focused on refining how our team works and treats one another.  The planning for our future was less a battle of what direction to go and much more a discussion of when to enact certain changes we knew we both desired.

Our direction is clear, we want a life filled with love, exploration, helping others and the freedom on make our own life choices.  We began this fifteen years ago.  We are now well on our way, living in our desired location, raising our two beloved sons, and saving for the day when we no longer need to work full-time jobs.

To achieve this, we need to continue to simplify our lives.  Avoid added distractions, expenses, and negativity.

The beauty of acknowledging our direction is how simple it is once again to say no to things that do not aid us.  For the past year we have discussed getting a camping trailer, it aids our goal of exploring and spending quality, family time in nature.  However, it hurts our savings goals and our simplification goal.  We would have to find a storage place and maintain yet another big purchase.  After our retreat, we no longer need to discuss it, it doesn’t fit where we are right now.  There is beauty in knowing your decisions are rooted in your life direction and you as a couple do not need to keep rehashing the same ideas.

What is your direction as a couple?  Are you beginning your journey or well on your way?

 

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?

 

Budget, once again (Part III) Self-Employment

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As soon as the jars were filled our budget drastically changed. What is the saying? Want to see God laugh, tell him your plans? Hubby received an offer that allows us to manifest a major lifestyle change. He will be self-employed, have greater flexibility and time with our family. So, how on earth does one budget with the variable income of self-employment?

After some research, the best way for us to budget a variable income is to set a realistic budget based on the known income and a reasonable expectation for the variable income. Then build in safe guards, re-evaluation periods and a plan for windfalls.

1. Safe Guards: Determine an amount we are comfortable using from our savings to maintain our budget for the first three months.

  • As checks come in, pay back savings first.
  • Keep reserves in the account to float future months.
  • Remember every day that his pay will be irregular. Don’t stress. Breathe and plan.

2. Re-evaluation Period: Check in at the end of the first, second, and third month.

  • Assess how realistic the budget has been and reallocate any money left over.
  • Discuss short term savings (upcoming expenses, desired purchases, etc.). Build these items into the budget and windfall plan.
  • After the first 3 months, switch to quarterly check-ins.

3. Windfalls: Any amount over the budget x 4 months should be distributed according to our “windfall plan”.

  • 50% to debt repayment (we took on low-interest debt for the home purchase and remodel).
  • 25% to the short term saving categories (vacation,snowblower,  furniture).
  • 25% to the cash jars for a bit of float.

This will be interesting to watch develop. I have a feeling the hardest part will be the psychological test of not knowing when the next check will come in, how much we will bring in a year, etc. That said, there is no great reward without risk. There is the real chance that our family will have more time together, more adventures and bring in the same amount (or more!) of money a year.

Talk back, are you self-employed or thinking about becoming? Do you budget? What is the hardest part of being self-employed? What do you wish someone had told you?

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