New Year, New Budget

Towards the end of every year I take an in-depth look at my spending over the past year. I also look at where my family is financially. Did we increase our debt? Did we decrease it? Did our spending habits change? Did we make any expensive purchases we regret now? Could we have saved more?

To be honest Alex and I don't have weekly or even monthly budget meetings, but we should. We keep track of our finances through our online bank account and Mint, however I would like to start scheduling monthly budget meetings. They've always seemed so daunting, time consuming, and Alex and I usually disagree every time. It's also the last thing I want to do at the end of the day, but I know it's extremely important for our family's future. You can read more about our journey from paying off our debt to falling back in to it here.

At this point the only debt Alex and I have other than our mortgage is my van loan, which we owe about $19,000. We bought my van new in 2017 after I totaled my other van. We could pay off the loan with Alex's Apple stock, but we are paying 0% interest on the loan. Alex saves 10% of his paycheck and puts towards Apple stock because he gets a major discount. I worry about so much of our wealth being in Apple stock (too many eggs in one basket), but I'm trusting Alex with that decision. We'll likely be differentiating soon, but I'm letting Alex make that call because he's comfortable with investing and trading. We're also both contributing the max towards our 401(k) plans at work.

Photos by Madeline Harper

We're in a good place financially, and the next steps we take I want to be very smart about. I want to be diligent and purposeful with each dollar. I envision paying for my kid's college (or helping with a big chunk of it), taking family vacations, treating my grandkids, and setting ourselves up well for retirement. I would love to retire and travel the world. We always talk about buying one of those giant RV's and taking our grandkids all over the U.S., although I'm more in to flying than driving ; ).

It's just when we think we have money when life happens. Our air conditioner breaks and we need to replace it, our car breaks down and we need a new engine, our kids need braces (that one isn't much of a surprise). You get the point. I'm sure it's happened to you. Merry Christmas, here's your yearly bonus...Two days later your kid falls and needs stitches and now you're stuck with an insane ER bill. You name the scenario, a rainy day WILL come so we all need to be prepared for it. That's why saving is so important. Dave Ramsey advises 3-6 months months of income saved for emergencies.

Back to my point of this post. Two years ago my dad passed away and a few weeks later I watched the documentary, Minimalism. It sparked something inside me and I decided to give up shopping for six months (see my challenge video here) #BuyLessLiveMoreChallenge. I wanted to focus on experiences vs. stuff. Instead of spending money on a new outfit, I would take that money and save it for a trip or I would take my son to the movies. My family also wasn't in an amazing place financially so I knew it would help our overall budget to cut out my shopping.

As we approach 2019 I will have a new financial goal and I can't wait to share it with you (stay tuned for that post)! If you haven't sat down with yourself or significant other and had a good hard look at your financials I encourage you to do so. I know it sucks, especially when you're not in a good place financially or a spender but you can't ignore it. Face it head on, decide on what you want your future to look like and set goals to get there!

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