I'm not sure how this all happened but I feel like I've gotten myself in a corner that I don't want to be in.
I know I put a lot of information out there into the universe... and really that is my nature... and because I may put out more than the average person, I think people tend to assume I'm putting it ALL out there. I'm not.
My mother thinks I'm a bad secret keeper. To this I replied "how would you know?". She only knows the things I'm willing to tell. There are plenty of things I don't. In fact I may be the very best secret keeper you've ever met. I think my openness lends itself to assumptions. I appear transparent. I sometimes become you... or a LOT like you. Sometimes I am. Sometimes I'm not. Most of the time I'm okay with that. And maybe that has a lot to do with why so many people come here.
I use my blog to process my life and motivate myself. Sometimes this blog becomes a community for other's to do the same. In the spirit of that I started a series of posts on finances. I did this for two reasons: #1 because I thought it was time that I took the same kind of thoughtful responsibility for our finances that I have over my diet & exercise, and #2 because it is a good conversation topic.
The thing about finances is this...
They are highly personal. Not just for me but for everyone. Lots of people read my blog. My niece, my grandmother, my neighbor... hundreds of nameless strangers. I would love for there to be more candid discussions about finance out there. I think a LOT of us feel lost, or confused, or just plain uninformed. I am happy to talk about my experience trying to take more control over this important area of my life. I am happy for you to talk about your experiences with this as well. But I am not asking for your opinion on how we should adjust our budget or find more savings. We have to decide for ourselves which things add meaning to our life and which things are superfluous. Only we can know that for ourselves... just as only you can know that for yourself.
We are not in financial lock down. We are not facing a budget crisis. We are just mindlessly spending. As I have stated numerous times we have no debt, we pay all our bills in full and on time. Do we spend every penny that comes through here these days? Yes. Do I wish we paid more attention to how we spend those pennies? Yes. Is Mr F's current job situation and freelance work payment schedule (or lack there of) sometimes stressful? Yes. Are we broke... or even remotely close to it? No. I have intentionally not revealed our entire financial situation since I don't really need everyone to know our entire financial situation. I only reported our yearly spending on things that I didn't mind revealing and that I thought were relatively judgment free.
Here are the facts:
We make enough to contribute to a 401K, a ROTH IRA, and two 529s every year AND pay all our bills... in fact we even over-pay our mortgage principal every month. We have no debt outside of our mortgage. In the spirit of full (ish) disclosure Mr F had acquired a reasonable amount of debt between 2002-2005 due ONLY to poor money management (it appears we had hired the wrong spouse as our financial manager) and poor spousal communication skills. Upon his being fired from that position that situation has been alleviated. Are we sitting on millions? No. But we do have investments... we just chose to live our life not touching those and pretending they don't exist (which in the current market is best since looking at those statements is depressing) and are letting those stocks do what they need to. Would we like to save more? Yes.
But there is more to our story as I'm sure there is more to yours. Mr F makes the majority of his income through his freelance business. That means that our monthly income can vary by a couple thousand dollars a month... from not quite enough to pay the bills to more than enough. This takes very careful planning on my part when it comes to bill paying and can be quite stressful (Mr F's little foray into debt ever present in my mind). I would like to find the small leaks in our spending so that I can feel that I have a better cushion in our checking account. Just as Mr F's monthly income varies so does his yearly income... by up to many thousands of dollars! Sometimes that is for the better (Yay! Disney!) and sometimes for the worse (Boo... returning Ugg boots). And that is where the stress really comes into play. We make enough... this year. Will we make enough next year? I don't know. We never know.
So that is why we are on this mission. Because I want to be accountable and responsible for our spending. I want to know how and where we spend it so that should we have to start shaving off "wants" I'd know where to shave them. Thankfully we are not at that point yet.