Monday, June 6, 2011

money matters...

i've been thinking a lot about the future lately and where i see us in 10, 15 years and pondering more and more on how to achieve our goals. money is such a dirty little word. it's complicated. no one really talks about it. we all have debt of some kind wether it's credit card debt (i just had to have that bag that i'm still paying for 2 years later) or you're upside down on your house (party of 3). where to even begin on dragging ourselves out of the financial pit?

we recently opened an account with which i think is an amazing (and FREE) way to chart all of your statements in one place, as well as set up budgets and goals and to get a realistic view of what you're "worth." clearly i think we are all so much more valuable than some number that sums up our spot on the food chain, but it's important to not be tuned out either. speaking of tuned out, i have definitely taken more of the "ignorance is bliss" role in our marriage when it comes to money matters. i think that sam has been carrying this heavy load without me for six years and that really is SO not fair.

i've been working on learning more about finances. holy tomato roth ira. i am so clueless. we watched a little of suze ormon's money class and i like how she makes these foreign concepts easier to understand. according to suze a roth ira is the best place to save for retirement unless your company matches a percentage of your 401k. we have also been thinking already about saving for matilda's college. you can check out this website for more info, but suze recommends a 529 and to make the savings account under your name and not your child's.

just a few things i thought were interesting. i want to share things that i learn and hope that you'll share with me. would love to hear about any books that you found to be helpful when it comes to managing your money as well as tricks and tips for saving. what works for you?


Shaunna Faye said...

I used for a while, but slowly lost interest in it. Chris and I have a STRICT budget set up for both of us. Because he and I each have our own separate checking accounts (unlike most married people, I know), we each have our own spreadsheet of where every dollar of our paychecks go. We split the bills up to where each of us is in charge of certain ones, and we each have a set amount of gas money and spending money allowed for every 2 weeks. Luckily, Chris is really good at saving and planning and we're able to put a large chunk every month toward our credit card debt and put a little bit into savings too. We're looking to be CC debt free by next year, with a few grand in savings too. We owe my dad a large amount (he helped us with the down payment on our house) that we're paying him $100 every month plus half of all our bonuses and tax refund money. He should be paid off (from $6000) within 2 years. What I'm trying to say is it's A LOT of planning for us. That's what works for us, but also keep in mind that if you don't give yourself a little wiggle room (we just splurged on a new video camera) than you'll be miserable. I love Suze Orman too. She keeps things simple.

Kate Kiefer said...

we're about to sit down and make a new budget too. i wish it weren't so fun to spend money : )

LadyDiff said...

I so suck at budgeting. I hope to have a legitimate budget soon, but in the meantime, we just save money monthly by playing mind games!

A few years ago, I noticed that I keep a buffer in my checking account "for emergencies." But each month, the buffer would be the same. I suddenly realized I had been spending my whole paycheck each month.

Michael and I both get paid at the end of the month, so once we get our chunk of "new money" in, I subtract the difference and put the buffer straight into savings. It has become a game to see how much I could cram into savings (i.e., how much I can NOT spend). I try to set a buffer goal at the beginning of the month, and slow down spending when we get close.

We have a regular savings account, two IRAs and our 401K/403Bs through work. Once it's in the savings, we can shuffle it around wherever we want.

And for credit cards, I used the nonprofit Consumer Credit Counseling to pay them down. It was REALLY tough to do and has taken about 8 years, but it was way harder to try to manage 5 credit cards on an intern's "salary"!

I certainly wouldn't be able to save ANYTHING if it weren't for consolidating my credit card debt. They can sometimes lower your rates, and always take a one-time payment per month that they distribute on your behalf to all of your loans. So, you're never late and your rates don't increase.

My last piece of advice is, once you do start saving, to buy things outright when you can. My car was recently stolen, and I had enough in my savings to buy a used car in cash.

Even though it was REALLY hard to write that check, I keep reminding myself that I don't have a payment, and I'm not lining any dealership or banker's pockets with the interest I would have owed on a loan.

Sorry - that was long! :)

homemade grits said...

sounds like you are definitely on the right track! i am also agree that you have to have some "fun money." totally necessary!

can't wait to hear what you guys come up with!

thanks for all of the great advice. we too try to buy things outright when we can. i'm a bit of a nazi about that because i never want to pay interest!

Lindsay Széchényi said...

Smart Couples Finish Rich by David Bach

McMel said...

my husband & i are very strict with our money. we had to basically give our house in atlanta away when he was laid off and transferred to where we live now- it was a very sad time in our lives. we were plugging away at our debt then- and it just knocked the wind out of us. i found out i was pregnant as soon as we moved up here, and our insurance changed 3 weeks before i gave birth meaning we had to pay a $3000 deductible on our sons birth before our insurance even kicked in at 80%... it was sad times. so i tell that sob story to say that we have been living pretty bare bones. we haven't been on a vacation since our honeymoon, i only buy clothes on clearance or with coupons/sales, i coupon for groceries, we rent a home. all manageable stuff- even if i do cry every week about how i haven't touched sand in 4 years. if i had to recommend someone as far as money went- it would definitely be dave ramsey. his book total money makeover & his radio show (640 am- 3-6pm) were very inspirational. we don't really carry credit card debt- so we are in the process of paying off our student loans, and then we will be debt free.

i appreciate you talking about money- it's something people don't talk about and it's something people struggle with. i for one struggle w\ seeing people have things that i would like to have, but i can't afford- and it makes me think that everyone in the world makes more money than me- when maybe everyone just has more debt than me.

enough with my ramblings...

GeoGirl said...

we used mint before we got married, but it wasn't tangible enough for me. i kept sliding that debit card at target and starbucks. now we live by dave ramsey. we took his class at church while we were engaged (i think you can order the kit online). then a month before we got married, sam got laid off. he was unemployed for 1 year and 9 months. i was the bread winner up until a few months ago, which really sucked and was stressful. but i will say that the dave ramsey system made things bearable. the only thing we now use our credit cards for is to pay bills and gas. otherwise for things like clothes, eating out, groceries, target, home depot, dog food, getting my hair done, vacation, gifts (where's it's easier to spend more with a debit card), we have an envelope where we put cash towards that category. when you have an envelope with cash to last you the month, you rethink getting that americano while you're shopping at target. what i really love most about the system is the ability to save for gifts all year long. so when it has come time for wedding/baby showers, christmas and birthdays, we don't feel burdened when we have to make a purchase. we're currently working towards our nest egg and hopefully will be able to pay cash for my next car.

discover bank has a really great high interest savings account.
if you're looking at ROTH IRAs right now, check out they have very inexpensive fees and will allow you to start one with only $1000 dollars in it.

also, clark howard and dave ramsey both say to start saving for your retirement now, and worry about your kids college later. because when they're gone, you will still have to take care of yourself.

p.s. if you email matt yoder at trinity, i bet he'd let you bower the DVDs for dave ramsey and might even have an extra kit or something.

beth soto said...

Dave Ramsey, Dave Ramsey, Dave Ramsey... his message is easy to comprehend, consistent and not complicated. It takes it back "old school" to where credit cards didnt exist and your mom had envelopes of money for the month for things like groceries. It works!!!
It is my hope for our generation, that we are the ones to go back to living off what we make, being content with what we have so we can live life!!!!!

Down and Out Chic said...

i'm with beth on this, dave ramsey all the way. it takes budgeting to a whole new level. brad and i have been living on one salary (mine since he was in graduate school) and we're able to save money AND we have an emergency fun and NO credit card debt. all on one measly salary! don't get me wrong. his program is one of the most difficult things i've ever done, but i've never had so much financial peace before.

Down and Out Chic said...

emergency FUND, not "fun." whoops!