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Friday, February 27, 2015

Becoming Balanced

B Daddy and I do this thing each week where we go sit in a circle and 'do life' with six other couples. It probably sounds strange if you've never done it, but we've consistently put ourselves in these (sometimes uncomfortable but always enlightening) circles since we first got married. I think it's one of our healthiest married people habits. We talk about our life, our faith, our families and currently, our finances. We're going through Northpoint's Balanced curriculum right now and the timing couldn't be better.

I am and have always been the one who manages our day-to-day finances. B Daddy does bill-paying and spreadsheet-analyzing at his 9-5 and he leaves it to me to take care of things at home. It's a pretty decent division of labor. Unfortunately when things get a little lackadaisical it means I bear the brunt of the blame.

Things have been a little lackadaisical lately.

We are not on a cash budget anymore and I haven't actualized our monthly budget in several months.

First on my list of excuses is that we use a cyber-bank that doesn't have physical locations. USAA, I am your biggest fan, but I need to throw someone under the bus, sorry.  Pulling cash out each month  means going to an ATM to get a bunch of 20s. And sometimes our little budget categories require $70...which creates overly complicated scenarios involving cash back from the Publix cashier...which makes me think it's too much trouble to even try.

Additionally, when I was working and even when we had just one, then just two littles, I had lots of down time to make budgets and actualize expenses and control pursestrings. Nowadays - what with the four children and the homeschooling and the trying to keep us fed and in clean clothes- I get very very little downtime during the day. During the moments I do have, I like to write or catch up with Brandi, Lisa and Yolanda. Sorry budget.

While "lackadaisical" hasn't meant we're in the red, we could definitely tighten things up.

A big issue for me is our lack of motivating achievable goals. We are Dave Ramsey groupies, which means we follow the "Baby Steps" program and we're currently on Baby Step 5. Still. Have been for y  e  a  r  s. The last time I posted about money we were on this step (back in 2013) and I was frustrated we couldn't put away the recommended amount each month to put our three kids through college. Well now we have FOUR kids to put through college and consequently we're STILL hanging out on Step 5.

We're at last at the point where we are putting away a set amount for each child for college (and/or trade school and/or post-high school career expenses) that we can live with. It won't cover Ivy League (or out-of-state) tuition, but it means we can ensure the college-bound toddlers arrive at age 18 clothed and fed.

Does this mean we are ready to tackle #6? Paying off our home early? Having a bonafide paid-for home?! No mortgage, no 4-figure check going to Wells Fargo each month. It's kind of an exciting thought.

But if we want to get there anytime soon, I think we're going to have to get back to the basics budget-wise. Which for us means little white envelopes and trips to the ATM.

Anyone care to join us???

For your reading pleasure - links to some other posts about moola, finances, budgeting and money money money.

2009 - Financial Freedom
2010 - Tightening our Belts
2010 - Am I Glad I Quit My Day Job? (not exaaaactly on finances, but kinda on topic)
2011 - Confessions of a Self-Righteous Budgeter
2013 - Money Money Money Maaaaahnaaaay

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