Thursday, January 19, 2012

Financial Aid

I've been focusing a lot more on my finances in 2012. Between not being as "on top of" them as I'd like to be and wanting to have more of a cushion (thanks to the addition of a new baby in the upcoming year), it just makes sense. And, somehow, with the new year came a new motivation to do way better than I have been in the past.

So far, it's been the basics for me - writing down what I've been spending. I tried analyzing my expenses at the end of December, but admittedly this is an easy way to get an inaccurate account of the truth. Hello, Christmas!

I'm actually excited to analyze where my ka-ching is going. I'd like to put it into a pie chart (since I am, apparently, a visual learner) and make decisions about what spending choices of which I approve and disapprove. I'm sure some will make me cringe (and delve into a deep self-loathing), but some will be an interesting challenge/eye-opener. It's time to be real and honest with myself, and I'm hoping to drag Dave into the conversation, too. I already know what his challenges are, and what he does particularly well keeping on top of, but I don't think he's ever seen ME deal with financial challenges; I've always helped him through his. So, I think it'll be good for him to hear that his wife's not perfect. Not financially, anyway. *wink*

Since it's silly to go forth simply to "see what's what", I think it's a good idea to set some measurable goals. These may change or shift or turn into a completely different goals - hey, they're goals, they're allowed to do that.

So, the simple few goals I've got in mind?

1) Setting a budget. I'd like to have an "individual budget" as well as a "family budget" (ie D+M+baby). Nope, I'm not working off of a specific budget, currently. I'm sure that makes me a shame to my mother and sister - two financial wizards, in my humble opinion. So, I'm gettin' with it.

2) Building a nest egg. While I have some savings, it's certainly not the suggested amount that I'm always reading about. I contribute to my 403(b) (the educator's version of a 401(k)), but I'd also like to be able to maintain a separate account, as well as start some college savings for the little one.

3) Trim the fat. Now it sounds like I'm dieting. Nope, I'm just hoping that with honest analysis comes some solid realizations about my spending. Pretty simple...but easier said than done.

4) Determine the best habits, then make commitments to maintain them. Find out what I'm doing wrong, determine what to do to fix them...then make them part of our lifestyle. And keep it up from there, of course.

So, there are some financial goings-on in my head. I've got a couple of methods that I'm interested in learning more about (as well as some that I'm going to cut out/avoid); one of which I'll be sharing tomorrow. And I truly appreciate having this blog to just blah-blah-blah about this stuff. While I try not to be chained to everything I say here (flexibility and ability to change is a good thing), it does give me a sense of accountability to myself - a positive one, and I like it. So, thanks for reading and thanks further for keeping me in check. Ha! Get it? Check?!


  1. I saw the word finances and had to read this (can you say nerd?). If you need my excellent excel skills, let me know, haha ;). I have set up some serious spreadsheets in the past for budgeting. It's actually pretty interesting to see your own personal income statement (to me anyway).

    On a side note, we use the Chase rewards credit card for most of our expenses and pay it off every month. But they categorize your expenses for you, which is pretty neat. Probably a lot of credit cards do this, but it helps to see what you spend all of your money on. Plus we get rewards every month of anywhere from 20-40 bucks. Pretty sweet in my opinion. But I digress.

    Good luck! :) -Tara D

    1. Thanks for your input, Tara, and for your offer! I've got a couple of spreadsheets that my sister provided me once, but if I need any further help, I'll be sure to give you a shout-out. :-) I really appreciate it!

      As for credit cards, I'll have to put lots of thought into the Chase rewards card. While I've got very little credit card debt (but when I pay it down, I don't plan on adding to it), we're incredibly gun-shy about credit cards in our household. It'll take a change in thinking to consider using one for monthly expenses. :-) But I'm willing to consider anything!!

      Thanks so much for your support! Love ya.

  2. We just talked budget in our home last night 8^) (As for "trimming the fat" I bought Chris a giant coffee mug so that there's no longer a "need" for D'Doughnuts coffee.) We want to get serious about the retirement savings around here this year, too 8^) I look forward to hearing how things go for you guys. I'm cheering you on! 8^D