Monday, January 9, 2012

January Ramblings

I used to fight routines like crazy. I felt constricted by them, but over the last couple years they've become my lifesaver. I don't stick to them exactly but I use them as a general guide to keep me on track. Last year my theme was getting my home in order. I wanted it to look nice and run smoothly all the time, not just when guests come ;) I still have a long way to go, but I'm getting so much better at it. Really I have to give credit to my friend for repeatedly pushing me towards Wow, the baby steps from Fly Lady makes it like a game and breaks it down into small steps so it's easy and fun to plan, clean and de-clutter. My mantra through the whole thing was "Maintain and Add a Little". When I'd feel behind and overwhelmed I'd tell that to myself over and over and I'd have a little more hope.

Now that we're all moved in and Christmas is cleaned up and put away I've been feeling a new burst of energy and a new theme coming on. This year is time to tackle the finances. Ben's graduated to a big boy job now, so it's time to face our student loans head on. There are two parts to that. First of all the know-how... a.k.a. knowing what order and how much we'll need to pay while still planning and saving for the future. 20 years from now I don't want our only financial accomplishment to be that we're finally back to zero! Secondly the means to do so. Ben loves his job, but he definitely did not choose it because of its amazing earning potential. From the very beginning we knew his happiness in a career would be more important than being rich.

So the way I see it, we have a couple of options; either spend less or earn more. With so many young children my job has been to work on the spending less portion. So Tori told me about a book she read in her high school finance class, The Richest Man in Babylon. I thought it sounded cool, so I picked it up from the library along with Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover. I finished the first already and am a quarter of the way through the next and I love it! What I liked so far:
  • Save 10% of your income (this is repeated over and over again). So you can have "a couple of gold coins to rub against one another."
  • Live on only 70% of your income
  • Use the remaining 20% to put toward your debts
  • Put your savings to work so that it earns and its earnings earn
  • Finances are 80% behavior and 20% know-how
  • Debt is not necessary, and it is possible to have all the luxuries and be debt-free.
I would STRONGLY recommend both of these books! Wow, I'm looking at finances in a whole new light. I'm also realizing all the lies that have become acceptable about debt and financing. As well as all the bad information and advice that gets passed around even by myself. You hear things enough and you figure they're true, whether they are or not... scary.

So this year's mantra is "No Time Like the Present!" I'm working on the know-how, refining my budget and going to the "Cash Method" of paying for things. So in order to make it a little more FUNctional, I made these cute envelopes:

I made them by taking a regular envelope, sealing it shut, and cutting off the two sides just below the width of the bills. They were easy to label and fit in my wallet so I don't fall back to my card.

This morning someone mentioned that when you have a plan and it's what God wants, He helps make it happen. Well managing our money would only take care of half the problem, and I knew one key to this being successful was for me to supplement our income and my goal was to start work in January. I hadn't decided what it would be yet, but in the last 3 weeks I've had 3 different opportunities come up where I could earn some money. One of those was a woman wanting to hire me to decorate and help furnish her home. I'm really excited and kind of nervous too. I'm so grateful I have a skill that can help others and provide for our family, but I'm nervous about being able to balance. Before I get too deep I'm trying to make a plan so that I can have the right kind of focus towards work and keep my family and home first priority.

I'm excited about the prospects of my business starting again, but I also know I want to do things a little different this time. I want to offer more of the whole package, while still specializing in window treatments, but I don't want to sew my own. I know that here in Dallas I'll have every resource available to me, I'm just not sure where they are or how exactly I'll find them. I just feel so blessed to have this fall into my lap. Word of mouth is the only way I've gotten business before and it's been the best and I know this is the beginning. It will snowball out from here and I just need to make sure I have the plan in place so I don't get trapped into it taking over my life.

So these are the things going on in my brain these days. Family, Home, Kids School, Finances, Work. It's good to be alive and it's nice to know that God is watching over us. We may have approached this the stupid way, but it was right for us and we're being blessed because of it. "My strength is as the strength of ten because my heart is pure." -- Tennyson


Wendy said...

So excited to try it too!!! I will find a way to make it work in my situation as well. Love the envelops and am way excited to start reading!!!

Tara Priddis said...

This is crazy....But we have been doing the same thing!!! I have to be honest, I haven't cut up my credit card yet because honestly it SCARES me to death to not have that security. But I know that we will get to the point that I won't need that as security.

Kara said...

Hi there! Thanks for sharing this post. I've been working on the same things-- ordering my home and finances-- so it's great to hear about the resources you've found. My favorite tool has been YNAB (You Need A Budget) it's a simple finance software that focuses on the budget side of things and can be used to track cash as well as bank accounts. We also like it because it's not online, so you're not giving out your acct. info. I really love it.

Anyway, it was great to get caught up on your family and see your home in TX. I'm seriously so impressed that you're already unpacked! Take care and keep in touch!