My wife and I got married at a young age. We had our whole lives ahead of us and we were in no rush at all. Fast forward a year and along comes Jordan. She was, and will always be my greatest asset. However, our medical bills set us back a healthy chunk. We had never really thought about anything other than the now; queue the life changing events!
The goal everyone has is how to create a lifelong plan that will allow them to retire sipping cocktails poolside, hitting the links at Augusta or cruising across the Bahamas. The mind set none of us start out with is how it takes REAL money to get there and money still doesn't grow on trees. This is why my wife and I needed to change our thought processes and develop some of the key habits that will allow us to soak up all the sun when we hit our retirement. The biggest advantage that Beth and I had was our age. We were still “young”. This allowed us to set even the smallest amounts aside and see how much that money would add up to in our long term goal. To our family knowing that $150 a month now meant $359,000 at the agent of 62 helped “adjust our thinking” as my wife puts it. I really want to note that the $150 was NOT easy. In fact, we had to learn another lesson for this along the way.
We are who we are, and we are not going to change overnight. Seems simple right? It was extremely hard for us to not beat up on ourselves when we missed a goal. $25 this week needed to go toward diapers, $40 went toward dogs getting shots, $30 went toward gas as we had to make an extra trip to the office, all the little things that just kept adding up and getting in our way; all the major events that we now have to change and the realization that “oh no I can’t retire at 60 anymore”.
Plan the Plan, work the Plan
This is when we realized that we can’t just fly by without a plan. We needed something that we could see, something that we could work with and something that we could work with if life happened. So we looked all over for budgeting tools, heck I even took a class ($25, oops). About a year of playing with a homemade excel file we found a system that worked really well for us. It allowed us to plan for the important things both now and for our future. It still takes a lot of practice but for the last 14 rolling months we have hit our goal at $150 per month moved into savings.
The key to our successful budget was viewing it consistently, and setting aside time to discuss it. After all, we both had a tendency to see money in the bank and spring for the Starbucks we just passed. We set aside one day a week that we both worked on the budget and discussed our goals. My wife and I then created a “partnership” in the budgeting. Her role was to ensure that the sheets were always balanced and my job was the pre-planning of our expenses. Our discussion days included our near term goals(we are taking a cruise in 6 months), midterm goals(down payment for a house next year) and long term goals(Jordan’s collage). Again, this process is not easy, sometimes the near term items that are wants seem to turn into needs. Be prepared to stumble and pick yourself up. Keep track and set reminders and create buy in from all parties.
As we move forward, I will break out each of the articles into subtopics for quick easy reads.