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Saturday, July 4, 2015

When Life Gives You Lemons...


So, there we were...minding our own business, paying bills, making ends meet, and BAM--we're homeless. Hyperbole aside, it happened over the course of two weeks because our *dripping with sarcasm* super-cool landlord realized that he could rent the house for far more than he was getting from us. 


So, here we are...living with my grandmother in her upstairs apartment, desperately trying to save enough money for my Dear Man, myself, our beautiful baby boy, and our 3 dogs to get a new place.

At first, I was predictably upset and scared, but truthfully, it's not all bad. In fact, there are a few very important lessons I've learned as a result of this upheavel:

1. Stop romanticizing and buckle down
2. Income minus future planning equals "actual" income
3. Enjoy each moment for what it is, not what you want it to be
4. "More" makes you tired, not happy


Lesson 1: Stop Romanticizing and Buckle Down


While we were living in our rental property, we behaved as though we were going to live there forever. We didn't overly worry about savings, we made repairs to the house out-of-pocket, and we planned for a life we couldn't realistically afford. Our finances--and our dreams--needed a harsh wake up call. Ideas do not equate to ownership, and are useless without a solid plan to achieve your goals.

Lesson 2: Income - Future Planning = Actual Income


Yes, what you just read is correct. Dear Man owns his own "Start-Up" business for which he cannot yet take a salary, so we decided to only take my income into account. In the interest of transparency, my income is divided between 3 part-time jobs (preschool teacher, program coordinator for a local non-profit, and church nursery worker), and totals $2,200 for 10 months out of the year. The 2 months that preschool is on Summer Vacation, I only make $1,300 per month. 

What's the equation all about? I decided that we would pay ourselves first.

Right now, $100 per month will go to building our $1,000 emergency fund. An additional $400 per month goes to our standard 3-6 month emergency fund. Right now, Sweet Baby's savings account is comprised of all of our $1 bills and change that we scrape together and deposit at the end of every month. Doing the math, that means we don't have $2,200 to work with, but rather $1,700 ($800 in my Summer months). This is a big shout-out to Dave Ramsey and David Bach who outlined simple, logical, doable plans for the Average Joe who wants to live without financial fears.

That's Us!!!

Lesson 3: Enjoy Each Moment For What It Is


Fun and relaxation are now an important, and coveted commodity in our home. Whether we're talking about a free community event, or a chance for a family outing to the grocery store, it's not just the mindless spend-fest it used to be. Our son is 11 months old--big and beautiful--and all I want is for him to grow up happy. So maybe some of this living in the present is related to guilt that we feel, but who cares? In the end, he's only going to see how hard his parents worked, how grateful they were for the work, and how much he is loved.

Lesson 4: More Makes You Tired, Not Happy


My typical day before we moved consisted of taking my son to Preschool with me, having my Mom watch him while I went into the non-profit office for a few hours, pick up my son, cook dinner/play with Daddy, put Sweet Baby to bed, and crash. Guess what? Nothing's changed, except for my attitude. Now I care and appreciate the time with my son, the work that provides us with money for food, and the family that has supported us through our challenges.

Working towards shared family goals (financial or otherwise) is energizing!

We take great pride in watching our debt decline, our savings increase, and our lives declutter. Each month, we grow stronger as a family and take a few steps towards the future we want.

CHALLENGE: This week, think about whether or not you are putting your family first. If you aren't saving the way you want, is there a bill you don't need? If you don't spend enough time together, is there an activity you don't need?


Thank you for reading.

Sincerely,

Your Devoted Friend

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