My husband and I have had some major financial changes in the last two years that have forced us to examine our finances, our financial habits and to be really honest with ourselves and each other about where we “are” financially.
I have a ‘good’ job; which I define as a job that I enjoy, that is relatively secure, pays very well and is flexible. My DH had a similar job, except that he was incredibly dissatisfied and unhappy in his work. Two years ago he decided to leave security behind and partner up with someone in a private enterprise. One year later, that partnership had fizzled and we were left to decide whether to buy that company or start our own. Add to that situation the birth of our first baby and a one year maternity leave for myself, and you get a very precarious financial situation. We survived it by having a substantial savings buffer. Now I’m back to work, the buffer does not exist and we have spent the last three months working REALLY hard on our relationship and financial accountability together. It nearly stripped us apart, but we survived it and have learned a lot.
I’d like to pass this learning on to you, my dear readers (who have yet to hatch in the internets, but I know you will).
Here are my top financial tips:
1. Save a $1000 buffer – no matter who you are or how much money you make, do this before doing ANYTHING else. This $1000 could be what keeps you afloat in times of unexpected things.
2. Write down your top 3 financial goals for the current year (e.g., paying off line of credit, saving $xxx, etc.) and review them often.
3. Create a budget and track your spending for 3 months. This will give you a really clear understanding of where your money is going. While it might sound tedious at first, you’ll probably be surprised by a few lines in your budget.
4. Start a mututal fund contribution and contribute whatever you can ($10 even). Increase this contribution as your financial situation changes- you’ll be surprised how quickly this account grows without you even noticing.
5. Start using coupons and flyers. Our family eats a lot of fresh, whole foods that aren’t covered by coupons, but we do watch the flyers and I WILL make special trips to stores to pick up a $1 pineapple. It try to make it a rule that there is at least 3 deals that I want at each store.
6. Meal Plan- this sounds like such a time consuming or trivial thing, but trust me. You’ll save money on groceries, time and wasted food.
7. Take inventory of the things that you have and make a rule that 1-in equals 1-out. Most people already have “enough stuff”, so make yourself a rule that if you buy something new, it’s only to replace something old that you no longer need and will discard of. This stops a lot of impulse buys for us.