Day 706: Big Money Mojo

My wife has come up with a pretty great plan to get us financially on track for 2019, which is, well, pretty great. As mentioned. We’re going to be properly budgeting again — which I welcome — and I think 2018 has been a bit of a “got job, get stuff” year, but it’s equipped us well for a more austere 2019 and saving up for a kitchen renovation kind of dealie. 

Which I welcome. Finances have always been an Achilles heel around here, and money is a BIG stressor. It can’e be overstated as an Important Thing in an overall life plan. 

I’m not going to share it here — it’s hers, first of all, and I don’t have permission — but I appreciate that she came up with it, and am genuinely excited to be executing it at the start of the year. We’ve been pretty good, all things considered — we spent a bit more than either of us would have liked, for instance, on vacation last week, but still stuck to a rental car and day trips, not like a cruise or a week-long sojourn in Spain, or whatever. We’re living within our means, not accruing a ton of debt, but not saving as much as we’d like. 

So with a modest kitchen reno as a 2020 goal (which is also a bit of a reinvestment in the house), it’s a good time to tighten belts and start turning saving into a game. That kind of thing always sounds like Seymour Skinner in my head, but it’s still a good way to approach things. 

Day 555: Family Business

It’s good to be well married.

Things happen; and we’re definitely in a things are happening moment right now. But I think it’s been a good case study in communicating and coping: in this household we’ve been having some frank and sometimes difficult conversations about our finances and families.

We’re fine, in case anybody is worried. There’s some ultimately solveable problems in the extended family, and we’re going to solve those problems. The important thing is we’ve been talking it out and working toward a consensus in our house before we look outward.

It’s not the calmest seas ahead, but much more navigable when you’ve got two co-captains who are charting the course together. Is that a good metaphor? Let’s pretend it’s a good metaphor.

 

Day 390: Money Terrifies Me

I don’t talk about finance much here, because it scares the living hell out of me. Partly because I don’t have a head for it, partly because I was raised with values that don’t elevate money, partly because I’m not good at money.

It makes me tremendously anxious to think about it. I have a very modest amount of retirement savings. Enough that there could be emergency funds if something were to happen, but way not enough for any long-term situation. Certainly not where I “should be” on the arc to retirement.

Some of this is circumstance surrounding jobs and the household. Some of it is making kind of penny-smart, pound-foolish choices… we’re great at saving money day to day, but also lapse into periodic extravagance.

I feel like this is the kind of thing I could lean into, but… well, meh? 

It’s also something that’s hard for me to seize on as, well, interesting. 

Definitely something I need to pay more attention to as a stressor, though. It’s an ambient source of pressure; and like physical health, diet, work stress… something that is a precursor to bad behaviour and bad headspace.

I just don’t want to think about it.

So here’s what I’m’a do right now:

  • Set up an automatic transfer of money from my monthly pay to a TFSA;
  • Set a calendar reminder to pay bills every week;
  • Move money from the TFSA to an RRSP every week so I can’t deke money back out.

I think I need to back into a saving position that I can’t back out of. Our belts are reasonably tight, but I’m getting edgy, and doing something definite will help in the short and long terms.

Forcing it might be short-term stressful, but long-term beneficial. I’m sure somebody has figured out how to gamify all this stuff, but… I’m not sure I’d love that game.

 

Day 297: Routine Maintenance

More or less a “things are fine” update today — the one hiccup I’m having right now is I keep forgetting to turn my phone alarm on and bring it upstairs — I should modify the nightly checklist.

Work’s been going well, the New Normal routine is fine (after three days, let’s not get cocky). The one last piece of the puzzle is financial health.

This doesn’t come up on the podcast. But if we’re looking for stressors, the things causing the issues that make me do dumb stuff, money’s on the list.

So the two adds to the checklist are: get the phone alarm sorted, and financial check-in. That last one’s gonna hurt. But avoiding the issue isn’t going to help, so there it is.

Finance ho! This is going to be an interesting addition to things.

 

Day 268: Family and Finance

It’s no news that family can be stressful, and money can be stressful. I’m lucky to have inlaws who are open and ready to talk about these things. But there’s a shared stress away, with a recent death in my wife’s family, and a lot of open questions that are hard to answer.

Obligation, and shared obligation, is a tricky thing. There’s a lot of navigation of people’s choices versus their circumstances, and when you only get to see people face to face once a year or less, it’s hard to have conversations.

So today’s brief road update: some exercise this morning, a short run; doing okay on food, sobriety on lock, sleep is meh but we’re trying our best. Which is all you can do sometimes. I’d love to say everything is 100%, but the finance stuff is kind of tricky. And that’s not a solveable problem as much as an ongoing situation to manage.

 

Day 257: Money Stress

I don’t talk about money much, partly because I was just kind of raised that way,  partly because we’re… okay. Not amazing, financially, but I’ve got a decent job. My wife’s been out of work for a while, which is what it is, but we’re… fine, basically. We live cautiously (no car, no cable, budget) and kind of treat the mortgage like our entertainment budget (we love our house).

But even though we’re in Canada, my wife’s American, and it’s pretty amazing how the tentacles of America’s bonkers health care system can reach out to strangle you.

My father-in-law has been ill for a while, but insurance apparently ran out a while ago, and he’s recently had a number of crises. I’m not sure what the financial picture is for my inlaws, but it’s… bleak.

So last night we were both up a bit, feeling… precarious. Obviously there’s a lot of worry and concern and sympathy for our family, but the feeling of wanting to help, but knowing you literally can’t is tremendously distressing. Powerless and small.

Needless to say not a lot of sleep last night, which has thrown me off my exercise game.

Feeling very fortunate today, in terms of our personal health and relative financial stability. But there’s a cloud; a cloud that will probably not be going away any time soon.

In a weird way, this is reinforcing: keep up with good habits, personal and financial. Exercise, diet, wellness in general are all good moves in terms of financial security. Staying fit and healthy is cheap, ultimately. It minimizes the expenses you can’t control by minimizing the risk of expensive crap happening to you.

Sobriety is a move that ticks all those boxes. Immediately good, financially. And long-term good, financially: health, sound decision-making, etc.

But even making all the right moves doesn’t mean that the outside world isn’t going to reach in. Going to be some rough patches ahead.