I haven’t been writing much about this lately – I’ve been more into exploring intuitive eating. The latter is much more new to me so I guess there’s just more on my mind to talk about. As for personal finance, it’s honestly been on autopilot for awhile. I did a lot of work to get things sorted out and put some great systems in place. As a result, it requires far less attention and headspace from me most of the time.
My 401k contributions are automated and my ING savings transfers happen like clockwork on their own, too. I love this! Cute Man and I are gearing up to go into our house-hunting phase so saving is a big part of this. We need to demonstrate that we can save the difference between our current rent and anticipated mortgage for at least 3 months per our NACA program requirements. I’ve been doing this for awhile now, but CM is beginning this in earnest this month. Previously, his focus was credit card repayment, which he has rocked!
Another thing we’ve got sort of automated, is our vacationing! Say what you will about timeshares, but they cannot be beat for encouraging us to take a full week off. I had serious concerns about the wisdom of that purchase (mostly due to the poor reputations they have), but it has turned out really well. We just got back from our lovely vacation in Orlando, which did not break the bank. Having your own kitchen at a resort is a money saver for sure. Most of our cash went to transportation – we didn’t rent a car, but took shuttles and cabs instead. It probably cost us a bit more this way. I think next time a car would be good. Live and learn!
I’ve also streamlined my spending strategy. For the past few months I’ve been experimenting with a new system. I put everything onto my Amazon Chase Visa. I only use cash or my debit card when I have no choice. I wanted to see if I could smooth out my spending and not be hyper-conscious of what I have to spend paycheck to paycheck, constantly checking balances. I just use my “good judgment” that I have cultivated and buy what I want when I choose to. With the safety of a buffer of savings in the bank, I wanted to see if it would even out. So far, it has! I have not had to dip into saving to cover over-spending even once. This is a victory, for sure.
As long as I can live below my means (automated savings comes out first anyway), I am thrilled with this method. It takes out the stress of constant balance checking and I earn mad points that I can turn into $ to spend at Amazon. As a Kindle owner, this is golden. I have also redeemed them for a gas card that works at the station near my house, too. Very handy. Now that I don’t’ drive as much, I could feasibly not have to pay for my own gas again. Really. I can’t believe they’re basically giving me free money just for using the card for all my purchases. As someone who pays off my balance every month, it is a huge benefit because I’m not paying any interest charges.
In short, things are pretty smooth on the financial front. As I learned the painfully hard way, it’s not how much I earn that matters. It’s setting up my life so that it functions within the parameters of what’s coming in. As two people working at non-profits, CM and I do not make a whole lot, especially for living in an expensive city. We’ve just learned a thing or two about prioritizing what’s important to us and making hard choices. It’s good to know that we can have pretty much anything that we truly need or want – we just can’t have everything that we want. So, the former gets priority and the latter gets indulged within reason.
So now we’re looking into buying a house or condo. This is a whole new world to explore so I will probably be talking a lot about that and soliciting advice as we get into the thick of it. The rest will hopefully continue to take care of itself.