Thursday, March 17, 2011

Better Than Marriage Counseling

We did premarital counseling and it was a great investment. We knew it wasn’t our job to change the other person. The fact that my sweetie hated peas, mushrooms, camping, beets, sweet potatoes, changing the oil, succotash, baked beans, bird watching, Mexican food, being late, sushi, Moussaka, and wearing shorts or sandals even in the hottest weather, was not that big of a deal. Really.

Still, after we tied the knot, a few oddities showed up. Dear Hubbie hates fixing things, and comes to quick conclusions. I love noodling something out, and ponder every possibility before making a decision. D.H. was a money burns a hole in your pocket kind of guy, I was, for lack of a better word, a skinflint. After the initial shock, we’ve come to appreciate the differences. And we’ve learned from each other.

During the early budgeting years we added one category that’s saved us a ton of strife and discouragement, even during the leanest of times. Sort of like the steam vent on a pressure cooker. We’ve labeled it “Personal Mad Money”.

In our budget, every category is covered, directed savings included. And every paycheck we get our P.M.M. in cash. $5. To do with whatever our little ol’ hearts desire no questions asked. For $20 a month we save untold marriage counseling fees. That’s the kind of bargain I can wrap my head around.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

You Is Here

The story goes of a traveling salesman lost in back roads. He sees a young boy, stops the car, rolls down the window, and says, “Son, I’m lost and need to get to such and such a place. If you could tell me where I am, I could check the map and figure out how to get there.”

The boy looks up, astonished, “Sir, you is here.”

Starting from where we are is basic to any endeavor. The widow faced with her creditor was asked, “What do you have in the house with you?” And though God made all things ex nihilo, and can do it again any time He pleases, it’s not the normal way of things.

Where are your finances? What are your skills? Your personal connections? Your stuff? Your energy levels?

How can you get the best bang for the buck? Like the fellows given the minas, if you work with what you have in hand, you receive more to work with later, but if you shove it under a bush in a napkin, it all gets taken away.

So where are you?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Super Saver’s Dirty Little Secrets

Everyone knows someone who’s always late for an event. They have good excuses. “I’m sorry, the tire fell off my car.” or “I forgot to feed the cat.” Non-savers are the same, there’s always a reason why they’re fishing quarters from under the sofa cushions before payday. “My kids gag when I serve leftovers, so I had to order pizza.” or “This was a once in a lifetime trip to Monte Carlo.”

Well, get over it! Buck up! The most efficient way to tackle it is head on. Make it a game if that helps. Remember when you used to hold your breath underwater? Like that. See how long you can go without buying something. I double dog dare ya!

1) Take an axe to your budget, separate needs and wants. Be honest now. A car may be necessary for work, but a brand new Buick sedan? Not.

2) Plan for contingencies. Allow yourself breathing room in the areas of time and money. Set up a cushion fund, and only tap into it when the situation is dire.

3) Give every dollar a job. Tell it where to go. Be a grownup. You’re the Big Boss now.

4) Squirrel away windfalls. Anytime a little extra comes your way, birthday money, a long lost rebate check, a quarter on the street, put it into a special fund. And no peeking!

5) Do the old dieter’s trick. Plan your splurges. Savor that warm cookie, let those chocolate chips melt and buttery morsels crumble on your tongue. But don’t say, “If one is good, ten is better.”

6) Take the long view. There will be glitches, but get back in the ring and keep punching.

So there you have it. The not so secret secrets. "Live long and prosper."