January 19, 2012

Sharing the Wealth: Where to begin?

When I look back on what made this financial goal one we could achieve when others have failed, I realize that there is one thing that made this time different. It is the thing that made our goal something we worked for every day with very few setbacks. It is what we lacked in the past when we have tried to save money or pay off a bill.

It is a pretty big secret. You ready??? The big, amazing, highly sophisticated thing we finally got right waaaaaassssss (drumroll please)...

We actually set a goal. 

What, you thought it would be more exciting? Sorry! 

But, seriously. When I look back at what has made us so successful the past few months in our saving and bill paying mission, it is our goals that have made the difference.

And here is what I have learned:

Whoa, dream big! (and then find a way to make that your goal)

For Juno's stepmom, it was Weimaraners (If you don't get this reference, that makes me sad). For me, it was becoming a stay at home mom. I think that the fact that we were so passionate about this goal is what made it something for which we were willing to make significant lifestyle changes. Rather than just having something on paper that looked like a good financial decision, we had something with emotion attached to make sure it always stayed a priority. We never thought of what we were doing as "paying off bills and putting money in savings". We always thought of it as "making it so that Brandy can stay at home with the kids".

While not every necessary financial goal has emotion built-in to it like ours, I think you can find a way to put the emotion in it. For example, as we work to continue building our emergency fund after I am not longer working, I think I am going to make it our goal that we never again have to panic about a surprise expense. The finance based goal of a certain dollar amount that we want in the savings account is necessary and helpful. But, to actually imagine a world where a phone call from the mechanic telling us that our simple oil change is turning into a huge shop bill doesn't ignite a minor panic attack is what will really keep us motivated. Will I ever be excited about that phone call? Heh! Of course not! But, it will be nice for it to be an unfortunate check to write instead of something that we will lose sleep over.

Momma goals need baby goals

Throughout everything, we constantly have our main goal in mind. But, no matter how committed we were to those goals, we needed "baby goals" and milestones along the way to keep us encouraged.

There were times where we felt like it was going to be forever before the day would come where "going to work" meant getting up and planning my day with my kids. It were those little milestones that kept us going. For us, we had milestones each time we paid off a card. Another thing that we would achieve that would help keep us going were the little mini missions that we had. These were our mini goals for changes in our spending that needed to change to reach our ultimate goal.

One good example of this would be Christmas. We were absolutely determined to pay cash for Christmas this year. We have never put a crazy amount on credit for Christmas, but we usually have some bills looming over us come January. We knew that this is something that isn't going to be an option for us anymore when we go to one income. We broke down our budget and figured out exactly how much we needed to save and what we needed to do to save toward that goal. When our Christmas shopping was done and I knew that it had all been paid for, this was a huge accomplishment for us. We proved to ourselves that this is something we can handle. Not only Christmas, but we knew that we could identify a financial need and take the proper action and make the appropriate sacrifices to meet that need. This was a huge boost that really helped give us momentum to make it to the SAHM finish line!

You're always on my mind

Something that was instrumental to this goal actually making its way to reality was the fact that it was the center around every decision we made, big or little. When we decided we needed to buy a bigger vehicle, we thought "How does this purchase work into our long term goal?" This lead us to purchasing an older van that we knew we could afford on one income. Yes, it is obvious that a big purchase like this should take your goals into consideration. But those weren't the only times we would use these goals to make a decision.

I think what had the most impact was that we had our goals in mind when we made even the smallest purchases. When I would be a great kids clothing sale, I gave a lot more thought to what I was purchasing than I ever had. Yes, that shirt may be a great deal at $2, and it may be perfect for Jameson. But, does he need another shirt? No, he has plenty. Am I willing to put myself $2 further from staying at home for that shirt? No.

As simple as it sounds, we could not have made it this far if we hadn't sat down and decided what our goals were and how hard we were willing to work for them. This summer, my favorite money saving blog www.moneysavingmom.com, posted this quote. It is a quote that I constantly have on my mind and has truly made an impact on my daily decisions:

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Brandy :)

1 comment:

  1. Who doesn't love Juno? Seriously, one of the BEST movies I have ever seen. : )