I'm in the middle of a two week vacation from the hurriedness of work. The first week was spent celebrating Christmas like crazy, with every possible branch of the family. This week is going to be downright Zen by comparison. I've been taking this quiet time to do some long term thinking about my life and how I'd like to spend it and money is part of this thinking. Before some of you get all social justicey on me and say "Trista, you have committed your life to the nonprofit sector and to eliminating economic injustice, money is just a tool of the Man. You don't need that!" Let me just say, yes I do! I'll even add yes, you do, too. I do the work that I do because I love it, not because of the paycheck. But if I don't have my financial house in order it increases the amount of time that I am stressed about money and makes it more likely that I make career and life decisions based on dollars and not based on passion or where I can make the biggest difference.
So I've been getting my money right for the last few days. I've been using Mvelopes for the last few years for proactive budgeting (you set aside money for specific purposes before you spend it) and I just started using Mint.com to look at the bigger picture of our income and liabilities. Yesterday I took the next step and developed a ten year financial plan for our family. Yes, I know that is so nerdy of me and is making many of your cringe at my over planning, but whatever. Ten years gives me a clearer picture of the big things that we are working towards and makes small steps to reach those goals much more manageable. It also helps me and my husband stay on the same page when it comes to giving up small purchases now for big payoffs in the future.
Our plan includes our top 5 goals for the next 10 years, along with charts that help us track our progress on those goals. Here are the things that make the physical plan work for me:
- It includes accounts and hints on usernames and passwords so I can easily update
- The plan only needs to be pulled out once a year to update and to change our current financial practices to meet the goals (e.g. increase amount we put into 401K)
- It doesn't just include dollar goals, it also includes things that get us excited like becoming a benefactor to causes that we are passionate about (more on this in different post)
- It includes pictures because it is more likely that I will look at it if it's pretty (I love Mac Pages software)
I spent a lot of time in the past ignoring my financial state because I thought that the more I knew, the more stressed I would be. I have finally come to a place where I understand that ignorance is not bliss and that how I spend the money that comes into my life is an important part of who I am and how I want to change the world.
What are you tips for getting your money right?