The Best Things in Life Are Free. But You Can Give Them to the Birds and Bees.

This is not true. Do not give the best things to the birds and bees. I don’t want money. Well, I mean I do (employer, don’t keep my paycheck!) but I’m not looking for more exactly. I’m looking to be smarter with my money.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m obsessed but I do go through phases where I am particularly…intense about our finances. It starts the same way every time. I start wondering how we could be more engaged and aware of our financial choices. Are we making the best choices? Are we saving enough? How’s that 401K looking?

Then I start asking everyone I know how they do their finances. How do you budget? What resources do you use to guide your choices? How do you and your partner discuss and make these decisions? When you’re looking at debt versus savings how do you prioritize?

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I don’t have ideas of retiring at 35 or paying off our mortgage next year or something else lofty and outrageous. I don’t want to us to sacrifice having fun and living comfortably. With my recent”obsession” into finance I’ve checked out some rather extreme financial lifestyles, particularly Mr. Money Mustache and The Frugalwoods. I also recently peeked at The Power of Thrift, the blog of a lawyer who retired in mid-thirties. These are not our destiny. Even if I was on this path, I think I’d be very much on my own! They do; however, provide some inspiration and helpful tips.

The most practical thing to do when thinking financially is obviously a budget. I’ve recently started using You Need a Budget (YNAB) at the suggestion of my friend Chrissy (check out her blog post on YNAB and finances). I can’t say it’s changed my life yet (although I’ve been told repeatedly that it will) but I did spend a few hours yesterday crunching numbers and creating some goals for our household which left me feeling pretty empowered. I’ve tried using the traditional excel spreadsheet and other websites like Mint.com but never felt like I had a very good handle on things. I’m hopeful YNAB will be a good tool to be more engaged with our money as well as more proactive about our goals.

I feel strongly that Tyler and I are doing well for ourselves BUT I have also learned from both life and my parents that financial stability is something you work for. You cannot be a  passive spectator and expect things to work out the way you want. It takes planning and a awareness. I don’t want to wonder whether or not we can retire when we approach that stage. Ideally, we will never be in the situation where we are left wondering how we are going to pay for an emergency. We will be prepared for rainy days. This isn’t something we can really guarantee but it is something we can strive for.

So here’s to adulting and financial preparedness! Oh, dirty thirty- you are so damn practical.

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