Thursday, February 17, 2011

Its a system that works - for us

Years ago, when Hubby and I were freshly married,  I was in charge of the bills.  It usually involved juggling, cursing, and hedging;  pay this creditor this month, that creditor next month...only the minimums.  We were getting nowhere fast, and I was failing miserably at using credit cards, so eventually,  he took over.  I figured, it was for the best - the man had a double major in economics and finance.    I had no idea what I was doing anyway...  His mantra was "You can't spend what you don't have".  We had to learn that very painful lesson for real after the second baby came along and we were buried under a mountain of debt.  Sending me back to school almost cost us our house, not to mention our sanity.  
 Rustown Art

Slowly, we dug out of the hole...but he was letting the job of bill paying slip...and we were starting to incur late fees..which gripe me no end - sending extra money on top of a bill that we were able to pay to begin with!  After the umpteeth month in a row of him not balancing the checkbook, I took over the task again.  I trimmed a lot of fat from our budget, canceled several accounts, and with effort, over time, our credit score is healthy and so are our finances.  The only debt we carry is our house and vehicles, and soon, maybe this year, one more car will be paid off...leaving two more to go...and here is some of what I do:

*We pay off all debt monthly and do not carry debt on anything that won't save our lives.  Eating out does not save your  life.  Nor do fun electronics. We have had to learn restraint!
*We use money management software to log and track expenses - daily.  I pay ourselves first by transferring money to savings and a retirement account.
*When I get a bill, I mark on it the day I'm going to pay it, then put it in date order in a clip on the desk.  I also log it into the program, so I know the money is spoken for.  I no longer mail bills, saving myself postage and possible theft of my bank account via check routing number.
*I harp on my hubby and remind him to tighten his belt, slow his spending.  I try to do the same.  If we want something, we give it careful consideration.  Whereas, in our youth, if we wanted it, we would buy first, justify later...  Now, the bar is set higher.
More Rustown Art

After 25 years, our system has brought us to a place we can feel more secure about - not worrying about what will get paid this month, and having a little left over to save for retirement and send a couple kids to college.  But it was a hard-won lesson, for sure!  And one I hope I can share with my kids so that they get off on the right financial foot...


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