In my house, the “F” word is Finances.

Posted on | February 22, 2012 | 16 Comments

I struggle with money.

If you’d asked me in high school or college if I thought I’d still be living paycheck to paycheck at 34, I would have responded with a wide-eyed “I hope not!” And yet here I am, living paycheck to paycheck and hoping that no one comes along and pulls the rug out from under me or the roof from above me because Lord knows I can not afford a catastrophe right now.  I started thinking about all of this last night and I realized that I don’t like the feeling of not having money tucked away.  I don’t like knowing that if my car needs repairs, I can’t pay for them.  I don’t like feeling like a financial failure.

The thing is, I’ve never really learned how to save.  My parents are amazing and I love them, but they never really taught me the value of a dollar.  I’ve always worked, but I worked to buy silly, frivolous things… not to pay tuition or to save up for a car.  I had everything I ever really wanted handed to me, even if it wasn’t the exact version of my dreams.  I wasn’t handed a brand new BMW when I turned 16… but they did buy me a very old Ford Tempo.  I wasn’t given a trust fund, but my college tuition was fully paid for.

I just never learned what it means to SAVE.

So I’ve decided to do something about it, and I’m posting it here so that you can all help hold me accountable.  My goal? $30,000 in savings in six years.  30k by 40.  It’s a lofty goal.  Some of you will laugh and think “I have that much in my back pocket,” and some of you will laugh and think “No way, no how.” But I’m going to do it.  I want to teach J how to save.  I want to be the kind of parent who can afford to pay for braces if they are needed.  I want to feel like I’m financially okay… even if I’m not 100% secure, that I’m sort of… prepared.

So what it boils down to is this… I have to save about $500 a month to hit $30,000 by the time I’m 40.  This number may vary because of birthday money, Christmas money, and any bonuses I might get between now and six years from now.  I think it’s doable.

I think it’s going to suck.

I hate being broke.  I hate that I have to give up eating out and splurging on gifts for friends.  I hate that I have to avoid buying new clothes for myself or for J and that I have to live on such a tight budget that will allow for groceries and gasoline and very little else.  But I will hate it even more if I raise J to be the kind of man who is constantly worried about where the next dollar will come from.  I will hate even more if J is staring down at 40 and has nothing saved to show for it.

This is going to be a really hard thing to pull off.  But all I keep thinking is this… at the end of six years, I’ll be out of credit card debt, I’ll have a car that is paid off, and I’ll have $30,000 in savings. 

And I think that will make all of the “pain” worth it.


16 Responses to “In my house, the “F” word is Finances.”

  1. Caitlin MidAtlantic
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 2:40 pm

    My advice would be to make sure you are saving money in a meaningful way. Don’t just stick cash under your mattress. Even most “savings accounts” from the bank really aren’t that great. There are some great ways to invest your monthly $500! I promise!

  2. Krista
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 3:00 pm

    I think it’s awesome that you’re talking about it. We have no savings account. Everytime we have a little bit of money saved to start an account, something happens and it’s gone. It’s scary. Like blinding scary. So, good for you and good luck!

  3. Shannon
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 3:18 pm

    I am right there with you. I am 30 and in serious debt and have no savings. Any extra money just seems to disappear. I hope to see updates from you, definitely inspiring and a good goal I’ll be working on myself this year.

  4. Jessica Rachel
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 3:41 pm

    you go girl! once you get the hang of it, saving is addicting. then suddenly you find yourself being cheap about the silliest things.

  5. Heather Griffitts Clark
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 3:46 pm

    You have no idea how timely this post is – not for my husband and I – but us trying to pass this message on to certain of our children. Life is not a free ride and you MUST save. Hang in there, LM, you can do it! (And this is coming from someone head over heels in debt after college and fought back to pay it all off and have $$ in savings).

  6. Cayleyrice
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 4:13 pm

    Good for you. Saving is admirable and do-able if you have decent job (you know, like lawyer). Teaching kids about money is SO important. Other comments mention the pain of saving, but I think healthy spending, like healthy eating (there are lots of similarities, actually) need not hurt. We don’t really need as much stuff as we have (most of us – obviously there are plenty of people in awful financial positions due to very low or no incomes) and life can be just as joyous without those things. Cooking at home can be even more an adventure than eating out. Libraries have just as many books as stores. Kids really only play with a few toys, and little ones don’t care about how many pairs of shoes they have. Also, Cable t.v. is an easy thing to get rid of if you have it and fast internet- you can get everything online for way less than the monthly t.v. bill.

  7. Samantha P
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 4:24 pm

    Totally relate to this. Although I can’t afford to save $500 a month, I would love to follow along with you and put money in savings every month. Its a goal and one that I’ve had a hard time actually following through with!

  8. monk
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 4:53 pm

    i think this is great. and J will learn so much from it.

  9. Mama Fisch
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 7:37 pm

    So, my husband is a financial advisor…clearly we have a savings account! He is great at it, but if I was single, I would really have to work hard at this, set goals and prioritize. Kudos to you lady1

  10. Meredith
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 9:13 pm

    This is a great idea. Have you ever heard of Dave Ramsey or Financial Peace University? If you can find someone to borrow the DVD from, it might be helpful – he has some great tips for getting out of debt, budgeting, and saving. It’s definitely not easy to do, but I agree with you that it’ll be worth the sacrifices.

  11. Kristinayellow
    February 22nd, 2012 @ 10:42 pm

    Very timely post. DH and I just started the Dave Ramsey plan–I was raised to be a saver while he was raised as a spender. We’re both learning how to communicate about money (YUCK) and pick out goals–and hopefully be debt free (minus the house) by next year or so. It’ll be lots of cereal eating and less eating out, more “free” activities instead of memberships and plays, but hopefully this will make our family happier and healthier for life. Lots of luck to you!

  12. Abigail Gorton
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 12:05 am

    Congratulations!!! You will LOVE your saving self! You won’t need to wait 6 years to feel great about it, you will feel great as soon as you start opening statements that are going up every month. So here is my advice / encouragement… Dave Ramsey is great but his niche is getting people who are heavily in debt back to break even. If you are not too in debt right now, you can still read his stuff ,but it may not be quite the map you need. I do advise you to find a fee based or fee only financial adviser. A local one that you have some intellectual chemistry with. Thy can set you up with the right accounts to save into, and they will be good for holding you accountable as well.

    I usually agree with everything you right but I am going to challenge ‘I think it’s going to suck… I hate being broke.’ It will not suck. It will be feel good, sleep-well-at-night wonderful. And the whole point is… savings means you are not broke, because, well… you have savings!

  13. Cari Skuse
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 8:35 am

    Good for you! I’ve tried to do this, but DH is still not on board. We do have IRAs and have a lot of our debt paid off (we have not added any new debt in a long time), but I still hope to do more. I stumbled across the shows by Gail Vaz-Oxlade on MSNBC and they have helped me a lot. Her book is really good too ( ). She shows how to make a budget and stick to it without feeling that you have to give up all the “fun stuff”.
    Good Luck to you! I hope that you reach your goal!

  14. Maija @ Maija's Mommy Moments
    February 23rd, 2012 @ 10:58 am

    I’m cheering you on and thinking about how I could do the exact same thing…

  15. Madonna
    February 24th, 2012 @ 8:32 pm

    I have been trying to be more strict about our budget to pay off some bills and it has been a good feeling. I went back to the cash system for grocery shopping and any eating out. Leftover change is given to E to learn about money and any cash is put in a rainy day account for those days where you feel a splurge (like a trip to the Bounce House).

    You will do amazing and feel great! It will soon become second nature and you will feel in a better place. We will be here with you for the ride as we all try to create our own savings plans.

  16. Beth
    February 24th, 2012 @ 9:36 pm

    LOVE your blog!
    I grew up learning about money the same way. My dad taught me the rule: to always pay off the credit card each month. Well to me, that meant I could spend whatever I wanted (hello Target!) and then just pay it off. Except my husband and I couldn’t figure out where all of our money was going, even with 2 incomes.
    Fast forward a few years and 4 boys later. We completed Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University class online. We are debt free except our house, and are managing to save more money on ONE income while paying for medical benefits than we ever did with two incomes and practically free benefits. It is amazing and so freeing!
    A written budget keeps us accountable – finally we get to tell our money where to go, instead of it just ‘disappearing’. The cash system has also tremendously helped us.
    What a gift to gift to give your son!

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