I tend to get a little obsessive about things. When I first got married, I was really into diet and fitness. I would spend so much time googling it, and reading up on it. It often dominated my thought life. After that phase, I became obsessed with intuitive eating and developing a healthy body image. Next, I jumped on the minimalism and de-cluttering bandwagon. I am still interested in all of the above, but I am no longer obsessed with them. For the past year or so, I have been completely immersed in personal finance. Particularly, I am interested in going hard after my family's financial goals by spending money with intention.
This post isn't really about food, cooking, or meal planning. I want to talk money with you all. I realize that finances are a bit of a taboo topic, but I am very open with them and could talk about finances for days if anyone would listen.
I have always been good with money. I am a natural saver, and I have had money as long as I can remember. As a kid, I saved the majority of my birthday money, my allowance, and any other money I could get. If I wanted something I could always buy it, but I usually didn't because I would rather keep the money in my savings than spend it! I started working at 15 and worked all through high school and University. After getting married, I took a job at the bank and after a couple promotions, ended up doing financial sales. I learned a ton about money, and even more about people.
My interest in money heightened about a year ago for a few reasons. Our household income was the lowest it had ever been, and with the increase in cost of living, and an additional kid (Hi Malcolm!) our expenses were the highest they had ever been. Since Malcolm was born, and I was no longer working and ineligible for EI we needed to change our spending.
I have never been one to be in debt. After Malcolm was born, the couple thousand on our line of credit was the most debt I had ever had besides our mortgage. I saw first hand while working at the bank that owing money doesn't lead to wealth, but quite the opposite. You learn pretty fast when you are in the financial industry that you can't tell how much money people have by outward appearances. It doesn't matter how people dress, what car they drive, or where they live. It doesn't even matter where they work or how much money they make. Wealth comes from the way you handle money. The more intentional you are with your finances, the more you come out ahead. The more you spend the less you have, pretty simple actually.
When we got that tax refund back last year and I had to dump a large portion of it onto that creeping line of credit I knew something had to change. I wasn't ready to start working again, and so began my finance obsession.
It started with a strict budget and paying cash for almost everything. Seriously, we still go to the grocery store with an envelope of cash, and if we don't have enough money, we put stuff back. No credit card, not even a debit card. We are hardcore. I am lucky that Josh gets on board with these crazy obsessions of mine because I know that kind of crazy wouldn't go over well in every household. Paying with cash means we don't spend even a dollar more than we intended, we bring what we plan to spend and walk out with what we can get for it.
Along with the budget and paying cash we started thinking about our financial goals. We want to buy a new home, pay off that mortgage as fast as we possibly can, travel and have fun with the kids and each other, have the ability to pay for our children's education if we choose, save up a ton of cash in our retirement accounts, and be able to give to others generously. Seriously, I have every intention of retiring a millionaire.
If I told you our household income, you would see pretty quickly that these goals are out of our reach. Actually you would probably laugh in my face, but that's okay too! The thing is, that since we have been more intentional with our spending, something has changed. Everything has changed. We have been able to save more already this year than we have the past few years combined, and it's only April. Maybe a lot of those goals seem distant, but buying a house is starting to look possible. Josh is doing school at 5am before work, I have this little side gig - our income is going up, our spending is not.
That being said, we do pay for it. We are frugal, cheap even. We pretty much don't go out to eat ever, and don't buy new clothes unless its a necessity. I even clean almost the entire house with vinegar and baking soda to avoid buying expensive cleaning products!
We aren't lacking anything and we still have a lot of fun. Our kids play sports, have big birthday parties, and dress nice enough. We still go on family trips and spend time together. It isn't that bad, I promise!
After writing all that, I do need to bring food back into this post - this is a meal planning blog after all.
Has anyone else noticed that grocery prices have gone up lately? Maybe it is just us, but food is getting expensive! Our regular grocery trips are no longer fitting into our budget. My family has been faced with the dilemma of spending more money on food and putting less money towards our goals, or figuring out a way to spend less money on food. We are already careful with how much we spend on groceries. Last year I cut our food spending by 30%! Still, when I see the money we spend on groceries every month I can't imagine upping it any more. I plan to spend less money the next few weeks and I want to share my attempts with you. Stay tuned!