Saturday, March 7, 2009

My Priorities

I feel good about myself most of the time because I'm to a point in my life where I know what I want, most of the time.

Basically it comes down to:

1. Happy marriage
2. Healthy Muffy
3. Comfortable life
4. Baby pursuits

If something gets in the way of these, then it needs to get handled. I want to have a baby, but I'm not going to screw up the rest of my life to get one.

That comfortable life thing can be tricky. Basically, I mean that we have a house and we each have a car (a necessity around here) and we eat well and other basics.

We have debt, but it is all house related. We work very actively to lessen that number every month. But otherwise we try to live by the rule: if we can't pay for it now, then we don't need it.

Eventually, I will need a new car. I drive a 1998 Altima. It's a good car. It has more than 150,000 miles on it, but I bet it will easily put on another 50,000 no problem. So, basically, I can stand to drive that car, and I will until it either dies, or I have a reason to get a new car. The only acceptable reason to get a new car at this time is that I'm pregnant and upgrading to a safer car. We've already saved up a down payment for a new car for me (we're being optimistic about pregnancy), and will take out a loan if we need to so that we have a safe ride for our family. But till then, it's just not necessary.

We allow ourselves to eat out once a week. With our waist lines we probably shouldn't eat out more often than that anyhow.

We save money at home a few ways. For instance, we don't use paper towels anymore. We keeps a giant stack of kitchen rags and wash them weekly with the other towels. We haven't bought paper towels in at least 6 months, it's a little thing, but 6 months of paper towels adds up. (We do keep a roll on hand for the really messy stuff: cat vomit, but thankfully, Muffy's tummy has been kind to us lately.)

I made almost all of the drapes and window treatments in our house. I do have a taste for nice things and wanted silk drapes. Those would have cost a fortune, so I decided to buy the material and make them myself. The materials weren't cheap, but I know doing that saved us tons on those. They aren't perfect, but they impressed my neighbors.

We also don't pay for TV. When we bought our house we were upset to find out that the cable didn't run down the street to our house (although the seller said it did), but the digital transition was on the horizon and we decided to take advantage of it. We have a full sized antenna hidden in our attic and it connects into the house's cable (so no rabbit ears here). We bought a fancy digital converter box (way before the govt. coupons) and our box has an HDD and DVD burner. It's like Tivo, but it's free so that makes it better. As soon as the govt. coupons came out, we used them to get cheapo boxes for the other TVs in the house. It's absolutely great. We don't miss all those channels that we would pay for and never watch. And, so many shows are on the internet for free these days, so again, why pay for them? And the best part is that we don't just mindlessly sit in front of the TV. There are many days around here where the TV isn't even turned on. I, however, cannot say the same for the internet.

We do have a Netflix subscription, that's our entertainment. It's something we can enjoy together and see the movies we actually want to see. But we have agreed that would will give it up in a second if we need that money for something else.

And when it comes to other stuff, we don't buy it unless we really need it. That's why I had a 7 year old computer till it died. Would I have liked to have a new computer? Yes, but I just didn't need one. And, yes, I have an old cellphone, but plenty of people still carry phones like mine around, so you would never know. I would love to have an iPhone or a Blackberry, but I'm not willing to pay an extra $30 per month for the privilege.

Keeping our priorities in line has kept us on target with our other goals in life. We have a reserve cash fund to pay at least 6 months worth of bills. We have a down payment for car in the bank and hopefully we can add to that, maybe even enough to buy a car with cash. We contribute to our 401ks (not that those are doing so hot right now). We tithe at church. And we can afford fertility treatments and acupuncture. So I don't mind carrying around an old cellphone.


Anonymous said...

You know, if all of America used your plan there would be NO bailouts needed!

Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

You guys are doing a great job! There is something really satisfying about living within your means. I don't have the newest car, or the biggest house, or an iphone, or a new computer, but our mortgage payment is really low and somehow we are managing to pay for injectable cycles. That is our priority right now.

Hillary said...

That's awesome! I love how you said as much as you want to have a baby, it can't interfere with the other priorities in life.

Michelle said...

I think it's great and if more people did this, there wouldn't be as many issues with the country right now.
I like your idea about the paper towels. In our house, we end up using a lot and I'm slowly trying to phase that out.

The Wife said...

I think it's great that you are able to stay responsible. It has to help in these times. I've always been a spender, but I also don't spend money I don't have (money that goes to bills is not mine). Also, the Husband is a master saver and planner so that helps.