I can’t believe the year mark is quickly approaching on this project! Last night we sat down and completed our tax return and took a moment to reflect. We still have a couple more payments to make before we hit our final calculations on saving but I can tell you that without even doing the math on earning and saving our biggest bank account is education and experience. We have learned so much!
From coupons to budget freezing; scaling down and maximizing use; trial and error at-home remedies and dozens of family date-nights-in rather than expensive-evenings-out… our family has learned to turn the stress of spending a dollar into the value of time together at little to no cost. I can honestly say that this project has brought Brent and I closer, helped us demonstrate (even more) the value of family over money to our children and ultimately helped us to make smarter choices with our money. While we may not yet have the final cost-cuts and savings totals; and sure there were some hard choices made along the way, we are better educated about how we spend our money and what we value.
When we began we were living literally, less than paycheck to paycheck. We weren’t guilty of making horrible choices but we needed to learn to make better ones. What we were guilty of was not paying enough attention to our cash flow. We needed to know where our money was going. I recently read this great article about the value of our income and how we wouldn’t not ask questions about the traffic flow of individuals coming in and out of our home so why would we ever fall into the trap of not asking questions about the cash flow of funds in and out of our bank account? With that being said, being consumed and absorbed by every little cost, for me, was unhealthy. I was obsessing and our communication on finances needed some internal mediation. We needed to find a balance between healthy saving and healthy spending. It remains a work in progress. Another year (or more) in the works for sure; but learning from our past mistakes and evaluating the kind of life we are trying to provide for our family and most importantly, demonstrating to our children healthy money management, is key for us.
While we wait to see where the final pieces will fall, I share my most valuable lesson and a mantra that hasn’t changed much in this project but has more been validated. I don’t ever want to be complacent with our finances. Comfortable? Perhaps. Cushioned? No. I don’t ever want to get to a point where I lose value of our hard work. I don’t want to live to work. Earning top dollar means very little to me. I’ve always said even if I won the lottery I would keep working, because I love to work. I love being a working mother, I love having this balance. For ME, it is the best way I can provide and contribute to raising our children on all accounts. The thought of losing sight and never having to worry about money? To some this is a huge goal, but interestingly enough, it’s not one for me. I fear the moment I forget the value of a dollar because I will inevitably lose sight of the hard work and lessons that went in those 100 pennies earned. At that point a spiral of blindness will spark. I will start to lose sight of myself, my goals and even that piece of my Dad living at my core because this was one of the first fundamental lessons he taught me. I want my children to share the value and perspective of finding balance and if I am being really honest, there is even a part of me that what’s them to find that for themselves. Struggle a little bit. Know and appreciate all that we have done for them and more importantly find what they are capable of doing for themselves. In the end, we can’t take money with us, and even if we do it does us no good; but we do live with the memories, the moments, the roadblocks and the achievements. And in the end I’d rather provide experience over expectation. I guess to me, that’s really living…