Two disclaimers for this post: first, and obvious, there is more than one way to manage money well. This is just how we’re doing it right now.
Second, responsibility for any good money management in the Finley household lies squarely on Brian’s shoulders. If I’d married someone with my financial tendencies, we’d be living in my parent’s spare bedroom right now.
Here are some ways we manage our money at this stage of our life:
1. We save.
I have a 401k through Starbucks and we have an emergency fund, which we need because…
2. We don’t have credit cards.
Nor do we take out car loans. So if one of the cars needs repair (and they do occasionally – they’re reliable, but old) we need to have the cash to fix it.
3. We have a budget.
…that we are not the best at following, but it does exist. Tracking our spending lets us make better choices, for instance…
4. We cook at home most of the time.
I cook because we have to eat, not because I enjoy it. The cost of eating out for most of the month is too much.
Why doesn’t Brian cook? Anyone’s who’s had his lasagna knows he’s fabulous at it. But Brian cooks extravagantly and I cook frugally, so I’m the every day cook.
5. We don’t follow fashion.
Don’t get me wrong – someday in the future I want to look put together. But right now, it’s just not a priority. Managing money well at this stage of our lives means shopping at Goodwill, if we clothes shop at all.
This same concept applies to a nicer apartment, or nicer furniture, or nicer cars. I’ve absolutely been criticized for our lifestyle – don’t think that doesn’t happen. But looking successful will just never be a priority for us.
6. We are actively paying of our student loans.
In fact, most of my income from Starbucks goes straight to the U.S. Government. Buh-bye, paycheck. See you in five years.
7. We plan far into the future, then make little plans to get us there.
In the next five years, we’d like to pay off our student loans and do some international travel. Each year, month by month, we’ve projected goals.
It’s taken a lot of fighting and adjusting expectations to get to a point where we agree. We’ve had to learn to appreciate each other’s strengths. (Brian’s good with the numbers, but should probably never set foot in a grocery store. I can make a week’s worth of groceries stretch to two.)
We’ve also had to have some really honest conversations. But we’re finally starting to learn how to steer our finances and our life goals in the same direction, which, to me, is part of living a successful life.
And now I’m curious. If you could go back and give your twenty-something self financial advice, what would it be? What financial practices are making your life more successful right now?
Read the rest of the Success Is series here: