16 March, 2011

Financial Sanity

Thomas and I have been on a journey to financial sanity for the last couple of years. Okay, I say that like it's a big deal, but it's not, because we weren't ever financially insane.

We are both fiscally conservative and have not been in huge consumer debt. Paying interest or a late fee on a credit card would give Thomas a heart attack. We don't mind spending money on things we want, but we are the kind of people who save up for things first.

However, two years ago we did have our mortgage, a HELOC taken out to revamp our bathrooms, and a real problem talking to each other about money. Inevitably money discussions turned into arguments, with me not feeling heard or respected, and Thomas feeling like I complained and was not supportive of his money plans. Thomas was focused almost exclusively on saving for retirement. I wanted to do that, but I also wanted to save for short term goals, like new windows for the house, trips, landscaping, and car repairs. Any time we took a trip or paid for some large bill it mean we had a lean, scary month after paying off the credit cards. We made good money, but every time "financial planning" came up, we were off to the fights.

We took Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University in November 2009 - January 2010, and boy, how things have changed. We paid off the HELOC before our FPU class was over. I cut up all my credit cards and went exclusively to a debit card. Thomas wasn't ready to do that so he still uses a card, which of course he pays off early every month. We saved up our 3-6 month emergency fund by December 2010 and now we are working on paying off our mortgage early. The very best thing we got from FPU is that now we have a plan we came up with together, and we can talk about money without fighting. I feel like we are looking together in the same direction from the deck of The Good Ship Thomas&Amanda, and since we aren't rowing in different directions, our ship will come in a lot faster than I ever imagined.

I've been reading a lot of personal finance blogs that I would recommend. Most of them are of the "get rich slowly" philosophy. One of them is even called, duh, Get Rich Slowly.

Not only are they full of interesting and helpful advice, some of them are also very funny and provocative, if by provocative, you mean: gets you thinking about things you have not thought of before in just that way.

Get Rich Slowly
Punch Debt in the Face
Man vs. Debt
A Guy Named Dave

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