Pennies and Dollars: Best Money Spent

Best Money Spent Pennies and DollarsSince I started this series last month, we’ve celebrated everything from chocolate and hockey to concerts and backpacking. Today, Pennies and Dollars is here to share with us what he considers his best money spent this month year. For him, it’s not just about spending well once. It’s about stretching dollars to get the most bang for your buck.  Continue reading “Pennies and Dollars: Best Money Spent”

Pennies and Dollars: Best Money Spent

Finding Contentment in Well Enough

Finding Contentment in Well EnoughWeekends are hard for me. Sundays in particular. No, I don’t dread going back to work the next day. The problem is that the weekends are a chance to slow down. Sometimes. And when I do slow do, I spend time catching up. Often times, I’ll read posts like “How to Pay Off $100K in a Year” and “How I Retired at 33.” I get inspired. But I also get really sad.

Those accomplishments are so far outside of my frame of reference. Simply put, they’re just not doable. Not now, and maybe not ever. This weekend, I started reading part of an early retirement post to my dad. For someone who doesn’t say much and pretends to notice even less, he read my face so fast, stopping me after only a few paragraphs: “You guys do well enough.” Continue reading “Finding Contentment in Well Enough”

Finding Contentment in Well Enough

Yes to the Bridesmaid Dress Again

bridesmaid dress bridal party costFlower girl, usher, and now a bridesmaid for the fifth time. This is not my first rodeo. I have been standing up in weddings for as long as I can remember. For as long as I could walk, really. I know there are steep bridal party costs that come with saying yes to the dress. But I said yes anyway.

It happened on Halloween. First, I pulled out a beautiful candle. Then, a few sweets tumbled out. Then, a Ring Pop with a note attached to it. Will you be my bridesmaid? My instinct was to say no to the expense. This would be my fifth bridesmaid dress. Five dresses I’ll never wear again. Assuredly, the road to financial independence is not paved with taffeta. But when I saw the look of anticipation on my cousin’s face, I couldn’t help but squeal a yes.  Continue reading “Yes to the Bridesmaid Dress Again”

Yes to the Bridesmaid Dress Again

The Best Money I Spent This Month

best-moneyPersonal finance is about spending. There. I said it. Of course, saving and investing matter. But so does spending. It’s all about making money work to meet our needs, fulfill our wants, and achieve our dreams.

While I could drum up a really romantic notion for this post about how the best money I’ve spent recently is the charitable giving that we do or even a thoughtful birthday present I purchased for my mother-in-law, I’m going to be a little bit more real and a lot more selfish. To help me become more comfortable spending some of my hard-earned dollars, I thought I’d take a closer look at what I bought this month that brought me joy. Continue reading “The Best Money I Spent This Month”

The Best Money I Spent This Month

5 Things to Do Today Besides Buying a Mattress

WeekendI’m not entirely sure how it happened, but mattress sales on Memorial Day are ubiquitous across the United States. Then, there are the home good sales. And the linen sales. And the lawn furniture. And the list goes on. While I have nothing against scoring a bargain on something you actually need, no one should feel that shopping–or spending–is a requisite part of a three-day weekend. If you need a little inspiration, check out these no-spend ideas: Continue reading “5 Things to Do Today Besides Buying a Mattress”

5 Things to Do Today Besides Buying a Mattress

A New Outlook on Our Mortgage

A New OutlookI hate our mortgage. And I probably always will. The fact that we own so little of our home yet foot all the repair bills was maddeningly frustrating last week when our furnace started acting up to the tune of $600. But after clicking through Tim Urban’s “The Tail End”, I realize that maybe I’ve been viewing my mortgage–and homeownership to a degree–all wrong.

Our Mortgage Takes Our Money

Every month, I am greeted with an email ping reminding me that we owe the bank something to tune of $900*. Since we are determined to pursue some form of financial independence and now Mr. P’s car loan is no more, we are trying to double those payments. Because we made a 30-year commitment to our bank, we are trying to be more aggressive with paying it off by adding my side hustle money to the debt-payoff pot as well.

It isn’t always possible to be so aggressive with our payments, but we are going to keep trying. There’s no denying the crushing feeling that comes with six figures worth of debt. As for those who classify a mortgage as good debt, I say no debt is good debt. I won’t be sorry to see it go.

Our Mortgage Buys Us Time

As much as I dislike our debt, it affords us the luxury of time. My commute lasts between 15-20 minutes and Mr. P’s is about five minutes longer. I can make it to and from work in the span of a single podcast. That’s pretty hard to beat. Sure, having no commute would be even nicer, but I’m not about to make that weird childhood misconception that teachers actually live in their classrooms a real thing. These short commutes allow us to maximize our time at home and our time with each other.

More than that, though, our mortgage buys us time with our families. My family is ten minutes away and Mr. P’s is just a stone’s throw farther. Tim Urban’s analysis of his time left with his parents was crippling to me. He writes, “When you look at that reality, you realize that despite not being at the end of your life, you may very well be nearing the end of your time with some of the most important people in your life.” His reality affords him about ten days per year with his parents. Tears rolled down my face when I looked at his chart that was almost completely filled with red Xs.

Once I pushed past that momentary existential crisis, I realized my chart would look dramatically different. Yes, my parents are in their 60s as well. No, I’m not kidding myself into thinking that they’re going to be the first couple to live to 120 together. Unlike Urban’s setup, however, our mortgage allows me to spend at least one or two days each week with my parents. Whether it’s me stopping over for tea and to go through the hoards of things they are still so generously storing in their basement or it’s us meeting up for dinner and running errands together, I can see my parents whenever I want. The same holds true for Mr. P and his family.

As easy as it is to get caught up in numbers, spreadsheets, payments, and account balances, I have to remember that life is so much more than a mortgage. In the moments that matter most, I’ve not given our mortgage a single thought. Money is not the most precious thing in the world. If leveraged correctly, money is nothing more than a tool that allows us access to the truly precious things in life: the people we love.

The next time my in-laws are over for a barbecue or my parents are crowded around the kitchen table, I like to think I’ll hate our mortgage a little less. In reality, I know that, as we pass plates, clink glasses, and laugh loudly, our mortgage won’t even cross my mind.

*It’s worth mentioning that apartments and rentals in our area are commensurate in cost, if not more expensive, than our mortgage. Just the other day, I learned of one friend who is paying $1700 for a two-bedroom apartment. I about peed myself.

So Tell Me…How are you leveraging your money to do the things you love or to spend time with the people who matter most?

A New Outlook on Our Mortgage

The Wrong Kind of Dough

The Wrong Kind of DoughFor the past few years, I’ve been tutoring as one of my side hustles. It can be quite lucrative. It can be very fulfilling. It can also be a colossal pain in the patootie.

Whenever I think I’ve tightened all the loopholes in terms of cancellations and payments and covered all my bases in terms of materials and additional assignments, something unexpected comes up. This past week, I was planning on attending my regular tutoring session before dashing off to make cookie dough with my family. Midway through my morning, the parent of my student emailed me saying that his daughter had to meet with a teacher after school and couldn’t make the session. He closed the email by typing, “Reschedule. K, thx.” I was livid. Continue reading “The Wrong Kind of Dough”

The Wrong Kind of Dough