Monday, November 21, 2011

on saving

i tried to write a post about parenting tonight but it was just not coming together, so instead we'll go with the default topic of this blog, finance.  inspired by a friend who  paid off her home in her twenties (on one income!), james and i are on a rapid plan of paying off our house as fast as possible (while still contributing to our 401k match, kids' college funds, giving, etc.).  we've made budget the first 3 months, which is very encouraging.  i love going to the bank and asking them to put x dollars toward a "principal only payment."  i equally love reworking amortization tables every few months to see how quickly we can pay off our house if we add extra.  and i love my frugal husband who is committed to sacrifice monthly spending money and all possible bonuses this year to put toward the house.  yes, i am a nerd...but a nerd who will love not having a house payment in a few years if we stay on track.  oh the freedom!
we acknowledge that it's not up to us to stay on track and are thankful for a God who is the ultimate provider.  he has given james and me great educations and jobs, and we know they could easily be taken away.  we are trying to be good stewards and rid ourselves of all debt (i think it is interesting that most people assume debt = credit card debt, school loans, even car loans, but very few people call a home loan debt).  we are blessed to have wise friends and family who support and guide us in our financial decisions and we can talk openly to about money.

suzie ortman preaches open dialogue about finances with our spouses, children, etc. and i think it is so crucial to have someone to go to for financial advise (besides a bank loan officer, real estate agent, or anyone else who might have an incentivized biase).  james and i keep an excel budget on our computer of all of our transactions during the month broken into categories so we can see exactly where our money is going and plan our long term goals every few months.  we also bounce our financial ideas off our parents and very close trusted friends for input.

this article in smart money  emphasizes the importance of social support when it comes to money.  "In the U.S. this principle lies behind the success of Weight Watchers, with its group weigh-ins, and Alcoholics Anonymous, with its group confessions. But it's not a principle that most of us apply to our money: Saving is a private matter, and one that gets neglected. The consequences of our spending are firmly in the public view: a spacious home, a luxury car with the name of the kids' fancy school plastered on the bumper. But the consequences of our failure to save -- a loan rejection, an uncertain retirement, letters from a debt collector -- are much more discreet. This behind-closed-doors effect lets many people talk a good game about their financial responsibilities, while shirking them in practice, says Bob Pozen, a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School: "People say they want to save, but they don't."

i hope we can all start to shed the walls of keeping finance a taboo subject.  i think one of the reasons money is the biggest cause of divorce is because people are so afraid to talk about the subject.  while we don't need to tell others how much we make, how much we have in savings, etc. we can all do ourselves a favor and enlist others to help keep us accountable for our financial decisions, especially those who have more experience and wisdom than ourselves.  love you all!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

seasons of love

raising a 2 year old and infant can be challenging and restricting.  while others are traveling the world, snowboarding the slopes and staying out late, james and i are usually at home by 8pm putting our lil' guys down for bed.  as extroverts who like to get out, this season of life is stretching.  we often find ourselves saying, "can you wait until the boys are old enough to go golfing with us or even just go out without scheduling the days around nap routines?"  it is easy to wish the boys were older, especially paxton now that we've seen how much fun 2 year olds can be.  however, we are learning to appreciate the slowness of this special time knowing it will soon pass by.  while paxton cannot talk, walk, or communicate much yet, how can this sweet goodness not bring a smile to your face?  (he can smile!)
and then there are times when you set up a whole photo shoot in the woods, dress the boys in their sunday best and get these precious looks (seriously mom?!?)
do we wish we would've waited longer to have kids? sometimes.  would we trade them for anything?  no.  the more time and energy we pour into parker & paxton, the more we love them.  every molding moment yields pride in our children's development and validates the role we are playing in shaping who they are as little people.  loving and teaching children is one of the most fulfilling endeavors and i am thankful for the opportunity to do it every day.  may i make the most of each day, each hour and each minute i am blessed to spend with my boys.  love you all and give your kids a big hug and kiss today!!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

5x7 Folded Card

Hearts And Home Christmas Card
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