Monday, July 21, 2008

Addicted to Saving

Lately, there has been a huge change in lifestyle for me. My side work has declined in volume (largely by choice). As a result, I have the tradeoff of less money and more free time. The realization of this new lifestyle came to a head this past week when I was on vacation at home.

So, I thought that this would be a great time to find some things that needed to be done around the house that I had not gotten to lately. I fixed up the front garden and was able to also work on my back deck and get it stained.

I am also looking at ways to improve and make even more out of what I have. Lately I've become seriously addicted to rolling change. Saving change is a great way to save money without noticing it. In my house I have a 5 gallon water jug that gets all the extra change and occasionally a dollar bill. But, the problem for me now is that I know that this money is money that is not "earning" anything. If you find yourself having extra time on your hands, consider getting your finances in order by making sure your "cash" accounts are in appropriate accounts for the goals that the cash is for. Money stuffed under the proverbial mattress is probably not a good long term strategy.

More valuable than fixing any particular problem or actually finding myself able to save more money is the serious reduction in stress that I have experienced. Work is a wonderful thing to do, but working to the point where you have little time for anything else can be quite difficult and stressful. I'm not sure what will happen next, but for now, I am just trying to relax with the extra time.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

On Living Better...

I think that the goal of personal finance in my life is to help me live a better life. I am not talking about just having more money and being able to buy more stuff. Although there is an obvious component of being able to purchase more goods. But I think more important than the stuff is the ability for me to know that *I can* purchase these things without worrying. Removing my fear about spending money is one major goal of my personal finance journey.

The second goal is to incrementally make my life better. Whether it is to have more choices for food, more places where I can travel, or even more people I can help with various issues in their lives, these things are all things that come from having more money. And the abundance in my life is due to better financial skills.

Realizing weaknesses and improving myself is another goal of personal finance. I notice this trend more and more in the PF community at large. Even my mother is a good example. Once you tackle your finances, taking on your health or your career or other parts of your life doesn't seem so overwhelming. Progress in your entire life is easy provided you do it in small increments.

Maintaining all of these changes can be the difficult thing. That is why so much of the establishment in the personal finance world spreads so much of the same 'wisdom' that people get tired of hearing: don't use credit cards, pay off debt, avoid co-signing loans, etc. These tidbits of wisdom are really meant to do one thing: help you avoid falling backwards. The importance of continual small steps forward is critical. Any minor setback can be handled if the momentum forward is strong. But, if at any point you lose hope or feel overwhelmed, that could be the end of the journey.

More than anything, the lifestyle improvements for me and the smaller amount of fears are more than enough motivation to keep going no matter what. I can't even imagine owing lots of debts now. And with each dollar of debt I pay, I feel even more alive. I've removed more obligations from my list and also freed up the income I'll make in the future so I can spend it however I want. The freedom to live makes life a lot better.