Educating the Wheelers


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Chronicling the Experience of Educating our Children and Managing our Family

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I should also mention ...

Besides being a crappy blogger, I am also pretty crappy at the whole personal finance game, though I am getting much, much better. My biggest handicap is that I am chronically disorganized and thus can't hack a budget. Before I had my financial act together, I used to balance my checkbook by the "rhythm method" -- I knew that at certain times of the month I had more money than others, and spent by "feel." My only saving grace was that I made pretty good money.

But now that I'm married and quit my job to stay home with kids, that all had to stop. So we've instituted the "pay yourself first" model. Before our paycheck even makes it to our checking account, our maxxed out 401k has been taken out, a large chunk gets sent to Vanguard to hit our yearly maxes for our Roths, a chunk is taken out and sent to Emigrant for our emergency fund, and a chunk is taken out for our medical savings account. [We've got a midwife to pay in April!] Additionally, I earmark an extra chunk to go towards our mortgage's principal every month. [More about that another time.]

Our mortgage is only about 30% of what's leftover after all of that [and taxes!], so we are able to still play pretty loosey-goosey without a budget. But that only works because we're not big spenders in the first place. We're fairly introverted homebodies with a small handful of friends, so we don't have to keep up with the Joneses. We both have little hobbies -- for me, books; for Andrew, little gadgets -- but we keep that in check so it's not too expensive.

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