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While there is a ton of advice out there about how to pay down debt, save more, buy a house, and start a family, not all of it is good.
I'm a big believer that personal finance is well, personal.
Sure there are some guiding principles that are behind the successes, but a big key to winning with money is making sure your financial goals fit you.
After all what good is it to sign up for a gazelle intense if you can't stick with it? Wouldn't be better to discuss to discuss where you're both on board and build a plan from there?
Our Family Financial Goals
While I've been reading and writing about personal finance and have seen a ton of advice out there, I can tell you right now we've had to adjust things many times so we can reach our goals.
I want to share three areas where we work together on a plan that fit us.
Savings and Knocking Our Debt
When we were first married, we focused on two goals:
- having a small emergency fund
- eliminating high-interest debt
My husband is the type of person who would be crazy stressed out if there was no cushion for emergencies, so we set aside money we received at our wedding towards creating a fund.
We then looked at our big debt at the time – the car loan I had taken on the Jetta – and created our budget so we could send extra money towards paying it off faster.
With these two goals, that meant we placed a minimum amount of money and energy into our investments.
As we finished paying off the car loan, we then built up our savings for emergencies and irregular expenses. I also increase my contributions to my Roth IRA.
Buying a House
Our next big financial goal was buying our first house.
Even though the ‘advice' out there is to buy as much house as you can afford, we planned with a different model.
When we were searching for our place, we ran the numbers and decided to keep our mortgage affordable and within range of one of our incomes.
Yes, it shrank down our pool of possible contenders, but it made sure that our housing expenses (mortgage, property taxes, insurances, and so forth) would be less than the average rent for our city.
and guess what? We still found a brand new build. Win-win.
Keeping things affordable also meant that we could save more.
After we settled into our new place, we created an automated system for paying down debts and investing a bit more for retirement.
Even though we took out a 30-year mortgage, we started an extra payment system to bring it down to about 15 years.
We then found out the happy news that we were pregnant, so time for another goal!
We want to increase savings to cover baby expenses. Between diapers, baby gear, and unexpected baby expenses, we wanted some peace of mind knowing that we can cover these bills as they come.
For us, automated savings was the system- every paycheck meant we built it up and every windfall had a chunk allocated towards the account.
Happy to note that so far that cushion helped us make the transition during the first couple of months as we adjusted our family's monthly budget.
Working on Finishing Our 2012 Goals
Energized by our past success we again decided to switch our focus with our finances. Here's what we came up with:
- Get our finances prepare should something happen to us.
- Purchase a family car.
- Pay down the student loan.
We made a few goals this year and while we've made progress, there's a lot left to do.
We bought our family car in April and we've worked at building the student loan debt snowball.
Now we have to finish up with getting our finances prepared for our little girl. We have to meet up with a lawyer and get the paperwork done.
Thoughts on Family Financial Goals
Now you have a little peek into how we handle our finances and how they fit in with what's going on with our family. I'd love to hear from you!
How have your finances changed as the years passed? What were some of the biggest adjustments? Which changes weren't as bad (or big) as you expected?