Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Update: Getting our Finances in Line in 2009

Now that we're through the first quarter of 2009, it's time for a little update:

We finally closed on the mortgage refinance (after a number of irritating set-backs on the part of the two banks involved), so that will help our budget in a big way from here on. That extra $200 of interest we DON'T have to pay now goes into savings!

We are sticking to a stricter monthly budget without really noticing much difference in our standard of living. It has been a nice surprise! Lance has been going out to lunch less and less, but he doesn't complain, which makes things easier on me. That was my biggest concern when we talked about cutting unnecessary expenditures like lunches out...I wasn't sure he'd be on board. But he has been, and that's such a relief!

We paid off Lance's school loan a few months back, and now that monthly payment has been rolled into other debts (my school loan and the home equity line, specifically). We're still on track to have everything but the mortgage paid off by December. And we're still prepaying the mortgage, which should be paid off in 2024.

We're stashing extra funds in our HSBC online savings account, and by the end of the year we should have about six months' worth of living expenses saved up! Having that big emergency fund will take a LOAD off my mind, since by that point we may be expecting. (Who knows?) Best to be prepared!

We added a new goal to the list: Start a Roth IRA by the end of the year. This goal is intentionally loose, since we aren't sure how much we'll have available to invest. I'm hoping to have $5000, but that depends on various factors (like whether Lance will have to take another pay cut, whether we both still even HAVE jobs, etc.). Regardless, we want to diversify our investments and have been flirting with the idea of a Roth IRA for a while. Time to take the plunge!

Our progress towards our financial goals is made even more gratifying because of how well we've done in spite of our recent circumstances. Lance had to take a 10% decrease in pay about a month ago. His company is very small, and business has been suffering. It's just a fact of life these days. But we're blessed that we both still have jobs and make very decent wages. The 10% decrease hasn't hurt us much. We're just that much more determined to stick to a budget and do what we can with what we've been given.

They say you don't appreciate what you have until it's gone. But I say you don't appreciate what you have until what you DON'T NEED is gone. Because of our stricter budget, I've forced myself to make more of our meals at home, and I've been *gasp* enjoying it! I never realized how much joy I could find in my own kitchen. Sometimes I spend hours in there just baking away. And to think I might have never realized my own potential as a cook had it not been for our change in circumstances. We're still living the good life and eating good food (maybe even better?), so it seems that what we no longer have wasn't really needed anyway.

God is good.

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