Spend/Save: Are you richer or poorer this year, compared to last year?
It’s probably no secret through our travels and our lifestyle, but Mike and I are doing just fine on our financial status. Through raises for Mike and an increase in salary for me, our income has raised by the same amount of money that I was making per year pre-taxes at my previous job. This has catapulted us into a comfortable lifestyle. We don’t spend lavishly, and we don’t purchase large items often, but we spend freely.
I feel extremely uncomfortable admitting that, as if I should be much more humble and secret about the whole thing. But it’s the truth, and I have to admit that this fact has improved not only the quality of our lives, but also our moods. It makes sense, right? I mean, we’re not diving into a pile of coins like Scrooge McDuck, but we’re comfortable, secure; we can treat ourselves and pursue our interests. We may not be able to buy happiness, but not having to bicker about money or bills or unfulfilled desires goes a long way.
I know how I sound. I know. We’ve been spoiled in our lives, we’ve had the advantage of upper-middle class upbringings. We’ve been brought up by parents who have been generous, we have college educations and we easily slid into the workforce with good jobs…we’ve had an advantage in life that we are very aware of and grateful for. It doesn’t mean that we haven’t worked hard from there, but we had a boost and we’re lucky to have had it.
So we continue to work hard and save our money so that one day, our children may be afforded the same advantages.
We keep track of every penny via old-school excel spreadsheets and allocate our money into different buckets (mortgage, saving, spending, investing, home projects, travel, etc). With the help of my parents this past year, we finally paid off my student loans, so we’re only paying off the house and a car. We may spend freely on smaller wants and needs, but we always have larger goals in mind and we do not abuse our financial freedom by making rushed, uninformed or undiscussed decisions. We never spend more than what we can pay off immediately. We may be spending a large chunk of money on food and travel, but we try to be as smart and realistic about it as possible.
We know that our priorities will shift whenever children enter our lives and we’re prepared to change the way we currently spend our money. Perhaps we’ll look back on some of our traveling when we’re saving for college educations and curse our young selves for not doing more than we’re doing, but we only get to be young and carefree once. We’re trying to strike the right balance.
This year has been a big year for us. I am so proud of where we’ve gotten and I’m looking forward to where we might go from here. It has certainly entered my mind that we will go through tougher times in our lives and we should be prepared for it. We’re trying not to be young, optimistic idiots about our money, but that’s not always an easy task: for the most part, we are young and optimistic with expensive tastes, but we’re trying to make good decisions. Perhaps I’ll look back on this post in 10 years to see how we did.